The All Progressives Congress (APC) Monday rebuked the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption (PACAC), Professor Itse Sagay (SAN), describing him as lacking in decorum and respect for the party and President Muhammadu Buhari.
In perhaps the most scathing criticism by a high-ranking member of the APC government, Sagay had in a press interview at the weekend described the leadership of the party as the most unprincipled group of people who were encouraging and accepting rogues into its fold.
Responding to the criticism, the APC said the PACAC chairman had indirectly attacked the president who was its leader.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, APC said there was no way Sagay could call out the leadership of the party as "weak" and "unprincipled" without indicting the president.
It said: "In his sheer arrogance, he forgets that it is impossible for him to call out the leadership of the party as 'weak' and 'unprincipled' without indicting the president, who is the leader of the party and has the fundamental responsibility to build the party.
"If Sagay had any iota of respect for the man who dug him back from inevitable oblivion and put him in a position in which he now feels superior to everyone, he would channel his opinions and advice to the president on how to make the party stronger and more principled."
In the interview, Sagay described the leadership of the APC as "the most unprincipled group of people" who are "encouraging and accepting rogues" into the party.
He said: "When I say 'rogues', I don't mean stealing. In literature, when you say someone is a rogue elephant, it means people who are running riot and destroying the party."
The ruling party, however, said the presidential adviser was the rogue elephant and not its leaders.
The APC dug out the Webster dictionary meaning of rogue elephant as: "One whose behaviour resembles that of a rogue elephant in being aberrant or independent."
The party said: "Clearly if we have today, anyone in our government or, by extension, the party who feels accountable only to his own ego; who does not feel the need to bridle his tongue for the sake of anything that is higher than himself; who feels independent of everyone and every institution; that person is Professor Sagay.
"Asked by the interviewer if he would stop speaking if the president asks him to stop speaking, he said: 'Yes, he is my employer. If he tells me to stop talking, I'll stop talking. But I have certain rights too that I can exercise in addition to that because I'm not going to be in a position where I am impotent. So, I must obey him, but I can go beyond that and obey myself too. That's it.'
"Framed in another way, what Sagay is saying here is that, no matter what is at stake, he would rather resign than obey the president if the president tries to restrain him. This is the quintessential rogue elephant behaviour."
The party said the presidential aide would have done better to channel his opinions and advice to his boss on how to make the party stronger and more principled.
According to it, "It appears, however, that Sagay does not have anything constructive to say about anything. He only knows how to tear down and assault everyone and everything.
"We want to remind Sagay and all other appointees of our government that the only reason they occupy their current positions today is because the APC won the election. It is, therefore, a matter of honour to show decorum and respect for the party and its leadership. You cannot love the fruit and hate the tree that produced it."
APC Governors Divided over Restructuring
In the meantime, the governors of Bauchi, Yobe and Borno States, all controlled by the APC, have expressed divergent views over the current agitation for a restructuring of the country.
While the Bauchi State Governor, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, stressed the need to consider national consensus on restructuring in order to meet the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians, his Borno State counterpart, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, said restructuring would be unnecessary once corruption and injustice had been checkmated.
But the Yobe State Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam, held a completely different perspective, saying what issues anyone had with the current structure of the country would have to be addressed by the National Assembly through the amendment of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The governors spoke Monday at the party's public consultation on True Federalism in the North-east Zone held at the Multi-purpose Sports Hall, Bauchi.
Abubakar, who was represented by his deputy, Alhaji Nuhu Gidado, said: "We believe in one united Nigeria because we do not subscribe to break up; it's better to remain as one country."
According to him, any position to be taken on restructuring must be in tandem with the people's view, in line with APC manifesto and the party's change agenda.
Abubakar also called for devolution of power from the exclusive list by the federal government to the states and local governments in the areas of Agriculture and Education.
He was, however, non-committal over state and local government autonomy, explaining that he was still ruminating over it.
He said his administration had done a lot in the areas of agriculture and education, adding that it intended to build on its efforts.
Shettima in his submission said Nigeria needed honest leaders who were interested in the plight of the people in fighting corruption. "My opinion and that of Borno State Government is that the present federalism should be maintained and while we build strong institutions that will stand a test of time," he said.
Shettima, who was represented by the Speaker of Borno State House of Assembly, Alhaji Abdulkarim Lawal, said the current restructuring agitation was awakened by the injustice and corrupt practice of the previous Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) administration, which ruled for 16 years.
He, therefore, commended the president for his fight against corruption, saying it would go a long way in the restructuring of the country.
Gaidam, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Government House, Alhaji Lawal Hassan, said the agitation for restructuring revolves around constitution amendment.
He said: "All we need in Nigeria is good governance hence the need for the National Assembly to amend our constitution," noting that the meeting on true federalism would bring about changes aimed at tackling the current challenges facing the country.
In its memorandum, the Bauchi State chapter of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) represented by the state chairman of the Union, Mr. Hashimu Gital, spoke on the creation and merger of states, devolution of power, local government autonomy, type of legislature, system of government, Land Use Act and national minimum wage.
The NLC submitted that organised labour would not support any move towards the creation of additional states in view of the present economic realities in the country.
It said local governments should be granted autonomy to facilitate and fast-track development at the grassroots.
According to the union, Nigeria should retain the presidential system of government, which it said encouraged democracy, guaranteed political stability, independence of the president, and proper use of talent with its checks and balances.
In his remarks, the team leader of the public consultation in North-east, Senator Oseirhemen Osunbor, said the policy of the party in resolving the controversy over restructuring was to listen to the people and engage with them.
Osunbor, a former governor of Edo State, said the key issues to address at the public hearing were creation/merger of states, derivation principle and devolution of powers.
Other issues included fiscal federalism and revenue allocation, forms of government, independent candidacy, land tenure system, local government autonomy, power-sharing and rotation, resource control and type of legislature.
In their own presentations, the party's branches in Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara States rejected the call for a total restructuring of the country at the North-west zonal public hearing held in Sokoto.
They, however, agreed on the devolution of powers and that the federal government should transfer some aspects of health, transport and fire service among others to the states while it focuses on defence, foreign affairs, security and currency.
The position of Sokoto State was presented by a former deputy governor, Alhaji Chiso Abdullahi, in which it rejected the creation of new states as many states had been unviable.
It advocated that the presidential system and fiscal federalism should be maintained as enshrined in the Constitution, adding that power rotation and zoning should be maintained to foster national unity.
It also pushed for a unicameral legislature and canvassed that traditional institutions should be given advisory roles in the constitution.
It said revenue allocation should be on the basis of 43 per cent for the federal government, 35 per cent for states and 23 per cent for local government councils.
Kebbi State rejected the creation of new states and a bicameral legislature while arguing that zoning should be between North and South.
It advocated a revenue-sharing formula with the federal government having 40 per cent, states 40 per cent and local government areas 20 per cent.
It also canvassed for devolution of some powers to the states.
Zamfara State said the status quo should be maintained in state creation, derivation, devolution of powers, presidential system of government and land tenure system.
Speaking at the meeting, the Chairman of the hearing and Governor of Plateau State, Mr. Simon Lalong, said all the views collated would be taken back to the APC national headquarters.
"At the end of the exercise, all the views collated would be analysed and these would form the opinions of the APC and the federal government," he said.
In his remarks, Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, said the aim of the public hearing was to collate views of the people on how the country should be restructured and governed.
He said this would enable the party to have a better-informed position on the issue whenever it would make its presentation.
Tambuwal commended the APC for its efforts to get feedback from the people on the way the country should be governed.
Also speaking, Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State said the North would not be stampeded into accepting other people's agenda but would only be guided by reason.
He noted that some of the issues being clamoured for by certain groups in the country were subject to a lot of sentiments.
Bagudu said: "Some of these issues people are clamouring for do not have any clear definition. Some of them are partisan in nature. However, these issues are better discussed than avoided.
"So, we must not be stampeded or become emotional by the agenda of some group but will only be guided by reason."
He expressed satisfaction with the modest achievements recorded by the APC across the country
He described the meeting as apt, saying APC was committed to true federalism as enshrined in the manifesto of the party.
The Zamfara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Wakala, said the state was solidly behind the unity of Nigeria.
The stakeholders from the North-central zone of the country converged on Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State, Monday to articulate their views on restructuring.
Among the stakeholders that attended the forum were labour unions, traditional councils, community development associations, professional bodies, marketers, youth and religious groups.
Apart from all other issues such as fiscal federalism, local government autonomy, power-sharing, land tenure, the creation of states and independent candidacy raised by the people, the stakeholders unanimously agreed that power at the centre should be decentralised and the country should be one indivisible entity.
They also agreed that because states and local governments were closer to people they should be given more responsibilities.
Addressing the stakeholders, the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, said the driving factor behind the current agitations for true federalism or restructuring was the redistribution of resources in an equitable manner.
He said: "This nationwide dialogue by our party on true federation connects with our expressed commitment to making governance more meaningful to our people by changing the way we are governed, especially in terms of access to and allocation of resources.
"While our current economic problems may have weakened our party's commitment to reforming our federation, the challenges have also strengthened agitation by citizens for what is variously referred to as restructuring, devolution or true federalism.
"Subsequently, I hold that any structure that meets the economic, and political aspirations of the majority of citizens will be welcomed. Therefore, we should focus on a political economy that provides an opportunity for class elevation and egalitarianism.
"How do we generate these spaces for economic empowerment of the majority without creating new layers of bureaucracy and increasing the cost of governance?
"My point, in a nutshell, is that this dialogue should explore ways of ensuring the greatest good for the greatest number of our people. That, to me, is what we must address our minds to within the context of our federation or any other structure that we may come up with."
Also speaking, Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, said the APC administration was the first to make spirited efforts to organise a public hearing on Nigeria's co-existence.
Aregbesola, who was also a member of the committee collating the views of the zone on the issue, said: "Our nation has been existing for well over 100 years. Before Nigeria was amalgamated, there had been sections of Nigeria. We had Northern and Southern protectorates before the 1914 proclamation of Nigeria.
"This will be the first time that a conscious effort is being made by a political party in Nigeria to aggregate views, opinions and ideas about how they want to see Nigeria by ourselves being governed.
"I must commend our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) for coming up with the idea."
His Niger State counterpart, Governor Abubakar Bello, represented by the Special Adviser on Political Matters, Mr. Solomon Nyase, said he would never support the breakup of the country.
"However, in whatever we do or discuss we must remember Nigerians who are at the receiving end," he said.
Spokesperson of the traditional rulers in Kwara, Emir of Shonga, Dr. Haliru Yahaya, said the agitation in some quarters for the dismemberment of Nigeria would not succeed.
"Let the boys be chatting, Nigeria cannot disintegrate. Every section of the country has got its own agitation, but at the end of the day the country will be more united," he said.