From: Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
The Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari, Femi Adesina, has said the Federal Government was working round the clock to ensure the strike embarked upon by the National Association of Resident Doctors was resolved in the shortest period of time.
Adesina, who expressed hope that the doctors, in the interest of the public, country and the health care sector, would soon come to amicable resolution, maintained that the Federal Gvernment was not insensitive to the doctors’ demands.
The President’s spokesperson stated this in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, while featuring on a Sweet FM programme, ‘The Podium’, on Tuesday.
On the strike by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Adesina said the Federal Government would speed up negotiation with the ASUU to end its industrial action which had paralysed academic activities in the nation’s universities.
Adesina added that though, it was the immediate past administration that entered into the agreement with the ASUU, the President Buhari-led government would find the best way possible to accommodate promises that had been made, very soon.
He pointed out that President Buhari’s administration should even be commended for accepting openly, responsibility on the ASUU matter, maintaining amicable resolution would come up soon.
He said: “You know that it’s also very rare for government to come out to say yes, we are at fault, we didn’t keep our part of the bargain, we didn’t keep promises made by the government.
“That is what this government has done through the Minister of Education upper week. He came to say yes, government is at fault, we didn’t keep our end of the bargain with ASUU, but we know it is not this particular government. But whatever promises the subsequent government has made we are bound by it.
“What the government is doing is to find the best way possible to accommodate promises that have been made and do the best, that is the negotiation that is going on and then, hopefully, an amicable resolution should come up soon.
“Well, you know that agreements often time are predicated on funds and we all know what has been happening to Nigeria when oil prices crashed, and the financial fortune of the country also crashed. So most of these agreements entered into in the past have not been met, at least for now, because of paucity of funds”
On the stand of President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration on the calls by Nigerians for restructuring, Adesina, argued that the ruling party was never against restructuring noting a committee had been set up to work out the details of what to do in that regard.
He added that a critical look at the manifesto of the All Progressives Congress (APC) will show that devolution of power, which according to him, is a form of restructuring, is duly addressed.
His words: “The president has spoken a number of times on that, if you look at critically in the past, he had addressed that matter. If you look at the manifesto of the All Progressive Congress, you will find devolution of power. And of course devolution of power is a form of restructuring.
“The one issue is that all those who are agitating for restructuring in the country don’t even have the unanimity of definition of what restructuring is. To some, it is more revenue to states, to some, it is local government and you don’t have a unanimity of definition.
“But APC, in its manifesto, has devolution of power and according to the national chairman of the party they will get there. There is nothing that says that everything in the party manifesto must be done in the first one or two years. What matters is get it done in the lifetime of the administration.
“And the party has set up a committee to work out the details of what it will do in that area of restructuring, define restructuring, what is the kind of thing that is good for the country.
“That committee in the party is working and when it finishes its work, I’m sure it’s going to make recommendations to the government and government will look at the aspects of the recommendation it can implement within the lifetime of the administration”.
On the report that the president would like to return to office in 2019, the Special Adviser said it is only the president himself who can confirm such report.
He, however, noted that anything said, published or written on the matter now, remains a conjecture until the president comes out to say he is running come 2019 adding “we need to wait for him because he is the one that can give a definitive position”.
While clarifying the definition of hate speech, Adesina, explained that any statement capable of whipping up emotions in terms of ethnicity, religion, that could spur people into wanting to go into violence, vengeance or can cause discomfort for another people within the federation is hate speech.
“It doesn’t need definition that much. Any speech that spur people into hatred is hate speech.
It is simple. Anybody who is president take on oath to defend the constitution and the constitution of Nigeria says we are one country, one people, united.
“Now if some people begin to call for the dismemberment of the country, they are already going contrary to the constitution. And because the constitution holds government responsible for the protection of lives and properties, it cannot just stand idly.
“For government, anybody that preaches dismemberment and balkanisation of the federation, of course, he has crossed the red line which the constitution has already prescribed”.
On the allegation that President Buhari reportedly referred to the IPOB leader, Nnamdu Kanu as “notorious and unpopular”, Adesina said he was not aware of president talking about an individual adding “Kanu’s issue is strictly for for the court”.
“You know a lot of things are ascribed to the president but as far is the presidency is concerned it is something that is before the court. Whatever the court says, that is for the security agency. That matter is left to the court.
“I am not aware of the president talking about an individual. I don’t recall the president talking about anyone, Adesina submitted.
On the cry of marginalisation by some sections of the country, the president spokesperson, said the president, in his broadcast, admitted that different parts of the country had genuine grievances and noted government will continue to engage in dialogue with the aggrieved section of the people.
He said, “I think the admission and the admittance of that is already clear that there would be dialogue and don’t forget that the acting president engaged in series of visitation to different parts of the country and met with stakeholders from those areas. Government believes in dialogue, it is involved in dialogue and will continue to dialogue”.