ABUJA — A stormy session is expected today as Northern and Southern delegates at the ongoing National Conference head for a showdown over power configurations in the consideration of the report of the Committee on Devolution of Powers.
The North, Vanguard learnt, is especially concerned with recommendations of the committee adopted last Thursday that could put the South at an advantage and where not, erase the advantage that the North has had in the polity. The National Conference had last Thursday adopted recommendations among others for the creation of 19 new states with three in each geopolitical zone and an extra one in the Southeast and also resolved to delist local governments from the constitution and as such remove the advantage conferred on the North with the plurality of local governments.
It was gathered that Northern governors had reached out to the delegates to rescind the decisions. The plot to reverse the decisions nonetheless, Southern delegates at the weekend, were also pressing home their advantage with strategic link to minorities in the North ahead of the consideration of other important recommendations of the Committee on Devolution.
Ahead of today’s meeting, Southern delegates were last night locked in a meeting with some prominent delegates from the North-Central during which they were said to be pondering over a deal that will be mutually beneficial to both parties. That meeting taking place in the Asokoro Abuja residence of a powerful Southern media mogul was ongoing at press time.
The Southern delegates had at an earlier meeting a week ago resolved to press for the increase of derivation from 13% recommended by the Committee on Devolution of Powers to 21.5%.
The meeting which is believed to have in attendance more than 200 delegates, Vanguard learnt, is aiming to weaken the opposition being mounted by the core northern delegates, who Vanguard gathered, are working to ensure that delegates don’t reach the mandatory requirements needed for any resolution to sail through.
To ensure that the core north delegates are again defeated, the Southern delegates meeting in Asokoro would resolve to speak with one voice on any issue being opposed by the core Northern delegates.
Efforts made by core Northern delegates to maintain the status quo in other key recommendations in previous committees’ reports were not successful. Among the issues the region lost out in, included its efforts to kill proposals for rotational presidency between the North and South, creation of state police, reversal of current national anthem, among others.
The core north had equally, previously kicked against the scrapping of local government administration from the constitution. But the southern delegates succeeded in getting it approved through massive support from delegates from North-Central and delegates from minority groups in the North-East and North-West.
The arrowhead of the core north’s opposition to the resolution and former Political Adviser to late General Sani Abacha, Prof. Auwalu Yadudu, in a statement, on behalf of Northern delegates which was circulated to northern-based media organisations, had rejected the entire resolution of the Conference Committee on Political Restructuring and Forms of Governance which they considered not favourable to the North.
To ensure that the core northern delegates are again defeated in the recommendations of the Committee on Devolution of Powers, today’s meeting by Southern delegates with their North Central and northern minority delegates would decide how to take a stand during voting tomorrow.
Just as the delegates from the South are perfecting their strategies, those from the core north, who are in the opposition are not resting in their efforts at thwarting the efforts of the Southern delegates.
Vanguard gathered that they have resolved to resist any attempt by the Chairman of the conference, Idris Kutigi, to allow his deputy, Bolaji Akinyemi to preside over the two-day session where the devolution of powers committee’s recommendations would be considered.
The core northern delegates are said not to be comfortable with Akinyemi, who they believe is not only from the South but appears sympathetic to the southern cause at the conference.
FG tightens security at confab venue
Ahead of the showdown, security has been reinforced around the venue of the conference. Besides, delegates from the South and North are also said to be preparing physically for today’s expected stormy session.
A delegate from the North confided in Vanguard that their colleagues have been asked not to wear ‘agbada’, a traditional wear in the northern part of the country to the conference plenary today and tomorrow, given that anything could happen during disagreements that would crop up among the delegates.