Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has said that the Presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar rejected restructuring when he had the opportunity to implement it as a Vice President under the then President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Osinbajo, who chaired Chief Bisi Akande’s 80th birthday colloquium in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, recalled that the then Lagos State Government under the leadership of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu made presentation to the Federal Government for Nigeria’s restructuring, particularly the practice of true and fiscal federalism, but that Atiku, who was then vice president, rejected the move.
Osinbajo was addressing the topic of the colloquium, “Nigeria: Achieving national unity through peaceful restructuring”.
The vice president noted that Tinubu told him straight away when he was invited to be part of his administration that his major aim was to pursue restructuring and devolution of power to the states through legal and political means for the country’s betterment.
He said Atiku’s rejection forced Lagos State to look inward and undertake the struggle alone, a move, which he said, paid off eventually.
According to the VP, Lagos State pursued it through the courts, adding that it succeeded in winning on four major issues.
They are: the power of the states to create local governments, the declaration that the Federal Government does not have the right to withhold federal allocation of any state or local government being jointly owned by the federating units, the right of states to create taxes and the right to issue their own urban and regional plan to which the Federal Government must comply, if it has any property in the state.
The vice president emphasised that there was a general agreement among Nigerians on the need for restructuring, but that the structure it must take was what citizens from different divides were yet to agree on.