Only the National Assembly has the power to restructure the country, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara said Tuesday.
According to Dogara the Legislature is the only institution mandated to enact laws for the country and the President as the head of the Executive is to implement the laws made by the National Assembly.
Dogara who spoke during a courtesy call by the Nasir El-Rufai led All Progressives Congress, APC Committee on True Federalism said that in spite of the powers of the President,
This was as El- Rufai disclosed that his committee’s report would be submitted to the party by the end of October.
El- Rufai told the House Leadership that their visit is to brief the House on the details of their assignment.
The Speaker said in line with the powers conferred on it by the constitution, the House has gone ahead to constitute a Committee to address the issue of political agitations in the country.
The committee, he said, is non- partisan and necessary to douse tension in the country and in line with the statements of the President that only the National Assembly has a solution to the agitations of the people across the country.
His words: “When the President talked about the National Assembly being the proper forum for this discussion, so many people objected to that. Even some senior advocates who think that the President could just sit and restructure the country. But I know the President uses green pen not a red pen that I use. I don’t know whether by any stroke of imagination or margin a green pen can actually restructure Nigeria.
“If that is the case it is a very simple thing that can be done, but unfortunately, most of the things that we talked about, most of the issues that are being raised are there in the foundational document of this country, the grand norm which is the Constitution.
“And even going by elementary description of the departments of governments, the Executive cannot make laws, they cannot tinker with the provision of the Constitution. It is the National Assembly that must do that.
“I guess even if the President has powers, his powers would just amount to recommendations in the form of an executive bill which he can send to the National Assembly for constitutional alteration or amendment in other to address the fundamental basis of some of these agitations.
” I concur with him totally that this is the right forum where the outcomes of those debates would be channeled for processing and for action. I know that we won’t let this country down when it comes to performing our responsibilities because this is the institution that represents the people.”
The Chairman of APC Committee, El-Rufai in his remarks noted that restructuring was part of the APC manifesto adding that there were unbalances in the federation structurally and politically.
While agreeing that the House did the right thing by nominating members into the committee on political agitations, he said the Senate is expected to do same and that the Senate President had been written by his committee in that regard.
Submissions, he said, had already been made to the State Houses of Assembly and that other steps had been taken in a bid to achieve success in the committee’s assignment.
His words: “We are here as the APC committee on federalism to pay you a courtesy call and give you a brief background on the assignment the party has entrusted on us.
“The APC in its manifesto made very firm commitment towards devolution of power true federalism which is variously referred to restructuring as so on. However, because of other challenges, the administration had to deal with on assumption of office, the expeditious implementation of some of these commitments has not occurred.
“I am proud to say that the National Assembly led by APC went ahead with the constitutional amendment to make our federation be better balanced. We all recognized there is some imbalance in our federation. This is why our party is committed to do something about it. However, it is better late than never.
“We have already taken steps which are now before the State Houses of Assembly. We believe in the history of Nigeria, there has never been a comprehensive discussion on what is before us: federalism, restructuring and so on. We also believe even the debate and discussions in previous national conference has excluded key stakeholders particularly our young people that account for 80% of our population.
“We believe ultimately that as a democratic government, the voice of the people is the voice of God and we must listen to them. We must not presume just because we are elected, just because we are leaders that we know what the country needs.
“As articulated by our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari whatever discussion we have about federalism, restructuring will have no value unless the national assembly enacts whatever the people of Nigeria say they want. So, this hallowed chambers give all the power to make federalism work better.
“The purpose of our committee is to merely collect and collate the views of Nigerians particularly young people and other vulnerable people and present to the party”, El-Rufai.
“The Confab report of 2014 as well as the one of 2005 are some of the documents that were looking at in the committee. We plan to submit our report at the end of October. Our report would be to the party, but of course, since National Assembly members are in the committee, they’ll also have copies,” El- Rufai said.