*Back restructuring at parley between House, APC c’ttee
Henry Omunu, Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara and Chairman of the Committee All Progressives Congress (APC) committee on true restructuring and Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai, have admitted that Nigeria is structurally defective and needs restructuring.
Dogara and el-Rufai made the declaration when the speaker received a delegation of the APC committee in his office at the National Assembly.
Speaking at the event, el-Rufai affirmed that the APC ab initio initiated devolution of powers in its manifesto during electioneering campaigns in 2015.
The governor said, ” The APC in its manifesto made firm commitment to devolution of powers or true federalism which is known today as restructuring. The expeditious implementation has not occurred.”
Acknowledging that Nigeria as presently constituted is structurally defective, el-Rufai added that “there are some imbalances in our federation and that is why our party is committed to resolving it. We have already taken some steps which is already before the state assemblies.
“The original idea of the APC was to have a technical debate of nine but we went back to the party and asked them to open it up so that everybody, including the young ones should have a say.”
The party, according to el-Rufai resolved that both chambers of the National Assembly nominate two persons each to join the debate since ultimately, the most important stakeholders are the National Assembly me!ebers as whatever comes out of the debate from the party will eventually come to the National Assembly.
He added that the committee is using social media platforms to collate and articulate the views of Nigerians which will guide the party, the govern!anrt as well as both houses of the National Assembly to arrive at a decision that will balance Nigeria’s federation.
The governor also stated that the committee will engage both chambers of the National Assembly as the debate on true federalism progresses.
In his comment, Dogara stressed the importance of healthy debate in a democracy, saying that truth must be allowed to lead public debate so as to sustain democracy.
He applauded the leadership of the APC for living up to the commitment it made to the people on a balanced federation and devolution of powers, saying that “this is the first time a party is taking the matter seriously so as to move the federation forward.
He said, “Democracy doesn’t guarantee anything just like education. Democracy doesn’t work, it is the citizens that make democracy to work.
“Federalism simply means distribution of powers both vertically and horizontally. Whether it has worked can only be assessed from the feedback from the people and the recent agitations show that something is wrong with the federation and if we shy away from it, then we must face the dire consequences in future.”
Dogara emphasized that truth must be allowed to lead public debate to make it healthy, adding that anything short of truth will lead to agitation which will degenerate to hate speech.
He said, “We have had healthy and unhealthy discourse and hate speeches which drowns the truth. Once the truth is hidden, there is nothing you can build on, that is the danger of hate speech.
“Any speech that elicits debate is healthy and that is healthy speech and that is what democracy protects but those ones that arouse violence is hate speech.”
He informed the committee that the House had already comstituted a committee to articulate the views of Nigerians on true federalism, adding that the outcome of the APC committee will be synthesized with those of the House for a decision that will be acceptable to all Nigerians.
“We already have a co!mittee working on this and it will work in consonance with that of the party. Unfortunately, most of the issues are there in the foundational documents of the country. The executive cannot tinker with the structure of the country which solely lies with the National Assembly.
“Our committee is not an APC committee but a by-partisan committee so that the resolutions of the com!ittee will be looked at from a nationalist perspective.”
Other members of the APC delegation were Senator Olubumi Adetumbi, secretary; Mrs. Yetunde Ononuga, deputy governor of Ogun state, who represented the governor and Senator Oserheimen Osunbor among others.