Many had feared the three months allotted the National Conference sitting at present in Abuja might be too small for the work before the delegates. But they had feared the state of the economy might make it difficult for President Jonathan to agree to any extension. Some also felt the president may damn all that and give the confab more time and more money. Not a few would agree that the conference and its work are dear indeed to President Jonathan and he may do anything for our delegates in Abuja. But has he extended the time for the confab? Assistant Secretary, Media and Communications of the confab Akpandem James said no afew weeks ago, despite the deluge of newspaper reports that the confab had been extended by six weeks. It was a minor adjustment in schedule to give the committee more time to finish their work and submit their reports to the secretariat not more time for the confab per see. Just check Akpandem’s clarification: “The attention of the National Conference Secretariat has been drawn to media reports indicating that the Federal Government has extended the duration of the National Conference by six weeks. The information is not only misleading but untrue in fact.
“If there is need for an extension, a request for that would emanate from the Conference Secretariat to the Presidency, and as at the time of issuing this statement no such request has been made to the Presidency and the Secretariat is not aware of any formal extension of the conference duration by the Federal Government, as reported in some sections of the media.
As part of its engagement with delegates, the leadership of the Conference had a meeting with Chairmen, Co-Chairmen and Deputy Chairmen of the 20 standing committees to keep abreast with the activities of the committees and also find out if there are challenges that the intervention of the secretariat would be required.
“During the meeting most of the committee chairmen complained of the shortness of time for committee work, citing the heavy workload and relevant assistance they would require from external sources to do a thorough job. It was then agreed that one extra week should be added to enable the committees tidy up their activities and present meaningful reports.
“However, since the following week beginning from Monday May 5 to Thursday May 8 (sitting days), will see Abuja hosting the World Economic Forum, and because some delegates to, and facilities used for the National Conference will be involved and engaged respectively for the Economic Forum, the week following from Monday May 12 to Thursday May 15 was consequently approved for the extension, for conclusion of committee work.
“As a follow-up to that agreement, the Conference Secretary, Dr. (Mrs) Valerie-Janette Azinge, formally communicated the decision to all committee chairmen on Wednesday, April 30. It was clearly entitled “EXTENSION OF TIME FOR COMMITTEE WORK”.
Now the confab secretariat has eaten its words. On Thursday, it announced a four-week extension for the conference. Any need to say more?
Methinks the Federal Government was opposed to the listing of Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organization. That was around 2012/2013 when even at that time it was estimated that the Islamic sect had killed about 2000 people and maimed many more. The government’s argument then was such would be giving undue attention to Boko Haram and the listing and the accompanying sanctions may have a backlash on innocent Nigerians. But many more killings and maiming later by the same sect, many more destructions and burning and looting of government institutions and the abduction of over 200 girls from Chibok Secondary School in Borno State, the government now welcomes foreign interventions and support and the blacklisting of Boko Haram. The United Nations’ Security Council on Thursday listed the sect on the sanctions list. United States had last year listed Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist organization.