Abuja — The All Progressives Congress, APC, has expanded its 10-member committee on true federalism to 23, with a charge to the team to engage in deep and wide consultation, such that its final report will engender credibility and broad acceptance.
In the list which was made available to journalists yesterday in Abuja, Gov. Nasiru El-Rufai would remain as chairman, while Senator Olubunmi Adetunbi would serve as secretary.
Other members of the committee are Governors Rauf Aregbesola, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu , Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Simon Lalong, Yahaya Bello and Mohammed Abubakar.
Also included are Mr Sullivan Chime, Alhaji Kashim Ibrahim, Senator Osita Izunaso , Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Senator Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan, Hajia Aisha Ismail and Ms. Sharon Ikeazor.
Others include Mrs. Rachael Akpabio, Barr. Ismail Ahmed, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor, Hajiya Fati Bala, Jasper Azuatalem, Mrs. Rinsola Abiola and Dr. Stella Dorgu.
National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, who formally inaugurated the committee, said: "The reform of our political structure, which was described as 'true federalism' formed one of the core negotiating points by the parties that merged to form the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Chief John Odegie-Oyegun also said that the party is not against ensuring true federalism as is being perceived in some quarters across the country.
He started this on Thursday in Abuja, while inaugurating a 24-member committee on True Federalism to articulate the party´s position on restructuring of the country.
According to him, it is only the APC that can claim ownership to the principle and the need for true federalism in the country.
´´ "When we sat down to discuss the union of the APC, it was one of the principal issues, that was almost like a no go item, that we negotiated and agreed.
´´ "As such, the Constitution and the manifestos of the party, are very elaborate in their references to true federalism and devolution of power.
"´´It is, therefore, totally inconceivable for uninformed members of the public to jump on this bandwagon of reconstituting the federation and to give the impression that the party was in any way against the principle of taking a fresh look at the basis of our federalism,´´" he said.
Odegie-Oyegun added that the issue of true federalism was already a mantra to the APC, and must be looked into, without jeopardising the fundamental unity of the country.
He tasked members of the committee to have a critical look at issues of devolution of power, fiscal federalism, resource control and other issues thrown up following recent clamour for the restructuring of the country
He, however, stressed that the APC's constitution and manifesto vigorously canvassed these issues, adding that they were elaborately provided for in it.
He further added that party'´s position on the issues had been eloquently stated in the terms of references of the committee.
´´"It is your duty, especially having regard to the emotive nature of the national discourse on restructuring to distill from our party constitution and manifesto the various ideas canvassed in different constitutional conferences.
´´"I expect you to look at whatever document that is available on this subject and to look at whatever views and recommendations that are available on it.
"´´I also expect you, at all times, that your anchor will be the constitution and manifesto of the party, because it is on that manifesto that we went to the public of this nation.
´´"I ask you to generate a report which will truly reflect the desire of our people and a true reflection of what our party stands for,´´" the national chairman said.
This, he said, was critical to ensure that the party met the desires of Nigerians on their idea of true federalism.
Kaduna State Governor and chairman of the committee, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai while emphasising the party'´s belief in balanced federation and fiscal federalism, said its government was doing well in this regard.
´´"We can give example as state governors of the level of participation of states in certain economic policy direction for the country.
´´"This government has also taken steps to devolve power and responsibility to states, without any constitutional amendment to states.
´´"We have seen more cases of federal assets and roads being taken over by states willingly,´´" El-Rufai said.
He disclosed that the committee had met three times and had identified 12 key issues to be discussed by Nigerians to ensure a clearer direction on issues of restructuring.
He said the committee would visit 12 states in the country to meet with the people at the grassroots to collate their views on the issues with a view to proferring solution.
El-Rufai said some of the issues to be looked into, were state creation, regionalism, land tenure, and revenue allocation among others.
He added that the committee would also utilise social media platforms to interact with the people across the country.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the 24 member committee which included nine governors, representatives of women, youths and some leaders of the APC, was constituted July 9.
The committee which had Sen. Olubunmi Adetunmbi as Secretary, also had Gov. Rauf Aregbesola of Osun, Gov. Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano state, Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau and Gov. Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun as members.
Former Governor of Edo, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor, APC National Organising Secretary, Sen. Osita Izunaso, APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi and Hajiya Fatima Balla are also members among others.
The committee is expected to complete its assignment within three months.(NAN)