The former National Secretary of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and a delegate representing Yobe State at the National Conference, Alhaji Buba Galadima has said that the north as a group does not harbour any sectional interest.
Galadima's assertion came just as the Secretariat of the National Conference said it had received over thirty memoranda from members of the public as at last Thursday.
While speaking in an interview with THISDAY on the brewing controversy over the composition of the committees, Galadima said that as far as he was aware, delegates from the Northern part of the country would be ready to support ideas and submissions driven by patriotic and nationalistic considerations.
"The north has no particular item as its agenda at the conference. However, the most important thing is the nation. It is the nationalism and patriotism that should guide our feelings. No two people can have the same ideas on one subject. We will always consider the nation first before we consider where we come from individually," he said.
On complaints over the committees membership and representations, he said: "I do not share some of these sentiments over the committees membership. My view is that every northerner, southerner or every man or woman from any state should articulate their position and make sure they argue their positions to convince others.
"I believe there are lots of reasonable people in this conference that should look at issues patriotically and rationally rather than parochially. It is good we realise that we cannot have our ways all the time in such a situation, " he said.
However, Galadima said some of the issues that are bound to be contentious are resource control/revenue sharing formula, restructuring of governance and state creation.
On the issue of 50 per cent resource control being sought for by the people of the oil-rich Niger Delta region, Galadima said he would rather agree for a 100 per cent resource control, but on the grounds of certain conditions, which include the abolition of the Ministry of Niger Delta, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), stoppage of the 13 per cent derivation and the reactivation of the Supreme Court judgment on Offshore, Onshore in the oil sector.
"I wrote a memorandum on the issue of resource control in which I said I will accept the granting of 100 per cent resource control to the Niger Delta people, on conditions that certain things are done. The abolition of Ministry of Niger Delta, Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), stoppage of the 13 per cent derivation and the reactivation of the Supreme Court judgment on Off Shore, On Shore oil.
"If we do that, you can give them their resources. In addition, the resources should not be given to the states and local council but should be directly handed over to the communities that produce the oil so that nobody can come here again in Nigeria to complain about being maltreated in the allocation of resources. This is because under the present dispensation some governors’ and Local Council Chairmen have cornered the money, while the people continue to blame it on the country, " he said.
According to Galadima, the Supreme Court judgment had ruled that anything Deep Water, two kilometres away from the shores belongs to the federation and not the littoral states.
He said the country should be ready to respect the judgment of the apex court on the issue of offshore oil resources as a way of resolving once and for all complaints about oil resource allocation.
On the issue of restructuring, Galadima said he cannot see how the proposal can work since there were probably not many people that would accept their states to be merged with one another.
He said it was not true that majority of Nigerians support restructuring of the country. "What we are saying is that basically there is nothing you can transfer from the federal to the states. Remember that there are those who have come to the conference clamouring for more states to be created out of their areas, " he said.
Meanwhile, THISDAY learnt yesterday that the National Conference secretariat had received more than 30 memoranda from members of the public in relation to the issues to be treated by the 20 committees, which will be commencing work tomorrow.
The Assistant Secretary, Media and Communication, Mr. Akpandem James, who confirmed the receipt of the memorandum from the public, said the committees were expected to start work on them by tomorrow.
Regarding the complaints over the composition of the committees, James said the Committees would have to start work first before changes could be made based on the merit of such requests.
"You must justify why there should be changes. Is that the chairman or the deputy is not competent or what…? They have to be allowed to function and if they do not perform before any change can be entertained, " he said.
However, before adjourning plenary last Thursday, the Chairman, Justice Idris Kutigi had urged the delegates to properly articulate their points at the committee level and be open to suggestions from others.
Introducing the work plan, he indicated that the conference would receive reports from committees and commence deliberations on May 5 and 6.
It will go on break from May 7 to 9 to enable members participate in the World Economic Forum, which would hold in Abuja. Deliberations on the various committee reports will resume on May 12 and last till 15 when deliberations were expected to be completed.
From May 19 to 29, the conference’s secretariat, working with the Report Drafting Committee, will put the reports together and present such to the conference in plenary.
Consideration and adoption of the draft reports by the conference in plenary will start on June 2 and end on 12.
According to the work plans the final report would be produced and signed between June 16 and 19.
The chairman further informed the delegates that 10 of the 20 committees would hold their sessions at the National Judicial Institute, while the remaining 10 would sit at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers.
It was agreed through a voice vote that delegates with genuine complaints on the composition of the committees, both on the membership and the chairmen, co-chairmen and deputy chairmen should sort out the details with the secretariat.
He however explained that, while such genuine complaints were being sorted out, normal committee sittings would commence as scheduled, as the process would not affect deliberations and decisions of the committees.