THE just-concluded National Conference succeeded largely because of non-interference by the Presidency in the deliberations, Deputy Chairman of the conference, Prof Bolaji Akinyemi, has said.
Akinyemi, who spoke exclusively to Saturday Vanguard in Abuja yesterday, said that the leadership was grateful to President Goodluck Jonathan for not trying directly or remotely to teleguide the delegates as was the case with previous conferences.
The former Foreign Affairs Minister, who has taken part of many political conferences, noted that previous conferences failed to achieve set objectives because of the ‘unseen hands’ that tried to dictate to the delegates.
The one-time Director General of Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, NIIA, explained that the free hand given the leadership to manage the deliberations made it possible for Nigerians to decide for themselves how the country should be run.
Akinyemi said: “The wisdom of the president in not micro-managing the conference made it possible for us to succeed. I can attest to the fact that he never interfered with our work on any occasion. Part of the reasons why other conferences actually failed was because of the unseen hands, who never left the delegates alone to take their decisions. So the president must take primary praise that he never sought to interfere, he never intervened and he never sent anybody to the management to say this is the way I want this or that to go.”
Akinyemi, who also attributed the success of the exercise to the firmness of the chairman, Justice Idris Kutigi, maintained that the delegates had no reason to doubt the high level of the man’s integrity and honesty, having made it clear to all that he was not ready to bend to any side.
Professor Bolaji Akinyemi and Justice Idris Kutigi
“From day one, he had made it clear that he wanted to run an open administration where he sought the views of and encouraged the members to speak out their minds and let our decisions be a collective one. Secondly, Justice Kutigi was fair to all. I did not see any trace of political leaning or ethnic jingoism in the man.
“He was as straight as an arrow, steadfast and righteous. He was prepared, whoever you may be, to bring to book, if you are stepping wrongly, no matter which part of the country you came from.
On the lesson, which the conference has taught the management, Akinyemi said that it had made it possible for Nigerians to know that they can sit together to resolve their problems without resorting to external help.
The conference, which was inaugurated by President Jonathan on March 17, 2014, finally turned in its report to the President on Thursday, making history as one of the best ever even though it had the largest number of delegates but the shortest time-frame to deliberate.