Ahead of deliberations at the committee level scheduled to commence on Tuesday, the Chairman of the ongoing National Conference and former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Idris Legbo Kutigi, has announced a change of venue for some of the standing committees.
A statement issued on Monday evening in Abuja by the Assistant Secretary (Media and Communications), Mr. Akpandem James, said while Committees 1-12 will hold their sessions at the National Judicial Institute, Committees 11 to 20 hitherto scheduled to sit at the Sheraton Hotels and Towers will now hold their sessions at the NICON Luxury Hotel, near the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
According to him, the change in venue for the second set of committees became necessary when it was obvious that the venue announced earlier will not be available for the number of days envisaged.
Committees 1-12 are: the Committees on Devolution of Power; Political Restructuring and Forms of Government; National Security; Environment; Politics and Governance; Law, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Reform; Social Sector; Transportation; Science Technology and Development; and Agriculture.
Committees 11 to 20 are the Committees on: Civil Society, Labour and Sports; Public Service; Political Parties and Electoral Matters; Foreign Policy and Electoral Matters; Land Tenure and National Boundaries; Economy, Trade and Investment; Energy; Religion; Public Finance and Revenue; and Immigration and Related Matters.
While apologising to the delegates for the sudden change, Justice Kutigi said coffee and lunch breaks would be observed at the respective venues that the committees will sit.
The statement advised delegates to go straight to their respective venues as they resume from the Easter break.
Justice Kutigi had stated last week that two venues had to be created for the Committees to sit because of the inadequacy of Committee Rooms at the National Judicial Institute, main venue of the Conference.
The plenary session of the Conference drew to a temporary close on Thursday last week as delegates got set to move into committee sessions.
In addition, the list of 20 Standing Committees and their chairmen, co-chairmen and deputy chairmen had been announced with the intention that on resumption from the Easter Break, delegates would move straight into committee sessions to deliberate on crucial issues aimed at redressing certain imbalances in the Nigerian polity.
Details of the announcement indicated that of the 20 Standing Committees approved by the Conference to discuss various issues, five are headed by two co-chairmen each while the remaining fifteen are headed by a chairman each and a deputy chairman.
Following the adoption of the Work Plan which indicated that Committee work would begin on Tuesday April 22 and would end on Wednesday April 30, some of the members argued that the time allocated to committee work was too short in view of the exhaustive and thorough job expected to be done.
However, Justice Kutigi advised delegates to first get down to work; and if it becomes necessary to extend the time, the appropriate representation will be made to that effect. He explained that the Work Plan was drawn based on the time allotted to the Conference by the Federal Government; and that any attempt at arbitrary adjustment could be misunderstood even by the general public who may misconstrue the motive.
He however assured that everything would be done to ensure that lack of time does not hinder the justification of the Conference but urged delegates to properly articulate their points at the committee level and be opened to suggestions from others. Delegates who have useful position papers that can help committees other than their own are also encouraged to forward such documents to the appropriate committees.
The Work Plan indicates that Conference would receive reports from committees and commence deliberations on May 5 and May 6 before breaking the plenary again for participation in the World Economic Forum which will hold in Abuja.
Deliberation on the various committee reports will resume on May 12 and will last till May 15 when deliberations would be completed.
Between May 19 to 29, the Conference Secretariat, working with the Report Drafting Committee, will put the report together and present such to the Conference in plenary.
Consideration and adoption of the draft reports by the Conference in plenary will start on June 2 and will end on June 12 after which the final report would be produced and signed between June 16 and 19.