Presidency: Why Buhari Directed Agitations to National Assembly

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By Tobi Soniyi with agency report

The presidency has provided insight into why said President Muhammadu Buhari directed restructuring agitations to the legislature, saying he did so because of his belief in due process.

Making this known at the weekend, Senior Special Assistant to President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Sen. Ita Enang said restructuring is a constitutional matter and the legislature deals with constitution reviews and should therefore handle any issue that calls for changes of the law.

Buhari had in his national broadcast on his return from medical leave in London, said that the National Assembly and National Council of State were the legitimate and appropriate bodies to handle issues of restructuring.

The president directed all agitations to both bodies in line with the statutory responsibilities that they have.

Enang said during a forum in Abuja that because restructuring meant different things to different people and groups, and may require constitutional amendments, only the National Assembly could deal with it.

He said the legislature needed to receive the demands on different aspects of restructuring, debate on them and come out with the best recommendations.

“That is why the president said, ‘Look, we are a government sworn in under the constitution, anything you want done must necessarily be as required by the constitution. I cannot as chief executive, as head of government, do a thing that is different from what the constitution says. I and have no power to amend the constitution. The person who has the power to amend the constitution is the legislature and they are handling the process.’ 

“That is why the president said that all agitations for restructuring should go to the legislature,” he said.

The presidential aide said while some people see restructuring as removing control over land from the governors and vesting it in the federal government, some see it as demand for state police, reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

“The man somewhere will say I want to have state police and that is restructuring, and another one will say you cannot have state police.

“His thought is that if you have state police you will use it against your citizens and the interests of the federal government.

“He believes that you may not have the interest of the entire people because you are run by a political party and you will only use it in one way or the other to suit you,” he clarified.

Enang added that some people also viewed restructuring as allowing states to exploit their resources and pay tax to the federal government.

According to him, the man in South-south was of the view that restructuring entails resource control.

“I want to control my petroleum resources. The man in the North will say no, you cannot control it because it is a federal resource taken from the ocean which belongs to all of us.

“Some will say they can control it because we have solid minerals in the North that they can also control.

“But some will say no, don’t control because if you do, I will control the food I produce and I will use it to deal and bargain,” he added.

Enang advised Nigerians with specific demands to forward it to the National Assembly.

On why the legislature dropped restructuring during the constitution amendment exercise in spite of the serious agitation for it, he said that nobody knew the type of restructuring demand that was presented.

“To my knowledge, most of the people who are quarreling that the legislature did not approve restructuring may not know the level of restructuring that was presented to it.

“However, any bill that was rejected can be represented. So, let any person who wants restructuring present what aspect of restructuring they want to the National Assembly,” Enang said.