By Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJAâ€”SPEAKER of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has given life to President Muhammadu Buhariâ€™s submission that the issue of restructuring rested with the National Assembly as the only legal institution mandated to enact laws for the country.
He said though the President had powers, the constitution only empowered him as the head of the executive arm of government to implement the laws made by the legislature.
Dogara spoke when All Progressives Congress, APC, Committee on True Restructuring, led by its chairman and governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, met with the House leadership on a courtesy call to intimate it on the details of their workings.
Dogara also told the committee that the House on resumption from its annual recess recently, set up a committee to look into the matter.
He, however, said the House committee was far from having the trappings of any political party, saying it would take bipartisan approach to resolve the issues.
He said: â€œWhen the President talked about the National Assembly being the proper forum for this discussion, so many people objected to that. Some even suggested, incredibly even some senior advocates who think that the President could just sit and restructure the country.
“But I know the President uses green pen, not a red pen that I use. I donâ€™t know whether by any stroke of imagination or margin a green pen can actually restructure Nigeria.
â€œIf that is the case, it is a very simple thing that can be done but unfortunately, most of the things that we talked about, most of the issues that are being raised are there in the foundational document of this country, the grund norm, which is the Constitution.”
Speaking earlier, Chairman of APC Committee, Governor el-Rufai commended the National Assembly for the nomination of some lawmakers as requested by the body to help realise its objectives.
He stated that restructuring was entrenched in the manifesto of APC, noting that some structural and political imbalances existed in the federation.
El-Rufai also said that the committee, as earlier articulated by the party to be merely technical, with its findings and recommendations reported back to APC for implementation, was later expanded to accommodate the youths who he said were the most important segment of the population.
He revealed that already, steps had been taken towards achieving the objectives of the committee, adding that submissions had already been made to the state Houses of Assembly.
He said: â€œWe are here as the APC committee on federalism to pay you a courtesy call and give you a brief background on the assignment the party has entrusted on us.
â€œThe APC in its manifesto made very firm commitment towards devolution of power true federalism, which is variously referred to restructuring as so on.
“However, because of other challenges, the administration had to deal with on assumption of office, the expeditious implementation of some of these commitment has not occurred.”
â€œI am proud to say that the National Assembly led by APC went ahead with the constitutional amendment to make our federation be better balanced. We all recognized there is some imbalance in our federation. This is why our party is committed to do something about it. However, it is better late than never.
â€œWe have already taken steps which are now before the State Houses of Assembly. We believe in the history of Nigeria, there has never been a comprehensive discussion on what is before us: federalism, restructuring and so on. We also believe even the debate and discussions in previous national conference has excluded key stakeholders particularly our young people that account for 80% of our population.
â€œWe believe ultimately that as a democratic government, the voice of the people is the voice of God and we must listen to them. We must not presume just because we are elected, just because we are leaders that we know what the country needs.
â€œAs articulated by our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari whatever discussion we have about federalism, restructuring will have no value unless the national assembly enacts whatever the people of Nigeria say they want. So, this hallowed chambers give all the power to make federalism work better.
â€œThe purpose of our committee is to merely collect and collate the views of Nigerians particularly young people and other vulnerable people and present to the party.â€�
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