Plateau State Governor Jonah Jang on Monday told the Senator Femi Okurounmun-led Presidential Advisory Committee on the Convocation of a National Conference to ensure that the outcome of the conference reflect the wishes of Nigerians.
Jang, who spoke when members of the committee visited him in his office in Jos, said the final outcome of the national dialogue should not be left to the lawmakers.
President Goodluck Jonathan had said that the conclusions reached during the national dialogue would be sent to the National Assembly for further debate and ratification.
Jang expressed regret that previous national conferences had not helped in solving the various problems facing the country but said he hoped the current exercise would meet the yearnings of the people.
He said, “The National Assembly should not have the final say on the document that will be produced at the end of the conference, but let it be one that will fulfil the yearnings and aspirations of all Nigerians.
“Members of the National Assembly should not feel that the national conference is taking over their job and I am also saying that the outcome of the conference should not be the subject of final ratification by them”.
The governor said that too much power had been concentrated at the centre and called for power to be devolved to states, stressing that one of the reasons the Nigerian federation had not worked was because of the glaring imbalance in development.
In one of the presentations at the interactive session, the National Leader of Middle Belt Forum, Prof Jerry Gana, suggested that the conference should be postponed till after the 2015 elections.
He said that the zone applauded the initiative of the national dialogue and is ready to make quality contributions towards its success.
Gana said, “With reference to timing of the conference, middle belt has two proposals: if the ongoing preparations can be concluded by December or January this year, the conference can sit for six months from February to July 2014 and submit its report in August. However, in view of preparations for the national election early 2015, it may be wiser to convene the conference after 2015 elections. As such, preparations for the conference could be perfected in 2014, but the actual convene for February/March 2015 and allowed to sit for the rest of the year 2015.
“With reference to the mode of representation, middle belt is also proposing a basket of selection or election criteria, namely, each ethnic nationality should be represented at the conference to ensure equity, social justice and self-determination.
“People should be allowed to elect the participants, government should not select delegates for the people; it should be purely a people-oriented programme if it must achieve its desired result.”
The stakeholders meeting was attended by some states in the North-Central zone as well as major ethnic and interest groups in the zone.