News Column

Confab Finally Adopts Religion C'tee Report After 2-Week Stalemate

June 11, 2014



The National Conference on Wednesday finally adopted the report of its Committee on Religion after two weeks of stalemate on some of its recommendations, which were termed "contentious".

This followed the resolution of the contentious issues by a consultative group constituted by the leadership of the conference.

The recommendation by the committee that government at all levels should stop funding pilgrimage, and the establishment of Religious Equity Commission (RECOM) sharply divided delegates along religious lines since May 27.

NAN reports that Deputy Chairman of the conference, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, had put the two issues to voice vote but they were too close to call.

However, while the "ayes" had simple majority, others drew attention to the Procedure Rule which stated that any decision not reached by consensus shall only be passed by a 70 per cent vote.

Consequently, the conference leadership put the issues in abeyance since then while the consultative group had been meeting regularly to break the impasse and arrive at a compromise.

At the resumed plenary today, Akinyemi informed delegates that "a lot of people have been working tirelessly to try and resolve these matters".

He then called on Alhaji Nuruden Lemu, (Co-Chairman of the Committee) "to explain to us how they resolved the issues".

Lemu explained that the committee had left out some detailed explanations in its report.

We felt that even though our report was small in size, the heat it generated was a testimony to the importance of the topics and to your own interest and passion regarding ensuring that we have an equitable resolution of these issues.

We also want to apologise for the fact that there were some details that we could have but we didn't put in our report because we just took it for granted that some of our proposals will be understood," he said.

After Lemu elucidated upon the consensus reached by the consultative group, Akinyemi informed delegates that the report should be ready for adoption.

Basically, what conference is being asked to do is to accept the recommendations as put into the report.

In order to convince us that this issue was right to bring before you, we insisted on evidence and we have over 350 signatures of people who have endorsed that this is the best way forward,he said.

Consequently, Akinyemi asked for a motion for the final adoption of the report and Justice Bilkisu Aliyu, moved a motion for its adoption and was seconded by Chief Mike Ahamba SAN.

When the deputy chairman put the recommendations as regards those two issues as put in the original report to voice votes, they were unanimously accepted.

NAN reports that the recommendation by the committee that government at all levels should stop funding pilgrimage was also interpreted to mean the scrapping of Pilgrims Welfare Boards.

The clauses read: "In consonance of Section 10 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999, government at all levels shall not utilise public funds to sponsor any religious pilgrimage for any category of citizens and government functionaries.

Government shall discontinue the sponsorship of official government delegations on any pilgrimage, for the same reasons as stated above.

Government in the exercise of its oversight responsibility to the citizens of Nigeria, shall provide normal consular services for the pilgrims through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the established foreign missions in the relevant destinations.

Similarly, the recommendation to establish an independent Religious Equity Commission is "to prohibit all forms of religious discrimination, religious victimisation, religious harassment, hate speeches and for matters connected therewith.

NAN reports that the report of the committee, co-chaired by Bishop Felix Ajakaiye and Lemu, was the ninth to be adopted by the conference out of 20.

(NAN)


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Source: AllAfrica


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