By OLUSESAN LAOYE
The All Progressive Congress, APC, is reeling under the weight of his unfulfilled electoral promise of restructuring the country, which has become more imperative in view of the worsening ethnic and political relations in the country under this government.
Even after a Presidential committee headed by Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El- Rufai, had recommended it, and the National Assembly controlled by the party has vowed to implement it, nothing seems to be moving forward given the lack of executive support from the administration of President Buhari.
This has created a major dilemma for the party in the run up to the 2023 election especially in the southern part of the country which is insisting on it. The challenge is how the party will face the country again without fulfilling this promise.
When the all Progressives Congress (APC) was bargaining for power of in 2015, it made many promises to win the hearts of many Nigerians, especially the south west, including restructuring. The particular one that struck them most, was the issue of restructuring Nigeria.
The party based on its constitution in Article 711 states that its aims and objectives “is to promote the True Federalism in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
Nigerians who have been yearning for a change, fell for that, with the hope that when the country is restructured along federating units as promised by the APC, Nigeria would be best governed and the cry of marginalisation by the constituent units across the nation would ease and each units would be able to develop at its pace.
But right now, Nigerians are still looking for a Change expected to come through the restructuring from APC. They are baffled by the unfulfilled promise six years into APC government led by President Muhammadu Buhari.
At a stage, Nigerians took heart when they realised that their hopes of restructuring had been dashed, particularly, after President Buhari dazed them with his speech, when he met the Urhobo leaders and traditional rulers, that the call for restructuring was parochial and personal and that the problem of Nigeria only needs issues to be addressed and not structures as being agitated by some sections of of the country, arguing that the requests of the agitators cannot be found in the constitution of Nigeria.
But right now, the issue which attracted those in the alliance that consummated the APC, especially, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), is now insisting on will continued to haunt the APC, as we moved toward 2023.
Without any ambiguity, the El Rufai Committee after engaging over 8,000 persons, 14 sittings 12 public hearings and consultations in all the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria and had over 409 memoranda, which showed the genuine interests of Nigerians on 24 issues, out of which 13 of them with restructuring topping the list were recommended for approval, by the National body of the Party, headed by Chief John Odigie Oyegun, the then the National Chairman of the party.
Part of the recommendations said to have been approved by Oyegun’s Executives, the board of trustees and the leaders of the party included the merger of states, Derivation principles, fiscal Federalism, Devolution of powers, State police, Resources control and Autonomy of the Local governments among others.
The El Rufai’s committee also went further to prepare a bill for the approval of the National body of the party to be forwarded to the National Assembly for ratification. But unfortunately, up till now nothing has been done about it by the presidency.
The issue of of restructuring Nigeria has now become a big burden on the APC in view of the mounting insecurity, banditry, kidnapping and the nepotism being displayed by the Buhari’s government showing more interests on a section of Nigerian than others over federal appointments, where the North dominates over 50 top most positions in government agencies, like the NNPC, Port Authority and others.
The situations now, especially with the the Fulani incursions into the southern parts of the country and even the Middle Belt called for concern and has also heightened the call for restructuring.
Although the agitations are presently intense, the state of the nation has even made those in the APC to wonder why the party has not deemed it fit to implement the restructuring, which formed part of their manifesto to the electorate in 2015.
It has gone so bad that people like Chief Olusegun Osoba, former Governor of Ogun State and the Chairman of the APC constitution drafting committee at its inception had to declared that true federalism, and devolution of powers were vital issues in the party’s constitution and in the manifesto which the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the APC merger acceded to before the final agreement of the merger was sealed.
Chief Osoba, known for being forthright and straight forward on National Issues and who had been an advocate of true federalism since the second Republic along with Late Chief Bisi Onabanjo, the first Executive Governor of Ogun, State, argued that he was surprised that up till now the party has not done anything about what they have in their manifesto.
He even expressed surprise that despite the recommendation of the El Rufai’s committee report, nothing has been done with it. He pointed out that he was sure that some powerful people somewhere have sat on the report. He further explained that despite the fact that the report was adopted by all organs of the party the situation was still the same.
True to his stands on various national issues, former President Olusegun Obasanjo had never stopped on the need to restructure Nigeria.
His Latest call was at the Sowemimo Annual lecture at Abeokuta, Ogun State, when he categorically voiced out the need to restructure now, saying that Nigeria would remain insecure and stagnant, if not restructured immediately.
He said Nigeria and the present Federal government is too overwhelmed by the spate of security, and failure to act now will lead to more hardship, frustration, greater despair, mentality and feelings that may lead to action of “break up”. The situation “is a matter of life and death which should not be toyed with” he pointed out.
He then called on President Buhari to begin an urgent process of restructuring Nigeria. The latest stand of Governor Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State and also the chairman of the South West Governors Forum, at the current heat of the Fulani’s terrorism in the state and the entire southwest that the only way out of the present situation is for Nigeria to restructure has shown the animosity going on in the APC and among elites in the North and those in the entire South on the delay.
“We have to do; it is a must because the only way out of the insecurities all over the country is to restructure. Restructuring is in APC Constitution and manifesto. We have not done it yet but we must have to do it”, he said.
Those on the APC who believed that restructuring Nigeria is now a matter of urgency, include the Director of General of the All Progressives Governors Forum, Salihu Lukman, who called for the implementation of Mallam El-Rufa’s committee report on True federalism and other national issues which are paramount and important to the Existence of Nigeria.
He argued “the current situation and challenges have presented golden opportunity for the APC to initiate the process of implementing the recommendation of the El Rufai’s committee on true Federalism”.
“The situation in Nigeria especially the challenges which insecurity caused, has even made the issue of restructuring Nigeria a national concern”.
But the allegation of Fulani agenda seems to be the excvuse for the delay in view of the herdsmen rampage in different parts of the country with little concern from the government. However, a prominent voice for the Fulani Mallam Adamu Garba, said that they have nothing to lose if Nigeria is restructured along the six zones and even if at worse, there is a break up.
According to him, the North can stand alone and with the resources they have, the South would be surprised because they have all it takes to survive.
Commenting on the situation and the dilemma of the APC on restructuring, the former Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu argued that it has become a big issue, haunting the APC.
He said the current system is not sustainable and called for the decentralisation of Nigeria.
According to him, “we must decentralise because the present feeding bottle federalism is not the best for Nigeria”.
In his own comment, the former Director of the Directorate of the Military Intelligence Col Kunle Togun (rtd), said the promise of restructuring by the Buhari government of the APC has turned out to be a deceit.
“I think those who are agitating they should forget it because from all indications APC won’t do it and those clamouring for Nigeria to be restructured should forget it for now”