As against the three-month period allotted for the on going National Conference, it has now been extended by six weeks.
The conference will now end on July 31 instead of the earlier date of June 19. Before the extension, some delegates had advocated that the three-month period allotted was not enough. A new work plan released on April 30 in Abuja by the leadership of the conference said that the confab has been adjusted following inputs from its leadership.
In the new work plan, July 21 to 24 July has been devoted to consideration of draft report of the conference while the period between July 28 and 31 will be used for production and signing of the final report.
Although no reason was given for the extension of the conference, some delegates had earlier hinted that, “we still have a lot of areas uncovered.”
But this comes with cost implications. Originally, each delegate was to be paid N4million each per month for accommodation and logistics and there are 492 members excluding 3 absentees. If this is anything to go by, that means the nation would be expending N5.976 billion for 492 delegates and six secretariat officials excluding N7 billion for the organization of the conference.
As far as Titus Okunrounmu, an Economist is concerned the extension did not come as a surprise. He said when this is because most of the delegates to the conference apparently came unprepared. “For the first month the Conference kicked off, the delegates were discussing the presidential speech, it shows that majority didn’t have an idea why they were there and with the way they are going even the six weeks extension might not be enough because the important issues have not being looked into,” he said.
Annkio Briggs, a delegate from the Niger Delta said the extension was needed in order to give members additional time to debate important national issues. “We need more time to address all the issues that brought us to this Conference. We have been saying that the time was not going to be enough. I am sure the conference secretariat made a case and the Federal Government in their wisdom decided to extend the date,” Briggs said.
To keep the delegates in the conference for the period of the extension, they would be paid additional N4.5 million each, which means the nation would be expending additional N2.241billion.
Such expenses can only fuel the argument of some critics who have insisted that the conference is a waste of public fund. They insist that the money spent on the conference could have been used to improve some basic infrastructures like electricity, good road network, create employment opportunities and provide security.