Delegates to the National Conference on Monday closed their ranks and adopted 70 per cent majority as the voting mode to be used in taking decisions at the conference.
The agreement followed the adoption of the recommendation of the 50-member Consensus Group selected by the conference Chairman, Justice Idris Kutigi (retd.), last Wednesday.
Delegates from the North and South had disagreed on the modality to reaching decisions in the absence of a consensus.
While delegates from the North asked for retention of three quarters in the National Conference Procedure Rules 2014, those from the South wanted two-thirds majority in the absence of a consensus.
On resumption of the plenary in Abuja, the Vice-Chairman of the conference, Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, informed the delegates of the 70 per cent majority recommended by the consensus group.
He then called for discussions on the recommendation. But there was an overwhelming call for a motion on the recommendation.
Proceedings at the conference were stalled last week as delegates failed to reach a consensus on whether or not to adopt 66 per cent or 75 per cent majority as the voting mode on decisions taken at the conference.
The particular issue in contention was Order VI Rule 3 of the Procedure Rule, which provides that any decision in the conference shall be decided by at least a three-quarter majority.
The Rule reads, “Any questions proposed for decision in the conference shall be determined by a consensus and when this is not achievable, by a three-quarter majority of the delegates present and voting.”
While some delegates wanted the conventional two-thirds majority to be adopted in arriving at decisions, others wanted the three-quarter majority to be retained.
This necessitated the setting up of the 50-man consensus group by the delegates, to confer with the principal officers, so as to break the deadlock.
Consequently, the conference adjourned plenary on Wednesday, March 27, till Monday, March 31, to enable the consensus group and the principal officers to engage in wider consultations on the matter.
At the resumed plenary on Monday, Akinyemi presented the report of the outcome of the consultative meeting to the house.
He said, “The committee met on March 25 and 26, 2014. Deliberations during these meetings were cordial. Delegates worked in harmony to develop and put into effective use, the spirit of consensus building with the national interest at heart.
“At the conclusion of deliberations, members reached a decision to amend Order VI Paragrapgh 4, XI paragraph 2 and XII paragraph 4 (e) as follows:
“In the case of failure to reach a consensus, the matter shall be decided by a majority vote of 70 per cent of delegates present and voting.
“That is the recommendation which that committee is bringing to you, distinguished delegates.”
After his presentation, Akinyemi then called for discussions, but there was overwhelming call for a motion on the recommendation of the consensus group.
Moving the motion for adoption of the recommendation, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, representing the Former Senators Forum, said, “I hereby move the motion for the adoption of the committee of the 50 wisemen on 70 per cent voting right.”
A former Akwa Ibom State Governor, Obong Victor Attah, seconded the motion.
After calling for a voice vote, Akinyemi ruled in favour of the motion to adopt 70 per cent majority vote for the conference.
The conference also agreed that the various committees should choose their chairmen and secretaries.
It also called for submission of thematic papers on or before the close of business on Thursday.
Earlier, a minute silence was observed for the dead delegate from Bauchi State, Hamma Misau. Misau was representing retired police officers at the conference.
Kutigi however rejected a suggestion by the National Chairman of the Labour Party, Mr. Dan Nwanyanwu, that the submission of the Lamido Adamawa, Dr. Muhammadu Mustapha, be adopted in the minutes.
Prof. A.B.C. Nwosu, representing Anambra State, asked for the review of the work plan because most of the committees raised were outside the mandate given by President Goodluck Jonathan. PUNCH