Governors and leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in South West states on Thursday said they were keener on the need for devolution of functions away from the centre to states and local governments than on calls for restructuring.
Former Interim Chairman, APC, Chief Bisi Akande who stated the group’s position at the South West APC meeting held in Ibadan, on Thursday, said restructuring was not in the manifesto or constitution of the party.
On the position of the party in the 2019 election, Akande said every member of the party was eligible to be the party’s flagbearer for the presidential election, pointing out that President Muhammadu Buhari was yet to inform the party of his intention to vie for re-election.
According to him, those advocates of restructuring were best poised to define whether they demanded restructuring of people or of politics.
“This is a meeting of the party leadership, outside and inside the government, not the party in politics. We are concerned about the services of our government to the people rather than electoral matters.”
“Restructuring is not our language. Go and ask those who are advocating for restructuring to define it. What we want is devolution of functions from the centre to the peripheral government, which are states and local governments. Restructuring is the language of other group of people. Ask them whether they mean restructuring of the people or of politics. Restructuring is not in the APC manifesto or constitution,” Akande said.
The meeting had in attendance National Vice Chairman (South West) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Pius Akinyelure, all governors of the South West on the platform of the APC, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo); Governor Rauf Aregbesola (Osun); Governor Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo); Governor Ibikunle Amosun (Osun); Governor Akinwunmi Ambode(Lagos).
Akande who expressed the party’s satisfaction at the performance of its governors and ministers, added that the party was determined to win the forthcoming election in Osun and Ekiti.
“We are poised to see, as a party, what we will be able to do, to have Ekiti back into APC.”
“The President has not told us that he wants to contest in 2019. Anybody in our 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 emerge. If he (Buhari) has the ticket, then we will have no other thing to do than to present him as our candidate,” he said.
On other discussions at the meeting he said, “The decision of this meeting is how to advice the country to allow the states that have land to do agriculture, to allow the states that rear children to do education and to allow the states that are nearer to the people to do more of the job.”
Others in attendance at the meeting were, former Governor of Oyo State, Chief Adebayo Alao Akala; former Governor of Ogun state, Chief Olusegun Osoba; Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi; former Governor of Osun state, Chief Olagunsoye Oyinlola; former Ekiti State Governor, Chief Niyi Adebayo.
The meeting also had in attendance, Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Professor Claudius Daramola; Senator Olusola Adeyeye representing Osun Central; Minister of Communications, Barrister Adebayo Shittu; deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Honourable Lasun Yusuf; and, Majority Leader, House of Representatives, Honourable Femi Gbajabiamila.
Akande Speaking further, Akande explained that National Leader of the party, Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu was absent due to a slight illness he developed this morning.
Akande stated that Tinubu had put in place all travel arrangements to be at the Ibadan meeting before the development came up.
“Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu arrived yesterday morning from the UK to attend this meeting and put a helicopter on line to arrive in Ibadan this afternoon, but took a bit ill,” Akande said.
Media Aide to Tinubu, Tunde Rahman corroborated this development stating that Tinubu did not want to risk travelling with stomach upset hence his decision to stay at his Lagos home.
Rahman assured that Tinubu was in support of the meeting and would attend subsequent meetings.
“He didn’t want to risk travelling with stomach upset. He doesn’t have any problem attending the meeting. He would have been here. There will be other meetings which he will surely attend,” Rahman said.
Akande also explained that Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun; Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole and Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola excused themselves from the meeting due to a national assignment.
In his opening remarks, host governor, Abiola Ajimobi said the party leaders resolute to be united in purpose in ensuring the greatness of the region in education, infrastructure, good values and diversification to agriculture.
He expressed concern that the South West had the lowest number of registered voters, which he said could limit the chances of the APC in forthcoming elections.
“On the economy, particularly in the area of diversification to agriculture, we must take advantage of our vast arable land, logistical position, housing and commercial nerve centre and as a gateway to the north and other parts of Nigeria.”
“We also house the highest number of agricultural institutes in Nigeria and to this end, agriculture must be our focus and we must become the food basket of Nigeria. Particularly, we have the Ikere Gorge Dam which is the fourth largest earth dam in Nigeria, with over 50 kilometres length and giving the multidimensional benefits of electricity generation, irrigation and water supply, domestic and industrial.”
“On infrastructure, we must ensure the speedy completion of the ongoing expansion of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, the Lagos-Kaduna-Kano-Ibadan railway project and other infrastructural development projects. Our representatives at the National Assembly must be ready to support the region if and when it decides to show interest in who runs the planned concession of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport.”
“I must draw our attention to a recent report that the South West region recorded the lowest rate of prospective voters in the voters registration exercise. This does not augur well for us as it may affect our winning chances. We must therefore do everything within our means to ensure that our young ones are mobilized to be registered. It is in our enlightened interest to do so” Ajimobi said.