Abuja (National Conference Report) – The Chairman and Principal Officers of the 2014 National Conference have said that their attention has been drawn to several publications and commentaries in the media arising from a press conference allegedly addressed by a delegate to the National Conference, Okon Osung from Akwa Ibom State.
A statement from the National Conference Secretariat in Abuja recently has indicated that at the said press conference, Okon Osung was said to have called for a Presidential Declaration of a Moratorium and was referred in the media as saying that at this crucial juncture in Nigerian history, a Presidential or National Assembly declaration of a politico-administrative moratorium or cooling-off period before the conduct of the third Transitional Elections scheduled for February 2015 has become an imperative.
The statement further revealed that he called for a postponement or deferment of the scheduled 2015 Elections by at least 18 months, while retaining all the democratic institutions at all levels of governance and across the entire spectrum of the country’s political divide, without any bias to the statutory termination dates of such democratic institutions.
“Ordinarily, we would have ignored as usual, issues raised by Okon Osung in his comments because as a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he has a right within the confines of the1999 Constitution (as amended) to express his personal opinions on any issue of his choice,” the statement indicated.
The National Conference Secretariat observed that certain members of the public have come to view the personal views of the delegate as having something to do with the Conference; stating that this was far from the truth.
The Secretariat explained that for the avoidance of doubt, the views expressed by Okon Osung regarding tenure extension for any elected official, based on any reasons cited by him are entirely personal to him and must not be viewed or regarded in any way as having anything to do with the National Conference or any of its Committees.
It further noted that such views were never expressed on the floor of the Conference, which did not sit in plenary as at the time the views were made public. Adding, it was never heard, never debated or discussed in any manner whatsoever in any of the Committees whose reports are already with the management of the Conference. “Both the leadership of the Conference and the other 491 members only read about them in the media just as members of the public did,” the Secretariat opined.
“Such a position by Okon Osung was never submitted to any of the 20 Committees set up by the National Conference to deliberate on and make recommendations on critical issues that necessitated the call and eventual convening of the National Conference by the President.”
According to the statement, none of the Committees discussed or recommended in their reports the issues mentioned in the Presidential Declaration of Moratorium as canvassed by the delegate in the media. It also noted that the National Conference, presided over by the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Idris Legbo Kutigi did not at any point make the issue of tenure extension for any elected official part of a term of reference of any of the 20 Committees.
“Neither President Goodluck Jonathan nor any of his associates or aides within or outside the Conference circle has made any representation directly or indirectly or has spoken to any member of the leadership or delegate to the Conference on the issue canvassed by Okon Osung. We are inclined to believe that Okon Osung is acting on personal conviction or interest and is not participating in the National Conference,” the Secretariat revered.
“The only relationship which Okon Osung has with the National Conference is that he is one of the 492 delegates. Whatever views he is canvassing in this regard should be seen and regarded as purely his personal opinion which has absolutely nothing to do with the Conference.”