Kolawole Daniel, writes on visit to the House of Representatives by the All Progressives Congress (APC) committee on true federalism.
One issue that has continued to dominate the public space is restructuring. The All Progressives Congress (APC), before coming to power promised to do the needful as far as restructuring of the country is concerned.
The APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, recently inaugurated the party’s 23-member committee on ‘true federalism.’ chaired by the Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-rufai, while Senator Olubunmi Adetunbi is to serve as Secretary.
The national chairman of the APC had, while inaugurating the 23-member committee, said, “I wish to recall that a reform of our political structure, which was described as true federalism, formed one of the core negotiating points by the parties that merged to form the APC.
“This is why the constitution of our great party and its manifesto dwelled extensively on the promise of true federalism. It is, therefore, incongruous that our party will renege on its solemn commitment to the institutionalisation of true federalism in our national political life.”
While the party on its own set up the committee, the National Assembly is currently working on a constitution review where the core issue of devolution of power is still hanging, though with a promise that the issue would be revisited via a 16-member committee chaired by the Deputy Speaker, Honourable Lasun Yusuf. The committee was saddled with the responsiblity of addressing political agitations in the country.
However, last Tuesday, the Kaduna State governor-led APC committee on ‘true federalism’ came calling on the Speaker of the House, Honourable Yakubu Dogara.
Before excusing newsmen for a closed door meeting, both the Speaker and Mallam el-Rufai spoke in unison that the power to address the issue of restructuring lies with the National Assembly.
According to Honourable Dogara, “When the President (Muhammadu Buhari) talked about the National Assembly being the proper forum for this discussion, so many people objected to that. But I know the president uses a green pen, not a red pen that I use. I don’t know whether by any stroke of imagination or margin a green pen can actually restructure Nigeria.
“If that is the case, it is a very simple thing that can be done; but unfortunately most of the things that we talked about, most of the issues that are being raised are there in the foundational document of this country, which is the constitution. And even going by elementary description of the departments of governments, the executive cannot make laws; they cannot tinker with the provision of the constitution. It is the National Assembly that can do that.
“I guess even if the president has powers, his powers would just amount to recommendations in the form of an executive bill which he can send to the National Assembly for constitutional alteration or amendment in other to address the fundamental basis of some of these agitations.
“So, I concur with him totally that this is the right forum where the outcomes of those debates would be channeled for processing and for action. I know that we won’t let this country down when it comes to performing our responsibilities, because this is the institution that represents the people.
On his part, Mallam el-Rufai said, “We are here as the APC committee on federalism to pay you a courtesy call and give you a brief background on the assignment the party has entrusted to us. The APC, in its manifesto, made very firm commitment towards devolution of powers through federalism, which is variously referred to as restructuring and so on. However, because of other challenges. The administration had to deal with on assumption of office, the expeditious implementation of some of these commitments has not occurred.
“I am proud to say that the National Assembly, led by the APC, went ahead with the constitutional amendment to make our federation be better balanced. We all recognise there is some imbalance in our federation. This is why our party is committed to doing something about it. However, it is better late than never.
“We have already taken steps which are now before the state Houses of Assembly. We believe in the history of Nigeria, there has never been a comprehensive discussion on what is before us: federalism, restructuring and so on. We also believe even the debate and discussions in previous national conference had excluded key stakeholders, particularly our young people that account for 80 per cent of our population.
“We believe ultimately that as a democratic government, the voice of the people is the voice of God, and we must listen to them. We must not presume just because we are elected, just because we are leaders, that we know what the country needs.
“As articulated by our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari, whatever discussion we have about federalism, restructuring will have no value unless the National Assembly enacts whatever the people of Nigeria say they want. So, this hallowed chambers give all the power to make federalism work better.
“The purpose of our committee is to merely collect and collate the views of Nigerians, particularly young people and other vulnerable people, and present to the party.”
Mallam el-Rufai’s appointment, it would be recalled, had elicited uproar in the polity over his reported position that those clamouring for restructuring are politicians who had lost out in the power game; but question hanging is, whether the APC would live up to its promise of ensuring that there is “true federalism “that will give birth to healthy competition among states of the federation.
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Kolawole Daniel, writes on visit to the House of Representatives by the All Progressives Congress (APC) committee on true federalism. One issue that has continued to dominate the public space is restructuring. The All Progressives [...]
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