Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, says in the face of clamour for restructuring in the country, there was need to open windows to the yearnings of stakeholders and Nigerians in order to come up with an exercise that meets the expectations of all.
Dogara told State House correspondents after meeting with the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), at the Old Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja, Wednesday night, saying “So, our feeling is that we should not just close the windows to the yearnings of majority of our people.
We should listen again to all the stakeholders, listen more to Nigerians and at the end of the day, we will come up with an exercise that meets the expectations and yearnings of our People. We will not just amend the constitution for the sake of amending; we will want the exercise to be very impactful.”
The speaker remarked “We are aware of the ongoing agitations in the country. Some are calling for restructuring, some call it true Federalism. This is an issue on the manifesto of the APC. It is our feeling as very responsive and responsible representatives of the people to ensure that this debate is done.”
According to him, “And I agree like l said before that the position of the President that most of these matters and issues should be canvassed at the levels of the National Assembly. This is because some of the structural imbalances that we are talking about that need what they call restructuring cannot be corrected just by stroke of the pen. Some of them are actually embedded in the provisions of the constitution.
Dogara pointed out ”Even by pedestrian’s description of the function of government, the Executive cannot make laws, they cannot amend the constitution. They can only initiate the process in an Executive bill, but it ultimately revolves within the powers of the legislature. So, even the committee that is set up by the APC leadership on true federalism, by the time they conclude their work, most of the issues they come out with will require a kind of tinkering of the constitution.
“Even though l am the Speaker, l can tell you that l can only speak where majority of our members have agreed upon. So it is a bit early for me to conclude. But this is a democracy and in a democracy, the majority matters. Despite the agitations and clamour in many parts of the country for restructuring, the National Assembly has the last say, based on constitutional provisions,” he reasoned.
The speaker also said the parliament would not close its doors to the yearnings of the majority.
Dogara was invited by the NGF to present the position of the House after saying that what the Senate presented earlier to the governors was not a harmonized position of the two houses as there had not been any harmonized position by the two chambers.
Speaking on what he discussed with the Governors, Dogara said, “I was asked to see them so that we can talk about some of these constitutional alterations in the National Assembly so l came to meet them so that we can talk on most of the Bills we are considering.”
Also speaking to journalists, Abdulaziz Yari, Chairman of NGF and Governor of Zamfara State, said that the meeting the delegation of NGF had with President Muhammadu Buhari was twisted in the media and that it was not a reflection of the outcome of the meeting.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina had in a statement said that President Buhari had wondered how people should sleep when workers were not paid.
He said: “We briefed the members about our meeting with Mr. President Tuesday, which I’m surprised some of you turned it upside down. You got the full briefing from me and then some of your people went and said they got from inside.
“The only thing Mr. President said was that he not being a technical person, we should wait for the minister of finance to return, and the chairman of the economic council to be around, so that they can give him update and support on what he is going to say to us.
“So he said we should reschedule this meeting until when he returns from Turkey. I think this is what I told the press yesterday (Tuesday) but I wonder how they turned it around.
“Please we have to be serious with our job, this is Nigeria we are working for, we are working for our country, working for our people so we shouldn’t misinform the public and we should be guided with the things discussed.”