Abuja, Jalingo and Lagos — The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) declared yesterday that the sudden interest of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the restructuring of the country is another ploy to deceive Nigerians and divert attention from critical issues of bad governance.
The opposition party wondered why the APC which refused to participate in the 2014 national conference "convened partly to achieve key elements of restructuring" could wake up now to lay claim to being a proponent of the idea.
PDP's position which was contained in a statement issued by its spokesman, Dayo Adeyeye, was in response to an earlier statement in which the ruling APC accused the PDP of not having genuine interest in restructuring.
The statement by the PDP, signed by Adeyeye, reads in parts: "We have read with amusement the statement credited to the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mr. Bolaji Ojo-Abdullahi, in which he said that PDP had never been and was not interested in restructuring.
"This sudden interest of the APC in restructuring after several months of denial by its Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, some governors elected on the platform of the party and other senior officials" of the APC's promise of "restructuring in its manifesto is the latest in a series of deceitful ploys designed and being implemented by the ruling party to hoodwink Nigerians ahead of the 2019 general elections."
According to PDP, "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 performance in office."
The opposition PDP urged Nigerians not to 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.
"Indeed, our party's commitment to constantly seeking solutions to the challenges confronting the nation caused us to amend our 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," he said.
Adeyeye said: "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 2 years later.
"It is imperative to point out that APC was the only political party which refused to attend the national conference in 2014. It is also imperative to point out that APC's refusal to participate at the conference was predicated on a narrow and selfish interest."
Reacting to the PDP statement, a founding member of the APC, Prince Tony Momoh said the issue of decongesting the Nigerian political space was a task that must be accomplished.
Momoh, who said his reaction was not based on party affiliation, noted that the issue of reordering the Nigeria political structure was long overdue. "If you recollect, I have always shared my views on this issue as far back as 2005 and my suggestions are contained in a book. It is therefore not about whether a party is sincere or not about it but a reality that we cannot avoid whether now or in future. The series of agitations for restructuring will not stop until the right thing is done."
Momoh said he was not part of any committee set up by the APC to look into the issue, "therefore I may not be in the right position to speak. However economic decongestion of Nigeria between the almighty Federal Government and the states is a must, it doesn't matter what anybody is thinking."
Meanwhile, a proposal for the creation of 18 additional states and six additional regions has been presented to the APC committee assigned the responsibility of considering the possibility of restructuring of the country.
Should the proposal be approved, states in Nigeria would increase to 54 while the regions would become 12.
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) governorship candidate in Taraba State in the last general election, Chief David Sabo Kente, who made this known yesterday in an interview with journalists in Jalingo, said the proposal was necessitated by the clamour for restructuring.
The Leaders of the Middle Belt and northern minorities suggested the creation of 12 regions.
Supporting those agitating for restructuring, he said the country should be economically and politically redesigned to give the people, irrespective of geo-political zones, political, ethnic and religious differences, a sense of belonging.
Optimistic that re-structuring the country would take Nigeria to greater height, Kente, who is one of the restructuring committee members, said "the federating units are complaining that too much power is concentrated at the centre, I am of the opinion that power should be devolved."
Citing the complaint about the way the revenue of the country is being shared, Kente urged Nigerians to put aside ethnic, political and religious differences and give the committee all the needed support to restructure the nation.