The restructuring committee set up by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to come up with the position of the party has said that agitations for referendum by a section of the country will not be foreclosed.
It also said that the 2014 National Conference organised by the former President Goodluck Jonathan will be consulted as part of it activities.
Addressing a news conference Thursday in Abuja, the committee’s secretary Sen. Olubunmi Adetunbi, identified twelve areas of his panel’s work to include: Creation or merger of States, Derivation Principle, Devolution of Power, the Federating Unit of Nigeria, Fiscal Policy, Form of government, Independent Candidacy, Land Tenure System, Local Government Autonomy, Power Sharing or Rotation system, Resource Control and type of Legislature the country need.
When asked whether the committee terms of reference will not clash with the ongoing constitutional amendment process by the National Assembly, Adetumbi said: “conflict with the legislature won’t arise, because this exercise is not trying to make law but to understand what is the popular demand of the people that the party can use to advocate within its membership in the National Assembly for necessary constitutional amendments.
“Don’t forget, constitutional amendments is not a one in a lifetime opportunity. It is for every four years. So the fact that the National Assembly is already working on the process doesn’t foreclose public discussion and debate on what should happen and what needs to change, because it is an opportunity in future to take that idea and turn it into a law.”
While responding to question on whether the party is foreclosing the issue of referendum as part of public hearing on restructuring, Adetumbi said: “Well, if this comes out as part of the responses from our public consultations, it will surely be reported. You know I said at the beginning, that this is a subject on which the committee itself has no opinion, we are not canvassing anything as a committee, we are interested in harvesting opinions in all areas to inform the of what the ordinary people are saying concerning this issue.”
On the 2014 national conference which APC refused to participate, the committee’s secretary said: “I don’t think there is anything called rejection, the report of the conference is in the public domain and it is available as literature for the work we are doing, not just that, we have 2005 conference report. So we are looking at all of these in order for the APC to understand what exactly its role should be.
“There is nothing foreclosed, l think l will take the statement of President Buhari as an acknowledgement that the issue is opened for debate. As interface between various segments of the society, we cannot under any circumstance foreclose dialogue, public consultations to understand issues as a bases of intervention and that is exactly what the party is doing.
“Whether we ought to have done it earlier than now or not is opened for debate. But the principles of asking the public what do you think, what is your view? is not something we should shout down in any democracy and coming from a political party, it is something that we should encourage and promote.”