Leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Southwest yesterday dissociated themselves from the agitation for restructuring. They voted for devolution of power.
The decision was taken at a meeting at the Oyo State Governor’s Office in Ibadan.
Governors Akinwunmi Ambode(Lagos), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and host Abiola Ajimobi attended the meeting.
Also there were Southwest leaders in the National Assembly – House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Lasun Yussuff, Leader Femi Gbajabiamila and Senate Whip Sola Adeyeye.
Ministers Adebayo Shittu (Communication); Kayode Fayemi (Mines and Steel Development); National Vice Chairman (Southwest) Chief Pius Akinyelure; former governors Aremo Segun Osoba, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala, Otunba Niyi Adebayo and Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola as well as former APC Interim National Chairman Chief Bisi Akande were there.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Minister of Finance Mrs Kemi Adeosun and Works, Power and Housing Minister Babatunde Fashola were absent. They sent apologies.
Akande told reporters after the meeting that the Southwest APC never agitated for restructuring but devolution of power.
He urged reporters to direct questions on restructuring to its advocates who he described as the “other people”.
Responding to a reporter’s request for proper definition of the concept of restructuring, Akande said: “Restructuring is not our language. Go and ask those who are advocating restructuring to define it. What we stand for is devolution of functions from the centre to the states and the local governments. Restructuring is the language of the other people. Go and ask them what they mean by restructuring. That is not in the APC manifesto or constitution.”
Akande, a former Osun State governor, said yesterday’s meeting was a follow-up to the one held in January. He said the meeting reviewed activities of the governors and other elected officials in Southwest since then. The meeting expressed satisfaction with their performance. “We are on course,” Akande said.
Expatiating on their position on power devolution, Akande said: :”The decision of this meeting is to advise the country to allow states that have land to do agriculture; to allow every state that rear children to do education; to allow states that are nearer to the people to do one of the jobs. It is one of the things we considered in this meeting and it is part of the advice we are going to give the Federal Government.”
He added: “Today’s meeting is a follow-up to our meeting in January and to see if the efforts of our leaders are fruitful. And we are happy that we have had a successful meeting. We are on course as we decided last January. We are happy that our governors and ministers are performing satisfactorily. ”
On Ekiti and Osun elections next year, Akande said the meeting reviewed the APC’s position and decided to work hard to ensure victory.
“We tried to review our positions and we are poised to see as a party what we will be able to do to have Ekiti back to APC.”
When asked if the Southwest APC would support President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019, Akande said:
“Buhari has not told us he will contest in 2019. Anybody in the party is free to become the president of Nigeria. As soon as they indicate interest, we will set a process through which a candidate will be selected. If he is lucky to win the ticket, then the party will present him as our candidate.”
Ajimobi, said states and leaders in the Southwest were determined to work together to restore the glory of the region and return its vibrancy.
“Our meeting today presents a veritable ground for us to reconnect with our political root and keep re-engaging ourselves as people whom nature has entrusted with the political leadership of the region at this material time. Similarly,it is a reconnect to the ideals that are germane to the progress of our people and, by extension, to the growth and development of Nigeria.
“If the truth must be told, we in the Southwest today need to rediscover ourselves and the common bond that ties us together as a people, and let it work for the development of our people in the region. We must be ready and prepared to sacrifice our self interest and ambitions for the common goals and speak with one voice at all times as we confront the developmental challenges facing the Southwest region and our people. It will definitely not be in our overall best interest to work at cross purposes.
“Today, we must reaffirm that the greatness of our region in the past was not just because of our education or infrastructure alone, but primarily because we were known as selfless, forthright, accommodating and, above all, equitable and fair people. If, in the past years, politics had been allowed to take that away from us, we must commit ourselves to bringing back those values and resolve that never again are we going to allow mundane things to rob us of the progressive character and vibrancy for which we were renowned. It should never be about ‘me’ but always about ‘us’ a people.
“Besides, we should realise that we owe a lot to the President and Commander-in-Chief, Muhammadu Buhari, whose major preoccupation, since assumption of power has been how to meet the basic needs of the ordinary citizen and make life comfortable for him.”