Otunba Gani Adams, National Coordinator of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), has expressed dismay at the rejection of the report of the last year’s National Conference convened by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
A group, which consists of former political office holders under the aegis of Northern Reawakening Forum (NRF) and led by a former member of the House of Representatives, Mohammed Kumalia, had on Tuesday in Abuja warned President Muhammadu Buhari against implementing the report.
Their argument is that key issues affecting the region were not addressed and that Buhari-led administration should convene another conference.
Kumalia, who read from a communiqué on behalf of the NRF said: “The last conference was convened by the PDP government. You do not expect this government to take hook, line and sinker what was put in place by the last government.
“It was convoked by the PDP government and unfortunately, the PDP lost election. You do not expect the opposition to accept the resolution of the previous government which has its own objectives which this government is not aware of.”
NRF said the call for a new conference became necessary as it would brainstorm on how to rebuild the North and also seek ways to rehabilitate those who have been displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency.
Continuing, Kumalia queried: “What are the problems in the North East? Has anybody tried to ascertain the problems in the North East? The essence of the national conference is to analyse the extent of damage done to the North East.
“The working document would be used to rebuild the region. There is no resemblance between the conference we are proposing and the 2014 National Conference. Many things have been destroyed and we need people with experience to discuss how the area will be settled,” he said.
“The North has the highest number of people below $2.00 a day. 71.5% of the population in the North East live in poverty and more than half are malnourished. A 2013 World Bank Report showed that poverty in 16 out of the 19 Northern states have doubled since 1980.
“The north has the lowest literacy rate in the country. Lagos is at 92% , Kano 49% and Borno less than 15%. 65% of Northern girls and 53% of boys are not in school compared to only 20% for the Southeast,”
But reacting, Adams said the group’s decision is “uncalled for, unwarranted and condemnable”
Adams, who is away in Cote d’Ivoire, stated that the rejection “is not only an attempt to overheat the polity, it is also politically-motivated.”
According to him, “The conference had over 490 delegates and these were prominent personalities who gave their time, energy and thorough contribution.”
“Those asking for another conference should be informed that a national conference is not a party; it is not an event meant to be organised every year. Before the one of last year, we had in 2005, 1996, 1979 and 1963.
“Most of the 2014 resolutions were accepted by more than 95 per cent of delegates. The only contentious issue that we didn’t really finalise was that of derivation formula or resource control as mostly called, which we agreed that the presidency act upon.
“I urge those calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to ignore the recommendations to go through again and study carefully.”
Citing an example, Adams said establishment of special courts, which was adopted by the conference, is being considered by President Buhari.
“The current administration appears to have keyed into the idea of special courts to try corruption cases; this is a sign the confab was a success.
“I will continue to re-state the position of the Oodua Peoples Congress on this subject: The only way Nigeria will move forward is to adopt recommendations of the 2014 National Conference convened by President Goodluck Jonathan.”