Former governor of Ogun State, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, has urged the leadership of the All Progressives Congress to send the report of the Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s committee on restructuring to the National Assembly for implementation.
Osoba argued that this was the way to achieve the restructuring of the country rather than mounting pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to him, under a democratic dispensation, the task of restructuring the country is beyond the President.
Osoba made the recommendation on Monday in Lagos during the public presentation of his memoirs, “Battlelines: Adventures in Journalism and Politics.”
The event, which was chaired by a former military Head of State, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar, was graced by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo; the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; a former Interim National Chairman of the APC, Chief Bisi Akande; a former APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun; Senate President Ahmed Lawal; and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Idris Wase.
It also attracted the governors of Lagos, Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun, Bayelsa and Kano states – Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Rotimi Akeredolu, Kayode Fayemi, Dapo Abiodun, Seriake Dickson and Abdullahi Ganduje, respectively.
Also present were former governors of Ogun, Cross River, Rivers, Ekiti, Akwa Ibom and Oyo states – Gbenga Daniel, Donald Duke, Rotimi Amaechi, Niyi Adebayo, Victor Attah and Abiola Ajimobi, respectively.
The event was also attended by the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu; industrialist Razaq Okoya, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), Pastor Tunde Bakare; Prof. Bolaji Akinyemi, and Oba Otudeko.
Speaking after the unveiling of the book, Osoba said the need to restructure the country could not be overemphasised and pleaded with the leadership of the APC to be committed to the cause.
He said, “I said this to our fathers, it is better we rearrange our system. We, the APC, set up a committee, the El-Rufai committee; a report was presented to the President (Muhammadu Buhari). Please, all we need to do is to send that report to the National Assembly for completion.
“If anybody thinks that Buhari can change anything by decree, he cannot. So, I plead with our fathers, let us start with the National Assembly; get restructuring to start from the National Assembly.”
In their respective remarks, Abdusalami, Tinubu and Osinbajo described Osoba as a detribalised Nigerian, who built bridges across various ethnic divides in the country.
This attribute, they said, was important to Nigeria’s quest for development.
Osinbajo lamented that developmental efforts by the government over the years had been frustrated due to ethnic prejudices, religious bigotry and suspicions among the various ethnic groups in the country.
He said it was sad that ethnicity and religious prejudices had prevented Nigerians from uniting to confront their common enemy, which the VP said was poverty and its manifestations.
He noted that the 1966 coup, the 1967 counter-coup and the civil war were rooted in ethnic prejudices.
Osinbajo said ethnicity also played a role in why the late MKO Abiola could not reclaim his mandate.
The Vice-President said, “The religious or ethnic card is pulled out regularly to win the argument or to win the votes. The problem is that the resort to our fault lines is responsible for the failure of the vision and genuine programmes to address the real concern of the millions of our country men and women; it also inevitably breaks the ranks and prevents the pursuit of our real enemies: poverty and its causes and manifestations – poor education.”
Osinbajo said it would take unity to overcome the many challenges confronting the nation.
“Every evil that confronts our nation and our people can be defeated by the power of unity, the recognition that we are stronger together than apart. Chief Osoba’s life and times, as contained in this book, speaks most eloquently to the power of building bridges, finding common ground, resisting illicit narratives, especially in a country as diverse as Nigeria, a country where it is extremely easy to find reasons to languish in stereotypes and suspicions, where far too many of us, by default, lapse into our ethnic camp,” he said.
Abubakar, in his remarks, said a great Nigeria was a possibility if only there was unity.
He said despite ethnic and professional differences, Osoba and himself were united by their love for Nigeria.
Buttressing Osinbajo, Tinubu said Nigeria’s diversity ought to be a source of strength.
He said, “Our trouble is instead of using our diversity for prosperity, we continue to use it for divisions, either religion or tribe. It’s a lesson that we are to take away from here today. Let’s stop it. The broom is very strong when it is together.”