National Dialogue: How Shall We Credibly Choose the 558 National Conference Delegates?

Posted: February 11, 2014 in Uncategorized

MID-WEEK ESSAY:  And How Shall We Credibly Choose the 558 National Conference DelegateMobolaji  E. Aluko, PhD 

By Mobolaji  E. Aluko, PhD



In the recently announced Federal Government count of delegates for the upcoming National Conference, a total number of 492 delegates was outlined, broken up into about twenty-seven different constituencies that can be grouped as follows:

(Group 1) Civil Societies  (12 Constituencies) – 120 delegates

(Group 2) Ethnic Nationalities  (1 Constituency) – 90 delegates

(Group 3) President/Federal/State Government-Appointed Delegates (7 Constituencies) – 184 delegates

(Group 4) Political Parties  (1 Constituency) – 25 delegates

(Group 5) Others (6 Constituencies of Retireds & Formers + Traditional Rulers)  –  73 delegates

TOTAL – (27 Constituencies) – 492 delegates

A Few Observations

We will notice that the Government-appointed delegates constitute the largest single block (184 or 37.4% of total delegate count).  Furthermore,  there is in fact scope for serious government intervention in choosing a total of 282  (or 57.3%) of the delegates (Groups 3 – 5).  More worrying is the fact that there is apparently NO specific room for ORDINARY Nigerians, unattached to any elite groups, to make an input.

In this essay, therefore, I urge a re-organization of the blocks of delegates into sharper ones to correct these anomalies.  Furthermore in a departure from less to more, but  for mathematically and politically-pragmatic reasons given below – I suggest five-hundred and fifty-eight delegates: no more, no less.

Why Five-Hundred and Fifty Eight Delegates?

The number 558 can be considered the sum of several blocks of  numbers:

558  =  {520} + {38} = {(130*4) + (38} = {[504] + [16]}  + {[2] + [36]}   = {[(4)*(6)*(6)*(3.5)]   +   [(4)*(4)]} + {[2] + [36]}

First,  all the delegates will be divided equally (130 each) among four GROUPS of delegates, with a Convener designated for each to start the ball rolling, first for DISCUSSIONS within each group, followed by selection or election of delegates: 

(1) Sub-Conference of Civil Societies  SCSS- 130 delegates (4 from FCT + 126 from 6 geopolitical zones (21 each) ; or 2 each from 65 groups, or 5 each from 26 groups, etc.) Convener: Presidents of NBA, NLC and NCWS

(2) Sub-conference of Ethnic Nationalities SCEN – 130 delegates ([2 each from 65 groups], or [4 from 32 groups + 2 from FCT], 5 each from 26 groups, etc.] Convener: Presidents of Afenifere, ACF, SSA and Ohanaeze

(3)  Sub-conference of Elected Legislators SCEL – 130 delegates [4 from Abuja,  + 14 delegates per state  (from Senate (3)  to House of Assembly (6)  to State Assembly (3) to Local Government (2)).]  This is by nature a partisan group. Convener:  Senate President, Speaker of House of Representative

(4) Sub-conference of Nigerian Masses SCNM – 130 delegates (14 delegates per state + 4 from Abuja, selected or elected by the participants themselves from ward level through state level.]   Convener: Campaign for Democracy. SNG, 

Finally, we would have 38 individuals from the following group:

(5) Sub-conference of Government Delegates – 38 delegates [Chairman chosen by President, Secretary chosen by FGN, and one Elder Statesman each chosen by each State Governor]

Thus, the number 520 was carefully chosen so that each group can decide within itself whether it wishes to choose its equally membership  by state (36 states), or by geo-political zone (6 geo-zones), or even by numbers, always including Abuja (FCT) – even if un-equally –  in the mix wherever possible.   Furthermore, if the President/FGN/States insist on choosing some delegates, then the President can confine itself to choosing the Chairman, the FGN to choose the Secretary, and the Governors choose one Elder Statesman each – to bring the total delegate count to 558. Finally, if we presume that the quorum for the conference is one-third, then with five groups less than about 25% each, no one group can by itself form a quorum and/or dominate the Conference. 

Tenure of the National Conference 

After being convened,

(1) each Sub-Conference should meet for two months at various venues around the country to deliberate on issues (no No-Go areas) and choose their delegates for the Abuja-based National  Conference;  then

(2)  the NC should meet in Abuja for two months and come out with an outline of the Peoples’ Constitution;  

(3) the NBA should meet for one month in Lagos to hammer out legal language for the new Constitution, and

(4)  within a month, a Referendum for a Peoples Constitution should be organized and the Constitution voted upon line-by-line, followed by

(5) FORMAL approval by the National Assembly/assent by the President.

This should all be done in good time before the 2015 Presidential Elections PRIMARIES.  If we start this process in April 2014 – before when LEGISLATIVE backing for the NC should be obtained by the President in the National Assembly, otherwise the process may turn out to be a farce – we can wrap it all up in September 2014, and get the new Constitution signed on October 1,  2014

 A great Centenary gift that would be, and there we would have it.



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