The National Conference Secretariat has said the extension of the duration of the national dialogue by one week was to enable its committees to make up for the loss time caused by the break-off in their sitting days between May 5 and 8 in order to make way for the World Economic Forum.
In a statement issued by the Assistant Secretary, Media and Communication, Mr. Akpanden James, the secretariat said the federal government did not extend the duration of the National Conference by six weeks.
“If there is need for an extension, a request for that would emanate from the conference secretariat to the presidency, and as at the time of issuing this statement, no such request has been made to the presidency and the secretariat is not aware of any formal extension of the conference duration by the federal government,” it said.
The statement noted that as part of its engagement with the delegates, the leadership of the conference had a meeting with the chairmen, co-chairmen and deputy chairmen of the 20 standing committees to keep abreast with the activities of the committees and also find out if there are challenges that the intervention of the secretariat would be required.
It explained that during the meeting, most of the committee chairmen had complained of the shortness of time for committee work, citing the heavy workload and relevant assistance they would require from external sources to do a thorough job.
“It was then agreed that one extra week should be added to enable the committees tidy up their activities and present meaningful reports.
“However, since the following week beginning from May 5 to 8 (sitting days), will see Abuja hosting the World Economic Forum, and because some delegates, and facilities used for the National Conference will be involved and engaged respectively for the economic forum, the week following from May 12 to 15 was consequently approved for the extension, for conclusion of committee work.
“As a follow-up to that agreement, the conference Secretary, Mrs. Valerie-Janette Azinge, formally communicated the decision to all committee chairmen on April 30.
“It must be emphasised that the conference secretariat lacks the power to extend the conference duration and has made that position very clear at every point the issue is raised. The Conference Chairman, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, had similarly told the committee leadership on Monday that if it “becomes absolutely necessary” to have an extension of time, a formal request would be made to the relevant authorities, and the secretariat will only act when express approval is granted,” the statement added.