Prince Tony Momoh, a former Minister of Information, said on Monday that the promise by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former vice president and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to restructure the country was a lie that should be disregarded by Nigerians.
Atiku has, on several occasions, said if elected president, his immediate priority would be to restructure the country and make the centre less attractive while devolving power to the regions.
However, speaking in a chat with Daily Independent, Momoh, one of the national leaders of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), said, given the rigorous processes involved in the restructuring of the country, only an ignorant fellow would promise to carry it out in six months.
According to him, even the military that operates by decrees cannot restructure the country within that period of time.
He said: “Anybody talking of restructuring Nigeria is just playing politics. I have addressed the issue of restructuring in my little book titled, ‘To Save Nigeria, Let Us Talk’, since 2002. Restructuring is part of the reason why we went to Aburi before the civil war.
“The South-South are asking for restructuring. Resource control is an area for the call for restructuring. The Yoruba agenda which was taken to the Constitutional Conference of 2005 under President Olusegun Obasanjo is part of restructuring.
“There is no part of Nigeria that is not talking of restructuring, but there is no part of Nigeria where there is agreement on the definition of restructuring.
“So, if someone wants to do any restructuring with what we have now, in 774 local government areas, 36 states of the federation, and one federal government, it involves the review of the constitution by the National Assembly. So, how can someone achieve that within six months?
“Anyone promising restructuring within six months is a blatant liar from the pit of hell. There is no way anyone can restructure Nigeria within six months. Such a person is just politicking. Even if it is a military government, they can’t do it in six months.
“As a democrat, he will have to consult every part of the country, align all the different opinions, he will have to make all the consultations, he will have to package what he wants for the country which the people will accept and send to the National Assembly.
“The National Assembly will have to look at it and then take a decision before you have the necessary constitutional provision. Anybody who says he will do it in six months is either playing politics or just ignorant.”
Responding to Momoh, Atiku, in a statement by Segun Sowunmi, the Spokesperson for the Atiku Campaign Organisation, said Atiku never promised to carry out a total restructuring of the country within six months as claimed by the ex-minister.
He also berated the APC, saying despite having restructuring in its manifesto, the party since coming to office had not done anything in that regard, while also failing to implement the recommendations of the 2014 national conference which addressed the issue of restructuring in a great deal.
“We respectfully disagree with Tony Momoh. No one is imagining that every aspect of restructuring and all issues in restructuring will be completed in six months.
“But Atiku Abubakar holds a very frank view that if restructuring is a serious agenda on the table of any serious-minded leader, within six months significant steps and progress would have been made in the light of getting Nigeria to be restructured.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the easiest part of those things which probably can go via an Executive Order, the one that does not really require legislature, a good number of them can happen within six months.
“For the ones that require legislation, a good number of them or the things there that has become must-do for all Nigerians, where there is communality of all Nigerians such as creating a framework for policing the country in such a way that states that wish to start their state police can key into the architectural framework that allows us to know how state policing work with federal police without any conflict as obtained in other parts of the world is also easily achievable.
“The fundamental principle of devolving power to the states, which is the main expectation of a restructured Nigeria, can begin to take root from the actions and activities of any serious-minded president who is leading a serious and progressive government.
“Therefore, if Tony Momoh, being alive and knowing full well that Buhari and his APC campaigned rigorously and promised to restructure the country during the build-up to the 2015 elections and having seen that they won that election and they suddenly became a people who didn’t even understand what they signed on to and promised to do and left the whole topic of restructuring completely off the radar. They rather acted in such way that is contrary to what they promised to do.
“That one government has failed due to inefficiency does not mean that all persons are going to fail. That one government has displayed hypocrisy with the issue of restructuring, does not mean that another government cannot come and give it priority,” he said.