Buhari Succumbs, Agrees to Restructure Nigeria
*NASS, condemns Shiite protests, seeks release of El-Zakzaky
By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
There are indications that President Mohammed Buhari has finally agreed to the restructuring of Nigeria and the operation of true federalism that would see the devolution of powers to federating units.
Buhari had on some occasions demurred to the restructuring of the country on the grounds that its advocates were not on same page over what exactly it would entail for the nation.
Former governor of Ogun State and chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Dr Segun Osoba who disclosed this said President Buhari has approved the report of the committee on Devolution of Power and true federalism set up by the APC and chaired Kaduna state Governor, Nasir El-rufai.
The former Governor, who was in the Villa to present his book – “Battlelines: Adventures in Journalism and Politics” to Buhari, who featured in it prominently, maintained that the APC even had restructuring as devolution of powers from the Federal Government to States, enshrined in its manifesto.
Osoba therefore, appealed to Nigerians, especially statesmen and other activists agitating for restructuring of the country, to be patient with the President and the APC adding that steps would be taken to get the National Assembly start debate on legalising the relevant aspects of the report.
“But I can tell you, all this noise about restructuring, we APC put devolution of power, true federalism in our manifesto and we’ve moved far from there to where a committee was set up headed by the governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai. “That committee has submitted its report, that report has been presented to us in the caucus and the president was there, the president endorsed the outcome. I want Nigerians to please, give us time.
“I hope and pray that at the right time, the government or the party would send that report to National Assembly for debate.
“I would say with all authority that restructuring lies with National Assembly. The president is not a military president, he cannot change anything by decree, sovereignty in Nigeria now is vested in the National Assembly.
“Those agitating for sovereign national conference must go through the National Assembly and unless the national assembly surrenders part of its powers by an Act, there can never be sovereign nations conference.”
According to the former governor, agitation for referendum, there must be an act of the national assembly to create that referendum, it’s not the president that would by fiat or by executive order, order for referendum.
Explaining further he said that the process must go through the National Assembly.
“That is why “I plead with our elders: Pa Edwin Clark, Pa Adebanjo, Professor Banji Akintoyin, all across Nigeria, they met the 8th senate and they heard what that National Assembly has done in terms of the review of the constitution.
“They should come back and tell us! We can no move forward until we recognize the importance and the powers vested in the National Assembly. And for restructuring, let us go through the legal route.”
He recalled his bow his relationship with President Buhari started saying, “the president and I have been close since the civil, he was a young officer – a lieutenant in the 1st Division.
“It was the first division that started the civil war from Nsukka end and as fortune would have it, I followed the president to when he was a governor in the north eastern region and became the oil minister. From there on he appointed me on June 12 1984 as the Managing Director of Daily Times. It was the crowing peak of my professional life that prepared me for governance.
“I have written a book in which the president featured a lot even with pictures during the civil war.
“So I have now come to present the book formally to the President and to autograph it to him. Part of the book was he riding on the train from the north to Ifo, Ogun State to spend his holiday when he was in Form One in 1946. So we have had some historical reminiscences not just now. “
On what he discussed with the President at the meeting Osoba said MR President asked about the situation in Ogun State.
“I took the time to brief him on the efforts that the governor is making to ensure peace and u it’s in the state. I have told him that governor Dapo Abiodun is starting on a very good note and he said the governor has also briefed him,” he said.
On agriculture he said that President Buhari told him that he has given instruction that the central bank should give Ogun State maximum support in agriculture.
On politics, Osoba said that he assured Mr President that the incident that occurred in Ogun state would never ever happen again and the president thanked me.
Speaking further he said that the essence of the visit was to discuss situations in Ogun state and assessment of governor Dapo Abiodun’s administration.
Asked to clarified on the claim that late Moshood Abiola supported some members of SDP to join Abacha’s military government he said: “there have been a lot of blackmail and denigration of people. For example, people like Jakande, Onagoruwa, late Alex Ibru, they said that they went and collaborated with Abacha which is not true.
“Solomon La, Abububakar Rimi and all others were all in a meeting in MKO Bashorun Abiola’s house on a Sunday after Abacha seize power on November 17, 1993 and kicked us out, the following Sunday we met in Bashorun MKO Abiola’s house and we debated with chieftains of SDP and we that produced him as president and made June 12 possible and there we agreed that those that may be invited to come and serve in deter to the country, they should serve but remain loyal to the mandate and use their influence to perhaps persuade the military to return the mandate to Abiola.
“So when people said we didn’t know about those people…. Iyor Cha Ayu was one of them, he was former senate president, I can call many of them who were at the meeting in which MKO Abiola presided.
“So I have to clear this doubt that Abiola had knowledge and gave approval to serve in Abacha’s government.
Asked if serving in the military government made impact to the return to democracy in 1999, the former governor said, the democracy that we are into today is the one in which Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar presided over.
Asked what advised he has for the president regarding the ministerial list, Osoba said, “I have said it, I am one of the founders of APC, I would not discuss in details because I have access, I am part of the presidency because the president is our president.”
Meanwhile, members of the House of Representatives yesterday asked the federal government to as a matter of urgency release the detained leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
Recall that El-Zakzaky was detained following the alleged death of a soldier who died during the December 2015 clash with soldiers and his supporters, (Shiite group).
His supporters were accused of blocking a major road that was to be used by the army chief Tukur Buratai. However, despite several courts granting him bail; the government has insisted on detaining him. In view of that therefore, his followers have embarked on several protests, demanding his immediate release. Reps urge IGP to flush out bandits, kidnappers from Sokoto.
The group latest protest took another dimension yesterday as they were accused of shooting and injuring security officials who held them back from entering NASS premises. They were equally accused of damaging vehicles at the National Assembly environment.
Minority leader, Mr. Ndudi Elumelu, filed a motion calling on his colleagues to investigate the matter and ensure adequate security measures are in place at the legislative chamber. Some of his colleagues, who supported his motion, argued that the circumstances surrounding the matter are similar to what led to the emergence of the Boko Haram terrorists’ group. “If the court has given an order for the release of the man, we should call on the government to release him. The discourse should not be on the invasion of the national assembly alone”, said Onofiok Luke from Akwa Ibom.
Mr Bamidele Salam from Osun state said El-Zakzaky’s continued detention is injustice and “injustice to one is injustice to all.”
His words, “I want to urge the federal government to look into the matter of the leader of this movement and allow the rule of law to take its course. “If we are able to secure the national assembly, what happens to the man and woman in the market elsewhere?”. Simon Davou from Plateau state said rather than detain el-Zakzaky against court orders, the government should release him and ensure surveillance, with enough security operatives to monitor his activities.”
2023 Polls: Visa Ban Watchlist Swells Up, Says UK
By Idris Umar & Johnson Eyiangho, Abua
The United Kingdom (UK), revealed that the number of Nigerians on its visa bans Watchlist has continued to multiply, even as it said the names will be kept secret.
Disclosing this in an interview with Nigeria Info FM yesterday, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, reiterated that the UK government will issue visa bans to people undermining democracy.
According to him, there are about 10 persons already on the watchlist.
“We have a list, we are working through our list but we don’t publish those names.I know people say we should, but we have laws, and the law prevents us from doing that.
“At the moment the list is between 5 and 10 and it is growing,” he added.
The envoy also faulted a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode over controversial comments made during the electoral season.
Last month, Fani-Kayode was invited for questioning by the Department of State Services (DSS), for claiming that the presidential flag bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, had a meeting with army generals before the elections.
“Yes, let’s be specific, there were some people, like Femi Fani-Kayode, what is he saying and why is he saying it? I don’t understand.
“It is wrong from my perspective that he will speak on behalf of a party and that party does not distance itself from him and say stop doing that. It is wrong to say that,” Llewellyn-Jones said.
Enugu Governor-elect, Mbah Promises to Reward Residents with Projects, Policies
From Sylvia Udegbunam, Enugu
The Enugu State Governor-elect, Dr. Peter Mbah has promised to reward the people of the state with projects and policies that they will be proud of.
Mbah, who made the pledge during his acceptance speech after he was announced winner of the March 18 Governorship election in the state, also pledged to also dualise the Abakpa, Ugwuogo Nike-Nsukka road.
He also said that his administration would build a monorail from Enugu to Nsukka, Udi, Awgu and construct a ring road to connect all the 17 Local Government Areas of Enugu State.
According him, his administration would embark on development of infrastructure, health, tourism, education and development of Enugu state in general, to fast-track growth.
He emphasized that he will build a world class theme pack in Enugu, establish special economic zone in all Local Government Areas, as well as agro allied processing zones and industrial parks in all the Senatorial zones.
He said that he will unleash the tech talent in young people, grow and nurture their interest in business and vocational skills.
He assured the people of the state that his administration will not be for a section of the state but will be an inclusive government that is designed to provide an inclusive economic development to the state.
“Ours will not be a government of any section of Enugu State. It is your government, Ndi Enugu. Under our administration, there can never be division between Nsukka and Nkanu or any other section of the state. We are all brothers and sisters. Those who attempted to create a wedge between us failed woefully.
“We were massively voted by every section of the state. Those who wanted to smack our heads together had an ulterior motive and it was to create perpetual fussing and fighting between us. We resisted their machination and today, we are coming together stronger. Our resolve thereafter is to pursue the spirit of divisiveness from our state”.
Benue PDP to Challenge Guber, Assembly Polls Defeat at Tribunal
From David Torough, Makurdi
The Benue chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday said it will challenge its defeat on both the governorship and state assembly elections at the tribunal.
The Acting state Chairman, Mr Isaac Mffo, made this known during a press conference on Thursday in Makurdi.
“It is the decision of the Benue Chapter of the PDP that the outcome of the March 18 elections be challenged at the state Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal sitting in Makurdi.
“It is our belief that we owe democracy in our country, Nigeria, a duty to help deepen it by taking such an action to reverse the ‘hijacking’ of the popular mandate of the people as done by the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the last elections.
“It is our faith that the mandate of the Benue electorate will be restored to our great party as was rightfully given by the people on March 18,” Mffo said.
He said that the party owes a load of gratitude to their teeming members and supporters across the state who exhibited uncommon courage to go out and vote in the elections despite alleged heavy militarisation of the polls and the use of thugs, aided by security agents sent to the state by the Federal Authorities.
He commended the leader of the party in the state, Gov. Samuel Ortom; the governorship candidate, Mr Titus Uba, and his running mate, Mr John Ngbede, Senators Gabriel Suswam, Patrick Abba Moro and Orker Jev; National Assembly and State Assembly caucus members of the party, among many others.
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