Suspicion, knocks, praise greet Buhari’s call for true federalism

We take it with pinch of salt —Afenifere • Begin action within next 48 hours —YCE Nigeria’s problem is lack of political will —ACF

A mixture of suspicion, condemnation and commendation from groups and individuals trailed President Muhammadu Buhari’s call for the return of the country to the path of true federalism.

President Buhari had made the call on Friday while receiving an award from the All Progressives Congress (APC) governors under the aegis of Progressives Governors’ Forum, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, in its reaction, took President Buhari’s concern with reservation, as it noted that it was not impressed by mere pronouncement.

National Publicity Secretary of the group, Yinka Odumakin, in an interview, said the present administration has enough documents to examine and implement, if truly it was committed to putting the nation on the path of true federalism, which the majority and minority ethnic groups have been longing for.

Odumakin cited reports of the national conference set up by former president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan and report of true federalism committee led by Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai.

He said: “The statement doesn’t say much. In 1947, Chief Obafemi Awolowo wrote a book, Thoughts on Nigerian Constitution, where he predicted what is happening now. He predicted fighting amongst the ethnic groups, if we don’t run Nigeria as a federation.

“That was before the 1957 Constitution and since then there have been various agitations that Nigeria can’t continue along unitary lines. We have had the Nationa Democratic Coalition (NADECO). We have had the Pro-National Conference Organisation (PRONACO), Southern and Middle Belt Forum.

“In 2015, the All Progressives Congress (APC) had federalism in its manifesto, but now they are telling Nigerians that they don’t know the meaning and asking Nigerians for the definition of restructuring.

“The party set up the Nasir El Rufai Committee on true federalism. The committee came up with similar recommendations of the 2015 national conference.

“We had an election and Atiku campaigned on restructuring. So, what does he mean when he is now talking about federalism? He should look at the report of the 2015 conference set up by Jonathan or the El Rufai committee report.

“It is a mere pronouncement that he is now pandering to true federalism. He doesn’t want to hear about state police and yet he is talking about true federalism. How?

“We want to see concrete steps. He is saying we need true federalism now, what does that mean? And he is doing nothing. Look, his party manifesto of 2015 even says that Nigeria should become a true federation, but four years down the line, nothing has been done.

“The National Assembly has said it that we need security now, so why should he be saying Nigeria needs true federalism now? Anybody knows that now,” Afenifere said.

“The security apparatus in the country has collapsed. The country is becoming ungovernable. Look, the other time the Emir of Katshina was saying that we need security, we don’t need agriculture. Kidnapping and killings have become rampant in Daura and they say they need state police, he said no.

“Federal police has collapsed. The Inspector General of Police went to the National Assembly and said we are helpless,” the group said, declaring, “so, empty platitude is not what we need now; what Nigeria needs is true federalism, that is what we want to hear,” Odumakin stated.


Buhari is not sincere-Middle Belt group

A group of three socio-cultural organisations in Benue State has expressed reservation at President Muhamadu Buhari’s statement that the country needs true federalism.

Chief Edward Ujege, who is the spokesman for the group which comprises of ‘Mdzough U Tiv, Idoma National Forum and OM’igede, voiced a doubt at the sincerity of the president to allow true federalism in the country under his watch.

Chief Ujege stated that the antecedent of the president since he assumed office in 2015 did not suggest that he was sincere.

“We are all witnesses to his speech in 2015, where he said he was for nobody but was everyone.

“But the events of the past four years have shown that he was and is for Miyetti Allah,” he said.

Ujege noted that operating true federalism was the only panacea to the security challenges facing the country.

“That is the reason why we have been advocating state police because there is no way someone in Abuja can know what happens in other parts of the country.

“Don’t let me deceive you, community policing cannot work unless there is true federalism where all the federating units will take care of their respective areas,” the president of ‘Mdzough U Tiv said.


Begin immediate action within next 48 hours –YCE

The Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) has taken President Muhammadu Buhari to task over his call for a return to true federalism, calling on him to follow up his statement with immediate action in the next 48 hours.

Secretary General of the body, Dr Kunle Olajide, who spoke to Sunday Tribune against the background of Buhari’s statement, asked the president to  set up a committee to look into the 2014 National Conference report and that of the Nasi el-Rufai committee on devolution of powers set up by the All Progressives Congress (APC) leadership immediately.

“The committee must be given a time frame within which to give its report and the report should essentially go through due process constitutionally because we are in a constitutional democracy.

“To effect restructuring and true federalism, there are a number of issues you must take into account. In Nigeria today, there are some people, with substantial numbers in some states and zones, who by history or culture feel that they do not belong to those areas.

“Buhari, therefore, must carry out geopolitical restructuring and this must start with a referendum. If possible, the committee must be set up within the next 48 hours so that it can start a process of referendum where people who want to move to from one zone to another or one state to another will be allowed to determine that by themselves.

“The people of Southern Kaduna, for example, as well as people in Kwara, Kogi State and others who do not wish to continue to belong to those states.

“The committee must swing and a bill must be sent to the National Assembly introducing referendum into our constitution. Mr President following his words with action is what will give assurance to Nigerians.

“YCE believes that he is very sincere with this pronouncement and will be receptive to advice that can bring it to fruition in the shortest possible time, so that he can leave a legacy of a truly federal republic of Nigeria,” Olajide said.


Lack of political will, not structure, is Nigeria’s problem- ACF

In its own reaction, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), said inability of the political leaders to muster the will to apply the provisions of the constitution and optimise resources at their disposal was the real problem of the country rather that its structure.

ACF’s General Secretary, Anthony Sani, who made this known to Sunday Tribune, cited Lagos as an example of a state where he said the leadership had been using the resources at its disposal to meet its needs in the quest to serve the populace.

“We have a federal system in our constitution where the Federal Government is expected to be appropriately balanced by state level power. This is because the national government does not interfere with how the federating units are governed by the governors.

“But the governors themselves choose not to accept the provision in the constitution that their states are under their watch. And this is simply because they look up for the monthly subventions from the federation account.

“These subventions are expected to supplement state government’s resources and not to make them complacent. I want to believe what President Buhari has said is a challenge to the federating units to live up the promise of their mandate rather than continuous dependence on the national government.

“For example, Lagos State has since recognised the federalism provided in the constitution and is living it up under the 1999 Constitution. So, the problem about our federalism is not due to lack of provisions in the constitution but the political will by the governors to practise it fully because it is much easier and convenient to pass the buck to the national government.

“If the governors cannot increase their resources, they should learn to increase the yield,” Sani said.


Encourage Buhari to walk his talk, Nyiam tells Nigerians

A retired top notch in the Army, Colonel Tony Nyiam (retd), has called on Nigerians to encourage President Buhari to “walk his talk” on returning the country to the path of true federalism.

Nyiam, who has been advocating restructuring and true federalism as the way out of the political quagmire in the country, noted that the president had agreed with his long held view of a link between enduring national security and the current “not-fit-for-purpose 1999 Constitution” being used in running the country.

“We cannot continue to address the Nigerian political- economic system which causes threats to our national security solely by the recurring fire brigade responses. We are urgently, for example, long overdue in the need for the people’s active and willing participation in the defence of their homeland,” he said.


Deliverance has come for Nigeria if… —Mimiko

A Professor of Political Science at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, Osun State, Professor Femi Mimiko, has said deliverance has come for Nigeria from its myriad of problems if President Muhammadu Buhari is sincere about his call for a return of the country to “functional federalism.”

Mimiko, who is a former Vice Chancellor of the Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba-Akoko, Ondo State, said the stability and functionality of the country rested on its return to the path of federalism.

“I read in the media, President Buhari’s statement on the need to set Nigeria on the path to true, or what I call functional federalism.

“If the president genuinely believes in what he was quoted to have said, it would mean that deliverance has come for Nigeria!

“This is because it is in a carefully guided transition of the country to functional federalism that its future as a stable, united, peaceful, and functional state lies.

The don observed that though the 2018 report of the All Progressives Congress Committee on true federalism chaired by the r el-Rufai might not be a perfect document, its faithful implementation would “set the country off on the path to sustainable development, peace and stability.


Buhari’s comment, welcome development —Shonibare

In his reaction, the acting national chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Chief Supo Shonibare stated: “The President’s remarks endorsing true federalism is a very welcome development.

“APC is the majority party in the Legislative arm of government as well as the Executive. We need to seize upon the opportunity of the moment to evolve a truly federal structure with the attributes of a federation.

“The summary of the attributes and ingredients of a Federation is for the federating units exercising Legislative, Executive and Judicial functions of state on items on its Legislative list to the exclusion of the Central entity.

“The central entity or the Federal Government will of course, continue be the central authority exercising Executive, Legislative and Judicial Appellate functions and powers for items on its Legislative list, residual powers will be vested in the Federating units.

“It’s the only panache to our being able to increase both our productive capacity to achieve any meaningful growth; in addressing our projected population growth, as well as combating our security challenges.


Buhari not known for frivolities- UPGA chairman

National chairman of the United Progressives Grand Alliance,  (UPGA) Chief Chekwas Okorie however disagreed with Afenifere.

He told Sunday Tribune that Buhari was not known for frivolities as he noted that he made  the pledge after general elections have been won and lost and therefore did not make the pronouncement to curry the favour of voters.

“I can tell you that I know a little bit of Buhari. He isn’t somebody that speaks to patronise and he wouldn’t say what he wouldn’t do.  He isn’t into political correctness like Atiku would say something that isn’t even in the manifesto of PDP.

“Atiku talked about restructuring even when his party doesn’t even believe in it. But true federalism is in the manifesto of APC. Instead, what it was being accused of is that it needed to implement that aspect of their manifesto,” he said.