The governing All Progressives Congress (APC) said yesterday that it remains committed to true federalism, describing it as the only panacea for Nigeria’s current ‘bastardised and unitary federation’.
It also adjudged past conferences convened to discuss the nation’s return to ‘true’ federalism and restructuring as “flamboyant set-piece”, which ended in nothing.
The party further said that what it is bringing on board represents the true opinions of the majority of Nigerians.
National chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, stated this in Abuja at the public presentation of the party’s committee on True Federalism chaired by Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State.
Oyegun said, “We have held flamboyant conferences on the structures or constitution of this country but each time, it always ended up in nothing. Today, we are moving from set-piece conferences to the beginning of a new Nigeria. Today, you are going to be partners in the construction of the basic fundamental foundation that will truly wed this country together.
“There is no question at all that where we were and where we are now is basically a bastardised kind of federal structure, more like a unitary system but what we are going to present to the nation today are the considered views of the critical mass of this nation. Those who are strong in expressing their views, those who are not so strong, the women and the youths of this nation who participated strongly and intensively in the results that are being presented to you today.
“When last year the issue of restructuring burst onto the public domain, the main reason being one more issue to reverse the Buhari administration at that point, this nation was facing major issues that needed to be trashed out. We were faced with crisis of economy and a collapsed crude market and we were to find a new reality under President Buhari based on what we could produce”.
Also speaking, chairman of the committee and Kaduna State governor, Nasir el-Rufai, who was represented by his special adviser on politics, Uba Sani, said his committee has produced clear recommendations and draft bills that incorporate amendments to strengthen federalism.
el-Rufai said, “Thus far, we have not heard rebuttals of the recommendations. Rather, there has been a lot of hysteria triggered by seeming disbelief that a party in power at the centre is proposing true federalism. In place of a counter-narrative or alternative position on true federalism, what we hear is that the recommendations are coming too close to the elections. If something is desirable, surely the imminence of elections should not render it unappealing.
“The reality is that restructuring is a nation-building opportunity. There is now no significant constituency against the idea that states should exercise consequential powers, assume more responsibilities and control resources. It is time to make it work for the benefit of the people of this country.
“It is difficult to escape the suspicion that for some people this is a moment of peril. They appear to fear that the possibility of restructuring being actualised will remove the basis of their political viability. We assure them that they will always find new causes, like working with others to implement the recommendations”.
Your Report Is A Ruse, Says PDP
But the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday dismissed APC’s report on restructuring as a ruse and a fresh attempt to beguile Nigerians with another round of lies, empty proposals and hollow promises ahead of 2019 elections.
The party also said the report is another calculated ploy by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government to divert public attention from the woes of a worsening economy, unrelenting killings, corruption and the endless litany of afflictions occasioned by their almost three years of dysfunctional governance.
In a statement issued by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP said it amounts to outright depravity that the same APC leaders who, on assumption of office, rejected restructuring will now suddenly turn around to pose as fathers of a restructured Nigeria simply because the 2019 general election beckons.
The PDP said the fact that the APC has no littlest intention of implementing any form of restructuring is completely manifest in the attitude and body language of its leaders, including President Buhari, who in his 2018 New Year address, rejected the idea of restructuring, by declaring that “When all the aggregates of nationwide opinions are considered, my firm view is that our problems are more to do with process than structure”.
The statement noted: “Even Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, who eventually became the chairman of the APC panel on restructuring, had also on June 29, 2017, during an interview on Channels TV, denied that the APC promised restructuring and described Nigerians, who were taking his party to task on the issue, as “political opportunists and irresponsible” people.
“This is in addition to declaration by the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who in a Radio Nigeria (FRCN) interview programme on June 9, 2017, stated that restructuring is not President Buhari’s priority. From Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima, who was quoted to have said “to hell with restructuring,” to the totality of APC leaders, none believes in either true federalism or restructuring by any name called.
“As a matter of fact, it is instructive to note that the APC refused to rally its members in the National Assembly to support or vote for any amendment that dwelt on restructuring when the federal legislature voted on sections of the constitution where amendments have been proposed in the direction of restructuring.
If anything, APC leaders have consistently criticized any amendment that spoke or have a semblance of restructuring or true federalism.
It is therefore deceptive that in the wake of their rejection by the people, the discredited APC and its dysfunctional government have suddenly woken up to parade as champions of a restructured Nigeria.
“This is a callous and wicked attempt to once again take Nigerians on a trip to the land of fantasy. We therefore urge Nigerians to reject the new ploy by the APC to deceive them for their votes in 2019”.
PDP Face Of Corruption In Nigeria – Presidency
But hitting back at the major opposition party in the country, the presidency yesterday described the PDP as the face of corruption in Nigeria.
The senior special assistant to the president on media and publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said Africa’s bid to stem widespread corruption took a decisive turn on Sunday in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, when the African Union (AU) placed on President Buhari the task of championing the war throughout the continent.
He noted that the choice was not for nothing as the opposition PDP back at home claimed in their deeply disappointing reaction to the inauguration of President Buhari as the continental anti-corruption champion for the year 2018.
“He said, “As a matter of fact, a section of politicians and some economists have been quick to pronounce the war against corruption in Nigeria a failure because those people are the greatest losers wherever the ordinary citizens make a gain.
“The PDP in particular has come to signify the face of corruption in Nigeria and they have not hidden their efforts to shrink the achievements of the Buhari Administration. They are bent, as it clearly seems, on crushing all hopes of ridding this country of the scourge of corruption.
“As the president keeps saying, in sixteen years that the party held sway, we solely relied on oil, the price of which was as high as US$140 per barrel. Government simply squandered oil revenue through personal spending by corrupt leaders, wasteful expenses and salaries.
“This was done rather than growing the economy through capital investment in assets like seaports, airports, power plants, railways, roads and housing as this administration is currently doing. Nigeria did not record a single major infrastructural project in the 10 years preceding the Buhari administration.
“In short, the money was mismanaged, spent largely on what was not needed and no savings were made. They compounded the problem by borrowing heavily and failed woefully to pay contractors and international oil companies”.
Shehu said the last two years of this administration have revealed the massive and unrivalled level of corruption in which the PDP and its leaders at the highest level thrived, adding that it mustn’t surprise anyone that they have chosen their obstructionist role rather than lending a helping hand in the fight against corruption.
The presidential spokesman observed that, by a rough estimate, the amount of money, including the value of estates recovered (or in the process of being recovered) from a single woman (Madam), by virtue of being close to power can pay for the construction and equipping a cancer treatment hospital for each of the six geopolitical zones of the ederation and still counting.
“So, if you have noticed, the barbs came out in the last few weeks ostensibly to cast a pall on this continental honour to President Buhari and to Nigeria, which in terms of added significance had the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Anthony Gutierrez at hand giving full support”, he added.
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