This report will not be wasted—Jonathan tells Nigerians as he closes 2014 confab
“You have done your patriotic duty; we the elected people must do our own…Let me assure you that your work is not going to be a waste of time and resources…”
With these reassuring words, well applauded by an excited crowd, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan brought to a close on Thursday August 21, the 2014 National Conference inaugurated on March 17, 2014.
He said with the conclusion of deliberations at the conference and with the voluminous reports submitted by the Conference Chairman, Justice Idris Kutigi, GCON, “Our moment for national rebirth is here. We have to rekindle hope.”
The President, accompanied by Vice President Mohammed Namadi Sambo and some ministers, praised the 494 members of the conference for arriving at every decision through consensus without an option of a vote or division.
He said the quality of debate and the depth of contributions added to the ability of the delegates to resolve every argument without burying or suspending them was indicative of the fact that “it is a new dawn in Nigeria and a new nation is at the door.”
President Jonathan expressed gratitude to the delegates for displaying deep patriotic zeal which has led to the successful accomplishment of the idea behind the conference which was that of creating a platform for sincere dialogue among the citizens.
The President was emphatic that the success of the conference has proved cynics wrong in many respects and has built a new architecture of national development as the country moves into the next 100 years of its existence.
He promised that since nobody has monopoly of wisdom in national affairs, the relevant aspects of the reports and recommendations would be sent to both the Council of States and the National Assembly for necessary action.
He paid tributes to four members of the conference who died in the course of the national assignment. He also consoled Justice Kutigi on the death of his wife during the conference period.
Secretary to Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, in a brief remark, said the event of the day was based on the invitation of the Conference Chairman indicating that the conference had concluded its proceedings and was ready to submit the report.
While submitting the report, Justice Kutigi said the purpose of the conference included addressing the fears, disappointments, aspirations and hopes, “which have accumulated over 100 years.
Under the circumstance, he said “it is only to be expected that the debate would be robust; and indeed the debates were robust. It was only to be expected that tempers would fly; and tempers did fly.
“We did not try to ignore or bury our differences. We addressed these differences while respecting the dignity of those holding these differences and sought to construct solutions which would become building blocks for a just and stable nation.”
Justice Kutigi disclosed that at the end of the conference, more than 600 resolutions dealing with issues of law, issues of policy and issues of constitutional amendments were approved.
He assured that the resolutions did not deal with inconsequential or frivolous issues; “we showed courage in tackling substantial and fundamental issues.”
The chairman said adopting all the resolutions through consensus; “is a message that we wish the world to hear loud and clear. Nigerians are capable of not only discussing their differences but are also capable of coming up with solutions to these difficulties.”
Submitted to the President on Thursday were 22 volumes of reports and annexures totaling about 10, 335 pages.
Justice Kutigi explained that with the submission of the report, “we have finally laid to rest the apprehension that a national conference will lead to the disintegration of Nigeria. We have held a national conference and we are more united today than ever.”
The conference chairman disclosed that not once did President Jonathan interfere in the work of the conference.
He said: “the only time we tried to consult the President during the conflict over voting percentages at the very beginning of the conference, we were told that the issue was for us to resolve. At no time after that did you meet with us or speak to us.”
The chairman expressed to the National Assembly “the greatest respect of all members of the 2014 National Conference. We accept that the National Assembly has a pivotal role to play in ensuring that the conference report translates into law.”
Earlier on Wednesday, at a dinner hosted by Justice Kutigi for the delegates, Vice President Sambo had praised the delegates for successfully accomplishing the mission of the national conference describing their effort as a “no mean feat.”
He said despite all odds against the hosting of the conference, delegates stood firm and delivered to Nigeria a living document that would usher the country into the next centenary.
The Vice President described the 2014 National Conference as the “broadest national conference” where all matters for the stability of Nigeria were freely discussed without any interference from any quarters.
He said the quality of deliberation was not only outstanding, “your capacity to pull back from the brink was the hallmark of 2014 National Conference.”
While recalling some strategic moments at the conference, Sambo declared, “Because you stood up for Nigeria, Nigeria will stand up for you.” At this point all the delegates rose to applaud him.
Justice Kutigi had congratulated and thanked all the delegates for the nationalistic roles they played in ensuring that the conference came to a memorable conclusion, adding: “history will forever be kind to you.”
He said the delegates were outstanding both in deliberation and contribution of ideas which enabled the conference to accomplish its mission.
“Your comportment, mature reasoning, and articulate presentation of persuasive opinions towards resolutions of critical and even controversial issues will always be remembered.
“It was my joy and national pride to serve as chairman of the conference in which you played such a significant role as delegates. My interaction with you has once again rekindled my hope of a better Nigeria for the present and future generations.”
He paid tributes to some of the delegates who died in the course of the convocation namely: Barrister Hamma Misau, Dr Mohammed Jumare, Professor Dora Akunyili and Professor Mohammed Nur Alkali.
Conference Deputy Chairman, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, in his remarks, said the conference was only a success because of the maturity and comportment of the Conference Chairman, Justice Kutigi.
Describing Justice Kutigi as a righteous steadfast judge, Akinyemi said the chairman was prepared at all times to over-rule anybody in defence of the vision and principle of the conference.
“We had in our chairman, a Nigerian without any trace of prejudice. If every Nigerian behaves like Justice Kutigi, this country is set on a path of greatness.”
Also speaking, Chief Ediwn Clark who led the southern delegation said: “we came in, we came out and we conquered.”
He said the conference has brought a renewed Nigeria ready to face the challenges of the future.
He earned a huge applause when he called on the President to ensure the implementation of the resolutions of the conference to justify its convocation.
Clark said at the beginning of the conference, it was clear that the delegates would disagree to agree; describing the conference as a forum where Nigerians decided to discuss and debate the Nigeria of the future.
He said the conference has proven that “we will continue to live together in this country; we have nowhere else to go. We are all true Nigerians. A new beginning has started, a new Nigeria has started.”
In his comments, former Inspector General of Police and leader of the northern delegation to the conference, Ibrahim Coomasie harped on the need for unity of the country.
He said whatever the northern delegates protested or shouted against during the conference, “we did so for one Nigeria.”
Coomasie thanked the leadership of the conference for managing the delegates in spite of the load of work before them.
It was his believe that after the conference and with all the resolutions adopted, the next 100 years will be a better 100 years for Nigeria.
Every delegate to the conference was decorated with a medal of honour by the Vice President. They also went home with certificate of participation, a diary, a conference plaque and a photobook.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY, MEDIA AND COMMUNICATIONS