The power to restructure and correct the structural deficiencies plaguing governance in Nigeria lies only with the National Assembly, the Governor of Kaduna State, and chairman, APC Committee on True Federalism, Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai has said.
El-Rufai stated this on Tuesday when he led members of the committee on a courtesy visit to the leadership of the House of Representatives, saying that Nigeria’s federation is indeed defective and requires correction.
“We are here as the APC committee on True Federalism to pay a courtesy call and give you a brief background of the important assignment we were given and to also seek your assistance regarding the role of the National Assembly in achieving this national agenda of our party.
“The APC as you know made certain promises and commitments before coming to power and I must say that certain encumberances have hindered it.
”There are some imbalances in our federation and the National Assembly which is controlled by the APC has taken steps to correct it and the APC is also making practical effort toward correcting same which is why we are here”, he said.
El-Rufai informed the leadership that the committee was tasked to look at the critical issues bordering on the attainment of true federalism and make recommendations to the party, adding that members called for expansion by including the youths.
“We insisted that young people be included in the composition of this committee as they really represent the future of our great country.
“So we made presentation to the party to expand the membership of the committee which was why we invited both chambers of National Assembly to nominate those they feel should come on board. And just like our President, Muhammadu Buhari said, the task of correcting the anomaly lies with the National Assembly and that’s why we have come to notify you of the need to get your backing in what we are doing, because ours is just to collate views and report back ,which in the end would come to both houses of the National Assembly for consideration and enactment into law”, El-Rufai added.
He urged the Speaker to help push for the third phase of the consultation which will be a joint session of the National Assembly where the committee will engage members of the parliament.
Responding, Speaker Yakubu Dogara commended the leadership of the APC for chosing governor El-Rufai as head of the important committee, saying that his courage and eyes for details would help in producing well though-out recommendations to the party and Nigerians.
“Let me applaud the choice of governor El-Rufai as the head of this committee, a man of courage, we all saw what he did when he was a minister here in Abuja. If he can bring such courage to bare, I think the committee would actualise its objectives.
“When you talk about federalism, you talking about the spread of responsibility amongst all three tiers of government as prescribed by the principles of democracy.
“Fortunately, we have people in our party, in Nigeria who can profer solutions to these problems. If we don’t do it, nobody will do it for us, even angels will not come down to do them for us, and I’m glad that the party is taking steps towards doing that”, the Speaker said.
Dogara however, berated agents of division and who preach violence in the name of free speech, adding that “hate speech drowns the truth”.
“Most healthy democracies are actually very noisy, where you have the civil society organisations, the media, and opposition parties and that’s the halmark of free speech. But when free speech takes the tone of violence and disintegration, it’s no longer free speech, and it behoves on leaders to nip that in the bud, because, without a peaceful society, there can be no speech let alone, free speech”, he added.
Dogara agreed with El-Rufai and President Muhammadu Buhari in their assertions that the National Assembly remains the vehicle for driving restructuring.
“When the president said the National Assembly is the proper forum for restructuring agitations, many people faulted him and some others alleged that he has shifted his responsibilitie to the National Assembly. But the President uses a green pen, not the red one that I use. And I don’t see how the President can sit with his green pen and restructure the country. And whatever powers he has, he can only make recommendations to the National Assembly in form of a bill which we still have to debate and pass. So I concur totally with the president.
He said: “I have gone to the affected areas and it is glaring that they are highly marginalised and I think a name should not be what should be at stake here.
“My friend, I have your a petition with me, we shall address it as soon as possible but what we are addressing here is the issue of how to make the law”, Bago pleaded.