…accuses ruling party of dishonesty
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, yesterday said he had maintained a principled stand on the issue of restructuring Nigeria for over two decades.
Atiku, who was responding to an attack by the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the credibility of his advocacy for a restructured federation, said it was a mark of dishonesty for the ruling party to have referred to him as a “latter day convert” of restructuring.
The APC had, at the weekend, accused Atiku of exploiting “populist political campaigns” in his current advocacy for the restructuring of the country.
But the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation, which responded on behalf of its principal, fired back at the ruling party, accusing it of disowning its own campaign promise to restructure Nigeria.
According to the organisation, the Waziri Adamawa was no stranger to the restructuring idea, but has been a consistent advocate of restructuring since 1995. The campaign organisation recalled that the demand for restructuring was triggered by the rash decision of the Federal Military Government in 1984 when then Head of State, Major General Muhammadu Buhari reduced, by military fiat, the amount of derivation funds paid to oil producing states to a paltry 1.5 % and confiscated the offshore oil revenues.
“During the 1994-95 Constitutional Conference, patriots, led by the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and Atiku Abubakar, who felt that the 1984 action by Muhammadu Buhari was unjust, worked with a pan Nigerian group of members of the conference and came up with a unique solution to the onshore/offshore dichotomy.
“Their solution provided a formula for the administration of the derivation principle and contained three very significant embodiments namely, that allocation to derivation shall stand at a minimum of 13 per cent; that the dichotomy between onshore and offshore exploration shall not be taken into account for the purpose of revenue allocation and that the boundaries of littoral states were clearly defined as extending to Nigeria’s exclusive economic zone which, at the time, stood at two hundred nautical miles.
“When the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, refused to take this unique solution into consideration (being that it was forced on the nation by the military) the onshore/offshore dichotomy again raised its ugly head and threatened to sink the then-nascent Obasanjo administration and the nation with it.
“We will like to educate the APC on the fact that it was precisely Atiku Abubakar who used the network he built at the 1994-95 conference to persuade Niger Delta governors like Obong Victor Attah and Dr. Peter Odili (who were his colleagues at the 1994-95 constitutional conference) to reach a political solution to solve a problem caused by the constitution,” the organization said.
The group said that contrary to the position of the APC, Atiku has been championing the restructuring because of his belief that it would resolve a number of critical issues at the root of agitations for self-determination in some regions of the country.
The organisation said that Atiku’s foray into the restructuring arena was not the product of a brainwave, but rather a carefully thought out position that he took on principle in 1995 and had stuck to it all through these years.
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