By OBINNA EZUGWU
Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo has shaded President Muhammadu Buhari, suggesting that he was not surprised that the president could not understand what restructuring of the country meant, as according to him, one needed to have a certain degree of education to be able to understand the meaning and implications of restructuring.
Pa Adebanjo made the remarks while speaking at an event tagged ‘Handshake Across Nigeria: Towards A Productive Nigeria’ put together by Nzuko Umunna and Aka Ikenga, held at the Muson Centre, Onikan Lagos on Monday.
The elder statesman accused those in power of trying to distort the meaning of restructuring with a view to creating wrong impressions. He wondered how the vice president, Yemi Osinbajo who, according to him, is a professor of law and from a good family, would join Buhari to say he doesn’t understand restructuring.
“It is people in power who are trying distort what restructuring is. Even the president and the vice president don’t understand themselves on restructuring. The president says one thing, the vice president says another thing,” he said.
“I can understand that of the president because you need education to understand restructuring, but who I don’t understand is the vice president who is a professor of law and comes from a good background.
“How can vice president say he wants devolution of power, he wants state police, he wants local governments to be autonomous, and yet he doesn’t understand restructuring?” he queried
Adebanjo maintained that to restructure was to return to the federal constitution the country’s founding fathers bequeathed to her, noting that the current unitary structure was the cause of the country’s failures.
“The constitution our founding fathers gave us; the constitution that Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello and Chief Obafemi Awolowo gave us is strictly federal. And that was given to us at the London Constitutional Conference.”
He faulted those arguing that it would be difficult to arrive at what will constitute federating units in a restructured Nigeria, insisting that the argument does not arise as according to him, it is the powers vested on whatever constitutes the units, no matter how many they are, that determines whether or not the country is operating a federal constitution.
“It is the power exercised by the component parts that will say whether it is federal or unitary. As someone has noted, during the first republic, no component unit went to Abuja to look for money the regions were self sustaining because they were in control of their resources,” he said.
“For instance, in the Western Region, Awolowo implemented free education and he had the resources to do it. That’s what we mean by restructuring. Don’t let anyone deceive you by saying that they don’t even understand what we mean. If the man who is the president doesn’t understand due to education deficiency, those of us who are talking about it know what we are talking about.”
He said it was unfortunate that some people are dishonesty trying to suggest that those asking for restructuring want the country to be dismembered, warning that it would be the failure to save the country through restructuring that will end up breaking it apart.