The ruling All Progressives Congress has described the opposition Peoples Democratic Party’s definition and understanding of the restructuring of Nigeria as shallow and far from what Nigerians are asking for.
The two main parties had since the end of last week been engaged in a debate on an issue that has recently become the centre of national political discourse in Nigeria.
The APC had fired the first salvo when it criticised the opposition party as a latter-day convert on the issue, with the criticism drawing a sharp response on Sunday from the PDP spokesperson, Dayo Adeyeye, who defined and insisted that his party had always supported and planned for restructuring.
But in its latest statement on Monday through its spokesperson, Bolaji Abdullahi, the APC insisted that the opposition party was merely being opportunistic and is attracted to the subject because it has become the “new political currency in Nigeria”.
He said the APC not only had provisions for the issue in the manifesto it presented ahead of the last general election, it has also “dusted up” the report of the 2014 National Constitutional Conference in its current effort to formulate a framework for implementation of the subject.
“The PDP’s definition and understanding of restructuring, from what they said in their statement, is shallow and that they do not know the kind of restructuring Nigerians are asking for,” Mr. Abdullahi continued.
“This should ordinarily be a welcome development, given that it provides opportunity for bi-partisan cooperation on this very important national issue.
“However, of concern to us is PDP’s rather shallow interpretation of restructuring as desired by Nigerians.
“In his release, Mr. Adeyeye quoted several aspects of his party’s constitution which he claimed serve as evidence that PDP believes in restructuring.
“A cursory review of the referenced parts of the constitution would, however, suggest either the PDP is deliberately out to mislead or it just does not have an appropriate understanding of the restructuring that Nigerians clamour for.
“For instance, Preamble 2(b) of the PDP constitution quoted by Adeyeye states: ‘To work together under the umbrella of the party for the speedy restoration of democracy, the achievement of national reconciliation, economic and social reconstruction and respect for human rights and the rule of law’.
“If statements such as the above are what the PDP intends to pass off as restructuring, this should further confirm that the party is still not in tune with the aspirations and dreams of the Nigerian people.
“It is indeed amusing that after being in power for 16 years, PDP is just waking up to realise that its constitution prescribed restructuring.
“If this is not political opportunism, we wonder what is. We understand that PDP needs desperately to return to reckoning; and realising that restructuring is the new political currency in Nigeria, it is now latching on and even claiming to be an apostle!
“As the ruling party between 1999 and 2015, PDP organised two national conferences, in 2005 and in 2014. They had nine years between the first conference and the second one and one full year between the time the report of the 2014 conference was submitted and the time it lost power in 2015.
“Perhaps, if PDP show which aspects of the two reports it had implemented in the time it had, then perhaps Nigerians might begin to take them seriously on the issue of restructuring.”
Mr. Abdullahi said if the PDP now believes in restructuring, then they are welcome as latter day converts; stressing, however, that the appropriate behaviour would be for the PDP to respect the efforts the APC is currently making to deliver on its manifesto on restructuring.
“It must interest the PDP that we have dusted up the reports of their national conferences from the shelves they had left them to gather dust and those reports are now forming part of the work we are doing with our committee, which they have tried hard to denigrate.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the APC believes in the restructuring of the country, it is at the very heart of our party’s manifesto.
“As explicitly stated in Section 3 (1) thus: ‘We will devolve more revenue and powers, such as policing to States and Local Government so that decision making is closer to the people. We pledge to bring the government closer to the people through fiscal and political decentralization, including local policing’.’’
The ruling party said it welcomes PDP and all the parties in opposition to work with it as it strives to meet the aspirations of Nigerians on “this very fundamental issue of our national existence.”