TWELVE issues will be tabled by the All Progressives Congress (APC) Committee on True Federalism, it was learnt yesterday.
Besides, the committee will consult the report of the 2005 Political Reforms Conference, the 2014 National Conference and reports of previous national conferences in its assignment to determine the party’s position on restructuring.
The Secretary of the Committee, Senator Olubunmi Adetunmbi, unfolded the 12-point agenda at a news conference in Abuja. With him was the Director-General of the Progressives Governors Forum, Salihu Mohammed Lukman.
The public hearing begins on Monday in Benin, Enugu and Ibadan.
It will end with a meeting with civil society organisations and professional groups in Abuja on October 9.
The committee was set up by the party’s National Working Committee to put in proper perspective what the party meant by restructuring as contained in its manifesto.
Sen. Adetunmbi said the committee met four times and identified 12 key issues for discussion during the public hearing.
He said: “Accordingly, and pursuant to its mandate, the Committee met, deliberated and listed out the following issues and called for memoranda from members of the public.
“The 12 issues are:
Creation/merger of states and the framework and guidelines for achieving that
Derivation principle bordering on what percentage of federal collectible revenue should be given back
Devolution of powers on what item on the exclusive legislative list should be transferred to the recurrent list and federating units, especially state and community police, prisons
Federation Units: Should Nigeria be based on regions or zones or 36-state structure
Fiscal federalism and revenue allocation
Form of government( parliamentary or presidential)
Land tenure system
Local government autonomy
Power sharing and rotation
Resource control; and
Type of legislature.
He said: “We are expecting inputs from the public on whether or not should Nigeria create more states; should states be merged? If so, what should be the framework and guidelines. “What percentage of Federal collectable resources should be given back to their sources, e.g. crude oil, solid minerals, Value Added Tax(VAT).”
Adetunmbi said contributions would not be limited to members of the party, but to all Nigerians who have something meaningful to say on the development of the country.
He said: “We must recognise that the work of nation building is an ongoing process in which every stakeholder has a role to play, by making his own contribution. In this case, the APC as a national political party is an institution and a stakeholder that has a role to play in making its own contribution.
“This exercise is its own way of making that contribution. The APC felt that it is not necessary to think alone among ourselves, but to also ask members of the public what they think. That is why everything this Committee is doing is not about its own opinion, but harvesting the opinion of the ordinary people in order to form an opinion. After all, no political party exists just by itself, but by the mandate of people.
“In this regard, we have put up an announcement calling on members of the public to submit memorandum and meet us at designated venues without any discrimination. So, it is an open invitation to all Nigerians to attend and make their views and voices to count.”
On whether the work of the committee will not clash with the public hearing on the same issue being planned by the Northern States Governors Forum, Adetunmbi said “the Northern Governors Forum members are stakeholders in the development of Nigeria and they have every right to consult people on the future of Nigeria”.
“There is no monopoly of ideas. The party felt that in view of the ongoing discussion across the country on the state of federalism, it is good for the party to understand exactly what its role is and what its definition of the issues are and, in doing so, the party felt in its wisdom that public consultation is necessary and that is what we are doing.
“That does not foreclose any other body within the country to do its own work. That is why the Southwest just consulted and put something in the public domain. That is a body of information and knowledge from which ideas can be gathered in the best interest of the country.”
He also dismissed the possibility of the work of the committee clashing with the legislative functions of the National Assembly, which has constitutional mandate on restructuring.
Adetunmbi said: “The issue of conflict with the National Assembly does not arise because this exercise is not trying to make laws but to understand what the popular demand of the people is which the party can use to advocate within its members in the National Assembly for necessary constitutional amendment. Constitutional amendment is not one in a life time opportunity, but once in every four years.
“So, the fact that the National Assembly is going through a process does not foreclose public discussion and debate on what should happen, what needs to change and there is always a time table and an opportunity in future to take such ideas and turn them into necessary laws by the National Assembly.
“If the issue of referendum comes out as responses from our consultations, it will surely be reported. This is a subject which the committee itself has no opinion. We are not canvassing any opinion as a committee.
“We are interested in harvesting opinions in order to inform the party on what the public is saying concerning this issue.”
Asked whether the committee will consider the report of the 2014 National Conference organised by the Dr. Goodluck Jonathan administration which was “rejected” by the APC, Adetunmbi said: “I don’t think there is anything called rejection of that conference (2014 national conference). The report of the conference is in the public domain and it is available as literature for the work we are doing. You also have the 2005 political reforms conference report. We are looking at all of these in order for the APC to understand what exactly its role should be in the way forward.
Director-General of the Progressives Governors Forum, Salihu Mohammed Lukman, said the party needed to add its voice to the ongoing debate to strike a balance for every Nigerian to find his bearing.
He said: “I don’t think it is a matter of monopoly and that is the attitude of APC. Every opinion is welcome. The committee will do its work and what the challenge is now is for all of us to be positive because what we are looking is solution.
“The question about divided opinion is the critical issue. The reality is that we have different understanding and conception about what the issue is. Assuming we are able to strike a balance and get what we call a national consensus, it will be a dynamic issue.
“But within the next one or two years, it will assume different connotation. So, it is something that has life in itself and many of us in the party believe that the issue of restructuring is not a new debate, but a debate that is as old as Nigeria itself. What is important is to find a bearing in which issues that are dear to the mind of Nigerians can be aggregated and some recommendations bothering in governance, legislation can be worked out.
“As a political party, it takes initiatives to direct different representatives to act accordingly. The important thing in the public hearing is the fact that there is nothing that has been foreclosed. We are therefore inviting everybody that his or her opinion will help shape the future of Nigeria with respect to the different issues in the debate to feel free to come forward to contribute to the debate.
“When the party manifesto was being drafted, everything was debated. But we must be honest to acknowledge that in 2015 when the manifesto was being worked out, the context of the debate was not as it is today.
“In 2015, nobody was drawing maps, but today, people are drawing maps. In 2016, there was some level of rationality and so, you can assume some broad recommendations and that was what went into the manifesto of the APC.
“That is why I said it is a dynamic issue because we acknowledge that there are new elements to the debate, new anger have set in and so we are inviting people to the participate in the debate and express their anger. We hope to make sense out of it in such a way that everybody will locate his or her bearing.
“I don’t think President Buhari has foreclosed the issues. If he say that the National Assembly has power to make laws, I think he has even open the debate and so, there is nothing that suggest we cannot discuss the matter anymore.
“We have Representatives and so, if there is a position taken by the party, it can call its members in the National Assembly and direct them to Act accordingly. Constituents can also direct their representatives. So, there is nothing foreclosed. I will take the statement of President to mean an acknowledgement that the issue is open for debate.”