President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Tuesday came under attack over their separate remarks on the growing calls for the restructuring of the country.
Groups that faulted latest comments credited to Buhari and Osinbajo on the calls include the opposition Peoples Democratic Party; a Yoruba organisation, Afenifere; the Ohanaeze Ndigbo; the Yoruba Council of Elders; and the Transparency International.
Buhari had during an interactive session with Nigerians living in France on Monday taken a swipe at advocates of restructuring, saying they were lazy and let loose.
The President had claimed that those calling for restructuring had been doing so without defining what the restructuring should be.
Osinbajo had also while delivering a lecture to mark the 40th anniversary of a Lagos social club, Association of Friends, in Lagos claimed that the idea of geographical restructuring which is the common notion about restructuring “is not achievable.”
Buhari had said, “There are too many people talking lazily about restructuring in Nigeria. Unfortunately, people are not asking them individually what do they mean by restructuring? What form do they want restructuring to take?
“Do they want us to have something like the three regions we used to have? And now we have 36 states and the FCT. What form do they want? They are just talking loosely about restructuring.
“Let them define it and then we see how we can peacefully do it in the interest of Nigerians.
“They are just saying they want Nigeria restructured and they don’t have the clue of what the form the restructuring should be.
“So, anybody who talks to you about restructuring in Nigeria, ask him what he means and the form he wants it to take.”
But the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, told one of our correspondents that the latest statements credited to Buhari and Osinbajo further confirmed the present administration as a government of deceit and disagreement.
The party chairman said, “Recall that the ruling party itself set up a committee on restructuring. What came out of the committee after the governors and other members of the committee went round the country, collating views of innocent Nigerians who never knew they were being deceived by this deceitful government? Nothing!
“Now, the Vice-President is saying he is in support of state police which his boss has rejected. You can see that the Vice-President is on his own. The disunity in this government reminds us the seed of discord the government has planted in Nigerians.
“But in the real sense of it, does he (Vice-President) support state police? Can he be taken seriously? Let Nigerians decide.”
Also, the Afenifere’s spokesman, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, in an interview with one of our correspondents also said the statements credited to Buhari and Osinbajo meant they were either slow at learning or they were being mischievous.
He said advocates of restructuring had over the years made the issues very clear on what the call was all about.
He added that the development had made it important that future Nigeria’s Presidents and Vice-Presidents should study hard so that they could understand issues around them.
Odumakin said, “…It is strange that these people have been here all these years and they are saying those who are talking about restructuring did not define it or that they are talking loosely.
“It is either these people are slow at learning or they cannot understand issues around them. We have made the issues very clear on what the call for restructuring is about.
“We have said Nigeria was a federal state at independence but the military came and distorted it and that we should go back to federalism; that we cannot have a country like Nigeria and maintain one single police and we will say we have security; that there should be state police.
“We have spelt out all we meant by restructuring over the years. So for the President and Vice-President to say they do not understand what we are talking about is either they are slow at learning or they are being mischievous.”
In the same vein, the spokesman for the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Uche Achi-Okpaga, in an interview said Buhari’s statement was meant to divert attention.
Achi-Okpaga expressed surprise that while Buhari and other APC stalwarts were talking about restructuring ahead of the 2015 presidential election, the President became “completely ignorant and bereft of the tenets of restructuring” shortly after he was inaugurated as President.
He said, “During the electoral campaigns of 2015, restructuring was glued to the lips of the President and other APC stalwarts and foot soldiers. However, no sooner was he sworn in than he became completely ignorant and bereft of the tenets of restructuring.
“In the heat of the impasse, the APC, as a party, set up a committee on restructuring headed by Governor el-Rufai of Kaduna State. The committee ticked good on restructuring and sent her report to the presidency.
“Instead of dealing with the document the President sent the report to the dustbin as it never saw the light of the day and turned around to state that those clamouring for restructuring, including his party that so recommended, are parochial.”
Also, the Secretary-General of the Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr Kunle Olajide, in an interview with one of our correspondents said it was worrisome that the two key leaders of the ruling APC could claim ignorance of what restructuring was about after their party had earlier set up a committee on the matter.
He wondered if the country was dealing with a case of memory loss.
Olajide insisted that the positions of advocates of restructuring were clear and unambiguous.
He said, “I was surprised after reading the responses of the two leading figures in the APC and present administration on restructuring agitators. It is worrisome that an APC figure could come out to claim ignorance of what restructuring is all about. Are we dealing with a case of amnesia here?
He said, “I appeal to them to take a second look at the el-Rufai committee report on restructuring. It is their party that set it up and they should come up with how it will be implemented instead of talking about what restructuring means. Our position is clear and unambiguous on it.”
Meanwhile, the Transparency International on Tuesday said Nigeria was not ripe for state police.
The TI Head in Nigeria, Mr. Musa Rafsanjani, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents.
He said, “Even if Nigeria will have a state police, it is not yet time to hand over the entire security of states to the hands of these governors, some of whom cannot even pay workers’ salaries.
“The implication of having state police is that the entire security now rests on the states. We think that issue of security is so serious that we cannot give it to states which do not have infrastructure yet even in the areas of health and education.
“At the federal level, you still find overzealous policemen and police officers acting on the instructions of certain political office holders. When this impunity now flows down, what are we going to have? Most of the state Houses of Assembly have been undermined by the governors and the houses are not able to perform their constitutional responsibilities.
“We think that as good as the proposal of state police is, we cannot at this time hand over the security of the country to governors who have proved to be incompetent and nonchalant about the wellbeing of people and workers in their states.”