By Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The senator representing Benue North East senatorial district, Chief Barnabas Gemade, has stated that the National Assembly has already commenced the restructuring of Nigeria.
Gemade stated this against the backdrop of the current clamour for the restructuring of the Nigerian federation coming from many quarters across the country.
He disclosed this when he spoke to journalists at the sideline of southern region sugar sensitisation workshop on Nigeria sugar master plan for stakeholders in the sugar sub-sector, held in Calabar at the weekend.
Stressing that the National Assembly has commenced the restructuring of the country through the periodic amendment of the nation’s constitution, Gemade said the restructuring being clamoured for can only be attained with due process, which he noted the federal lawmakers represent.
“The National Assembly is actually the right body at this material time to restructure the country, and it is already doing a restructuring by amending the constitution,” Gemade said.
According to the minister who is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), restructuring of Nigeria can only be done by members of the National Assembly, who are elected representatives of the people.
“The restructuring of this federation is required under due process and not under an imaginary arrangement. The constituted due process is the representatives of the people,” said Gemade who once served as the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Gemade who indicated that he was not against restructuring, however, argued that it was wrong for some proponents of restructuring to attempt forcing down the report of the 2014 National Conference on Nigerians.
He pointed out that the congregation at the 2014 National Conference did not represent the National Assembly who are constitutionally recognised as the people’s representatives.
He said membership of the conference cannot be substituted for the elected representatives of the people of the component constituencies of Nigeria.
Gemade’s position on restructuring with regards to the roles of the National Assembly is similar to the position of the federal government as communicated to Nigerians by President Muhammadu Buhari in his address to the nation on August 21 this year, after he returned to the country, last month, after observing 103 days of medical leave in London.
In the address which last for about six minutes, Buhari had stated: “Every Nigerian has the right to live and pursue his business anywhere in Nigeria without let or hindrance.
“I believe the very vast majority of Nigerians share this view.
“This is not to deny that there are legitimate concerns. Every group has a grievance. But the beauty and attraction of a federation is that it allows different groups to air their grievances and work out a mode of co-existence.
“The National Assembly and the National Council of State are the legitimate and appropriate bodies for national discourse.”