The All Progressives Congress caucus in the Senate has urged the ruling party to present its report on restructuring to the National Assembly for adoption and inclusion in the constitution.
APC had set up a Committee on True Federalism chaired by the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, which had since presented its report to the party.
In an interview with newsmen on Friday, Majority Leader of the Senate, Senator Ahmad Lawan, who is also the leader of APC Caucus, stated that the lawmakers were ready to receive the report and work on it.
Lawan also said the National Assembly might amend the constitution to reflect the recommendations made by the el -Rufai-led panel if they were approved by the lawmakers.
He said, “It depends on what the report says, which I have not seen. But I have read some of the news. I want to congratulate the party on the setting up of the committee in the first place and I want to also congratulate the committee under the leadership of Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State. They have done a very good job, even though I have yet to get the details of what they submitted.
“I want to assure you that if their recommendations require constitutional amendment and legislation, the report must definitely be put forward in form of a bill and presented to the National Assembly for consideration. And where an amendment to the constitution would be done, it would even go beyond the National Assembly, it would be passed to the state Houses of Assembly where they will also have to work on it. That is the position.
“However, if what they have submitted does not require any constitutional amendment or legislation, then there won’t be any need to submit anything to the National Assembly.”
A member of the APC caucus, Senator Abubakar Kyari, also stated the need for the party to pass the baton on restructuring to the parliament. The lawmaker, who also said he had yet to see the report, noted that some of the recommendations might require an amendment to the constitution.
He said, “If it requires constitutional amendment, of course, it should come through the National Assembly – both Houses – and then to the state Houses of Assembly.”
Another APC senator, who spoke on condition of anonymity, however, said the process might be frustrated by the National Assembly, particularly the Senate.
The lawmaker cited the example of a development on October 10, 2017, when el-Rufai led the panel on a visit to the National Assembly but were allegedly prevented from meeting with the Senate leadership.
The APC panel had on the said date met with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, and other leaders of the chamber and el-Rufai stated that no progress on discussing the future of Nigeria could be achieved without going through the National Assembly.
The governor had pointed out that any debate on true federalism or restructuring must be channelled through the legislature.
El-Rufai had also told Dogara that the views collated would ultimately reach the floor of the National Assembly after a report had been submitted to the APC’s leadership.
In recognition of the role of the National Assembly, the committee had requested the inclusion of two members of the House to participate in its proceedings.
Dogara, who yielded to the request, confirmed that the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, and Mr. Oladele Olatubosun had been nominated to serve on the committee.
Speaking to newsmen on Friday, the APC senator said, “I think, most likely, he (el-Rufai) may take it to the Reps but I don’t think the Senate will ever give him the audience. He had visited the National Assembly; he sought an appointment to see the Reps and Dogara gave him the opportunity. But the Senate rejected him. He visited the Reps when the committee was inaugurated and met with the Speaker but was not welcomed when he came to the Senate; his request for an appointment with Saraki was declined.”
When contacted to confirm the alleged rejection of el-Rufai, an official in the Office of the President of the Senate, who spoke on condition of anonymity, denied knowledge of the development.
“I don’t know about it. I am not aware of such,” the official said.
In the House of Representatives, the APC members expressed support for the party’s report on the restructuring of the country.
They said the document was a “laudable initiative” that would be studied for the purpose of implementing it as appropriate.
Leaders of the two leading APC caucuses in the House spoke with newsmen in Abuja.
The Majority Leader of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, who doubles as the leader of the South-West caucus, said lawmakers were ready to act on the report as soon as they studied the details of the recommendations.
The South-West caucus, with about 58 lawmakers, is next in numerical strength to the North-West, which has over 90 members.
Gbajabiamila, who is from Lagos State, said, “We are studying the report and will act on it appropriately.”
The Chief Whip of the House and leader of the North-West caucus, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, expressed the backing of his group.
Ado-Doguwa, who is from Kano State, said, “For me, the APC deserves commendation on this unprecedented initiative.
“A political party, for the first time in our political history, has come up with a position paper, which indeed has provided an informed working document that will enrich and enhance our legislative discourse as a parliament.”