Former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun has put the blame of present day self determination agitations on the inability of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to implement the report of its Committee on Restructuring and True Federalism.
The report which was authored by the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai and others, had recommended some form of power devolution from the centre to the subnational level as panacea for these agitations. The report recommended among others things, state police and a review of revenue allocation formula.
Oyegun, noted that the True Federalism Committee of the ruling party was necessitated by the different interpretations given by different groups to the concept of restructuring.
Speaking at a book launch in Abuja over the weekend, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council, University of Ibadan, said APC as a progressive party must address these agitations raging in different regions of the country.
He said that what is happening today is like a child who was denied garri when he asked for it and who has come back to ask for a cake. In his view, the APC should not think that it is only the military that can address these agitations.
Speaking on issues that affect the True Federalism report of the party and present challenges, he said: “Let me refer to just one aspect of what the Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu said.
That is the document on true federalism which the party put together that passed through all the organs of the party. The Executive of the party, the National Working Committee, the Caucus, the NEC which is the highest organ of the party.
“Why did we do it at that time? We did it because like, it is happening today, there was this cacophony of voices. Two people in the party could not agree on what they meant by restructuring. So the party needed to take control of the debate, define the issues, proffer solutions and went so far as to have some draft legislations.
It is not by any chance a perfect document, but it reflects the thinking and the desires of the Nigerian people. Everybody kept quiet after we brought that document out, publicized it, held press conferences over it and most Nigerians were very, very happy.
“But once again, we did not make the kind of progress that we could have made and it has become once more, the topical subject in the Nigerian polity.
“Unfortunately, it has gone beyond, we now have one or two things that did not happen before. People now want to disengage from the federation, which did not happen before and that is a warning sign.
If a child asks for garri today you don’t give him, tomorrow he may decide that it is cake he wants and we must not as a political party, we must not as the government of the federation give the impression that only military governments can fundamentally tamper with the basic structure of this nation.
“We are in charge today, a progressive government, a progressive regime and I think it is proper that we show to the nation that when the people want some degree of change we should be responsive to it, we should address it.
Compromises have to be made, there’s no question about that. The report itself is not final. It still has to go through the litmus test of compromises. The ideas of people from different parts of the country will be different up to the extent they want to go with the proposals in the document, but it is necessary. It is vital that it is in fact, mandatory in the interest of the survival of our nation, that these issues be addressed. We cannot continue to allow the subject to become something that threatens our nation at any turn.
“So, the earlier we address it, the earlier we show that as a party we are responsive to the feelings of the people, the desires of the people and the wants of the people. It becomes easier to diffuse the kind of stresses that the nation is passing through today.
Look at what is happening. Well, it is recommended there should be State Police. Today we are having all sorts of organizations cropping out with all sorts of names. We haven’t defined their operational status, we haven’t defined their relativity properly with the established security agents and the rest.
But sitting down together we can work these out so that we know the relativities between the existing structures and the existing institutions. This is my way of saying thank you very much for writing this book.”
On the leadership challenges in the APC, Oyegun said the interim national leadership was supposed to be a profound avenue of creating a new structure for the party from bottom up that will deliver and create the kind of leadership that will make democracy survive in Nigeria and keep the country one.
“It is necessary, it is in that book, and fundamental that parties themselves must obey their own rules. Very fundamental. “You can stretch the rule.
Never break it. Secondly, it is very fundamental that in all we do, the rank-and-file members of the party and of parties generally, are able to see that even when they lose, they have been treated fairly, they have been treated decently because what I observed as I was made the Chairman of the reconciliation group in the South- South and in every single case, you have a situation where during elections, the civil war within the party alone, makes it impossible to think of it,” Oyegun said.