By Lawrence Olaoye
Chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and former governor of Ogun state, Aremo Segun Osoba, has said that only the National Assembly has the constitutional power to restructure the country.
Osoba made this declaration yesterday after he autographed a copy of his recently lunched autobiography, ‘Battleline: Adventures in journalism and politics’ and presented same to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa yesterday.
The former governor said he equally reported the political situation of his state to the President, paying that the new governor of the state, Dapo Abiodun, has started governance on a very good note.
According to him, the President had given an instruction that the Centra Bank of Nigeria (CBN) should give Ogun State maximum support in agriculture.
Asked whether he advised the President on the vexed issues of restructuring and devolution of powers, Osoba said “I have said it, I am one of the founders of APC. I would not discuss in details because I have access, I am part of the presidency because the president is our president. But I can tell you, all this noise about restructuring, we APC put devolution of power, true federalism in our manifesto and we’ve moved far from there to where a committee was set up headed by the governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai.
“That committee has submitted its report; that report has been presented to us in the caucus and the President was there, the president endorsed the outcome. I want Nigerians to please, give us time. I hope and pray that at the right time, the government or the party would send that report to National Assembly for debate.
“I would say with all authority that restructuring lies with National Assembly. The President is not a military president; he cannot change anything by decree. Sovereignty in Nigeria now is vested in the National Assembly. Those agitating for sovereign national conference must go through the National Assembly and unless the National Assembly surrenders part of its powers by an Act, there can never be sovereign national conference.
Secondly, agitation for referendum. There must be an act of the National Assemby to create that referendum. It’s not the president that would by fiat or by executive order order for referendum. It must go through the National Assembly and that is why I plead with our elders: Pa Edwin Clark, Pa Adebanjo, Professor Banji Akintoyin, all across Nigeria, they met the 8th senate and they heard what that National Assembly has done in terms of the review of the constitution.
They should come back and tell us. We can not move forward until we recognize the importance and the powers vested in the National Assembly. And for restructuring, let us go through the legal route.”
Asked to clarify whether those NADECO chieftains who agree to serve late Sanni Abacha’s military administration got the nod of the acclaimed winner of the June 12 Oresidentia election, Late M.K.O. Abiola, Osoba said the late politician actually gave his nod.
He said “there have been a lot of blackmail and denigration of people. For example, people like Jakande, Onagoruwa, late Alex Ibru, they said that they went and colloborated with Abacha which is not true. Solomon Lar, Abububakar Rimi and all others were all in a meeting in MKO Bashorun Abiola’s house on a Sunday after Abacha seized power on November 17, 1993 and kicked us out.
“The following Sunday we met in Bashorun MKO Abiola’s house and we debated with chieftains of SDP and we that produced him as president and made June 12 possible and there we agreed that those that may be invited to come and serve the country, they should serve but remain loyal to the mandate and use their influence to perhaps persuade the military to return the mandate to Abiola. Iyorchia Ayu was one of them, he was former Senate President. I can call many of them who were at the meeting in which MKO Abiola presided.
So I have to clear this doubt that Abiola had knowledge and gave approval to serve in Abacha’s government.”