Nigeria: Again, Afenifere, Ohanaeze, Pandef, PDP, Tackle Govt Over Restructuring

21 June 2021

Abuja, Enugu, Kaduna, jos, Akure — The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF), Middle Belt Forum, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Kaduna State branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday tackled President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for taking a position on restructuring that they say is contrary to the wishes of the majority of Nigerians.

Buhari, represented by the Executive Secretary of Revenue, Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Alhaji Mohammed Shehu, at the launch of Kudirat Abiola Sabin Gari, Zaria Peace Foundation on Saturday, had condemned the call for restructuring and national dialogue, saying that he could not hand over to unelected persons.

He described those agitating for restructuring as people, who are mischievously dangerous, and afraid to join partisan politics.

But Afenifere yesterday said the restructuring being clamoured for by various interest groups in the country, would not be at the whims and pleasure of Buhari's administration.

Afenifere's Secretary-General, Chief Sola Ebiseni, said the call for restructuring of the country's political architecture was a popular one among all knowledgeable personalities, elected governors and the leaders of entrenched federating ethnic nationalities.

Ebiseni said: "It is so unfortunate that Nigeria has descended so low that the position of the federal government or even the president would have to be deduced from some innocuous officials.

"From what I read in the papers, the fellow to whom this statement is credited is one Executive Secretary, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Alhaji Mohammed Bello Shehu, who presides over the sharing of the revenue of the federation to which his state probably contributes nothing. How else can he impress his principal than tell him what would soothe his sectional and sectarian ego?

"The elected governors of the constituent states of the federation, the leaders of the entrenched federating ethnic nationalities, former leaders, presidents and knowledgeable personalities are all calling for the restructuring of the political architecture to reinvent the foundational federal principles of the polity and here you find an opportunistic official heading a parasitic office, which had no place in a true federal state, talking down on the nation.

"State governments are demanding the powers to establish state police to deal with insecurity, and prominent traditional rulers, especially emirs, have called on their people to rise in their own defence, and some uninformed government officials are threatening us with war if we seek restructuring or self-determination. It is so nauseating, this rudderless government."

President of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, also described Buhari's administration as confused for claiming that restructuring implied that he should hand over to a national conference.

"Otherwise, who told him that by restructuring he's going to hand over to a national conference? Restructuring has so many components; devolution of power, having electoral system that is acceptable by all, ensuring that power is given to federating units rather than having it centralised at the top," he said.

The PDP cautioned the Buhari administration to stop pushing the nation to the precipice by its arrogant and dictatorial remarks as well as inflammatory referencing to war, particularly in his apparent aversion towards the constitutionally guaranteed rights of Nigerians.

PDP described Buhari's reported remarks that he and his All Progressives Congress (APC) had no time for a discussion on the state of the nation, particularly in the face of worsening insecurity, economic hardship and sectional disagreements, further demonstrated their arrogant and dictatorial disposition towards the people.

National Publicity Secretary of the party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement issued yesterday, stated that Buhari as citizens of a democratic state, Nigerians have every right to demand constitutional restructuring as well as a democratic forum to deliberate on good governance and national cohesion.

The PDP stated that such demands are neither synonymous nor contiguous to warfare.

"It is appalling, and to say the least, despicable, that Mr. President and his party, the APC, who came to power in 2015 on the promise of restructuring, have not only reneged, in utter duplicity towards Nigerians, but also turned around, six years after, to label restructuring as warfare and Nigerians demanding for it as "mischievously dangerous," the party said. In his reaction, Chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of the CAN, Rev. Joseph Hayab, said it was unfortunate that the same government, which set up a committee for restructuring, was opposed to restructuring.

"This same government has in the past set up a committee on restructuring and it came up with a report. If the same government is saying that there is nothing to restructure then it is telling Nigerians not to believe anything they say in the future seriously," he said.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo also berated the Buhari administration for saying that it would not yield to calls for restructuring or convocation of a constitutional conference.

Reacting to the administration's position that those calling for restructuring are "mischievously dangerous," Ohanaeze Ndigbo National Publicity Secretary, Chief Alex Chiedozie, said since the country is practising democracy, the president must be bound by the will of the people.

"The entire people of Nigeria have accepted the fact that the only way out of the myriad of the crisis facing the country at the moment is restructuring. The South-east, South-west, South-south, the Middle belt region and the intelligentsia in the core North have all accepted that we need to restructure. The president alone cannot impose his views on the rest of us," he said.

Also in its reaction, the ACF, called for a referendum, adding, however, that the president has the right to hold opinions.

Spokesman of the forum, Mr. Emmanuel Yawe, said the position of the ACF was that a referendum be conducted on whether the country should remain one.

He said: "The president has the constitutional right to hold his views. Whether such views are in line with the provision of the constitution is another thing.

"We, at ACF, have considered this issue of restructuring, and taken our stand that the country should hold a referendum on whether we want to remain as one country or not."

PANDEF also described the statement credited to the Buhari administration as indicting the president and the ruling APC, which committee headed by Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State had earlier approved restructuring.

In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Hon. Ken Robinson, PANDEF said no responsible government anywhere in the world would make or sanction such statements against its citizens, adding that "We are, undoubtedly, under a grossly blinkered leadership, sadly, to the detriment of the security and welfare of citizens".

According to the group, the RMAFC executive secretary could afford to voice the prattle remarks on behalf of the president because he is aware of their crooked agenda to perpetuate the subjugation and gross injustice against the rest of the country.

Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha, Christopher Isiguzo, John Shiklam, Seriki Adinoyi and James Sowole

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