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”.