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2019 poll: Osinbajo, Atiku renew restructuring battle

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2019 poll: Osinbajo, Atiku renew restructuring battle

2019 poll: Osinbajo, Atiku renew restructuring battle
October 29
07:31 2018

The restructuring debate returned at the weekend, with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo  describing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar as an opponent of the idea when he was in office as vice-president between 1999 and 2007.

Atiku has promised to restructure Nigeria in six months, if voted in as president.

Speaking in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, while delivering the ninth public lecture of Sigma Club at the International Conference Centre, University of Ibadan (UI), Osinbajo spoke of how he as Attorney-General of Lagos State went to the Supreme Court 12 times on restructuring.

That was when the Lagos State Government’s move was opposed by the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency with Atiku as his deputy.

“All this time, this was 2000, some of those people, including the presidential candidate of PDP, who is talking about restructuring, was the vice president then.

“They opposed every step we took. Of course, we were taking the Federal Government to court then. They opposed every step.

“Let me explain my position clearly. I am not just an advocate of restructuring, there is no other government in Nigeria that has actively pursued restructuring such as we did when I was Attorney General in Lagos State.

“People talking about restructuring, if you ask them what they meant by restructuring, they won’t even know what it means and that is the problem we have to face,” he said.

The vice president recalled the Supreme Court battles.

His words: “We started with fiscal restructuring, which is more of resource control. Should states control their own resources? We went to the Supreme Court. They argued that each state should control its own resources.

“The states that argued in favour of autonomy for states to control their resources were the oil producing states in the country and Lagos State while some others argued on the other side because they wanted to share oil money.

“We lost at the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said ‘no’, that you cannot control your resources. If you are an oil producing state, take 13 per cent extra, which is derivation.”

Osinbajo said Lagos State argued that it had ports and the ports served the entire nation, so the state should also take 13 per cent derivation which the Supreme Court objected.

Osinbajo said further argument led to the introduction of onshore and offshore law, which enabled the state to share from onshore resources.

“The next thing we did was that the states should be able to create their own local governments, which is autonomy of states.

“So, we created 37 new local governments in Lagos. The president then, Chief Obasanjo, seized our local government funds and said we could not create new local governments,” he said.

But Atiku fired back in a statement by Paul Ibe of his media office. He described Prof. Osinbajo as “economical with the truth.”

The statement said: “given that Prof Osinbajo and his boss have been speaking discordant tunes on restructuring, we can understand their desperation to revise history, however, it is impossible to revise documented history.

“Prof. Osinbajo needs to be reminded that there are well documented accounts in the Nigerian media chronicling Atiku Abubakar’s support and struggle for restructuring.”

The statement said a piece published in a national newspaper chronicled Atiku’s thoughts on how “to restructure the revenue allocation formula to allow littoral states of the federation benefit from off shore oil proceeds.’

It added that “ironically, it was precisely Mr. Osinbajo’s boss, Muhammadu Buhari, who as military dictator, cheated these states of their just due by military fiat.

“It is also common knowledge that the six geopolitical zones structure which all parts of Nigeria benefit from today is the fruit of the collaborative efforts of Atiku Abubakar, the late Alex Ekwueme and other patriots.

“Their efforts at restructuring Nigeria are captured in the Hansard of the 1995 Constitutional Conference, which is a public document and is still available at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

“The question we want to ask Professor Osinbajo is this – why do he and his boss constantly resort to rewriting history? Why can they not campaign on their achievements? Is it that they are forced to campaign on subterfuge because they have no achievements to campaign on?

Nigerians want to know if promises have been kept. They are not interested in fairy tales about how Atiku Abubakar did not support restructuring because they know that he is and was and will always be an active promoter of restructuring.

Everywhere he goes to campaign, Atiku Abubakar has used temperate and respectful language on both President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo.

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Mojeeb

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