John Alechenu, Olusola Fabiyi, Adelani Adepegba, and Leke Baiyewu
The All Progressives Congress has lashed out at politicians promising to restructure the country, describing them as latter-day converts.
The APC, in a statement by its acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, in Abuja, on Sunday, specifically berated a former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and an ex-President of the Senate, Senator David Mark.
Nabena stated that the two of them were silent on restructuring when they had the opportunity to canvass the reform.
He explained that some of those who were vocal about restructuring hitherto occupied public offices and had the opportunity to implement their ideas.
Nabena said they failed to do so but had regrouped and tried to latch on the issue to pursue political ends.
Nabena said the renewed restructuring debate particularly between the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo and Atiku, which had gained traction on social media, needed to be put in context.
He said “Osinbajo, in his well-articulated response to Atiku, submitted that what Nigeria requires now is not geographic restructuring but good governance, honest management of public resources, deeper fiscal federalism and a clear vision for development.
“The All Progressives Congress cannot agree more with Prof Osinbajo.
“It must be said that the calls for restructuring by many politicians are oftentimes a populist and opportunistic ploy to latch on and politically exploit simplistic public narratives on the panacea for Nigeria’s problems and not necessarily for its realism and practicability.”
He noted that past administrations wasted billions of naira belonging to taxpayers and held national conferences which yielded no result in the end but rather served the narrow interests of a few.
The APC said, “We must never succumb to ethnic champions who promote campaigns to break up the country into tiny bits or other unrealistic and unpatriotic proposals in the name of restructuring to solve our problems as a country. It is simplistic and unconstitutional.
“For instance, Atiku was Vice-President and Chairman of the National Economic Council throughout the eight years of the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
“How did he use his office to correct the imbalance in our federation he expresses today?
“Senator David Mark was Senate President for eight years and never sponsored a motion on restructuring. Today, he is promising to restructure the country.
“We must be wary of latter-day converts to the matter of restructuring, exploiting the issue for populist political campaigns.”
The APC said since the inception of the President Buhari administration, a well-articulated road map for a better distribution of public resources had been developed and was being implemented.
The statement further read, “The APC believes that good, sincere, focused, and purposeful leadership at all levels will propel the country to its deserved heights. Sincere efforts towards achieving true federalism are more important.”
Responding, Mark, a presidential aspirant on the platform of the PDP, insisted that restructuring of the country “is an idea whose time has come.”
Mark, in a statement issued by his Media Assistant, Paul Mumeh, in Abuja on Sunday, noted that contrary to the notion that he was capitalising on the populist agenda, he had listened and galvanised the views of various ethnic nationalities in Nigeria and submitted that the time for restructuring was now.
He said, “It is understandable that the APC would accuse me of being a new convert to restructuring in view of their many failed promises to the Nigerian people. I will not make promises like them. My antecedents over the years, especially during my tenure as Senate President, are a testimony that I will always act in the nation’s best interest.
“My position is anchored on the feedback from Nigerians, and as a leader, in my own right, I have to act in consonance with the wishes of people. My experience in the last few years shows that a leader is only effective if he listens to the people. The issues of insecurity and the dwindling economic fortune of Nigeria makes it imperative that something has to be done by way of restructuring.
“Rarely has our country been faced with such a state of uncertainty, despair, suspicion and division. If restructuring is the answer, why not now?”
The former Senate President pointed out that as a pan-Nigerian, he believed in the sanctity of Nigeria’s unity. “Anything that will unite and prosper Nigeria would be my interest and concern. I believe restructuring is the way to go,” he stated.
The Yoruba social-cultural group, Afenifere, derided the statement by the APC, describing it as a whitewash of their turnabout on restructuring.
The group’s spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, stated that the ruling party was simply trying to hide its insincerity on the issue, noting that the ruling party had yet to release the report of its committee on restructuring months after the panel submitted its recommendations.
Odumakin said, “After they won the election, they ignored restructuring. In fact, the first thing the President said was that he had not read the report of the conference. Later, they said restructuring meant 200 things to 200 Nigerians and then they set up a restructuring committee headed by Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, who had earlier pooh-poohed the idea of restructuring. Till date, we have yet to see their report.
“Lately, they have been using Vice-President Osinbajo as an attack dog on restructuring. How can someone say restructuring does not involve geographical issue?
“Agriculture is a geographical issue; agric in Bayelsa is not the same in Oyo State. Does Osinbajo understand what we are talking about? I think the Vice-President has betrayed a large dose of ignorance on the issue of restructuring.”
On his part, Atiku said he would not exchange words with the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, which he said lacked life.
He said it would be wrong for the APC to talk about restructuring after deceiving Nigerians with such promises in 2015, which he said were not fulfilled up till now.
The former Vice-President, who spoke through the Director of Media of his campaign organisation, Mr Segun Sowumi, told one of our correspondents that APC could not pretend to be interested in restructuring.
He said, “We are in no mood to bandy words with a lifeless government that has nothing but lies and propaganda to offer. We are busy working on plans and programme to get Nigeria working again and restructuring is a key issue that must be given attention.
“Would the APC expect Nigerians to trust them having wasted the goodwill of the people, dashed their hope and made Nigerians the most miserably poor among the poor of the world.”