By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Dapo Akinrefon and Dirisu Yakubu
•Arewa youths want restructuring after 2019 polls
•S-West leaders meet, fix restructuring rally for Sept
ABUJA—Ahead of President Muhammadu Buhari’s expected resumption today, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, and some other youth groups, yesterday, tasked the president to quickly address the agitation for the restructuring of the country.
The Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, while agreeing with the call for the restructuring of the country, however, pleaded that the issue be deferred till after the 2019 elections to allow the present administration stabilise the polity.
The charge on Buhari came as the PDP yesterday came out to endorse the restructuring of the country.
The move by the PDP was also endorsed by socio-cultural groups across the country with some affirming that the onus was now on the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC to implement its election manifesto on the issue. The APC, the groups, alleged faced the consequence of rejection in the 2019 polls for walking away from its 2015 election promise.
Among socio-cultural groups that backed the move by the PDP and pushed the APC to implement the restructuring of the country were the Yoruba Socio-Cultural group, Afenifere, the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC and the Ijaw Monitoring Group. The Arewa Youth Consultative Council, AYCF, while backing the restructuring of the country, however, advised that the restructuring should be left to the federal administration to be formed after the 2019 polls.
The APC had through its National Publicity Secretary of the ruling party, Mr. Bolaji Abdullahi blasted the PDP, saying the opposition party had never been an advocate of restructuring.
Responding, yesterday, through its National Publicity Secretary, Prince Dayo Adeneye, yesterday, PDP said: “We have read with amusement the statement credited to the National Publicity Secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr. Bolaji Ojo-Abdullahi, in which he said that our party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has never been and is not interested in restructuring.
“This sudden resurrection of the ruling party’s interest in ‘restructuring’ after several months of denial by the Chairman of the APC, Chief John Odigie- Oyegun; Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; some governors elected on the platform of the party and other senior party officials that the APC did not promise restructuring in its manifesto and during the campaigns in 2015 is the latest in a series of deceitful ploys designed and being implemented by the party to hoodwink Nigerians ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“As the word implies, restructuring is a process of re-arrangement, re-organization or re-formation of the manner or way in which something (in this case governance) is done. As used in the Nigeria political lexicon, restructuring refers to the modification of the system of governance to guarantee the socio-economic and political growth and development of Nigerian people.
“It is imperative to inform Nigerians that our party is not against the restructuring of the system of governance in the country in a manner that places Nigeria firmly on the path of growth, development, and prosperity.
“Indeed, our party’s commitment to constantly seeking solutions to the challenges confronting the nation caused us to amend our party’s constitution to include the equitable devolution (decentralization) of power for greater functionality, national integration and rapid economic and social reconstruction, amongst other things.
“Examples can be found in Preamble 2(b) and (e), Section 7(b) and (f), and many more provisions of our party constitution.
“It is against the backdrop of our party’s commitment to restructuring the system of socio-political governance in Nigeria for better functionality and efficiency that the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan summoned a national conference to recommend amendments to the Nigerian Constitution.
“This conference submitted a report with several proposed amendments to the Constitution which the APC-led Federal Government has refused to implement more than two years later.’’
Noting that the APC was the only political party in the country that failed to attend the conference, the PDP said: “It is also imperative to point out that APC’s refusal to participate at the conference was predicated on a narrow and selfish interest.
“Further evidence of our commitment to the restructuring of the country is provided in a statement to newsmen by the National Chairman, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, on June 22, 2017.
“In light of the above, we reiterate our support for the restructuring of the system of governance in the country to ensure more functional and efficient governance at all tiers of government.
“We urge opinion and thought leaders around the country to participate in the process in the best interest of our country and its people.
“We wish to reiterate our position that the APC has nothing more to offer Nigeria and Nigerians. The party only resorts to unbridled propaganda as a ploy to deceive Nigerians and distract them from the topical issues upon which they are required to assess APC’s
“Nigerians should never take the APC for its word. It is a party that was built and is still being sustained by propaganda. Making empty promises is their stock in trade. It is a do-nothing party that believes in nothing.’’
Afenifere, others react
Welcoming the PDP’s stance, Afenifere through its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said yesterday:
“The APC has the edge; they are in power now, while the PDP is in the opposition. Let the APC do restructuring so that the PDP will have nothing to campaign. Instead of fighting the PDP because they are calling for restructuring, the APC should do restructuring so that the PDP will have nothing to campaign with except they, APC, are just doing cheap propaganda. That is the best way for them to treat PDP; restructure Nigeria. Then PDP will look for something else to campaign with.”
Factional president of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eric Omare, responding to the development, said yesterday: “This is a commendable decision, and anybody wishing Nigeria well would know that that is the way to go. I think what the PDP has done is to align itself with the thinking of the majority of Nigerians and they have not done wrong in that direction.”
Also speaking on the issue, the Coordinator, Ijaw Monitoring Group, IMG Joseph Evah, said the APC would be at a loss, if it refuses to drive the issue.
“Even the APC, it was one of their campaign promises. If they don’t want restructuring, they will never return back to power because now the wind is blowing, it is like harmattan fire, and it will even burn some of them who have evil minds towards this country.
“If they don’t want it, Nigerians will reject them. We must have to restructure because if people like Ibrahim Babangida who established the structure that we are now having are for restructuring, I am telling you when the time comes, the APC will even stand for restructuring more than anybody else. It was their promise and if they don’t fulfil it, Nigerians will know them as liars.”
National President of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, said restructuring should not be an issue, given that it was needed to move the country forward. He, however, charged that restructuring should not be done by the current government which he said should preoccupy itself with stabilising the country and allow its successor to carry it out.
He said: “I am of the view that Nigeria is due for restructuring, I believe that restructuring is one of the problems facing Nigeria, but it should not be on the front burner. Some Nigerians are thinking of rebuilding the nation to make it strong. Restructuring should not be seen as an issue now. Though I am a strong advocate of restructuring, I am of the view that it should not be done by the current government; the government should be allowed to stabilize the polity while we can discuss restructuring when a new government comes on board.”