â€¢ Sâ€™West governors, leaders vote for restructuring, power devolution
By Christopher Isiguzo, Chidinma Odigbo in Enuguand Ademola Babalola in Ibadan
Amid growing demands for the restructuring of the country in order to address myriads of challenges threatening the unity of Nigeria, the All Progressives Congres( APC) yesterday commenced consultations on the vexed issue in the South-east zone.
Speaking during the commencement of consultations on restructuring in Enugu, the leader of the committee for the South-east zone, Prof Oserhiemen Osunbor,Â said the partyâ€™s constitution and manifesto showed the partyâ€™s commitment to the principles and ideals of true federalism and restructuring.
He said his committee which membership include the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, and Deputy Governor of Kogi State, Simon Achuba, Â was in the zone to receive memoranda from various stakeholders in order to effectively accommodate the views of a vast majority of the populace.
In their presentations, members and leaders of APC from Enugu and Ebonyi States expressed their opposition to regionalism but however differed on state police.
While Enugu State in their presentation made by the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, kicked against state police, Ebonyi State on their part endorsed it in their presentation made by a former Commissioner for Inter-Party Affairs, Chief Egwu Chima.
The two statesÂ agreed on the scrapping of state Independent Electoral Commissions, even as they also supported the need to grant both political, electoral and economic autonomy for the local government system.
They also endorsed power sharing and rotation at federal, state and local council levels; presidential system of government and upward review of derivations.Â However, both states differed on state police as Enugu endorsed it while Ebonyi opposed it on the grounds that some governors would use it to intimidate opposition elements in their states.Â
While Egwu said returning to regionalism was akin to returning to Egypt, Okechukwu said Enugu had always voted against it.
They also agreed that an additional state be created in the zone in order to bring it at par with other zones.
Also speaking, a former Secretary to Enugu State Government, Chief Onyemauche Nnamani, asked the APC and the presidency to package a bill to the National AssemblyÂ in order to come up with a definite roadmap on how to ensure that the committeeâ€™s job becomes law without another tampering by the legislature.
â€œWe must have a road map for the actualisation of a new constitution and restructuring before going round the country for memorandum.
â€œRecall that during Abachaâ€™sÂ reign there was a committee, along Obasanjo government there was a committee as well as Jonathan, there was and there were documents. And the National Assembly has been undertaking constitutional review for the last 10 years yet nothing came out of it.â€
Among notable APC chieftains who attended the public sitting were former Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief Martin Elechi; Senator Chris Nwankwo; Chairmen of APC, in Enugu and Ebonyi States, Dr. Ben Nwoye and Rev. Eze Nwachukwu, respectively.
Also in the South-west yesterday three states, Oyo, Ogun and Lagos, were unanimous in their call for the restructuring of Nigeria to reflect true federalism and devolution of more powers to the states.
South-west leaders also warned all those calling for disintegration of the country to drop the idea.
They said the solution to the problems facing the country is restructuring of Nigeria to reflect the principles of true federalism as envisioned by the founding fathers of the country.
Many leaders took their turn to present their memorandum to the committee on true federalism which has the mandate to review all the ideas variously referred to as restructuring , devolution of powers, resource control and regionalism among others with a view to articulating and aligning the public position with the ruling partyâ€™s manifesto and campaign promises.
Present at the event were the APC leaders in Oyo, Ogun and Lagos States, the APC CommitteeÂ on True Federalism led by its Chairman, the Plateau State Governor, Bako Lanlong , the Oyo State Deputy Governor, Moses Alake, and former Governor of Enugu State, Mr. Sulliva Chime.
Others included prominent traditional rulers led by the Alaafin of Oyo, ObaÂ Lamidi Adeyemi, the Olubadan of Ibadanland, Oba Saliu Adetunji , Eleruwa of Eruwa, Oba Samuel Adegbola, and Onijeru of Ijeru, ObaSunday Oladapo.
Also present were members of the organised labour unions who spoke on the need for autonomy for local government administration.
Before making the Oyo State government presentation, the state Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, who was represented by his Deputy, Moses Alake, described the APC-led administration as a responsible and responsive government , with the peopleâ€™s interest and well-being as its cardinal focus.
To him, the agitation for restructuring is an indication that something needed to be addressed on the current structure or arrangement in the country.
Also, the first class monarch,Â Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi in his addressÂ called on federal government and political leaders to find a way of restructuringÂ the country as soon as possible to avoid what happened in Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR) and other countries such as Romania.
The Alaafin who presented memorandum on behalf of traditional rulers from Oyo, Ogun and Lagos State said that the present structure where state with the highest population (Lagos) with over 20 million people is having only 20 local government while Kano with six million population is having 44 local government areas is unjust and unfair.
He noted that those in power should heel the calls from various quarters to restructure the country warning that countries such as USSR and Romania were once in this kind of situation but the leaders turned deaf to the call which led to force break-up.
Oba Adeyemi said: â€œWhat I am saying is that, if we did not restructure Nigeria what happened in USSR may happen, USSR was break with force. Romania also was divided through force. That is the way their leaders were doing.
â€œ36 states workers are not being paid, the governors cannot pay them. What cause these was the killing of political leaders in the first republic which was sectional and unjust.
â€œIronsi scrap the federal structure and replaced it with unitary, since then we have not come back to true federalism. Until we go back to the glorious days of marketing board, there is no need for Federal Ministry of Culture, federal government has no culture.
â€œLagos has 20 local government areas with 20 million people, Kano has 44 local government with six million people, where do they do that throughout the world. Just like Kano, Jigawa State has more local government than Lagos State.
â€œThere will continue to be ASSU strike. Eighteen years ago, they signed a memorandum of understanding, they canâ€™t solve it. We are concentrating too much power at the centre. The present state of things can only be resolve through a summit like this.
The Oyo state APC Chairman, Chief Akin Oke , on behalf of the National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, presented a 12-point position including the scrapping of local government- the third tier of government .
The party chieftain lauded the landmark success of the APC since it took over the mantle of leadership in the country.
He saidâ€ more significantly, the landmark success recorded by the opposition APC in 2015 which made power to change hands at the centre was the needed saving grace for sustainability of our dear country after it had suffered tremendously in the hands of the PDP elements who foisted bad culture of corruption, schism, and sabotage on the giant of Africa as Nigeria was once acknowledged.â€Â