…demand true federalism
…as Buhari explains why he dealt with Ex-CJN Onnoghen
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA – NATIONAL leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and some leaders of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere yesterday met with President Muhammadu Buhari on the rising rate of insecurity in the South West.
The group also demanded that the government should implement true federalism as enshrined in the Nigeria Constitution rather than behaving as champions of the smaller units.
This is as the President once again explained to his guests while he had to deal with the former Chief Justice of the Federation, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, stressing that some Nigerians would swear with to almighty God that their property doesn’t belong to them until when their bank accounts and their companies they hide and refuse to declare were shown to them.
The Afenifere who were led in the courtesy visit by Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye said they were at the State House to rejoice with the President and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo for their re-election for a second term in office.
Presenting number of demands to the President, Senator Durojaiye said it was worthwhile to take a bold step in combating crime and improving on security by improving on the apparent shortage of the manpower in the Nigeria Police Force and by extending control of the Police from the State to Local Government level.
According to him, “By this, we humbly suggest that Mr. President should reflect deeply and consider recruitment, training, equipment and deployment of Nigerian Police on the basis of 774 Local Governments listed in the First Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“Added to this is training the general public on the need to improve on their individual vigilance and awareness of movement of strangers passing through or moving into their neighborhood.
“Imbibing such habit and practice will be a tremendous help or service to the Police and other security Agents as regards “Intelligence” support especially now that must people have access to individual means of communication (telephone handsets).
“Mr. President sir, please permit me one more observation on the issue of security. In apparent desire to supplement your efforts, the newly elected Governors of Western Nigeria extraction, have this very day, Tuesday the 25th June 2019, held a meeting in Ibadan to map out strategies to eradicate kidnapping and violent attacks. They and other states will surely need more financial subvention and support.”
On federalism, the Yoruba leaders said, “We seriously recommend clinging to the spirit and letters of our Federal Constitution. This is one sure way of achieving the desired goal of unity even in diversity, mutual respect, tolerance and giving true meaning to the opening phrase of our Constitution that is, “we the people”
“We will be a greater nation if we sincerely practice true federalism and think and act as Nigerians rather than as champions of the smaller units we were born into. Our big size is an asset worthy of preservation.
“Good examples of big size, hard work and prudent spending are the USA, China and India. It is not with violence or hate speeches but with mutual trust, self-respect and tolerance that we will speedily achieve the lofty destiny of this great country, Nigeria.”
The apex Yoruba socio-cultural organization also told President Buhari to use his second tenure to implement free education in the country, adding that it would bring revolution to the country.
“Free Universal and Compulsory Education“ had been practiced with remarkable success in some parts of Nigeria in the past. Mr. President may consider re-introducing the programme and make it compulsory at all levels and all over the country as a lasting gift to Nigeria in his final term in office. Such a bold step though very expensive will revolutionize and catapult the entire nation to the next higher level,” group said.
They further harped on youth employment, noting that it was one of the obvious advantages that will accrue from education programme which include Basic, Technical, Skill Acquisition, Digitalization and ICT Programmers.
They also thanked President Buhari for re-introducing History in school curriculum.
On power supply and agriculture, the group said, “We have already commended your administration on its remarkable achievements in the field of agriculture. But the country asks for more, especially in the Field of afforestation, irrigation and revival of those agricultural products like Cocoa, Groundnut, Cotton, Palm Products and processing them for domestic consumption and export as Malaysia which borrowed seedlings from us has now gone far
ahead of us.
“As to Electricity, we are aware of your efforts which must be more than doubled to improve on the pace of industrialization, productivity and more comfort for all Nigerians.”
Also speaking with State House correspondents, the APC national leader, Asiwaju Tinubu said that the government in the next level has to tackle infrastructure deficit in all parts of the country.
Tinubu said,” The essence of the meeting is to thank the President, congratulate him on the election and the first step on the security of the country to really see a way out to stem any hate speech; intolerance across the nation and look at the problem of security holistically and from the grassroots level; including the fact there is a shortage of police personnel.
“There is the need to look at the recruitment from 774 Local Governments and be able to effectively have information; it takes time to train people; you equally create employment from such an action; I mean employment for the people and strengthen security intelligence from the grassroots.
“The NEXT Level is broad. You have economic progress that we are working for as a party; we have the diversity of the economy itself; we have the various scale of thinking that the economic council will have to bring about; the infrastructural deficit; poverty, security; those are the things that we will put emphasis on.
“You know it; I know it; there is infrastructural deficit across the country and without infrastructure, you cannot galvanise the economy; you have the question of electricity that is critical to industrialization and economic growth.”
Asked if Yoruba elders were behind President Buhari, he said,”Sure, I don’t want to be clannish or sectional; the question is that we want to build a nation and always believe in our diversity for prosperity not from adversity and progressives like the president will join hands to build the country.
“No matter what, we have nothing but one country and that is the only way that we can stimulate growth and understanding among various nationalities; it is not by division; it is not by promoting religious conflict; religious differences; nobody has control when they were born; what they will be, how they will be raised and how their fate will affect their lives and we must remove that from our political setting; set it aside, build a nation and concentrate on trust and development.”
Reacting to the demands of the Afenifere group, reminded them on the cardinal points the ruling party campaigned on in 2015 and 2019, security, economy and fighting corruption.
“These things are basic because we cannot secure our country or an institution unless we secure it,” he said.
The President said that insecurity in the north east, north central and the south west, was true and that some progress had been made and more work still to be done.
He said,” those problems we are trying to solve them within our physical and material resources.”
On the economy, he said, “we are very lucky that majority or the bigger part of the country in the north, where there is concentration of young and educated able bodied persons with nothing to do, is to encourage them to go for agriculture.
“That we did by providing inputs, fertilizers at half the price that it use to be than the previous administration and importantly making it available throughout the country.
“We are lucky that the two seasons were quite good for majority of the conventional farmers, hence we arrived at food security. The rice producing states are Lagos, Ogun, Kebbi, Jigawa, Ebonyi, these states were outstanding and now we are saving money from importation of rice.
“It is not a small achievement and I am very very grateful, this administration took on farming and has not regretted it.
” We have made tremendous progress in agriculture and we thank God that he heard our prayers with rainfall otherwise we would have been in trouble. Because with how erratic our petroleum economy now going up and down, with our population, infrastructure we need a lot of money.”
On fighting corruption, he said,” you know it. Again I don’t mind repeating myself even though I sound like a broken record, as a military head of state, I took everyone to prison and pronounced them guilty until they can prove themselves innocent.
“We put tribunals in all geo-political zones and they investigated those who were in charge of government money and take all of them in prison until they explained what happened to government’s money.
“Even I was detained, this is Nigeria. That was why I decided to put on agbada and see. I attempted three times up to Supreme Court and winning the fourth time thanking God and technology, I am now qualified to be a solider and a politician.
“… now what I do is when a person cannot justify what he has or fails to declare as the constitution specifies, some of them swear to almighty God that their property doesn’t belong to them until we show them their bank accounts and their companies then we have some peace.
“So we are recovering as much as we can under the system and this time around I said the properties will be sold and the money put in the treasury.
“The last time they were given back their properties but this time around whoever comes after me no matter how generous he is, he cannot take money from the treasury give it to individuals, it will be impossible. But anybody who cannot account for what he has and for refusing to declare, we will have to do something about it.
Why I dealt with Onnoghen
“I will tell you as Afenirere, that was why I had to deal though reluctantly with the former Chief Justice. Because there were millions of dollars, euros not to talk of naira which were not declared.
“I wonder what sort of conscience some of us have, how can you seat and preside and lock people up for years and even sentence some to death and yet you are not doing what the constitution said you should do by occupying that vital institution.
“So, I stopped getting worried so much, sorry to admit it when I found out that could play hoop, stop and jump, what I mean is that if it is America they will do it this way, if it were in Europe they will do this way but if you go there after 250 to 400 years, how old are we?
“So I realize that I don’t want to go back to into detention again. So institution like yours when you have secured your constituency constitutionally and materially you can help establish this country.
“And really this country needs you and you need this country with the future generation because of the population explosion we are going through and the limited resources and the deficits of infrastructure.”