Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
A chieftain of theAll Progressives Congress (APC), Osita Okechukwu, in his consistent defence of the ruling party, has come hard on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), lampooning it for claiming that the APC is frustrating genuine restructuring of the country.
Speaking in Abuja, the Director-General Voice of Nigeria (VON) further argued that the opposition party lacks the rectitude to comment on the restructuring of the country.
He also endorsed the extension of the tenure of the Governor Mai Mala Buni-led APC Caretaker/Extra Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee, stressing that they need more time to redress the damage the immediate past national leadership inflicted on the party.
What is your take on the allegation from the PDP that your party is frustrating genuine restructuring of Nigeria?
I read the statement of our sister political party, the PDP, dished out by my friend, Kola Ologbondiyan, that my great party, the APC, is frustrating the genuine restructuring of our dear country. I totally disagree with the statement on two major grounds; one that PDP is behaving like the proverbial rabbit who is in a hole for many years and when a hunter started digging the hole to free the rabbit, it started murmuring that heat is suffocating it. Otherwise, why is that we didn’t hear such statement until APC dusted up the Malam Nasir Elrufia’s Committee report on restructuring. We appreciate the import of restructuring, so let no party claim owner- ship.
But the PDP is saying that APC wants to smuggle in its report into the 2014 Jonathan National Conference Report, which should be the benchmark and not the APC’s Committee Report?
That brings me to the second point, which is the fact that a lot of people, not only members of the PDP make the assumption and mistake that liberal democracy is a revolution. No, it is not a revolution, all gains made throughout the history of liberal democracy is incremental and never a bang. Our model, the USA in over 200 years of democracy has on incremental basis amended or altered her constitution. It was never done in one fell swoop. In fact, it is more incremental in the UK, India, Indonesia etc. My candid advice is that PDP should join the APC in bipartisan push to commence the amendment of the constitution.
PDP and most canvassers for restructuring like the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere, Pan-Niger Delta Fo- rum and Middle Belt groups regard the 2014 Jonathan National Conference Report as sacrosanct. Why is APC opposed to this position?
Sincerely, one was pained when I read the statement that, “our party stands at the forefront of efforts for genuine restructuring, but we hold that the authentic materials for genuine restructuring are contained in the 2014 National Conference Report, wherein, Nigerians across all divides, collectively provided a road map out of our constitutional quagmire; and not a partisan report by the APC. What a fake news, for PDP which convoked the 2014 National Conference with our commonwealth and had all the time on earth to even mere submission as an Executive Bill to the National Assembly and deliberately swept it under the carpet. What a self denial and height of propaganda.
Is it not better you avoid the blame game of the failure of the PDP to implement the report and use it as the road map?
One agrees that yesterday is gone, however, it is pertinent that PDP should not deceive our people for their planlessness and ineptitude. Blame game aside, please what are those salient points in the 2014 report that is not in the APC report? To be honest, it is a very thin line, unless the PDP is behaving like my uncle, Chief Bato Chigbo, alias Okokondem, an orator in his heydays and retired headmaster, he sincerely believes that the 2014 report contains the provision to return Nigeria to the defunct regions – East, West, North and Midwest. He glorifies the region with nostalgia. The motion for region failed in Abacha’s Conference of 1996, in Obasanjo’s Conference of 2005 and Jonathan’s Conference of 2014. Where PDP and most canvassers for restructuring is getting it wrong is that they want a full package amendment. It is an ideal and we were advised by sages to be pragmatic. What the 2014 provided was the creation of over 40 states and not region. The problem is that a lot of people neither read the APC’s report nor even the 2014 re- port they romance.
What is your reply to the PDP statement that, “Nigerians are also alerted to a fresh ploy by some ambitious APC leaders to blackmail the legislature and create an impression of commitment to restructuring, just to beguile the people and soften the ground for their personal political and particularly presidential ambitions ahead of the 2023 elections?
From my submissions above who is beguiling or deceiving the people? Is President Muhammadu Buhari and by extension the APC government that embarked on the first amendment in the 8th Assembly by advancing the frontiers of democracy via first line charge of funding of state legislatures, state judiciary and local councils? One could have expected massive support by the party which claims to stand in the forefront of efforts for genuine restructuring to embrace the first move to free these institutions of democracy from governors who are gradually turning into emperors.
What is your reaction to the governors cutting across parties at the Supreme Court contesting the Executive Order 10?
Executive Order 10 was signed by Mr President to give life to the first line charge amendment to these state institutions. If the PDP has reasoned with President Buhari the governors couldn’t have gone to the Supreme Court and today the independence of state legislatures, judiciary and local councils could have been restored. But out of selfishness and personal aggrandizement the PDP weighed in bi-partisanship when it is unnecessary.
When best do we need bi-parti- sanship?
We need it now more than ever before. To buttress my point, permit me despite space constrains to give some spinets of Malam Nasir el-Rufai’s APC Committee Report on Legislative, Executive and Others Action Plan. The report proposed that Sec- tion 8 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria via Executive Bill be expanded to accommodate merger of states that so desire. The amendment to be made will stipulate the laid down procedure for merger which shall be in pari materia with the procedure for creation of states.
What others items did the report deal with?
Among others it has a Bill for an Act to alter the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to make Local Government Areas Administrative Units of each state. Secondly, to alter the allocation of revenue – the Revenue (Federation Account) Act 2002.
What is your take on the issue of national convention to elect new national executive, or do you support extension?
Truly, methinks we should extend and ac- cord due cooperation to the governor Mai Mala Buni-led caretaker committee; so as for them to diligently fix and reposition our great party before December 2020 convention.
Some members like the Concerned Members truly want them to obey the six months given…
When one casts cursory glance at the damage done to the soul of our great party, from the beginning of our government in mid-2015 by the unforced error struggle for National Assembly leadership and to the culture of impunity which Comrade Adams Oshiomhole unleashed on our great party in his post election as chairman on June 23, 2018, the need for extension of time becomes imperative. Our stock crashed from 25 states to 19 today. Accordingly, the Buni-led committee requires deep introspection to gather the pieces, reconcile the various warlords and tendencies. United we stand, so if it takes six or 12 months, so be it.