APC committed to restructuring, says Shuaibu
Deputy National Chairman (North) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Lawal Shuaibu, in this interview with Daniel Anazia, said restructuring of the Nigerian federation is one of the core issues to which the ruling party is committed. Excerpts:
My understanding of restructuring
The definition of restructuring depends on who is talking about it because I considered it as an agitation that is legitimate. For instance, in democracy there is freedom of speech provided it remains within the legal tolerance. To me, restructuring is not different from what the manifesto of the APC promised Nigerians.
The party, even during our campaigns in 2015, took cognisance of the need to introduce some amendments to the structure of governance. For example, fiscal reforms, which in our opinion are to build the economy from bottom up; paying more attention to small business and encouraging entrepreneurship among our teeming youths. We see this policy as capable of reducing rural-urban migration. We truly believe in it and we are ready to entrench policies that border on true federalism.
Position of APC on 2014 confab reports
I am not too sure whether it was not an attempt to undermine the powers and constitutional responsibilities of the legislature if any group of Nigerians selected by any sitting president embark on an exercise that touches on the alteration of the constitution. The national conference undertook a purely legislation exercise, which neither the group assembled or the former president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has the power to do.
If the National Assembly feels it want to use any part of the recommendations of the conference in the process of constitution amendment, nobody will stop them. The APC respects the views of Nigerians, but we don’t agree to accept unconstitutionality, no matter how good it appears. We must be prepared to allow everyone to carry out his responsibility as enshrined in the constitution. The moment you start cutting corners, you will end up with problems that could swallow everybody. It is in this light that calls for another national conference to address restructuring may not be too prudent. It is an affront on the roles of the people’s elected representatives. The truth is that we must be careful of what we do today, so that our actions, despite good intentions, would not come to haunt us in the future. We must be patient with our institutions and trust them to work.
APC’s preparations for 2019
The APC has fared very well in the last two years otherwise the story of Nigeria wouldn’t have been the same if we had not taken over reins of power. By now, our country could have only been likened to that similar to some African countries where peace had become history and with the economy so tattered arising from mismanagement. We are all witnesses to how corruption became a norm and impunity was unscrupulously granted official legitimacy. Even funds provided to fight Boko Haram insurgents were diverted while the insurgency in the Northeast was continuously gaining grounds. We cannot claim to have had the leverage of maximum opportunity to showcase our programs over the last two years, largely due to the overwhelming challenges we had to face soon after coming to power, ranging from the high security challenges to paltry funds in the coffers of government, leakages in the public financial system which are mostly hidden in a way that was difficult to identify, and so on and so forth.
However, I make bold to say that in spite of all those challenges, the APC government has achieved much more than anybody can quantify. Immediately after coming into power, President Muhammadu Buhari, being a former military general and security strategist, strategically went out to secure collaboration with our neighbours and established a joint multilateral military team to fight the insurgents, thereby blocking all possibilities of penetration through Nigeria’s land borders, after which he then embarked on foreign trips to secure support from the international community, either for military capacity building or supply of specialised arms and other military equipments towards defeating the insurgency. Despite some pockets of cowardly attacks, Nigerians are now largely experiencing respite and are able to sleep with their two eyes closed.
The APC government also implemented the Treasury Single Account (TSA), which was aimed at blocking the leakages in the public finance system. The party’s programmes on youth empowerment, as well as Small-Middle-Scale Entrepreneurship (SMEs), are equally unparalleled.
Resolution of PDP crisis not a threat to APC What initiatives is the PDP seizing and what threat can a crippled party pose to APC? Instead, the party is still crawling from the wounds of defeat that was inflicted on it by our party in the 2015 elections and it will take it a lot of efforts to recuperate. If you want to know the level of confidence the APC has to renew its mandate in 2019, just watch the reaction of the majority of Nigerians, especially the youths, when President Buhari returned from his medical vacation. This is because they know their future is being catered for. We must always remember that the APC came into government because Nigerians elected to reject the PDP and what has changed in the ousted party since then? Nigerians are no fools; they may not be your privileged few on social media, indeed, they are your voiceless majority, but they are not fools and they don’t suffer selective amnesia the way some of you, privileged ones, do.
APC and its leadership crisis hurdles
That is the game of power; in any gathering of people with a defined purpose, you cannot rule out squabbles. It is a normal situation in every political setting and not just with APC, PDP, APGA or any other political party in the country, but even in advanced democracies. Just wait and see; we will come out of every squabble stronger.
When you talk of varying interests in any political arrangement, there are bound to be differences in attitude and approach to issues as well as matters of administrative processes. What you take to be internal democracy may not mean the same to some people. But let me say here that our NWC is frankly constrained by the realisation of some lapses in our constitution that made it difficult for us to convene the meetings of the other organs of the party.