The Southwest Zone of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on Thursday called for the restructuring of the country. It said governance should be based on true federalism.
The party leaders made the call at their conference held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
They also called for free and compulsory education in primary and secondary schools in Southwest states and pledged to conduct a free and fair primary for aspirants to political offices in Ondo State.
The conference was attended by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by Senator Babafemi Ojudu, special adviser (political) to President Muhammadu Buhari, Governors Rauf Aregbesola (Osun) and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo). Ogun State Governor Ibikunle Amosun was represented by his deputy Mrs Yetunde Onanuga.
Ministers Adebayo Shittu (Communications) and Kayode Fayemi (Solid Minerals) also attended.
APC National Chairman John Odigie-Oyegun was represented by Deputy Chairman (South) Chief Segun Oni, who led party leaders in the six states of the Southwest.
In an eight-point communique, the party posited that “meaningful progress and socio-economic development of the Nigerian nation is unattainable without restructuring the extant, largely unitarian geo-political arrangement. “It is by such re-arrangement, leading to genuine and true political and fiscal federalism that the innate energies of the people of Nigeria can be released and new vistas of human development opened up.”
Setting the tone for the discourse, Ajimobi, called on the party in the zone to engage political office holders regularly and make meaningful input in policy formulation and delivery.
He said the party must organise leaders and members to talk together, think together and share ideas and thoughts on how to offer better governance to Nigerians.
He said: “Let our party create avenues to have position papers on policies. President Buhari is one simple individual that is corruption-free. He has integrity. He is completely simple. It is clear he is the best for this time. But we must help him by conversing with him always through the instrument of the party presenting position papers. We must participate more in the APC-led government.”
Aregbesola said without a restructuring of the country, only little can be gained by all stakeholders in the current arrangement.
He lamented that most states are spending their resources to maintain the civil service whose population is scarcely more than 10 per cent of the total population. “That is why we must restructure Nigeria.” He said.
As revenues plummets, Aregbesola said the situation offers opportunity for the Yoruba to revitalize the concept of working for whatever they earn.
His words: “We must make earning for living a core concept. Let Southwest start and lead in reviving this concept. Work for what you earn.”
Vice President Osinbajo said this administration did not fully appreciate the enormity of the corruption and decadence in governance until it took office last year.
He said the pains of today was a result of “yesterday’s mismanagement of the commonwealth of our great country.”
But he said President Buhari was aware of the pains of citizens. The Vice President assured Nigerians that a glorious dawn awaited them.
Osinbajo pleaded with citizens to show understanding and be patient as the administration works to make the country better.
“Change is not easy. But we are not relenting until we achieve a better life for all Nigerians. The change that we advocate will be irrevocable when we are finally done.” He said.
Assuring that the desired change was already here, Osinbajo said some investors have shown interest in building refineries in Nigeria.
He also pointed out that current improvement in power supply is a result of the efforts of the government, adding that the government was committed to the implementation of the health insurance scheme, diversification of the economy, infrastructural development and job creation.
Chief Odigie-Oyegun told party men to educate their followers and members of the public that the ‘change’ mantra is not an event but a process which takes time to be fully achieved.
He promised that recommendations of the meeting would be considered at the national secretariat of the party.
In his welcome address, the National Vice Chairman (Southwest) Chief Pius Akinyelure, said the contribution of the Southwest Zone to the success of the APC at the national level was not in doubt.
But as change agents, Akinyelure said the party leadership in the zone was not under illusion that greater efforts are not needed to put the nation back on track.
He commended governors in the region for sustaining its economic relevance in Nigerian through their popular policies.
Akinyelure also called on feuding governorship aspirants in Ondo State to come together and allow peace to reign. He assured them that the party would conduct a free and fair primary and urged aspirants to support anyone that emerges as the party’s candidate.
In the communique , the party said in view of its huge contribution to the ideological and policy thrust of the APC as well as the enthronement of the party at the federal level, the Southwest Zone must become more engaged with, and engaging in, influencing the affairs of the party and government at the national level.
It added: “The need for diversification of the economy has become mandatory for the successful enthronement of true political and fiscal federalism with each geo-political zone exploring its resources for maximum development.
“The primary role of quality education in the progress and development of a people was acknowledged. However, it is most disturbing that the present Southwest Zone that used to commit as much as 30 per cent of its budget to education is no longer able to achieve such level of support. The conference agreed with the submission of the guest lecturer that primary and secondary education should be made compulsory and free in the Southwest zone.
“In considering the importance of the upcoming governorship election in Ondo State on November 10, the conference made a passionate appeal for the unity of party members throughout the exercise towards the emergence of the party’s candidate. Specifically, the conference pledged the commitment of the leadership of APC Southwest zone to a free and fair process in picking the candidate of the party for the election. It also appealed to all aspirants to rally and give full support to the successful aspirant in order to face the November 10 election with the full force of the party as it is imperative to bring the government of Ondo State into the fold of the progressives.”
Also at the conference were: former governor of Old Ondo State, Chief Bamidele Olumilua; former deputy governors and Chief Ayo Fasanmi.
Others are chairmen of the party in Oyo (Chief Akin Oke); Ogun (Chief Rokeeb Adeniyi); Lagos (Chief Oladele Ajomale); Osun (Chief Gboyega Famodun) and Ekiti (Chief Jide Awe); National Legal Adviser Dr Muiz Banire; Senator Ganiyu Solomon; Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora; Chief Tajudeen Olusi, members of the House of Representatives, Houses of Assembly and political office holders.