APC won’t ignore clamour, says party chairman

  • Kaduna Gov: 2014 Confab report stands rejected

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, and the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, have taken divergent positions in the ongoing debate on restructuring of the country.

While Oyegun said the party cannot ignore the clamour for restructuring of the affairs of the nation, El-Rufai said the opposition of the party to the report of 2014 national conference remained unchanged.

Oyegun, who was a guest on an early morning television programme (Sunrise Daily) on Channels Television, declared yesterday that the party won’t renege on the promise to restructure the nation as clearly stated in its manifesto.

The APC chairman, however, said fixing the ailing economy remains a priority to the party and its administration rather than the restructuring palaver.

He said what the party did was to avoid the word restructuring in its manifesto but only promised devolution of power and true federalism.

According to him, “The topic is contentious and a lot of people are talking about restructuring without any commonality. We have stated clearly what we want to do- devolution, true federalism. We really avoided the word restructuring because it means so many things to so many people.”

While speaking earlier on the same programme, the Kaduna State governor who was responding to question on the implementation of 2014 National Conference, said the position of APC as regard former President Goodluck Jonathan-organised Confab has not changed.
El-rufai said: “That is not likely to happen. We never believed in the Confab, we believe it is a jamboree. Our position has not changed; we are not going to look at the 2014 Confab.”

But Oyegun acknowledged the grounds that the discussion on restructuring is currently gaining, saying the APC-led administration will continue to dialogue with acclaimed leaders of the people, especially those identified as being behind the agitations in the Southeast.
On whether APC is in support of the move by the Senate to consider the report of the 2014 National Conference, Oyegun said: “The conversation has started; let me put it that way, and we cannot as a party ignore it, but right now, we are looking at all the options.”
When asked what kind of steps is being taken to achieve the APC plan, Oyegun said: “What is more important, is it to fix the economy or embark on this political issue with all the contentious and different interpretation that the public gives to it? It is very specific on the manifesto, and we are not going to renege on it, no question about that.

“We are coming to that but our priority now is to fix the economy and restore hope as well as provide jobs to the teaming youths in the country. So it is a matter of priority.”

On whether the APC-led federal government will allow Biafrans to secede and become a country of their own, the APC chairman said: “I think that that is the most unlikely thing. I don’t think it will go that far.

He urged the leadership of the IPOB to explore the option of using the political process to further their campaign by floating a political party or joining the existing ones with common agenda.

“We have Anambra State election coming up later this year, let the people speak, as that is the only way democracy works. We can’t operate the way they want us to. There must be a meeting of minds, there must be a conversation. Like I said, conversations are going on behind the scene; a lot of consultations are going on and eventually, there may be a need to sit around a table to take a look at these things.”

On the state of President Muhammadu Buhari’s health and the apparent silence by APC, Oyegun said: “We are not his doctors but the reports we have are very good. It is the most unfortunate thing; it is not ideal, as nobody wishes that on himself or on a nation but he is recovering very strongly.”

He said Nigerians should discountenance the claim by the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, that Buhari is now on life-support at a London hospital.