.Buhari

—Says he believes in devolution of power

—Meets with Sultan of Sokoto, CAN President, others in Aso Rock

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said that the contentious issue of restructuring, true federalism or devolution of powers remains a constitutional matter, which only the National Assembly can handle.

President Buhari, who stated this when he received members of the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) led by Co-Chairmen, Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar and the President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), His Eminence, Rev. Dr. Samson Supo Ayokunle, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, reiterated his position on devolving more power to the people.

The President in a statement issued by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Chief Femi Adesina, said, “On the contentious issue of restructuring or true federalism or devolution of powers, as you all know, this is a constitutional matter with which only the National Assembly can deal.

“I remain an unapologetic believer in devolving power to the people and that is why I signed the Executive Order granting autonomy to State Legislature and Judiciary. Unfortunately, this was met with some resistance at the state level and led to a more than two months strike action that has cost the country a lot of pain.

“Luckily the National Assembly has nearly completed the constitutional review process, which I hope would address some of the burning issues agitating the minds of our people.’’

He assured that efforts were already on to create a more conducive environment to address both direct and indirect causes of challenges including areas of job creation and employment generation while appreciating religious leaders for their significant roles in national development, particularly in shaping perspectives.

He said, “Your role is critical in putting the correct perspective out to Nigerians.”

On security, the President told the religious leaders that the government was already going after financiers of criminal elements, who also supply them with arms, but were constrained by the strike by Judiciary workers.

“Fortunately, this strike has been called off and prosecution of some of these people would soon commence, while our security agencies expand their network is closing in on the others,’’ he added.

President Buhari assured that the administration remains committed to “quickly pushing this dark side of our history behind us and we are currently making sure that funding  would not hamper our efforts.’’

According to the President, the last Federal Executive Council meeting approved some funds for the security agencies, which would be put to judicious use.

“As I mentioned yesterday, in Lagos, we would not relent in our efforts at clearing these criminals from all parts of our land including  the  forests,’’ he said.

He said the government had the major part to play in providing security, adding: “but besides the imperative to abide by democratic processes is the important aspect of support of the citizenry to the security agencies by providing relevant and timely information.’’

“I must confess that I am more pained than anyone can imagine with the ongoing security challenges because, as you noted during your meeting, they have increased the hunger, pain and anger in the land,’’ he noted.

The President thanked the religious leaders for their patriotism and commitment to ensuring peace and understanding.

“I have listened to you and I am particularly happy that your meeting clearly identified specific and major roles for both the Government and the people of Nigeria. This is what has been lacking for some time in the national discourse on addressing our current security challenges.’’

In their comments, NIREC, led by Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, and President of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev Dr Samson Ayokunle, thanked the President for the onerous assignment of leading the country, advising the government to fund the armed forces better to confront myriad of security challenges facing the country, block sources of illegal arms, publish names of that funding terrorism and try them.

They also canvassed the recruitment of more policemen, strengthening the judiciary, tackle unemployment by creating jobs for youths particularly, and on separatist agitations in the country, NIREC said: “It is in our togetherness that we are stronger.”

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