John Alechenu, Abuja
The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress has commenced deliberations on the report of the Governor Nasir el-Rufai-led panel on True Federalism.
The PUNCH gathered that the party decided that it would advise President Muhammadu Buhari to implement aspects of the report that would not require constitution amendments.
It was learnt that the APC would urge the Federal Government to direct the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to fashion out a new revenue allocation formula before the 2019 elections.
It was gathered that the deliberations featured prominently at an executive session of the NWC which was held at the private residence of the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, in Abuja, on Monday.
The meeting, which began at about 2pm away from the prying eyes of reporters, lasted till about 7.38pm.
Although details of the deliberations on the subject were sketchy as of the time of filing this report, our correspondent learnt that the party leaders deliberated on the aspects of the panel’s report which could be implemented before the start of the electioneering.
A top ranking member of the party, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media said, “As you know, there are aspects of the report that can be implemented by the executive without rigorous constitutional amendments.
“For example, the committee recommended that the Federal Government should urgently direct the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to among others fashion out a new revenue allocation formula in accordance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which envisages a periodic review of the formula. That could be a good start.
“The normal thing to do for carrying this out is for the RMAFC to recommend a new formula to the President for deliberation/ approval at the Federal Executive Council before it is forwarded to the National Assembly for approval.
“The NWC equally deliberated on the proposals being made to the amendment of the party’s constitution especially aspects designed to strengthen leadership’s powers to discipline erring members.”
Another party leader, who also spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution said, “While the President’s intervention is welcome and in fact, long overdue, it will be difficult for us at this point to accept any proposal that will substantially alter the progress we have made in reconciling with aggrieved members.”
When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, who confirmed that the meeting held, explained that it was basically to fine-tune preparations for the party’s National Executive Council meeting scheduled to hold on February 27.
He said, “Our meeting was basically to prepare the ground for our NEC meeting; we looked at the (proposals for) constitution amendments, the Restructuring Committee report and other activities ahead of our national convention in June, that’s all.
“We had to go through the constitutional amendment and all that in preparation for the NEC meeting.”
In response to a question as to whether President Buhari consulted the NWC before Tinubu was appointed, he said, “The issue of Asiwaju’s appointment was not on the agenda. Yes, the party was not consulted but we don’t feel the need to be consulted. We are happy and it is a positive development, it is neither strange nor new.
“When the leader of the party feels there is a need to reconcile party members across the country, he sets up an extraordinary panel or committee to deal with the problem.
“That’s why I feel he may have wanted to supervise the process himself but because of other commitments – he is the President of the whole country now not just the leader of the APC.
“It is quite appropriate for him to bring someone to do it on his behalf. We don’t feel the need for the President to ask for our clearance before he does that. We are happy that he has done that and we are willing to work with Asiwaju to find solutions to some of these problems as we prepare for the next elections.”
Asked whether Asiwaju had contacted the party leadership since his appointment, Abdullahi said, “He just got the assignment, he has to do his own background preparations, he will contact us when he is ready.”