Delegates to the National Conference continued with their brickbats yesterday, as a traditional ruler, popularly known as Lamido Adamawa, Alhaji Muhammed Barkindo Mustapha, saying that people of his “kingdom” would easily join their kith and kin in Cameroun if Nigeria breaks.
Addressing the delegates at the ongoing National Conference in Abuja, the royal father, apart threatening to lead his people to join Camoroun also stated that he would lead delegates from his area to stage a walkout from the conference.
His comments provoked a lot of uproar from delegates, who called on Chairman of the Conference, Justice Idris Kutigi to call the traditional ruler to order.
The Lamido Adamawa, who was speaking during a debate on the proposal to call for a memoranda from members of the public to aid the work of the conference, chose to stun the audience. He said: “Mr. Chairman, I want to sound a note of warning.”
He criticised delegates agitating for standard practice on the issue of voting benchmark, insisting: “We should not take a cue from the so-called civilised people of western countries because they are always after their own interest and they can use anything, including coercion to protect that interest.
“I have been sitting here for three days now watching and listening. We should not take cue from the so-called civilised people of western countries because they are always after their own interest and they can use anything, including coercion to protect that interest. Listening to the debates and behaviour of some of the delegates here, it beats my imagination why a gathering of people like us will behave the way we are.”
At this point, some delegates started calling on Justice Kutigi to intervene and stop the emir.
Kutigi’s attempt to call him to order failed, as the royal father insisted on concluding his address. He continued saying: “The President delivered an address and laid down what we are supposed to discuss and what not to discuss. But many people here, some of them elder statesmen, who claim to be strong loyalists of president (the delegates increased their murmur) unfortunately, these people are in the forefront to contradict what the president has said.
“In the long run, if we are not careful, this conference will flop. God forbid. If it flops, the resultant effect will not be imaginable. If anything happens and the country disintegrates, God forbid, many of us who are shouting their heads off may not have anywhere to go.
“My people and the people of Adamawa have got somewhere to go. I am the Lamido of Adamawa and my kingdom extends to Cameroun. The larger part of my kingdom is in Cameroun. Part of that kingdom is today called Adamawa State in Cameroun. You see, if I run to that place, I will easily assimilate.”
Though his comments were greeted with shouts of “no, no” and calls for point of order, the royal father however, urged Kutigi to take charge of the conference and not allow himself to be pushed too hard by the delegates, warning that he and his people may stage a walk out if need be.
“I want to call on the chairman to please thread the path laid down by the president, which includes the pattern of voting. If we are pushed to the wall, we will easily walk out of this conference. Jingoism is not the exclusive preserve of anyone. Everyone here is a potential jingo,” he further threatened.
Meanwhile other delegates who contributed to the debate insisted on calling for memoranda from the public.
The mood in the house got charged when, after the opening prayers, with the national anthem omitted, Justice Kutigi asked if the delegates were disposed to having memoranda from the public.
In the debate that followed, an elder statesman, Dr. Kunle Olajide, urged the House to call for memoranda from the public against views by Dr. Bello Mohammed (Kebbi State) that such would be time wasting.
Mohammed had stated: “The advisory committee for this conference went round and called for memo, whereby people submitted memoranda and specified areas they want us to discuss. I suggest that we should go back to those memoranda submitted then and work with them. Calling for fresh memoranda will waste time.”
Mohammed’s views won the support of Chief (Mrs.) Josephine Anenih, who said: “We should be mindful of time frame that we have. We have spent one week going to two and haven’t started. Calling for memoranda will eat into our time. I don’t think it is necessary. We come from various interest groups and zones. We sit here from Monday till Thursday. We can use the weekend to go back to our people and ask what they want. If not, we should not ask for memo at this time. We should go to task at hand.”
Chief Dozie Ikedife, who represents ethnic nationalities, explained: “The committee that went round gathered information about modalities, not about input,” while urging the conference to call for memoranda from the public.
“We should invite the public to make input, no matter how trivial,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammad Maigari (Sokoto State) also threw his weight behind the need to call for memoranda from the public saying: “I will like to believe that it is important and significant to allow general public to make input into what we are doing. It is important we become more democratic and listen to the people who sent us. Let the secretariat invite the public to send it memoranda and we can go round and collect them from those who cannot send them electronically.”
A youth delegate, Mosunmola Umoru, who informed the House of the readiness of the youths to set up twitter handles to help collate views from members of the public, said: “I strongly support the motion for us to call for public memoranda. A lot of your children out there want to lend their voices to what is going on here.”
Following popular support for the proposal, Justice Kutigi put it to a voice vote, whereby the resounding “yes” won it.
The House also agreed to a two-week period within which memoranda would be sent from members of the public. It adjourned at 10:50am to resume at 4:00pm, after some delegates were called in to meet with the chairman in order to harmonise positions on the heated issue of voting benchmark, which had polarised the conference along North and South divides.