Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly yielded to voices of reason against
dissenting voices like that of the former Edo State governor to see the
reasons with the barrage of voices clamouring for a restructuring of
Nigeria amid the raging crisis threatening to tear the country apart.
the former Edo Governor, a strong opponent for the restructuring of
Nigeria was recently booed and jeered in the Nigeria's capital city of
Abuja while addressing workers at the Nigerian Labour Congress
was reportedly pelted with missiles until the timely intervention of
the NLC president which forced Oshiomhole to eat the humble pie by
tendering an unreserved apology to the irate workers.
a similar vein, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has equally been
under fire from Nigerian for opposing the call for a restructuring of
Nigeria which may have made the President unyielding at every turn.
in what appeared like a dramatic turn of events, LEADERSHIP newspapers
reports that President Buhari in his first response to the deafening
clamour for the restructuring of the country’s federalism, President
Muhammadu Buhari, passed the buck on discussions to the National
Assembly and the National Council of State.
reports that 'President Muhammadu Buhari, in a nationwide broadcast
following his return from a 103-day medical vacation in the United
Kingdom, disclosed that the National Assembly and the National Council
of States are the legitimate and appropriate bodies for national
discourse on restructuring.
President, who by his statement, effectively slammed the door against
the report of the National Conference, for which he has never hidden his
disdain in the past, also restated that Nigeria’s unity was not
also warned that his administration would not allow irresponsible
elements to trouble the nation, but at the same time acknowledged that
there are legitimate concerns.
credence to the President’s position, Senior Special Assistant on Media
and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, in a statement explained
that Buhari has no power to impose restructuring on the country by
explained that the President is constitutionally bound to work with the
National Assembly to deal with such complex issues, reminding critics
that the president would not exercise arbitrary powers or bypass the
legislature in taking such fundamental decisions.
to him, calling Buhari an enemy of Nigeria is in extreme bad taste,
noting that nothing in the president’s service record would justify such
The Presidency declared that President Muhammadu Buhari has no powers to restructure the country by military fiat.
statement noted that restructuring and other constitutional changes are
within the purview of the National Assembly members who are the elected
representatives of the people.
statement however advised opinion leaders in the country to exercise
restraint in their choice of words to avoid heating up the polity and
causing acrimony across the country.
the detailed explanation by the presidency, Buhari’s position on the
restructuring debate yet elicited reaction from different quarters.
Southern leaders drawn from the South-west, South-east and South-south
geo-political zones in their reaction, collectively expressed strong
opposition to the President’s position.
legal practitioner, rights activist and lawyer, Oghenejabor Ikimi
disagreed with the presidency over claims that the National Assembly and
the National Council of State are the legitimate and appropriate bodies
for national discourse.
Warri based lawyer described the statement as false saying, as he said
by virtue of his position in accordance with the constitution, “Mr.
President has the powers to discourse the unity of Nigeria.”
explained that by the virtue of his position as head of state, chief
executive of the federation and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces,
he has the constitutional powers and fiat to initiate any national
discourse on the social contract that could bind Nigerians together.
wish to pontificate without mincing words that President Muhammadu
Buhari, by virtue of his position as head of state, the Chief Executive
of the Federation and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the
federation, vested with executive powers of the federation in accordance
with Sections 5(1) (a) and 130(1) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution as
amended, has the constitutional powers and fiat to initiate any
national discourse on the social contract that could bind us together as
a nation including but not limited to the vex issue of restructuring
our nation along the lines of true fiscal federalism within our present
democratic framework via a constituent assembly or a constitutional
conference in a bid to producing a brand new people oriented
Constitution to guarantee unity, peace and progress in our country.”
Ikimi agreed nobody should tag the president an enemy of Nigeria as he
said such statement was in bad taste, he disagreed with the President’s
position which suggested that only National Assembly and the Council of
State could discuss the matter.
agree with the Presidency that while Nigerians are free to comment on
the vex issue of restructuring, calling President Muhammadu Buhari an
enemy of Nigeria by some faceless persons on the social media was indeed
in bad taste and I condemn same as satanic, but I however differ with
all sense of responsibility with the press statement from the presidency
to the effect that it is only the National Assembly and the Council of
State that can handle agitations for restructuring and other
constitutional changes in the country.”
claims of Buhari that the National Assembly and the National Council of
State are the legitimate and appropriate bodies for national discourse,
Ikimi said: “By Sections 4(2) (4)(a) of the 1999 Constitution as
amended, the National Assembly can only make laws for the peace, order
and good government of the federation in respect to matters included in
the exclusive and concurrent legislative list as set out in part 1 and
the first column of part II of the second schedule to the 1999
Constitution as amended,” Ikimi noted.
the same vein, leaders, who recently converged on the Colonnades
Hotels, Ikoyi, Lagos, to take a stand on the president’s broadcast,
opined that only restructuring will ensure the unity, peace and
development of Nigeria.
regional leaders in a statement jointly signed by Chief Edwin Clark and
Albert Horsfall for the South-south; Chief Nnia Nwodo and Prof Joe
Irukwu for the South-east; and Chief Reuben Fasoranti and Chief Ayo
Adebanjo for the South-west, concluded that Nigeria was in a ‘very bad
shape and requires statesmanship in its leadership’.
to them, Buhari, in his broadcast, barely acknowledged the growing
agitation for the nation’s restructuring, and only stated that the
appropriate institutions for national discourse were the National
Assembly and National Council of State.
southern leaders noted that the president, in his broadcast, handled
some very important issues with levity that did not give cognisance to
the level at which they affect the overall well-being of Nigerians.
have studied the national broadcast by Mr. President on Monday, August
21, 2017 and after a careful and thorough analysis of the speech, we
make the following observations: the president expressed his
disaffection about comments on Nigeria while he was away that ‘question
our collective existence as a nation’ and which he said had crossed the
the background of the threat to treat hate speech as terrorism, we see a
veiled threat to bare fangs and commence the criminalisation of
dissenting opinions in our national discourse.”
southern leaders also accused President Buhari of using the imagery of
late Igbo leader, Chief Emeka Odumegwu Okukwu to down play the plight of
president deployed the imagery of the late Chief Emeka Ojukwu to play
down the demand for the renegotiation of the structure of Nigeria by
saying they both agreed in Daura in 2003 that we must remain one and
united. While we agree with them, the meeting between the two of them
could not have been a sovereign national conference whose decision
cannot be reviewed. The fact that we agree on their conclusion that we
should remain united does not foreclose discussions of the terms and
conditions of the union.”
leaders contended that the claim that Nigeria’s unity was settled and
not negotiable was untenable on the grounds that “every country is in
daily dialogue and there is nothing finally settled in this life”.
to the statement, stable nations are still fine-tuning details of the
architecture of their existence now and then, let alone Nigeria, which
they described as a country yet to attain nationhood.
there seems to be no hope for restructuring in the 8th National
Assembly as the only bill which hinges towards devolution of power in
the ongoing amendment to the 1999 constitution (as amended) suffered ill
fate in the National Assembly.
some lawmakers, including the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Femi
Gbajabiamila have assured that the bill will be reintroduced, its
success is still dependent on the voting pattern of individual
amendment titled “A Bill For An Act to alter the provisions of the
Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to move certain
items to the Concurrent Legislative List to give more legislative powers
to States; and for related matters,” was on Wednesday rejected in the
Senate, while the House also voted in favour of its rejection on
amendment had passed, it would empower State Houses of Assembly to make
laws for the states with respect to electricity and the establishment
in that state of electric power stations; the generation, transmission
and distribution of electricity to areas not covered by a national grid
system within that state.
legislators would also be allowed to make laws relating to agricultural
policies, management and regulation of lands for agricultural purposes
items captured in the rejected bill include; arbitration, environment,
railway, health, stamp duties, road safety, pensions and youths.
rejection of the bill dashed the hopes of several groups and
individuals who had hoped that the much clamoured for restructuring
could be achieved, albeit gradually, through this round of constitution
Senate President and shairman of the Joint committee of the National
Assembly, on the review of the 1999 constitution ( as amended), Senator
Ike Ekweremadu, had assured that effective and comprehensive
restructuring of Nigeria could only be done incrementally to ensure
gradual acceptance of the thorny issues after adequate enlightenment of
who expressed support for restructuring, disclosed that the committee,
in the course of its work in reviewing the 1999 Constitution, was able
to build a consensus on the devolution of powers, which would move some
of the over 60 items on the Exclusive List to the Concurrent List.
to Ekwerenmadu, although fiscal federalism was not touched during the
constitution review, the committee was able to build consensus on the
issue of devolution of powers.
would take some of the items on the Exclusive List to the Concurrent
List, which is the way to go. So, if we are patient and we go about
restructuring in an incremental manner, I give it three, four, five
years, we will get to where we want to be,” he said.
the same vein, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara,
promised Nigerians that restructuring could only be actualised through
alteration and amendment of the 1999 Constitution.
who made the disclosure at a public hearing organised by the House Ad
hoc Committee on the Review of the 1999 Constitution at the National
Assembly, also assured that the National Assembly will not ‘constitute a
stumbling block’ to the aspirations of Nigerians for genuine changes in
Speaker also explained that the process of amending the Constitution by
the 8th House of Representatives is in phases, adding that it is a
continuous exercise as envisaged under section 9 of the Constitution.
to Dogara, “Agitations for restructuring of the governance framework
for Nigeria can only be done through alterations of the Constitution. I
wish to say, that the House of Representatives and indeed the National
Assembly is ready to do its part in terms of amending the Constitution
when consensus have been reached on any matter by stakeholders and
these promises, only 46 senators voted in support of the bill, which
fell short of the needed 73 which is the two-thirds majority it needed
to pass. In the House of Representatives, 210 members voted a yes, which
also did not meet the 240, two-thirds majority.