President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja said the contentious issue of restructuring, true federalism or devolution of powers remained a constitutional matter which only the National Assembly can deal with, reiterating his position on devolving more powers to the people.
Buhari received members of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) led by Co-Chairmen, Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar and President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), His Eminence, Rev. Dr. Samson Supo Ayokunle, at the State House.
At the meeting, the president in a statement by presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina said: “I remain an unapologetic believer in devolving powers to the people and that is why I signed the Executive Order granting autonomy to state legislature and judiciary. Unfortunately, this was met with some resistance at the state level and led to a more than two months strike action that has cost the country a lot of pain.
“Luckily the National Assembly has nearly completed the constitutional review process, which I hope would address some of the burning issues agitating the minds of our people.’’
He assured that efforts were already on to create a more conducive environment to address both direct and indirect causes of challenges including areas of job creation and employment generation, while appreciating religious leaders for their significant roles in national development, particularly in shaping perspectives.
On security, the president told the religious leaders that the government was already going after financiers of criminal elements, who also supply them with arms, but were constrained by the strike by judiciary workers.
“Fortunately, this strike has been called off and prosecution of some of these people would soon commence, while our security agencies expand their network in closing in on the others,’’ he added.
President Buhari assured that the administration remained committed to “quickly pushing this dark side of our history behind us and we are currently making sure that funding would not hamper our efforts.’’
According to the president, the last Federal Executive Council meeting approved some funds for the security agencies, which would be put to judicious use.
In their comments, NIREC, led by Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle, thanked the president for the onerous assignment of leading the country, advising government to fund the armed forces better to confront myriad of security challenges facing the country, block sources of illegal arms, publish names of those funding terrorism and try them.
They also canvassed the recruitment of more policemen, strengthening of the judiciary, tackle unemployment by creating jobs for youths particularly, and on separatist agitations in the country, NIREC said: “It is in our togetherness that we are stronger.”