- Panel to comprise governors, National Assembly members from party
Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
In a major shift in its political posture since assuming power in May 2015, the All Progressives Congress has resolved to address the issue of restructuring of the federation. THISDAY learnt that this was the highlight of a meeting held on Thursday night at the Imo State Governor’s Lodge in Asokoro, Abuja, by the leadership of APC and state governors elected on the party’s platform. A reliable source in the party said the meeting resolved to inaugurate a technical committee this week, which would comprise the APC leadership as well as some of its governors and National Assembly members, to work out details of the planned restructuring.
The APC government of President Muhammadu Buhari had since its inauguration adopted a reluctant and evasive posture on the question of restructuring of the polity, despite promising it in the partyâ€™s manifesto while campaigning for the 2015 presidential election. Both the government and the party had poured cold water on persistent and widespread calls for political and economic reform. Last week, APC was quoted as saying that the governmentâ€™s commitment to winning the antiterrorism war and revamping the economy was delaying the restructuring of the country.
But one of the governors, who attended Thursday’s meeting, said the gathering decided to set up the technical committee to harmonise the position of the party on the question of restructuring. The governor, who spoke in confidence, as he was not authorised to divulge details of the meeting, said after the committee’s work the party would summon another meeting to chart the way forward.
He said, â€œOf course, we discussed the Anambra governorship election, especially the threat to the election by IPOB, and the leaders of the APC in the South-east who attended the meeting assured us that the boycott was not going to have any effect.â€
The governor said the meeting also discussed the arrangements for the party’s mini-convention. He said the leaders agreed to start with the process of local government congresses in states where existing vacancies in the partyâ€™s executives needed to be filled.
The APC national chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who briefed the meeting on the matter, was said to have told the attendees that the party had already constituted the team that would conduct the local government congresses. He disclosed that the exercise would take off in September.
The governor said another matter, which came up at the meeting of the APC leaders, was the statement by the governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayo Fayose, that Buhari’s sickness had deteriorated to the extent that he was on life support. He said the governors and members of the party’s National Working Committee condemned Fayoseâ€™s penchant for attacks on Buhari.
Another party source told THISDAY saturday that the APC leadership had deliberately delayed the National Executive Committee meeting and the mid-term convention in the hope that Buhari would recover from his illness and come back to be part of the exercise. He said, â€œThat is why we are slowing down action on the matter because if we go into the NEC or the mini-convention without President Buhari’s presence, it will give the impression that we have moved on.â€
Odigie-Oyegun had told journalists after the meeting with the governors that they resolved to take measures to check the spread of political agitations and activities that threatened national unity. He stated that the party viewed the wave of agitations across the country with concern.
The APC national chairman stated, “We discussed issues affecting the nation and the impact of the current wave of agitations across the country. We decided to strengthen the party. We decided that the kind of verbiage and incendiary statements by different groups were not good for the health of the nation and we decided that it had to stop
“For that reason, we have taken certain measures, which I will not disclose here, to ensure that the basic and fundamental unity of this country is preserved while at the same time listening to whatever grievances anybody has to say.â€
Individuals in APC have held divergent views on the issue of reform. Odigie-Oyegun said recently that the party could not ignore the clamour for restructuring. But Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai and others, especially from the North, believed the party remained opposed to the report of the 2014 national conference conducted by the Peoples Democratic Party government of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, which dealt extensively with restructuring.
However, APC explicitly promised restructuring in its manifesto. Section 25 of the manifesto states, â€œAPC believes that our politics is broken. Our nation urgently needs fundamental political reform and improvement in governance to make it more transparent and accountable. APC will:
â€œ1. Initiate action to amend our Constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties and responsibilities to states and local governments in order to entrench federalism and the federal spirit.â€
Section 24(3) of the manifesto says the APC administration will, â€œBegin widespread consultations to amend the Constitution to decentralise the police command and expand local content by including community policing.â€