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Address demands of agitators, Oyegun tells Buhari

By Jide Orintunsin, Abuja

Former National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Chief John Odigie Oyegun has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to address the demands of agitators, including the call for separation in the interest of the survival of the country.

He cautioned that APC as the government of the federation could not give the impression that only military governments could tamper with the basic structure of this nation.

The former governor of Edo State spoke at the weekend in Abuja during the public presentation of a book entitled: “APC’s litmus tests: Nigerian democracy and politics of change” written by the Director-General of the Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGD), Mallam Salihu Mohammed Lukman.

The APC chieftain blamed the challenges on the failure to address past demands, recalling efforts of the party under his leadership to address some of challenges by setting up Governor Nasir El-Rufai Committee on True Federalism.

According to Oyegun, “the document on true federalism, which the party put together that passed through all the organs of the party – Theeof the party, the National Working Committee, the Caucus, the NEC, which is the highest organ of the party. Why did we do it at that time? We did it because like it is happening today, there was this cacophony of voices. Two people in party could not agree on what they meant by restructuring.

“So, the party needed to take control of the debate, define, the issues, proffer solutions and went so far as to have some drafts legislation. It is not by any chance a perfect document. But it reflects then the thinking and the desires of the Nigerian people. Everybody kept quiet after we brought that document out, publicised it, held press conferences over it and most Nigerians were very, very happy. But once again, we did not make the kind of progress that we could have made and it has become once more the topical subject in the Nigerian polity.”

Lamenting the agitations, which he described as unfortunate, the former National Chairman noted that the situation had gone beyond initial demands.

According to him, “we now have one or two things that did not happen before. People now wanting to disengage from the federation, which did not happen before and that is a warning sign. If a child ask for garri today, and you don’t give him. Tomorrow he may decide it is cake he wants and we must not as his political party and we must not as the government of the federation give the impression that only military governments can fundamentally tamper with the basic structure of this nation.

“We are in charge today, a progressive government, a progressive regime and I think it is proper that we show to the nation that when the people want some degree of change we should be responsive to it. We should address it.

“Compromises have to be made; there’s no question about that. The report itself is not final. It still has to go through the litmus test of compromises. The ideas of people from different parts of the country will be different up to the extent they want to go with the proposals in the document, but it is necessary. It is vital that it is in fact, mandatory in the interest of the survival of our nation, that these issues be addressed. We cannot continue to allow the subject to become something that threatens our nation at any turn.”

“So, the earlier we address it, the earlier we show that as a party we are responsive to the feelings of the people, the desires of the people and the wants of the people. It becomes easier then to diffuse the kind of stresses that the nation is passing through today.”

Admitting the challenges, the Chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum and Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu, said the APC was aware that there are fundamental challenges to be addressed and it would not shy away from acknowledging them and providing transparent leadership.

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