As the drums continue to beat louder and faster for the National conference, strong signals are emerging as to who the players and the spectators are likely to be at the Confab.
Emerging reports suggest that the Hausa/Fulani north are not quite ready neither are they fully in support of a national conference which is likely to question the rights and privileges they enjoy under the present system. However the Arewa joint body continues to meet and dialogue in the interest of the north.
Ndigbo on their part appear to be dilly-dallying over leadership issues and who their spokespersons should be. Ohanaeze Ndigbo has, however, said that the group had chosen 30 possible representatives and was working to narrow the number down to the approved 15.
But the people to watch seem to be the Yoruba, who although formally divided about the conference are now mending fences and strategizing on how to present a united front based on Yoruba interests and aspirations.
Reliable sources said the desire to present a common agenda is now paramount among the Yoruba top leaders. Several Pan-Yoruba organizations and leaders, including those in the All Progressive Congress (APC) who previously had misgivings about the confab gathered in Isara-Remo, home of Chief Olaniwun Ajayi in Ogun State, recently, under the leadership of the chairman of Afenifere, Chief Reuben Fasoranti, to take a common position on the Yoruba agenda. The issue of the 15 delegates that would represent the region and other key issues were resolved at the meeting. It was reportedly decided that each of the six Yoruba states should produce two delegates while the remaining three delegates should be left to the leadership to decide.
One of the issues gaining their attention is the right of secession. Other concerns are regional police, a new system of government and boundary adjustment – the Yoruba federation should maintain the six-region state with some boundary adjustments to accommodate Ekiti in Kwara to join Ekiti State, Igbomina and Ibolo in Kwara to join Osun State.
The Yorubas also favour the Westminster model of parliamentary system of government, power devolution from central to federal units, review of resource control and the limiting of immunity of elected officials to only civil cases.
National co-ordinator Oodua People’s Congress (OPC) Gani Adama was one of those who met in Ogun state, stressed that “what is critical to the Yoruba is self autonomy “
While previous reports suggest a division among Ndigbo, more recent reports indicate a gradual resolution. Former vice president Chief Alex Ekwueme is said to be the likely choice to lead the 15-man delegation from the region.
Secretary general Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr Joe Nworgu who made the disclosure said 30 names had been shortlisted from which Ohanaeze’s President Chief Gary Igariwey would choose 15.
Dr Nworgu denied any division among the group and said Ohanaeze had been consulting with stakeholders and would come up with a firm position.
“Ohanaeze is having widespread consultations especially with the pillars of Ohanaeze, past president-general, key members of Ime-obi and all the organizations. Ndigbo Lagos, Aka ikenga Lagos, Izu Umunna Jos, Igbo delegates Assembly that leads all the Igbo in Northern Nigeria then the Igbo in the Diaspora led by chairman of Ohanaeze committee for the Diaspora, Dr Anakwenze,” he said, adding that Ndigbo would be ready for the conference.
Earlier, however, President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Anambra State Elder Chris Eluemunoh, had reportedly warned Governor Rochas Okorocha and Prof Ben Nwabueze not to speak on behalf of Ndigbo.
Unconfirmed reports said Prof Nwabueze, a constitutional lawyer, and leader of a group called “concerned Igbo Leaders of thought” said the group had produced a position for the South East geopolitical zone with a strong and balanced federation as its nucleus. But his claim was dismissed by Ohanaeze.