Senior special assistant to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters (Senate) Ita Enang has said that the president has directed restructuring agitations to the legislature because of his belief in due process.
According to Enang, restructuring is a constitutional matter. The legislature deals with review of the constitution and should, therefore, handle any issue that calls for change of law.
Buhari had, in his national broadcast on his return from medical leave in London, said the National Assembly and National Council of State were the legitimate and appropriate bodies to handle issues of restructuring.
The president directed all agitations to both bodies, in line with statutory responsibilities they had.
Enang said that because restructuring meant different things to different people and groups, and may require constitutional amendment, only the National Assembly could deal with it.
He said the legislature needed to receive the demands on different aspects of restructuring, debate on them and come out with the best recommendations.
“That is why the president said 'Look, we are a government sworn in under the constitution, anything you want done must necessarily be as required by the constitution'.
“'I cannot as chief executive, as head of government, do a thing that is different from what the constitution says, and I have no power to amend the constitution.
"'The person who has power to amend the constitution is the legislature and it is handling the process'.
“'Please whatever you want done I will do it so long as it will be approved by the legislature and it goes through the entire process that is needed by the Constitution to amend it.’
“That is why the president said that all agitations for restructuring should go to the legislature,’’ said Enang.
The aide said while some people saw restructuring as removing control over land from the governors and vesting it in the federal government, some saw it demand for state police. “Some will want to have state police, and another will not.
“His thought is that if you have state police, you will use it against your citizens and the interests of the federal government."
Enang said that some people also viewed restructuring as allowing states to exploit their resources and pay tax to the federal government.
According to him, those in the south-south will say that the restructuring they want is resource control, especially over petroleum resources.
“The man in the north will say no, you cannot control it because it is federal resources taken from the ocean, which belong to all of us.
“Some will say they can control it because we have solid minerals in the north that they can also control.
“But, some will say no, don’t control because if you do, I will control the food I produced and I will use it to deal and bargain."
Enang, however, advised people with a specific demand to forward it to the national assembly.
On why the legislature dropped restructuring in spite of the serious agitations, he said that nobody knew the type of restructuring demand requested.
“To my knowledge, most of the people who are quarrelling that the legislature did not approve restructuring may not know the level of restructuring that was presented to it. However, any bill that was rejected can be re-presented. So let any person who wants restructuring present what aspect of restructuring they want to the national assembly." - NAN