Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu has said that President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC) remained committed to restructuring the country.
He however, said that the problem with a lot of the proponents of restructuring were that they were looking for the fastest way to restructure the country, through other means than the parliament.
While he noted that wanting to use extra-constitutional bodies to restructure Nigeria was untidy, he said those calling for restructuring should come to the parliament.
Shehu, who stated this when he spoke at a media parley with House of Representatives correspondents, maintained that only the National Assembly has the constitutional power to restructure the country.
He said, “We in the APC are committed to restructuring. Read the manifesto of the APC. It is stated there and so, we are not running away from it. President Buhari is ready to restructure the country.
“The problem we have with a lot of the proponents of restructuring is that they are looking for the fastest way to that restructuring. They don’t want to use the parliament. They want to use extra-constitutional bodies and that is untidy. If you are a democrat, you abide by the processes.
“The parliament is the institution of government working with the executive and the judiciary. For you to say no you want to do a congress at Yaba Market Square and debate; do you want to cause a fight.
“We must be organised and follow due process. If you have a case on restructuring, come to the parliament. In any case, the Senate President has announced that this 9th Parliament will start constitutional amendment in January. So, bring your issue. These are intelligent people voted for by the people.
“Those who shout restructuring saying they want a parallel body to-do that, we have said to them that they are wrong. The sovereignty of the people resides with the parliament and so if you want to restructure the country, come to the parliament.
“If you don’t have confidence in the parliamentarians you have voted for, wait for four years and vote them out and choose another set of people. But you cannot circumvent the role of the parliament in a democracy and it is key to whatever restructuring you want.”
On the controversial Social Media, Hate Speech bills, Shehu said, “It is your responsibility as the media to help the Nigerian government on the issue of hate speech before the parliament. The Minister of Information, who speaks for the Nigerian government, has spoken of the necessity of a law to govern social media.
“I am being careful about what he wants to do because I think there are parallel processes going on. I also blame the media for creating unnecessary controversy. If you look at the law being discussed, the media has focused more on the death penalty for fake news.
“You have the responsibility of studying that bill. Only a few days ago, the American Ambassador met the sponsor of that bill and at the end, he said Nigerians should have a rethink. It is your duty to reap it open and tell Nigerians what it contains. The bill is not all about the death penalty or free speech.
“I think we have a problem that Nigerians have to address. Nobody is saying that President Buhari or the parliament should impose a law against the press. I am happy that they will hold a public hearing on this and if you have any objection to some of the elements, come forward and tell parliament that you have an objection. This country needs a law that will regulate social media and attack fake news.”
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