The All Progressives Congress (APC) ‘Committee on True Federalism’ set up by the party to look into the possibility on restructuring the country were shunned by Nigerian youths yesterday (Wednesday) in Abuja, leaving the large auditorium of the Merit House almost empty.
The committee that has gone to all the 6 geo-political zones of the federation, hearing and receiving memorandum from the people on ‘True Federalism’ was at the federal Capital Territory with the theme “Youths and CSO Public Hearing”.
The chairman of the committee and governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir El’rufai also said the number of the oil states agitating for restructuring are few in the country with less number of representatives in the national assembly, wondered how the bill will scale through at the upper chambers.
Reacting on the poor turnout, El’rufai said: “I wish more of them (youths) came, but I recognize that more of them now communicate more in the virtual world than in the real world.
Many of them contacted us on the social media so, I am so far very happy with the participation of young people particularly when we went for out zonal hearings. The outing here in Abuja, is not as crowded as I expected, but I know they are following on social media.
“We have received lots of memorandum from them on various social media platforms so we know we have a very fair idea of what the young people of Nigeria are thinking about the future of their country and we will reflect that in our report”.
On the 2014 confab report, he said; “there were two confabs; 2005 and 2014, we have read the reports of both confabs and we are going to reflect whatever is useful in both reports”.
The chairman of the committee however advised those agitating for restructuring to do it through the constitutional laid down rules with the national assembly as the determinant factor.
“You cannot abolish the senate; for those agitating for restructuring, there is a constitutional laid down rule for doing it, the National Assembly (Senate) which cannot be abolished is the final hope, for that is where the vote lies.
We have a constitutional order, a due process. We are not over-slowing the document in starting afresh. The complaint that the cost of government is high and that we should do away with the presidential system is not right.
Let us be pragmatic to amend the constitution, and correct many of the things we are opposing. At least 24 states Houses of Assembly have to approve it, at the National Assembly, the majority in the Senate will always win the vote.
“The representatives of the agitators are few in number and so the majority must always win. The president of the country exists, the Senate exists and there are 36 states of the federation.
We the old ones are still here, some of us are good some are bad likewise the youths but you must learn to live with us because we are still here.
I think one of the mistakes we are making about restructuring is that everyone thinks of his own and no one is thinking of the country. Let’s think about the interest of Nigeria first before we think of our own interest.
“Now some people say because we have oil, let us have resource control. We must think once what is of overall interest of Nigeria. By that I mean what will work for everyone.
Because what works for one part of the county might not necessarily work for the other and so as long as we are one country, we must seek for what is of common good not the one that serves one interest group.
You do things like that, you will get it wrong. Otherwise you will continue to make argument in which there will be no consensus”.
He said, “You cannot just say that your state is producing oil and want resource control because you have to pass such amendments through the National Assembly
and all the states that have no oil are more in number than those that have oil and so they will vote it down. So you better start thinking about something that works for the entire country not just you.
“The greatest injustice is trying to make equal, unequal and unequal equal; things are not done like that; it is like saying everyone who is 6.5 feet can play basket ball.
As Human beings we are equal but you cannot come and stand here and say we should create nine states in each zone, Nigeria is not equal, likewise the population and resources, you cannot do that”, he added.
Tom Okpe, Abuja