From Jefferson Ibiwale, Benin
A meeting organised by members of the Femi Okunroumun-led national dialogue committee for people of the South-south region, ended in confusion after the Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomhole expressed the view that the conference was completely unnecessary.
Oshiomhole said in Benin that the conference was bound to end up like previous conferences which did not yield and results, a comment that divided the hall in two opposing sides and eventually brought the meeting to an abrupt end as there were reports of threats.
“It is my view that the conference will not be different from past conferences which did not produce any result,” the governor said.
The governor’s comment led to an uproar with shouts of “no, no, no,”renting the venue, just as some people walked out.
Angered by the development, a member of the committee,Tony Nyam, a retired colonel, challenged Oshiomhole causing confusion with his views.
By the time the committee members finally calmed down the participants drawn from Edo, Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers States, over half of them had left the hall.
The meeting continued shortly aftr but a participant soon alleged that his life had been threatened. Which prompted Okunroumun to bring the meeting to an end unceremoniously.
Different ethnic nationalities and civil society groups which earlier presented papers, appeared to be in agreement that ethnicity should form the basis of selecting majority of participants to the national conference, even as they gave it a time frame between three and six months.
Among issues canvassed were restructuring of the federation to ensure fiscal federalism, resource control and devolution of powers.
Earlier, the chairman of the committee had expressed happiness over the impressive turnout by Nigerians at the different venues of its sittings.
“Nigerians have accepted the need to have this conference. We have been to four centres Minna, Akure, Jos and Calabar, and the turnout has been impressive and overwhelming,” he said.
He noted that in all the centres, Nigerians came from the rural areas, even from the remotest villages to make their presentations.
“We have been listening to different groups and views, but no single group who threatens to dismember Nigeria has come before us. Nigerians all over the world are entitled to submit their views,” Okunroumun said.
He assured the views expressed will reflect in its report and would set the agenda for government and governance.