FG’s already restructuring Nigeria—Lai Mohammed
It’s all lies, say Afenifere, Junaid Mohammed, ECA
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Emeka Mamah, AbdulSalam Muhammad, Dapo Akinrefon & Charles Kumolu
ABUJA – The Federal Government has commenced the process of restructuring in the way it understands, the Minister of Information, Culture, and Tourism, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said yesterday.
His assertion was immediately rebuffed by chieftains of the Yoruba and Igbo socio-cultural groups. Elder statesman, Tanko Yakasai and Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed also faulted the claim, accusing the government of projecting lies.
The minister, who spoke on a Channels Television live interview, also disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari had intervened in the reported face-off between the Attorney General of the Federation, Alhaji Abubakar Malami, and Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
Mohammed was pushed to his wits’ end in playing down the reported face-off which he said the press was determined to blow-up. He, however, assured that the President’s response to the crisis would conclude the matter.
Mohammed, during the interview anchored by Maupe Ogun, also disclosed that the Federal Government had drawn a red line on hate speech, saying any breaches would be met with requisite sanctions.
He said: “For the Federal Government, restructuring means devolution of power. Restructuring means for the Federal Government, a system whereby government’s policies and programmes can reach everybody at the grassroots.
“For us, restructuring means ability that will allow you to deliver and in our own way, we have started.
“The Acting President (then) issued an order to the Police that they should start implementing community policing; that is one aspect of restructuring that we believe will deliver better criminal justice.
“As a government, we look at our constitution as it is today and we follow strictly what the constitution says, and in applying the constitution, we look at practical ways of reaching out to people.
“The constitution is the grundnorm today; that is the basis of our being together and you cannot today as a government do anything that is contrary to that Constitution because that is the supreme law of the country.
“So, even when you talk about restructuring, you may need to amend certain provisions of the constitution, and we all know how cumbersome it is to do that. But we are not averse to genuine grievances, we are ready to look at them, but what the government cannot do is to react to the cacophony of voices.”
The minister also rebuffed insinuations of a ‘civil war’ within the administration as reflected in the crisis between the AGF, Malami, and the acting chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Magu.
He said: “People may have different ideas, but this is not unusual, and I can assure you that the matter will soon be brought under control.
With the anchor insisting, Mohammed threw back, saying, “I think you are trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. There is nothing unusual for two agencies of the same government to have different means on how to achieve the goal. But it is a matter that will be resolved and will be resolved.”
Asked if the President was aware of the crisis, he said: “Yes, he is. He is the employer of the two of them. The President would look into the matter and, of course, pronounce on the issue. The EFCC chairman, why would he take the position that he is taking? The AGF, why would he take the line he is taking?”
It’s unfortunate — Afenifere
Reacting to Mohammed’s position on restructuring, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, described his statement as unfortunate and an attempt to confuse Nigerians.
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said: “Where and how have they started? It is pathetic and unfortunate that a person like Alhaji Lai Mohammed can say such on a fundamental issue. So, when they put fiscal federalism in their party’s constitution, all they meant was community policing?
“So, where is the community policing? It is rather unfortunate that he can make such petty obfuscation to confuse the people. I heard him also saying on television that restructuring means different things to different people. So, what does restructuring mean to them (APC) when they put it in their manifesto? He should spell out what it meant to them. It is just unfortunate.”
Lai Mohammed is telling us lies—
On his part, Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, said: ‘’First, I am not one of those agitating for restructuring because I don’t believe in it. I believe that those doing so, do not have the interest of the country at heart.
“From both sides of the argument for restructuring, we have seen that there is shortage of details. None of the sides understands what restructuring means to them.
“We have an Executive that is at war with the National Assembly, and that has not made them work together since the President was elected. It is this kind of situation that makes people like my friend, Lai Mohammed, to be telling us lies. Lai Mohammed who is a lawyer is being economical with the truth.
‘’The system of government we practice is such that you can’t do things by fiat, they have to pass through the constitutional processes. With the situation on the ground, let us please, pipe low on agitations so that people like Lai will not be feeding us with lies.
“Those agitating for restructuring lost out in the past, at the Confab and other fora. If that is the case, why shutting down the government to satisfy the interest of those who have selfish political agenda? It is not good.”
Lai’s position is not clear — Tanko Yakassai
Elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai, called on proponents of restructuring to come up with a clear definition and blueprint in order to earn the support of Nigerians.
Yakassai told Vanguard that Lai Mohammed spoke tongue-in-cheek against the position of the likes of Chief Emeka Anyaoku and Chief Ayo Adebanjo.
He said that “the North is ready to queue behind the proponents if they can avail us with a clear definition of what they referred to as restructuring.
“Lai’s understanding of restructuring is not in anyway near what the proponents are agitating and it will be fair for both sides to come up with a blueprint for us to evaluate and take a stand.”
It’s irritating — ECA
The Eastern Consultative Assembly, ECA, on its part described the assertion by Lai Mohammed as irritating.
ECA Secretary, Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, said the Federal Government was in a cul-de-sac over what to do to save the country from imminent collapse.
“All the minorities in Sokoto, Borno, Adamawa, Kaduna, Kogi are in support of restructuring. The Igbo, Yoruba, Urhobo, Isoko, Igala, among others, are in support of restructuring. The only thing that will save Nigeria from collapse is restructuring; not cosmetic restructuring but restructuring into six regions to allow for economic prosperity.
“The oppressors must know that the days of reckoning are here and that they must account for over 400 years of misdeeds. We are not talking about palliatives; we are talking about the real solution, which is restructuring to calm frayed nerves.
“Our youths are angry, and the only way we can even beg and appease them is to ensure that the country is restructured,” he said.