VOTING RULE: We’re not afraid of Nigeria’s break-up – Lamido Adamawa

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The Lamido of Adamawa yesterday responded to what he considered
attempts to blackmail northerners at the National Conference, saying
people like him are not afraid of Nigeria’s disintegration.

In a rare public outburst by a senior traditional ruler, Alhaji
Muhammadu Barkindo Mustapha spoke in the wake of the stalemate over
modality of voting which split delegates along regional lines.

“If something happens and the country disintegrates, God forbids, many
of those who are shouting their heads off will have nowhere to go,” he
said.

“But I and the people of Adamawa and many others have got somewhere to
go. I am the Lamido of Adamawa and my kingdom transcends Nigeria and
Cameroon. The larger part of my kingdom is in the Republic of Cameroun
and a part of that kingdom is in Chad Republic.”

He added: “Mr Chairman, a part of that kingdom, in Cameroun there is a
state called Adamawa presently in Cameroon. So, if I run to that
place, I will easily assimilate”.

Mustapha is one of the 13 delegates representing the National Council
of Traditional Rulers of Nigeria. He spoke at the plenary session of
the conference after making a written special request to the chairman
to be allowed to speak over the behavior of some delegates so far.

In the long-drawn dispute over voting modality, southerners wanted
decisions to be approved by a two-thirds majority, while northerners
demanded either consensus or a 75 per cent majority, as provided in
the Federal Government’s guidelines for the conference.

This has caused an acrimonious debate over three days, with delegates
from the opposing camps nearly coming to blows on Tuesday.

The Adamawa Emir said yesterday the mode of voting had already been
settled by President Jonathan, and “I want to plead for us to strictly
thread the part laid down by Mr President in his address which
includes pattern of voting unless we want to disobey our president,
then you can do whatever you want.”

Jonathan’s inauguration speech last week advocated consensus by
delegates in taking decisions.

Mustapha said the people causing most of the problems in Nigeria are
the people who have no place to go should the country disintegrate.

He warned that if such behavior continued, he would walk out along
with like-minded people.
“And if we are pushed to the wall, we will easily walk out of this
conference,” he said.

“And Mr Chairman, jingoism is not a monopoly of anyone. Everyone here
is a potential jingoist,” the Lamido said.

“Mr Chairman, I just want to sound a note of warning; that is why I
requested to be allowed to speak before the start of business today. I
have been sitting here for three days watching, listening. I attempted
twice to speak but I wasn’t given the chance.

“So, the note of warning I want to sound is that we shouldn’t take cue
from the so-called civilised people of the western countries because
they are always after their own interest and they could use anything,
coercive, force and other means to protect that interest.”

He added: “Mr Chairman, this lead to the debate on the behaviour of
some of the delegates here. It clearly beats my imagination on how a
gathering of people like us will behave the way we are behaving.

“Mr President delivered his address here and laid down what we are
supposed to discuss and what not to discuss but many people here,
sorry to say that, some elder statesmen who claim to be staunch
loyalists of the president, but unfortunately these people are in the
forefront to contradict what the president said in his address.

“He said that at the rate we are going, in the long run, if we are not
careful, this conference will flop, God forbid and if it flops, the
resultant effect cannot be imagined by any of us here.”

The monarch’s remarks elicited anger from many delegates, but that did
not stop him from continuing with his comments.

When the murmuring became loud, a delegate went to the Lamido and
pleaded with him to calm down, and subsequently took the microphone
from him.

The conference session ended yesterday without breaking the deadlock
over voting modality. A committee of 50 leaders has now been appointed
to discuss and come up with an acceptable way out.


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