By Umar Muhammad Puma
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), John Odigie-Oyegun, disclosed on Tuesday that devolution of powers and resources in the federation was one of the critical issues canvassed by the various political parties that formed the APC in 2013.
Odigie-oyegun said this when he received a delegation of the Nigerian Christian Elders Forum (NCEF) at the APC National Secretariat on Tuesday.
“It is strange that people ever think or dream that the APC is in anyway against some degree of reordering of our federation. Take our constitution, it is replete with references to devolution of powers, resources and the rest of it. As a matter of fact, it was a basic issue at the coming together of the APC, that we must take a fresh look at the distribution of powers and the workings of our federal system.
“Today, we have brought some direction to the debate rather than everybody trumpeting restructuring without exactly getting down defining what restructuring really means. We are now engaged in that exercise and I think things are beginning to be clearer as to what different groups want. At the end of the day, what will happen is what will make our federation stronger and what most of the people of this country are ready to accept and work with”, the APC National Chairman said.
Also speaking at the meeting, Chairman of the Nigerian Christian Elders Forum (NCEF), Mr. Solomon Asemota (SAN) said the organisation has visited other political parties in the country advocating for the establishment of a truth and reconciliation committee similar to South Africa’s after the abolishment of Apartheid.
Asemota said the organisation believed there is an urgent need to redirect the ongoing socio-political discourse in the country from ethnicity and religion to nationalism. He hailed the APC’s effort to give direction to the restructuring debate in the country.
“We are made up of elders from the five Christian blocs. Most of us have had some experience in our lives. Some of say we had the best of Nigeria. And we think as a country, we could do better. We decided that the political parties are most suited for it because their members are in the National Assembly and will be in good position to push things through.
“So we have come with two documents. First is the question of the need for politics of nationalism. If you look at the history of our country, it started that way. Then when it was decided that we were asking for independence, it became politics of ethnicity and religion. What we are calling for is that we want politics of nationalism. Fortunately, things are gathering momentum and we hear that the question of restructuring is being taken seriously by the APC.
“We have another which is the question of a reconciliation commission. We have written down our position so that there is no misunderstanding. We believe that the situation in our country is just a little shade different from what obtained in South Africa. In our own case, it is a conflict based on tribe and religion. And we believe that if we don’t have a truth and reconciliation commission, and everything is swept underneath the carpet, when we are doing our restructuring, we will not solve the problem… We are concerned. It is a serious matter it is not a matter to be waved aside.” Chairman of the Nigerian Christian Elders Forum stated.
Other members of the Nigerian Christian Elders Forum present at the meeting were Pastor Bosun Emmanuel (Secretary); Gen. (rtd,) Joshua Dogonyaro; Rev. Dr. Musa Asake; Elder Mathew Owojaiye; Elder Shyngle Wigwe; Dr. Ayo Abifarin; Eder Michael Orobafor; Dr. Saleh Hussaini and Elder Moses Ihonde.