President Goodluck Jonathan has approved some changes to the list of 492 delegates submitted last week for the National Conference.
This was confirmed Thursday in a statement signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, who announced the replacement of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) from Ekiti State, Chief Afe Babalola, with Dr. Kunle Olajide to represent the state.
Based on the request of the National Council of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria, Anyim further announced changes pertaining to the traditional ruler representing the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), with the Etsu of Bwari, Alhaji Ibrahim Yaro, replacing the Sarki of Karshi, Alhaji Ismail Danlami Mohammed.
Other changes include the National Council of Women Societies (NCWS), which will now be represented by Mrs. Millicent Okoronkwo, who will replace Mrs. Love Ezema.
Similarly, the All Progressives Grand Allianceâ€™s (APGA) nominees â€“ Chief Chris Ejike Uche and Dr. Sagir Auwal Maidoya â€“ were withdrawn to allow the party resolve the issue of its representation at the conference.
Also affected were the socio-political/cultural and ethnic nationality groups from the South-west geopolitical zone, as Rabiu Oluwa has replaced Supo Sonibare, while Oba Kehinde Olugbenle would replace Niyi Akintola (SAN) whose name was retained in the Oyo State delegatesâ€™ list.
Other changes include national academies, with Professor Layi Erinosho nominated by the Academy of Social Sciences (ASS) to fill the single slot allocated to the academy, while the former governorsâ€™ forum, nominated Alhaji Mohammed Goni from Borno State to fill the slot for the North-east geopolitical zone.
In addition, the following state governments have submitted a nominee each to fill the vacant slots in their respective state delegatesâ€™ list: Delta State – Chief Isaac O. Jemide; Edo State – Prof. Eddy Erhagbe; Oyo State – Chief (Mrs.) Onikepo Akande; Rivers State – Chief Sampson Agbaru; and Yobe State – Abubakar Buba Galadima.
Other additions included Hon. Wole Oshun, Mr. Ledum Mitee, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Anthony Akika, Alhaji Sule Iyaji and former Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Abdulmumuni M. Abubakar, bringing the total number of delegates to 492.
However, the changes to the delegatesâ€™ list have not gone down well with some groups, as the Association of Former Speakers of State Legislatures of Nigeria has condemned the alteration of the list of delegates it sent to the National Conference.
The former speakers, in a communiquÃ© at the end of a meeting primarily convened to discuss the development, described the action as unfortunate and out of tune with the spirit behind the convocation of the conference.
The communiquÃ© signed by the Chairman, Mr. Simon Lalong, Secretary, Mr. Stanley Ohajuruka and Publicity Secretary, Mr. Friday Itula, said sequel to the allotment of six delegates to them through a letter from the Office of the SGF, they had chosen Mr. Habu Isa Ajiya, North-east (Taraba State), Mr. Mohammed Yaro, North-west (Kaduna State) and Mr. Simon Lalong, North-central (Plateau State).
Others were Mr. Stanley Ohajuruka, South-east (Abia State), Mr. Azeez Alarape, South-west (Oyo State), and Mr. David Iyoha, South-south (Edo State).
They however regretted that the federal government, in tinkering with the list, substituted four of the proposed delegates with other names and therefore urged the government to revert to the original list in the interest of justice and fairness.
In rejecting the substitution, the former speakers said the list of delegates was chosen after a careful deliberation and with all the former speakers in attendance.
The communiquÃ© read: â€œIt would be recalled that the federal government via a release from the Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation allotted six delegates to the forum and thereafter a meeting of the whole members was conveyed in Abuja on the 17th February, 2014 with a large turnout of members across the federation and after deliberation, dialogue, consultation, election and consensus, the underlisted were nominated as forum nominees to the said conference and a letter to that effect was communicated and acknowledged by the Office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation on the 18th February, 2014.
â€œHowever, to our chagrin, surprise, dismay and embarrassment, four of our delegates were substituted and this unfortunate and condemnable act was frowned at by the entire members of the association.
â€œThe entire members condemned in strong terms the purported substitution of our original and authentic list by a few minorities who allegedly claims they are acting from the above.
â€œThat the federal government should note that the Association of Former Speakers is one indivisible unit and not a National Conference formed association. As a result, the honour, dignity and respect accorded the Senatorsâ€™ and House of Representatives Forum should be extended to us.”