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Civil Society Groups Criticise National Conference Composition
Musdapha Ilo, Maiduguri
As all seems set for the inauguration of the National Conference next Monday, civil society groups from the North East have alleged their exclusion from the talks, observing also that the composition was not representative.
One of such groups, a Coalition of Civil Societies Organization in the Northeast were insurgency is at its peak, described the conference as “a jamboree of fraudulent and selfish government agents without the full representation of the people at the local level.”
The group accused the government of manipulating the list of delegates released last week by the office of the secretary to the federal government,
In such a way that the names of those nominated to represent the region were totally excluded.
Secretary of the Coalition, Baba Shehu, who addressed journalists in Damaturu over the weekend expressed sadness that in addition to the fact that the names of the four nominated persons were missing on the list published, the region was also shot-changed as two instead of four slots was allocated to it.
“Apart from our complete ignorance of the names of delegates on the list, we have also noticed that the region has been short-changed by two delegates. Instead of the four names that we forwarded after our meeting on the 12/02/2014, none of the names came out only for us to see just two strange names on the list,” Shehu said.
The group said in view of the on-going security challenge, the region requires “true representation” at the conference to discuss its problems and does not deserve to be sidelined as is been done.
He added: “We therefore see this conference as a jamboree for fraudulent and selfish agents of government. We call on the government as a matter of urgency to revert to the true list of the delegates chosen by the people or consider the conference as a failure even before it gets on the way.”
Similarly, the executive director, Centre for Citizens with Disabilities, CCD, David Anyaele, has lamented the exclusion of hearing impaired persons from the list of delegates to attend the all important National Conference.
Anyaele said although six slots which presuppose the six major cluster group (the blind, deaf, intellectual, leprosy, physically challenged and persons with spinal cord injuries) were provided, those with hearing impairment were not represented on the list.
He urged government to immediately correct the mistake by making provision for sign language interpreters throughout the event.
“We want the government to include four sign language interpreters and the deaf on the list of delegates. This constant discrimination and exclusion of persons with disabilities is possible due to no prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of disability in the 1999 Constitution as amended,” he said.
Anyaele called on the Senate to urgently pass the Nigerian Disability Bill as done by the House of Representatives, expressing the view that the bill will help reduce discrimination, exclusion and isolation of Nigerians with disabilities among state and non-state participants.