In keeping with the pledge by President Goodluck Jonathan that the National Dialogue proposed by his administration would provide an opportunity for Nigerians to discuss issues on concerns to them, the Federal Government declared on Thursday that delegates to the conference would be free to discuss “any subject matter, except the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a nation.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim who stated this in Abuja while releasing the guidelines in Abuja at a media briefing, said “The official name of the conversation/conference shall be “The National Conference.”
According to Anyim, the National Conference, which shall hold in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja and “shall tentatively last for 3 months and shall discuss any subject matter, except the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a nation, therefore the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable.”
He announced that a Conference Management Secretariat shall be established to manage, administer and run the affairs of the Conference, while the decisions at the National Conference “shall be by consensus; but where it is not achievable; it shall be by 75% majority.”
“The National Conference shall advise the Government on the legal framework, legal procedures and options for integrating the decisions and outcomes of the national conference into the Constitution and laws of the country,” Anyim said.
The full text of the briefing by Anyim:
STATEMENT BY ANYIM PIUS ANYIM, GCON, SECRETARY TO THE GOVERNMENT OF THE FEDERATION, ON THE OCASSION OF THE RELEASE OF THE MODALITIES FOR THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE TO THE MEDIA ON 3OTH JANUARY, 2014; ABUJA
Gentlemen of the Press,
It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this Press Conference. The purpose is to share with you, the highlights of the decisions of the Federal Government on the Report of the Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue.
I am indeed pleased and grateful that I am joined here today by the Chairman of the Advisory Committee, Senator Femi Okunronmu and the Secretary, Dr. AkiluIndabawa. I will make a brief statement and thereafter, all of us will be available to respond to your questions.
2. You will recall that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, GoodluckEbele Jonathan, GCFR, during his Independence Day National Broadcast, on 1st October, 2013 set up a 13-Member Presidential Advisory Committee on National Dialogue under Senator Femi Okurounmu.
The Committee which was inaugurated on 7th October 2013 was mandated to advise Government on the framework for a national dialogue by consulting widely with Nigerians. The Committee was given seven (7) terms of reference and was asked to submit its report in six (6) weeks. The Committee met that target and in many respects, it exceeded all expectations. At this juncture, let me once again, on behalf of the President, thank the Chairman and members of the Committee for their dedication, tenacity and courage in handling the assignment.
3. The Federal Government is satisfied that the Committee has diligently discharged its task to the nation and posterity. This is moreso, especially as one recalls the foundational principles of their assignment as espoused by President GoodluckEbele Jonathan at the inauguration of the Committee. On that occasion, Mr. President emphasized that, “this is a National Project, a sincere and fundamental undertaking, aimed at realistically examining and genuinely resolving, long-standing impediments to our cohesion and harmonious development as a truly United Nation”.
4. You will also recall that the President further stressed that, “sitting down to talk is one right step in calming down tensions and channeling our grievances, misgivings and suggestions into more positive use for the good of our country”.
The President stated as well that in any case, Nigerians are already talking about their national challenges through the print and electronic media. He observed that, “the only gap is that while these talks are sometimes weighty, they often lack direction”. Therefore, one of the objectives for setting up the Committee was to lend weight and direction to the National Dialogue.
You may also recall that Mr. President has also allayed “the fears of those who think the National Dialogue will call the integrity of Nigeria into question”, and added that, “this National Dialogue will strengthen our union and address issues that are often on the front burner, but too frequently ignored”.
5. I wish to thank all Nigerians for their enthusiastic response to the opportunity to structure a national dialogue in the manner offered by the President. We are grateful for the massive support and encouragement that the broad strata and all sections of our nation gave to the Advisory Committee in all parts of the country they visited. Also, let me in particular, extend our deep appreciation to members of the press.
All of you contributed in no small way to sustain free and robust debate on every platform, to promote the ideals of the national dialogue.
6. I am pleased to inform you that Government gave the most expeditious consideration to the Report of the Advisory Committee. In doing so, we sought explanations and guidance from the members of the Committee as at when necessary.
We were also deeply encouraged by the calls by Nigerians from all works of life for us to proceed with the Report of the Committee with uttermost urgency, so that the nation can be through with the Dialogue well ahead of the approaching political season.
7. I now have the privilege to announce that the Government, after long and mature deliberations on the Committees’ Report, accepts the following recommendations for immediate implementation:
(a) The official name of the conversation/conference shall be “The National Conference”;
(b) The National Conference shall hold in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja;
(c) The National Conference shall tentatively last for 3 months and shall discuss any subject matter, except the indivisibility and indissolubility of Nigeria as a nation, therefore the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable;
(d) A Conference Management Secretariat shall be established to manage, administer and run the affairs of the Conference;
(e) Decisions at the National Conference shall be by consensus; but where it is not achievable; it shall be by 75% majority;
(f) The National Conference shall advise the Government on the legal framework, legal procedures and options for integrating the decisions and outcomes of the national conference into the Constitution and laws of the country; and
(g) The National Conference shall have a Chairperson and a Deputy Chairperson of unimpeachable integrity.
8. Furthermore, the Federal Government has since approved the next steps necessary towards actualizing the National Conference as follows:
(i) 30th January, 2014 – Formal release of the modalities for the National Conference;
(ii) 30th January, 2014 – 20th February, 2014 Nomination of Delegates;
(iii) Inauguration of the Conference will follow soon after the delegate list is concluded.
9. Pursuant to the foregoing, the modalities for the nomination of delegates to the Conference are as provided in the attached table.
10. The list of nominees shall be submitted either online to www.osgf.gov.ng or in hard copy to the Office of the Permanent Secretary (Special Duties Office), Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Federal Secretariat Complex, Phase I, 3rd Floor, Central Business District, Abuja. Formal inauguration of the Conference shall follow as soon as the nominations are received and collated.
11. Thank you.
ANYIM PIUS ANYIM, GCON
Secretary to the Government of the Federation