President Muhammadu Buhari came under severe criticism yesterday for saying that the calls for the restructuring of the country were laced with parochial interests, hence he did not heed them.
Supporters of the calls have not only considered Buhari as being ignorant of the enormity of the challenges facing the country, they have urged him to read the report of the 2014 National Conference which, they said, addressed virtually every problem about the structure and governance in the country.
While receiving traditional rulers and the leadership of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) and members of the Delta State All Progressives Congress (APC) from Delta State at the Presidential Villa on Monday, Buhari had said that some of the views being canvassed by interest groups on restructuring were not properly coordinated and did not align with constitutional provisions.
Reacting to the president’s position, the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, in a statement issued after its general meeting held at the residence of its leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, in Akure, Ondo State, yesterday said the calls for restructuring were selfless and they were borne out of the need to retrieve the country from the brink of collapse.
“At a time when the country is on the verge of collapse as a result of structural defects, we noted that the president, while receiving Urhobo leaders on Monday still dismissed the popular call for restructuring of the country when he said ‘Every group asking for restructuring has got their own agenda and I hope it can be accommodated by the constitution.’
“If the president talks about people with personal agenda on restructuring, it can only be those who inserted it in their manifestos to win elections and turned around to say they are getting different definitions of restructuring after they came to power.
“We insist that for the country to move forward and develop, it has to be restructured into a proper federation,” he said.
Interestingly also, when the party discovered the issue was becoming a burden, it set up a committee led by Governor Nasir El- Rufai of Kaduna State.
“The committee came up with a report in support of restructuring, why he is adamant on the issue is what I don’t know. He should read the recommendations of the constitutional conference.
It is like President Buhari is yet to grapple with the fact that the centre is overloaded with responsibilities it could not handle.
That is one of the reasons we are shouting restructuring. Even in advanced world, there is restructuring ongoing, why is Nigeria different?”
The lawyer said President Buhari should not be deceived that his government could develop Nigeria or achieve anything extraordinary to change its fortune without restructuring.
Even the chairman of the constitution drafting committee of the ruling APC, Chief Segun Osoba, in one of his interactions with The Guardian, declared that Nigeria was built on deception and corruption, hence the need to review its structure for the good of all.
The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) said Buhari’s position on restructuring indicated his lack of awareness of the prevailing realities in the country.
PANDEF spokesperson, Anabs Sara-Igbe, said the people of the Niger Delta would not vote for any candidate who does not support restructuring of the country.
Sara-Igbe told The Guardian that for decades, ethnic nationalities in the South-South, South- East, South-West, and the North-Central geopolitical zones had unanimously been demanding the restructuring of the country due to the contradictions inherent in its political and economic structures.
According to him, the Niger Delta which produces the bulk of the country’s revenue is desirous of a Nigeria where the federating units control their natural resources.
First civilian governor of Enugu State and ex-national chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo, said nobody should be worried about Buhari’s statement because the president never believed in restructuring.
Nwodo said: “My prayer is for the southerners and middle belt people to stand their ground in 2019 by voting against any candidate who does not support restructuring. If not, anybody hoping and waiting for the president (Buhari) to restructure Nigeria will wait forever.”
Meanwhile, former Vice President and PDP presidential aspirant, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has restated his promise to tackle unemployment, end the Fulani herdsmen/farmers clashes and restructure the country.
Atiku, who spoke in Delta State during his visit to consult with the people on his aspiration for the presidential ticket, condemned the presidency for lacking the leadership capacity to tackle the nation’s problems.
Finally we got democracy in 1999, since then till date I have never seen this country so reversed, like we are experiencing now. This is because we embraced lies and propaganda in 2015.
And we are lacking in focus and not keeping promises. The same corruption they claim to be fighting is going on under their nose.”
I started talking about restructuring when I was a vice president, even when the then president, another army general, was not comfortable with the idea.
It is understandable, because by their training, they believe in the centralisation of authority. As an individual, I don’t think this is true federalism, we must restructure the security architecture.”
Other eminent Nigerians who spoke at a seminar organised by the Cosmopolitan Women Club (CWC), Lagos State Chapter yesterday insisted on restructuring of the country.
Those who spoke at the event themed “Societal Insecurity: Women, Children and vulnerable groups” held at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos, include chairperson, Transition Monitoring Group, Dr. Abiola Akiode-Afolabi; security expert, Dr. Ona Ekhomu; President, CWC Cosmo, Deorike Durosinmi-Etti, and Cosmo Yemisi Ransome-Kuti
According to them, it is mostly women and children that feel the brunt of the senseless killings in the country, urging the government to close social security gaps.
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