- Back Senateâ€™s stance on conference report
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Senator Ahmed Makarfi-led National Caretaker Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has frowned at various inciting speeches either from northern or southern groups saying such outbursts must be avoided and be condemned by all.
Following the concerns trailing the quit notice issued against the Igbos by a northern youth group, the main opposition party advised the federal government to take steps to convene a national dialogue to take a look at the federal structure.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja yesterday, Makarfi said the recent altercation between some Nigerians which degenerated into the issuance of ultimatum and counter-ultimatum is an ill wind that would no one any good.
â€œThe recent altercation between some of our people which degenerated into the issuance of ultimatum and counter ultimatum for some of us to leave certain areas is an ill wind that blows no good, more so that we have a sad history of no so dissimilar circumstances that we had better not allow a repeat. Hate speeches either coming from the North, South, East or West must be avoided and be condemned by all of us,â€ he said.
Makarfi said PDPâ€™s believe in the unity of the country remains unshakable, adding that mutual respect and accommodation are a very necessary ingredient to sustain the union.
He said the PDP has no problem with peoplesâ€™ agitations so long as in trying to draw attention to their yearnings and aspirations, respect for one another and the realisation that our rights do not include encroachment into, and infringement on the legitimate rights and dignity of others, should guide our conduct.
Speaking on the need to take measures on the demand for restructuring, Makarfi said the Nigerian federation has come a long way, adding that all should be done is to seek means of making it better.
Apart from urging for debate on restructuring, Makarfi also said government should take action to resolve the herdsmen/farmersâ€™ clashes through dialogue and proactive measures.
He said such discussions on restructuring should take a critical look at all the structures and institutions as well as how they operate with a view to giving them a new sense of direction in tune with current best practices,
The former Kaduna Governor expressed the partyâ€™s support for the interest shown by the Senate on the report of the 2014 national conference, saying such avenues should be explored to â€œstrengthen the structures of our federalism with a view to restructuring it in such a way that it serves all of us and not just some of us.
â€œAs Nigerians and a people, we cannot run away from talking to one another but this should be on the basis of mutual respect, confidence and even empathy. This will enable us to have a proper understanding of the feelings and yearnings of each other and properly appreciating where we all are coming from, as individual groups and as a whole.
â€œNigeria as a federation has come a long way and it is our duty as individuals and a whole to ensure that it endures; and indeed surpasses the dreams of our founding fathers. Every step we take must be, as the Americans would say, â€˜towards a more perfect unionâ€™.
â€œWe are therefore free, to at any point in time take a look at the structures of the union, not its basis, and effect whatever corrections we collectively agree are necessary. It is in this context that we view calls from some quarters for the restructuring of our own concept and practice of federalism.
â€œWe however observe the restructuring could mean a different thing to different people. It is therefore important that we consider the framework within which we can even discuss and be on the same page as to what kind of restructuring we mean or desire; and if nationally accepted, agree on frame work for its implementation.
â€œIt is not in dispute that the incursion of the military into political governance from the mid-1960s all out eroded the very essence of federalism as was prasticed pre and immediate post independence, to largely service the command structure of the military, and along the line even democratic administrations have had to make do with the military imposed structure due, largely to the fact that such democratic dispensations, including ours have had to govern by the dictates of constitutions promulgated by the military institution which is basically unitary by nature.
â€œNow that democracy has got foothold in the country by, for the first time surviving all the elements for close to two decades, a critical look at areas that need improvement is imperative. It is therefore not out of place for any or all segment(s) to come up with ideas that they believe will strengthen the structures of our federalism with a view to restructuring it in such a way that it serves all of us and not just some of us.
â€œWe must also ensure that we have a better legacy to upcoming generations than the one bequeathed to us, and not worse. This is the way decent societies are built and developed by each generation building on the blocks laid by its predecessor(s), not destroying what they found in place. Thereâ€™s no harm however in trying to improve upon an existing structure.
â€œNorth, South, East or West, we remain Nigerians and we must continue to make conscious and deliberate efforts to develop and not diminish this our beloved Country. We must therefore, as in any vibrant union continue to engage ourselves in various conversations that will oil the wheels of our progress.
â€œIt is in view of this that the PDP wishes to acknowledge the efforts of rational national leaders across board for weighing in on the side of restraint and the imperative of peaceful coexistence.
â€œThe Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, deserves commendation for the steps he has so far taken to douse the tension occasioned by the altercation, but we call on all government to build on that by ensuring that itâ€™s programmes, policies and steps are tailored in such a way and manner that no section of this country is given the impression that it doesnâ€™t count,â€ he said.
Regarding the allegation that some PDP stalwart have been trying o influence the Supreme Court judges over its pending case, Makarfi said that he has been out of Abuja since the last hearing of the case deliberately to avoid being accused of meddling on the matter. He said has resigned to fate believing that the well of God will be done.