- Cites direct allocations to local council accounts
Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja
Amid sustained campaigns for restructuring nationwide, the All Progressives Congress (APC) saturday claimed that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari had already started taking actions to restructure Nigeria.
The APC noted that the Buhari administration had few months granted financial autonomy to 774 local government areas (LGAs), thereby giving credence to its action to reorganise the country’s lopsided governance structure.
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Lanre Issa-Onilu disclosed this in response to THISDAY inquiry on whether the president would implement the report of the APC Committee on Restructuring amid national calls for a new federal order.
Since it was registered on July 31, 2013, the ruling party has been indecisive and lukewarm to address the demand of most Nigerians to restructure the country’s current federal structure that gives much power to the national government at the expense of other federating units.
Following protracted national debate in 2017, the APC under the chairmanship of Chief John Odigie-Oyegun was compelled to constitute a Committee on Restructuring headed by Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.
The 23-member committee came up with a far-reaching report, which recommended resource control, making local government an affair of states, constitutional amendment to allow merger of states, state police, state court of appeal and independent candidacy, among others.
But since the committee submitted its report on January 25, 2018, both the APC and the Presidency have been silent about the implementation of the report despite the incessant demand by the socio-cultural organisations and leaders of thought, among others, for restructuring.
Giving assurance that the president would implement the APC report on restructuring, Issa-Onilu noted that the Buhari administration would take actions and put policies in place that would deepen the federal principles in the country.
According to him, whose definition of restructuring are you working with because there are many definitions outside there, otherwise you will realised that this government has continued gradually to restructure this country.
Just few months ago, he explained that it was announced that monthly allocation would go directly to local government accounts without any governor having control over it, which according to him, took effect in June.
He said: “That is financial restructuring. So, what we want people to do is to pay attention as this government continues to take actions and put policies in place that signed true federalism.”
Asked if the financial restructuring was part of the recommendations by the APC Report on Restructuring, Issa-Onilu said he did not necessarily have to link Buhari’s action to the report.
“What is important is that the Buhari government is focused on doing what is in the best interest of this country, wherever the policy comes from it does not matter.”
He explained that the ruling party was not obliged to make its report on restructuring public, stressing that it was an internal affairs of the party.
He rhetorically asked: “Why are you bothered about the report? I just told you what the federal government is doing. Must we make our report public? It is our internal issues. Is it report or actions that matter? It is a government of action.
“We did not use public funds to set up the committee. So, we are not obliged to come to the public to give and submit our report. We have submitted our report through appropriate channel. And it is the same government. APC is not different from the government that is in power.
“I have given you a fundamental action that has taken place in June. We are still waiting for Nigerians to acknowledge this action and also commend this government for releasing allocation directly to the local government accounts.”
Issa-Onilu, therefore, called on the media “to do a follow up and see what impact that direct allocation to local government is now making at the local government and at the grassroots. This is to ensure that the resources going now to the 774 local governments are used judiciously.”