By Emmanuel Mogbede
The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has inaugurated a 24-member committee on true federalism to articulate the party´s position on restructuring of the country.
The National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who inaugurated the committee on Thursday in Abuja, said the party was not opposed to true federalism.
According to Odigie-Oyegun, it is only the APC that can claim ownership to the principle and the need for true federalism in the country.
´´When we sat down to discuss the union of the APC, it was one of the principal issues that were almost like a no-go-item that we negotiated and agreed.
´´And as such, the Constitution and the manifestos of the party are very elaborate in their references to true federalism and devolution of power.
´´It is therefore totally inconceivable for uninformed members of the public to jump on this bandwagon of reconstituting the federation,” he said.
He added that such members of the public gave the impression that the APC was “in any way against the principle of taking a fresh look at the basis of our federalism´´.
Odigie-Oyegun insisted that true federalism was already a mantra to the APC, and must be looked into without jeopardising the fundamental unity of the country.
He tasked members of the committee to have a critical look at issues of devolution of power, fiscal federalism, resource control and others thrown up following recent clamour for restructuring of the country.
He, however, stressed that APC’s Constitution and manifesto vigorously canvassed the issues, adding that they were elaborately provided for.
The chairman said that the party´s position on the issues had been eloquently stated in the terms of references of the committee.
´´It is your duty, especially having regard to the emotive nature of the national discourse on restructuring, to distil from our party constitution and manifesto the various ideas canvassed in different constitutional conferences.
´´I expect you to look at whatever document available on this subject and to look at whatever views and recommendations available on it.
´´I also expect, at all times, that your anchor will be the constitution and manifesto of the party, because it is on that manifesto that we went to the public of this nation.
´´I ask you to generate a report which will truly reflect the desire of our people and a true reflection of what our party stands for,” he said.
He added that it was critical to ensure that the party met the desires of Nigerians on their idea of true federalism.
In his response, Kaduna State Governor and Chairman of the committee, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, said that APC believed in balanced federation and fiscal federalism and was doing well in that regard.
´´We can give example as state governors of the level of participation of states in certain economic policy directions for the country.
´´This government has also taken steps to devolve power and responsibility to states, without any constitutional amendment to states.
´´We have seen more cases of federal assets and roads being taken over by states willingly,” el-Rufai said.
He disclosed that the committee had met three times and had identified 12 key issues to be discussed by Nigerians to ensure a clearer direction on issues of restructuring.
He said that the committee would visit 12 states in the country to meet with the people at the grassroots to collate their views on the issues with a view to proffering solution.
El-Rufai said some of the issues to be looked into were state creation, regionalism, land tenure system and revenue allocation.
He added that the committee would also utilise social media platforms to interact with the people across the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 24-member committee, which has nine states’ governors, women, youths and some leaders of the APC, was constituted on July 9.
Member of the committee are Gov. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun, Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau and Gov. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun.
Others are former governor of Edo, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor; APC National Organising Secretary, Sen. Osita Izunaso; APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi and Hajiya Fatima Balla.
Sen. Olubunmi Adetunmbi is the committee’s Secretary.
The committee is expected to complete its assignment within three months. (NAN)