The Senate, yesterday, took a swipe at Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State over his allegation that the National Assembly ignored the All Progressives Congress, APC’s Restructuring Committee’s proposal on state police and devolution of powers since 2018.
According to the Senate, Governor el- Rufai was not properly briefed or well-informed on the workings or activities of the National Assembly otherwise he would not have come up with such allegation.
‘’It is a matter of regret that for some reasons the consequential action by the APC leadership to adopt and implement the report has not happened since it was submitted in January 2018,’’ el-Rufai said at a public lecture to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Arewa House, in Kaduna, on Saturday.
Urging fast move to remove structural bottlenecks that hobble our country, el-Rufai called on the federal legislators and the National Assembly Ad-Hoc Committee on Constitution Review to take advantage of ‘’our report and initiate constitutional and legislative amendments in either a piece-meal or comprehensive manner without further delay.’’
Faulting the governor’s approach, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, APC, Osun Central, asked el-Rufai to bring before the 9th Senate his memorandum rather than make statements in newspapers.
According to him, as far as the current Senate is concerned, it has not received any proposal from the governor or from the group he represents.
The Senate spoke as the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said el-Rufai’s comment is an indication that President Muhammadu Buhari is not a listening President following the failure of the government to act on the recommendation since 2018.
Meanwhile, clamour for restructuring, state police and devolution of power to the federating units continued to gain currency, yesterday.
El-Rufai talking about 8th NASS not us ― Senate
Senator Basiru said, “ The National Assembly operates in different assemblies. The present Assembly was inaugurated in June 2019 and if Governor El- Rufai is talking about 2018 proposal, he is talking about the 8th Assembly.
“The job of an Assembly starts from the date of its inauguration. I believe that it is not the intention to confuse Nigerians as to what to say.
“The 9th Assembly has inaugurated the Constitution Review Committee and we have called for Memoranda which has been published in most of the national dailies. If he (el- Rufai) has a proposal on constitution amendment and on what he has highlighted, we expect him to forward it to the National Assembly.
”As at today, we have not received any Memorandum from him. We are also not unaware that he was chairman of the APC Committee to review the Constitution and the Report was submitted to the party. ”
Our party is the ruling party, one expects him to use his office through the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, NGF, or use his well-known connection in the presidency to bring such a proposal to the National Assembly.
“The National Assembly is not a single party, it is a place for all Nigerians and people of different parties. You cannot expect us to come up with issues without consultations. “
Governor Nasir El Rufai has not approached the National Assembly with any of the recommendations. I don’t believe that he has been well informed or briefed before he came up with it, we are committed to amending the Constitution.
He cannot be blaming us for what is not before the National Assembly. “ There is a proper channel to present an issue, we expect him to do that if he has any Memorandum, he should come with it to us rather than just making statements in newspapers.”
El-Rufai’s comment shows Buhari is not a listening president ― PDP
Reacting to el-Rufai’s comment, the PDP through its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Diran Odeyemi, commended the governor for speaking up and urged other leaders of the APC desirous of a new Nigeria, to add their voices to the call for the sack of service chiefs.
He said: “If the El-Rufai committee recommended state police and the Federal Government did nothing about it, it shows that Buhari is not a listening President, not a listening leader.
The level of insecurity under the watch of President Buhari has become so scary and worrisome. “So, it is a good thing that an APC governor is speaking up now. We urge other leaders, particularly their governors and other leaders to help us tell President Buhari to re-jig the nation’s security architecture.
Why is he finding it difficult to replace the current crop of service chiefs or is Mr President saying we do not have capable hands better than these ones?”
Speaking on the advice from Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi at the Arewa 50th anniversary that the call for restructuring should not be given ethnic colouration, the PDP publicity scribe said restructuring is good for the health of the entire country and should be supported by all.
“Restructuring is an idea being pushed by all. It is neither a call for the good of one ethnic group nor a move being championed by one ethnic nationality. So, Governor Kayode Fayemi is right,” he added.
APC not sincere about restructuring ― Ohanaeze
However, apex Igbo socio-cultural Organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, dismissed el-Rufai and APC’s claim on restructuring as a lame excuse. Speaking Emeka Attama, the media adviser to President General, Chief Nnia Nwodo, Ohanaeze said: “This is a lame excuse being part of the present debacle APC finds itself.
“If Governor el-Rufai knew this all along and the NASS was dilly-dallying, why didn’t he speak out before now? Pure medicine after death. Sorry, APC government is not sincere about restructuring.”
There’s nothing special about it ― Shettima
Speaking on the issue, President of the Arewa Youth’s Consultative Forum, Alhaji Yerima Shettima, said: “Nobody is afraid of restructuring. Governor El-Rufail spoke the mind of northern progressives. For us there is nothing special about it.
“I have been an advocate of restructuring but I don’t subscribe to violent means of achieving it. I am for dialogue and I support restructuring 100 per cent. I find it quite disturbing that too much power has been concentrated at the centre in Nigeria’s governance history, especially since our exit from the unitary system. ”
The kind of federalism we’re practising today is therefore quite defective. The states have no real control over how this country is being run. They don’t have the right economic and political independence they deserve.
Monthly statutory allocation to states has made Nigerian state governments too dependent on the Federal Government and this is killing their autonomy.
“As for #EndSARS protest against the alleged harassment by a unit of the nation’s police force, the reality is already known. State police is necessary. I say this because you don’t post a policeman born and bred in Sokoto for policing Sagamu, a place and people he knows little or nothing about. “
I, therefore, support state police to make the war on crime more effective. I support restructuring to give the states the desired freedom from federal might and manipulations. ”
The centre should be made less-attractive for effective governance. We cannot afford federalism so expensive that it’s weighing down the national economy too much.”
How COVID-19 stalled APC’s move
But for the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the APC would have gone far on the restructuring quest, party leaders have said. APC governors had in February this year disclosed of their decision to revisit the report of the Malam Nasir el-Rufai led Committee on True Federalism.
Governor of Katsina state and Chairman, APC Governors’ Steering Committee on Good Governance, Aminu Masari, who disclosed this during the meeting of the committee in Abuja, said the steering committee would set up a sub-committee to look at several issues including the el-Rufai Committee’s report with a view to coming up with a compact template for implementation.
He said: “The most important thing is that we need to deal with the issue of governance. What are those issues of governance as it affects the welfare, security and well-being of our people?
In dealing with them, the steering committee would look at a whole list of issues and make recommendations to the larger house where those issues will be dealt with.
‘’When we say we are looking at a cocktail of issues, it could be in the area of security, constitutional amendment and others. This is why the synergy between the executive and the legislature is critical.
At the end of the day, those that have to do with policy formulation would be dealt with by the legislative arm and those issues that require administrative actions would be dealt with by the executive.
We are not zeroing on any particular issue but a lot of them. “The issue of a constitutional amendment was discussed. The el-Rufai Committee report will also be discussed by this technical committee that we have set up and they will look at those recommendations by the el-Rufai Committee, take them and make some recommendations to the larger house.
Then the issue of budgeting and implementation would also be discussed by this sub-committee.”
Also speaking, Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi said the Senate is ready to synergize with the executive and carry out tasks or constitutional amendments that are capable of enhancing the fortunes of Nigerians.
Hon. Friday Akpatason who represented House Leader, Hassan Doguwa said the committee would work with the party to implement its agenda.
“The summary of the whole thing is that we are trying to reduce a whole number of issues to make them more compact for implementation and which would reflect the party’s agenda for taking Nigerians to the next level.”
Wills, Ambakederimo, Omare, Ghemre, Pemu speak
Indeed, some leaders, at the weekend stressed the need for restructuring and state police, which they said have been brought to the front burner by the #EndSARS protests.
Iniruo Wills, President Ijaw Professionals Association (Homeland Chapter) said: “#EndSARS is a metaphor for the exigent renewal of all sectors of public governance and political inter-relations in Nigeria.
Only the mentally deaf, dumb and blind can pretend not to know that.” Eric Omare, immediate past President, Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, worldwide said:
“I think that part of the problem with enforcing discipline in the Police Force is because of the over-centralisation of its activities.
The necessary implication is that victims of police victimisation are faced with a Herculean task trying to get justice within the police hierarchy in the present structure.
“Therefore, a political architecture with the state as its last command can easily identify erring officers and administer punishment. In the same vein, victims of police victimisation can also easily access the high echelon of the police force at the state level.
I think that a restructured Nigeria with state police as one of the items would address issues like the #EndSARS protest.” Joseph Ambakederimo, Convener South-South Reawakening Group, said: “First the #EndSARS protest was a misplacement of priority by whoever masterminded and executed the protest.
For me, whether the #EndSARS protest was a metaphor or not on issues of our national life leaves much to be desired. The core issue that is crying for attention to be tackled is the grand and scandalous corruption that has plagued the nation for a very long time.
If we strive to reduce the level of corruption, the SARS misbehaviour and impunity in the system would not have happened in the first place. Therefore the root cause of the EndSARS protest is corruption.
“The recurring issues of restructuring also have corruption at the root of it. The system is not the problem, it is the operators of the system that are the problem.
Who says if we cannibalise the country the issue of corruption would be obliterated from society. We need to change the thought process and reorientation of the mindset of our people.”
To Festus Pemu, Okpe Youth leader, Sapele Local Government Area, Delta State, “The “EndSARS” protests will certainly bring the issue of police reform, we know the protest is more than an end to police brutality, the protesters’ demands now appear to have widened to include calls for reforms across the country’s entire police system and I think the public perception of the Nigerian police are largely negative.
“There have been several calls and efforts geared towards a reform of the police force over the years but these have not led to any significant improvement in police service delivery.
The #EndSARS protest will quicken the recent call by the state government for the establishment of State Police. “You know a Police Reform Bill was proposed as an Act of the National Assembly on 30th May 2018 and was passed by the Senate on 17th April 2019.
It was signed into law by the President this year, Insecurity remains one of the biggest challenges facing Nigeria today and the NPF is central to responding to these challenges.”
For Zik Gbemre, Coordinator, Niger Delta Peace Coalition, NDPC, “The relationship between #ENDSARS and Restructuring would be that the later encompassed the former.
There has always been struggling for restructuring, much broader spectrum of agitations intended to reorganise the entire structure of the Nigerian entity.
Worthy of note is that the call for restructuring encapsulate everything wrong in the country and needs to be addressed, including whether it should be State police or not, and of course the issue of funding.
Hence, some people believed that the #EndSARS thing was a hoax because the demands were escalated but there is no dispute that #EndSARS is subsumed in restructuring.”