All Progressives Congress (APC) leaders in the Southwest have dissociated themselves from agitation for restructuring, saying they stand for devolution of power. The party said restructuring was not in its manifesto.
They made the assertion on Thursday at the end of a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Governor’s Office, Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
In attendance were host governor, Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo state and the governors of Lagos, Osun, Ogun. Southwest leaders in the National Assembly – Sen. Sola Adeyeye, Hon. Lasun Sanusi and Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila were also in attendance.
Also in attendance were the Minister of Communication, Adebayo Shittu; his Solid Minerals counterpart, Kayode Fayemi; former Interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande; National Vice Chairman (Southwest), Chief Pius Akinyelure; former governors of Ogun, Oyo, Ekiti and Osun states, chiefs Segun Osoba, Adebayo Alao-Akala, Niyi Adebayo and Prince Olagunaoye Oyinlola respectively.
Former Lagos governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, ministers of Finance Mrs Kemi Adeosun and her Works, Power and Housing counterpart, Raji Fashola (SAN) sent in their apologies as they were absent.
The former Interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande, who addressed reporters after the three-hour meeting, explained that the Southwest APC never agitated for restructuring but devolution of power.
Asked by a reporter to give the party’s definition of restruction, 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 other people. Go and ask them what they mean by restructuring. That is not in the APC manifesto or constitution.”
According to Akande, Thursday’s meeting that was a follow-up to the one held in January.
“Today’s meeting is a follow-up to our meeting in January and to see if the efforts of our leaders are fruitful”, he said. “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, Akande said the meeting reviewed the APC position and decided to work hard to ensure it wins the coming election in Ekiti State.
On whether Southwest APC will support President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 election, Akande retorted: “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 or she is lucky to win the ticket, then the party will present him as our candidate.”
In his welcome address, Governor Abiola Ajimobi said: “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…
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, 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 interests and ambitions for the common goals and speak with one voice at all times as we confront the developmental challenges facing the South-West 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 realize 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…”