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Restructuring: Has APC deceived Nigerians?

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Oshiomhole

The recent outburst in which President Muhammadu Buhari described calls for nation’s restructuring as parochial and laced with personal interest has put paid on the expectation that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was going to restructure the polity as demanded by Nigerians.

The president said the matter of restructuring has failed to capture his attention. Buhari bared his mind on this matter.

He made the statement when he received traditional rulers and the leadership of the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) and members of the Delta State APC chapter at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

He said some of the views being canvassed by interest groups on restructuring were not properly coordinated and did not align with constitutional provisions. What a flimsy excuse being offered by the president.

What else do Nigerians expect? For me, Buhari has honestly stated his position on this restructuring issue.

I don’t think there is any other way he could drum it into our ears that he is not interested in the matter despite the pressure. It is time for Nigerians to buckle up and look for a way out.

It is pertinent to ask whether the APC has not deceived Nigerians going by the latest presidential position on restructuring.

Truth is that once Buhari has taken his polemic position, that puts a final stop on restructuring as far as the party, APC is concerned.

The matter is foreclosed by the president.

But, how can the president say that restructuring has “failed to capture his attention” when one of the cardinal programmes of the APC is “Devolution of Power” or restructuring? Did Buhari not subscribe to that APC manifesto?

Didn’t he not see restructuring? Didn’t he use it to campaign in 2015? How come he is now denying a cardinal programme his party used to canvass for votes? What sort of national deceit is this?

How can we trust the APC when it could make a U-turn to disown what it promised to do?

Beyond the presidential denial of restructuring, the APC, a couple of months ago, set up a panel headed by the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-rufai, to come up with the ruling party’s definition of restructuring.

That was after the APC pretended not to understand the meaning of restructuring that is enshrined in its manifesto.

The committee, after painstaking consultations nationwide, submitted its report to the national leadership of the party and made some interesting recommendation that were hailed by Nigerians.

According to El-Rufai, the committee engaged about 8,040 persons during 14 sittings nationwide; held 12 public consultations in all the six geopolitical zones in the country, while 409 memoranda were received from respondents. 

He said the committee initially started with 10 members but was expanded to 23 members. Were these meant to deceive the public?

Reports say the committee found that Nigerians showed interest in 24 issues viz: the creation of states, merger of states, state police, the derivation principle, fiscal federalism, local government autonomy, devolution of powers, type of government, independent candidacy, public holidays, the land tenure system, power sharing and rotation, type of legislature, affirmation for vulnerable groups like the physically challenged, women and youths, the minimum wage, border adjustment, secular statutes of the country, and the conduct of referendums.

Out of these issues, the committee made recommendations on 13, namely: Merger of State, Derivation Principle, Fiscal Federalism and Revenue Allocation, Devolution of Powers, State Police, Resource Control and Local Government Autonomy.

Others were Referendum, Independent Candidacy, Citizenship, Public Holidays and Judiciary. The committee said it had drafted the necessary bills to be forwarded to the NASS. Was this part of the deceit?

Under restructuring, which is the issue at stake, the committee said: “The panel recommended based on popular demand for there to be devolution of powers to the states from the Federal Government.

We have recommended that the first schedule, part one and two be amended to transfer some powers to the states.”

It was realised from the outset that the restructuring demand would face three battles to sail through, namely, APC Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, Buhari and the National Assembly (NASS).

Oyegun constituted a battle on the ground that he hardly kept his promises.

Indications were that nothing in his antecedents showed that he could be trusted to deliver for the APC on restructuring, one of the party’s cardinal campaign promises.

True to prediction, Oyegun is out without laying a solid foundation for the party to deliver on restructuring.

With regard to Buhari, it is common knowledge that President Muhammadu Buhari is not a fan of restructuring. As a matter of fact, in his New Year Broadcast, he held the “firm view” that “restructuring is not the problem.”

Consequently, convincing him on restructuring will be a herculean task. And without his buy-in, the process will fail. This is what is playing out.

Except and unless Buhari identifies with the yearnings of Nigerians on this matter, it won’t work.

But how can one man hold the entire nation to ransom?

It is needless mentioning the National Assembly as an issue to contend with on the matter of restructuring since they have not been presented with any bill on the subject and they failed to pass it into law, which would attract the wrath of their constituents against them.

But my worry is must the bill for restructuring emanate from the executive? Can’t members of the National Assembly initiate relevant bills to deal with the matter?

If not, why not? Is there any issue the lawmakers cannot legislate upon in a democracy? Why are they shying away from their responsibility?

The APC rode to victory in 2015 based on its “Change” mantra, which was anchored on seven cardinal programmes, namely: War Against Corruption, Food Security, Accelerated Power Supply, Integrated Transport Network, Free Education, Devolution of Power, Accelerated Economic Growth and Affordable Healthcare.

Apart from the anti-corruption hype that seems to be the main focus of the APC, not much is heard on the other fronts.

Has the APC deceived the nation particularly on the issue of restructuring?

But I think the APC is taking a risk, especially, in the run up to the 2019 general elections. Whether it is called repackaging, reorganisation, reshuffle, shake-up or re-arrangement, the bottom line is that something different from what presently obtains, politically and economically, is needed to lift the country from the morass of corruption and underdevelopment.

If the APC fails to initiate the process towards restructuring, it would have shot itself on the foot by leaving a void that must be filled by some other party.

The APC would be entrapping its self if it ignores restructuring. Consequently, restructuring would be made a principal political campaign issue as the 2019 general elections draw nearer. It may be too late for the APC to retract its steps.

If by 2019, nothing is done towards restructuring, the APC would have unwittingly given Nigerians the green light to opt for another party that would fulfill this national demand.

APC should consider whether it is ready to take that risk; otherwise, the time to show Nigerians that it has not deceived Nigerians is now.


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