The APC leaders are under fire for dismissing agitation for re-structuring, describing the demand as not a priority of the administration. While Oyegun said re-structuring was not a panacea for the bouquet of challenges facing the country, Gov el-Rufai described it as a tool for political opportunism.
Chief Oyegun said “It is contentious and lot of people talk about restructuring without any commonality. We have stated clearly what we want to do; devolution, true federalism. We really avoided the word restructuring because it means so many things to so many people.
“So, yes. We are coming to that but our priority, for now, for today, is to fix the economy and restore hope, provide jobs to the teaming millions of our youths all over the country.”
Gov. el-Rufai, however, attributed the demand to political opportunists whom, he said, opposed re-structuring when they were in power at the federal level, wondering why the agitators now joined the calls if not for political reason
He added: “As you said, it (re-structuring) is in our manifesto and it is specifically stated there that we are going to look at the exclusive (legislative) list and do something about it. But what I’m trying to say is that there are three schools (of thought) calling for restructuring: there are those who are just political opportunists. They are people who, when in power, did not believe in restructuring. When they were at the federal level, they did not believe in restructuring but they have now moved out and are calling for restructuring.
“There are those who genuinely believe that there is the need for us to look at the exclusive list and drop many of the items that are there.”
The angry response to the disparaging comments on an issue that has generated unprecedented tension in the polity and put the country on edge by the APC chieftains underlines the allegation of a yawning disconnect between leadership and the people. Regrettably, the perfunctory dismissal of an issue which has generated considerable passion among citizens offers poetic explanation for the cold indifference of the administration to the sensibilities of victims of atrocities by criminal herdsmen in the country.
It is incomprehensible that enduring outcry by citizens over atrocities by criminal herdsmen (veritable consequence of unreasonable resistance to re-structuring), in the country could be dismissed as unworthy of priority consideration. Equally disturbing is the unfortunate impression created that the tension threatening stability in the polity also does not qualify for priority attention by the administration.
The administration’s refusal to arrest escalating atrocities by herdsmen, including multiple rapes, countless murders, kidnaps-for-ransom and serial genocides, fuels tension in the country. As underlined by agitations for re-structuring, the administration has failed to discharge its basic obligation of protecting law-abiding citizens against an identifiable threat and as a result, belated response to the threat qualifies for priority consideration
The administration’s failure to discharge a basic obligation is fueling tension in the polity. Every nationality in the federation is nursing peculiar injuries and unmolested atrocities by criminal herdsmen; atrocities that mock the administration’s fixation with the war against corruption and question the country’s multi-billion naira investment in security.
Some state governments have demonstrated superior sensitivity than the Federal Government (FG) by passing anti-open grazing laws to prevent further genocides against farmers and protect their wives and daughters from getting raped and killed by criminal herdsmen against whom the FG is powerless. Instead of encouraging herdsmen to upgrade the practice of live-stock farming, the FG opted to force states to donate grazing reserves to livestock farmers who should be responsible enough to operate from ranches as done elsewhere in the world.
Alleged mutilation of the concept of federalism fuels tension rocking the polity, further encouraging agitation for re-structuring which the APC leaders say is not a priority. In addition to mirroring a fundamental disconnect between leadership and citizens, the criticism of agitation for re-structuring by the APC leaders has provided a bonus of sorts and major tonic in the arm of critics. Major qroups reacted angrily to the criticism, providing further evidence of the ruling party’s alleged insincerity about ushering fundamental change into the country.
For example, Afenifere, the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, described el-Rufai’s statement on re-structuring as opposition to the progress of the country and a sad reminder of the antics of an area boy.
The Publicity Secretary of the association, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, said the governor’s statement further profiled him as one of those who did not want the country to be re-structured. Odumakin argued that re-structuring is the only way out of the mounting agitations in the country. “It is very sad for the governor to be talking like an area boy on television. In Nigeria of today, we can now begin to take a census of those who are against restructuring – they are President Buhari, el-Rufai, Ango Abdullahi, Lai Mohammed and Tanko Yakassai,” Odumakin said.
The governor was reminded that eminent Nigerians and groups, including the Progressives Governors’ Forum, of which the Kaduna State governor is a member, urged the government to facilitate the re-structuring of the country.
The governor was asked why restructuring was downgraded by the ruling APC government despite that it was contained in the party’s manifesto.
The gov disagreed: “It was not jettisoned. I think, in fact, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has done more in practical terms about federalism than the previous administrations put together because state governments carry the substantial burden of running the police in their states.
Also, the President of Ijaw Youth Council, Mr. Eric Omare, said el-Rufai’s position is a display of irresponsibility and opportunism.
“In the first place, it is el-Rufai that is displaying political opportunism and irresponsibility,” Mr. Omara said.
Also reacting to the Kaduna governor’s unpopular comments, Deputy Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Mr. Chuks Ibegbu, described the views expressed by el-Rufai as unfortunate. “Ohanaeze has not changed its position; we stand for re-structuring and we stand for the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 confab, especially the aspects that would ensure the development. If anybody has a contrary view, that is unfortunate,” Ibegbu said.
Also, Yoruba leaders meeting in Ibadan under the aegis of the Yoruba Leadership and Peace Initiative urged the FG to commence the implementation of the report of the 2014 national conference.
“We also wish to make it clear that we are stakeholders in the region called North or Arewa. We, therefore, condemn the hasty and ill-informed display of lack of thoughtfulness by a group by the name Arewa Youths and their sponsors asking Igbo to leave the north of Nigeria with a timeline,” it stated.
The Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, also expressed concern over agitations and urged the FG to yield to popular calls for the re-structuring of the country.
The PFN also condemned the killings perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen who bear arms openly and in disdain of the law, warning that failure to bring the criminals to book would create more problems.
“We urge the government to pay attention to the calls for restructuring and find a way to push for further devolution of powers, while adopting an all-inclusive approach to governance and development in the country,” the PFN President, Dr. Felix Omobude told newsmen after the National Executive Council meeting of the body in Lagos.
Ironically, it is refusal by the administration to arrest escalating atrocities like multiple rapes, countless murders, kidnaps-for-ransom and serial genocides by herdsmen that fuels tension in the country, not mischief by political opponents. As underlined by agitations for re-structuring, the administration has failed to discharge its basic obligation of protecting law-abiding citizens against an identifiable threat and as a result, concerted agitations to rouse it to respond belatedly qualify for priority consideration.