“For me, I prefer to copy the kind of restructuring we saw in Germany, which provides the basic line,” the minister who was a guest on Channels Television’s Newsnight said.
“If no state can raise up to N5million per month to pay their salaries, then all of us including the Federal Government will contribute money for that state.
“Which means, you can devolve power and revenue but if no state can raise that kind of money to sustain itself then both the Federal Government and all other states must come together to put money to enable that state to survive.
“This government, the APC led government is not against restructuring,” Senator Omo-Agege told Channels Television.
He added, “A couple of days ago, I believe I read the release from the Villa; that release represents the view of the APC.”
The lawmaker insisted that his party was not opposed to restructuring, stressing that the Committee on Constitution Amendment would be considering the report of the committee led by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State.
He noted that the amendment to the Electoral Act was the major task before the National Assembly and the lawmakers would expedite action on it and base its recommendations majorly on the submissions of the El-Rufai led committee set up by the APC.
“The APC supports restructuring and indeed, the restructuring committee that was put in place headed by Governor El-Rufai came up with some very significant recommendations.
“Those recommendations represent the views of the party. We are going to be taking that into account as we proceed with the exercise,” Senator Omo-Agege stated.
Earlier, he informed the conference that the bill seeking to amend the Electoral Act, which he co-sponsored, might be passed by February 2020.
The event put together by the Civil Society Elections Situation Room was attended by top officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), representative of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), and members of the civil society.
The office of the AGF made a commitment that it would work with INEC while the electoral umpire promised to work with the National Assembly to ensure the early passage of the bill.
According to the senior advocate, the present administration has been able to close the tunnel of corruption but a new Constitution is significant to tackle the menace headlong.
He disagreed with the notion that the nation’s laws were encouraging corruption, stressing that Nigeria has a faulty Constitution.
“Restructure Nigeria, change the Constitution. Let us change the Constitution and restructure because governance in Nigeria is taking 80 per cent, that’s what the new budget has told us.
“Why should we be spending 80 per cent of our revenue on government expenses?” Clarke questioned.
“It is not the laws, the laws are made to regulate. The Constitution is the cankerworm that is eating us up in corruption.
“The Constitution we are operating upon is a corrupt Constitution; is a rotten egg,” he added while insisting that it must be “terminated”.
Slash Political Appointments
The SAN noted that former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan made efforts to review the Constitution by organising conferences while in office.
He, however, stated that both leaders never laid a foundation for any legal basis upon which the recommendations of the conferences would be implemented.
Clarke advised President Buhari not to “make the same mistake” but send a bill to the National Assembly, informing them about his intention to set up a parliament to look into restructuring and review the Constitution.
He added that the President should urge the lawmakers to pass a bill which he would assent to that whatever decision the panel arrives at would be sent to Nigerians and if approved, it would be brought back to the National Assembly for proper legislation.
The senior advocate also recommended that President Buhari should cut the cost of governance by reducing political appointments, as well as Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in the country.
The Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, has explained how the government plans to go about restructuring the country.
While the matter has been widely discussed and advocated for by many, Mr Shehu says the government is not opposed to it but only has a different approach from those advocating for it.
“Yes (restructuring) is there in our party’s manifesto but I think the difference with those advocates is the mechanism for achieving this,” he said on Channels TV’s Independence Day edition of Politics Today.
According to him, many of advocates call for a restructuring that is independent of the National Assembly.
But the government believes that anything outside the parliament is not representative of the will of the people.
“I guess that some of them think that this can be achieved through a process that alienates the parliaments.
“Our sense is that an elected government in a democracy must work with the elected parliament and that anything outside the parliament, not elected by the people is not representative of the popular will of the people because the parliament is the repository of the popular will of the people.
“So, if the Nigerian parliament says this is the way to go, the president will consider it,” Shehu said.
Top among the issues highlighted by Clark are restructuring for a better nation and the security of the lives and properties of citizens.
Contrary to the government’s position on the war against Boko Haram insurgency, he insisted that the insurgents have not been decimated.
According to the elder statesman, there are security problems in the northern and southern parts of the country, including the activities of armed herdsmen.
“Not a single herdsman has been captured. They are moving around everywhere – both in the North and South and with the problem of insecurity in the North-West, things are not okay,” he said.
The elder statesman added, “We must put politics aside, as for the security of this country; the Federal Government cannot do it alone.
“That is why many of us are suggesting that we should have a security round-table talk. The problem in Nigeria today is not in the North alone, it’s a national problem which requires everybody to talk about it.”
He also called on the government to tackle poverty and unemployment, as well as reduce the number of out of school children in the country.
The Senator representing Osun Central in the National Assembly, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, has blamed the Parliament for failing to address the issue of restructuring.
Appearing on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, the lawmaker lamented the fact that the outgoing Eight Assembly could not effectively vote in support of taking the nation on the path of true federalism.
“It’s a failure on the part of the National Assembly of which I am a member and a principal officer,” he stated.
Adeyeye, who is also the Chief Whip of the National Assembly, explained that a lawmaker may have the intention of pushing calls for restructuring, it is however subject to a majority vote.
He recalled a situation in the Seventh Assembly where the issue of renouncing Nigeria’s citizenship was before the floor of the Senate.
According to him, most lawmakers voted against the proposed 18 years considered as maturity on the basis that Islam recognised any married person as being mature.
“No matter how passionately you feel about any issue, votes are taken. You win some, you lose some. And I like to remind this republic that one of the most controversial issues in the Seventh Assembly was in the issue of our effort to increase the age at which a Nigerian can renounce citizenship.
“You have to be an adult. And we tried to spell adulthood at attaining the age of 18. We took a vote and it passed. Senator Sani Yerima from Zamfara State took exception. He said that the law of Islam says once you get married, you are an adult and that the vote we are taking is an assault on the fundamental rights of Muslims in Nigeria.
“A call for a second vote (came up). Some of us approached Senator Mark and begged him not to allow a second vote. Of course, Senator Mark had been long in government. He understood that that could be an issue that could consume all of us.
“He allowed a second vote. Unfortunately, every Muslim from the north except one who had voted yes previously reversed himself and that exercised now lost by 3 votes,” he stated.
Senator Adeyeye further said that sometimes, we get so emotional about all the noise that we don’t look at all the substance of what is going on, and part of what had gone on especially in the last 4 years.
He argued that while the failure to push the issue of restructuring was a minus on the part of the National Assembly, the legislating of a country is not a straight-jacket process.
“The business of amending the constitution lies primarily in the National Assembly, however, in any country, amending the constitution is never a straight forward and an easy problem,” Adeyeye opined.
Elder statesman and former Commonwealth Secretary-General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has asked the Federal Government to reconsider its stance on the call for restructuring and return to true federalism.
According to him, the country is under-performing and lacking national cohesion like never before, a situation he believes can only be resolved by restructuring its present governance architecture.
He said, “Judged by all the relevant indices, Nigeria today is clearly underperforming and lacking national cohesion as never before.
“If our country is to succeed on the road to political stability and realisation of its rich development potential, it must, by restructuring its present governance architecture.
“It must return to the true federalism that it practiced in the years before the military intervened in our national politics”.
With the general elections just days away, Chief Anyaoku who was speaking at a symposium to unveil the new logo of The Nigerian Tribune on Tuesday, also called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to ensure a credible exercise.
According to him, the international community is watching to see how far the nation’s Constitution is respected.
He said, “As our country is preparing for the general elections in two weeks time, I have three observations to address the Nigerian government, INEC and others.
“First, Nigeria’s friends and the whole of the international community are watching… watching the behaviour of Federal Government and its agencies, including especially the police, the army and the other law-enforcement instruments, to see how far we respect the country’s Constitution, our Nigerian government, like all other governments over the world, while of course guiding its sovereignty should pay heed to the views of the international community otherwise, the country will return to the pariah status which it happily exited in 1999 when it once more embraced democracy.
“My second observation is that INEC had earned deserved compliments for its commendable handling of the last gubernatorial elections in Ondo and Anambra States.
“But it must be admitted that it attracted criticisms for its conducting subsequent similar elections in both Ekiti and Osun.
“I urge INEC to remain aware of the fact that the credibility of the results of our forthcoming elections will depend on the level of impartiality and transparency it demonstrates in ensuring all aspects of the elections are free and fair, thereby making the results to truly represent the will of the people”.
Vice President of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday said the devolution of power from Federal Government to State Government in Nigeria can be realised through peaceful legal processes.
According to the Vice President, restructuring can be achievable, if states in the Federation can stand up to the Federal Government and claim their rights before the courts of law, even without tampering with the constitution of the nation.
Osinbajo said this in Ibadan, Oyo State capital, during the 80th birthday colloquium of elder statesman, Bisi Akande.
The Vice President hinged his position on the success of Lagos State against the Federal Government during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Governor Bola Tinubu which gave the state the power to create its own local community development authorities, establish state tax laws and state urban development plan laws.
“The process of creating stronger sub-nationals is possible even without constitutional changes. Even with our current legal and constitutional framework, much is still possible.
“In the period from the civilian government of Chief Bola Tinubu in Lagos, in which I have the privilege to serve till date, the government of Lagos State has demonstrated that it is possible to have restructuring, especially fiscal federalism and devolution of power to states, but by the process of litigation as oppose to going through the legislature.
“As of 1999, my very first with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, he made it clear that as far as he was concerned, what was most important was for the state to pursue fiscal federalism and devolution of power for our State. He wanted me to study it and then to look at how it could be done, and we spent a lot of time and resources, looking at how to do it.
“We realised that going to the national assembly would be a waste of time and we then decided to go through the process of litigation. As a matter of fact, we went to the Supreme Court the Federal Government at that time opposed all the moves made by then.
“Fortunately for us and we thank God, we were able to record successes, which today are the major significant achievements that we can say we have scored in terms of restructuring our country, especially in fiscal federalism and devolution of power,” he said.
Governor Abiola Ajimobi also at the event said, “The path to nationhood rests on what I will call the essence of governance, which is creating opportunities for the citizenry to thrive, to realise their potential in an atmosphere of peace and tranquility.”
Kaduna Governor Nasir Elrufai also at the event said restructuring should center around reform and improvement of national efficiency. According to him, it is important also to a conducive political growth.
“Restructuring should be about the reform and improvement of our national efficiency. Reforming our governance structures is a crucial part of making our political system conducive to the pace of growth and development that our country needs.
“Along with better structures, fitted and efficiency and devolving responsibilities to the level of government best able to handle them, we must also invest in constructing a new national consensus and adapt our attitude to hold the values that enhance us all,” El-rufai said.
Dignitaries at the event described the celebrant, Akande as a notable Yoruba leader that kept up the values of selflessness, an attribute they said he imbibed form late Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Bola Ige.
The presidential candidate of the Zenith Labour Party, Olusegun Mimiko, says a Nigeria of his dreams where Information Technology will be the essential anti-corruption tool, is achievable.
The former Governor of Ondo State said this on Tuesday during an interactive session tagged ‘Conversation With Mimiko’ which took place Ibadan, Oyo State.
He also reiterated his commitment to restructuring, noting that all the tiers of government must play active roles in ensuring national development.
According to him, restructuring is not a north versus south debate, but one that must advance development in every part of Nigeria – creating jobs and wealth for all, irrespective of tribe or religion.
Fielding questions from newsmen, Mimiko said much emphasis is being put on foreign manpower for the execution of capital projects in the country when Nigeria has more than enough professionals who can do better jobs, faster and cheaper.
He also frowned at the current state of infrastructure in the country and opined that a lot could be achieved if local manpower is deployed in the critical areas needing urgent attention.
The presidential aspirant further stated that he is confident that if given the chance to rule the country, he will implement policies that will limit movement of high denomination cash, put an end to delay of justice and insist on equitable distribution of the Commonwealth of the nation.
Members of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, say the most important thing they are looking forward to in the coming general elections, is restructuring.
Speaking on Tuesday in Abeokuta after a closed-door meeting with former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the group said it will always support a candidate that is ready to restructure the country because it believes that without restructuring the nation cannot experience development.
The group also stated that soon it will formally announce its preferred presidential candidate.
“The 2019 election is going to be interesting. The most important thing for us is restructuring and clearly you should know that Afenifere will always support a candidate that is ready to restructure the country because without restructuring we are going nowhere,” the spokesperson, Yinka Odumakin said.
Others in attendance were: Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Mrs Dosunmu Awolowo, Professor Banji Akintoye and Chief Supo Shonibare.