PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari speaks about Nigeria with an unhelpful magisterial finality that makes the country seem a piece of estate dedicated to pleasing his tendencies to rule by fiat. When he ruled that “unity of Nigeria is settled and not negotiable”, the All Progressives Congress (APC) that made an electoral promise to restructure Nigeria conformed.
IT did not matter that APC set up a committee on restructuring. The resources the committee invested in producing a report that former National Chairman Chief John Ogie-Oyegun received and promised its implementation meant nothing. Restructuring is dead.
UNFORTUNATELY, behind the President are followers acquiescing to whatever he says, no questions, no advice, no introspection, no contemplation. They have made the President a law unto himself, and certainly the judge of all cases, including his. Those who know these would not be shocked that the President places “national security”, and “national interests” above the Rule of Law.
THEY have spent months mouthing the “non-negotiable, indivisible Nigeria” of the President. Their positions are mere regurgitations of lines that have become trite, for they add nothing to what we know, except the stridence with which they insist that Nigerians cannot discuss how they live with each other.
NOT done with reducing the debates to “no issues”, they have successfully wielded “restructuring” and “secession” into one meaning. Their intention is clear: those asking for restructuring are asking for the break up of the country. They are against “national security”, and “national interests”. When they are apprehended, they would be dealt with outside the Rule of Law.
THEY have succeeded in distracting Nigerians into accepting restructuring would break up Nigeria. If anything, restructuring can be the best guarantee of the future of the country. What a wonderful country we have!
THE President has decreed that there would be no restructuring by any means, other than the National Assembly. The same National Assembly has on several occasions affirmed that “Nigeria would not break up under its watch”, a song that the 36 State Houses of Assembly adopted when their Speakers met in Owerri in 2017. It was a continuation of meetings that have held in Uyo, Yola, as if a nationwide tour was required to conclude that Nigeria was not working.
BLAMES, shared across the polity, names mentioned to emphasise their roles in the enthralling mess, and the constant injection of the agitations of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) as the best reason for asserting that the time for restructuring is not now, have failed to addresse the larger question of how to rule a country with an over-burdened centre, which decides issues, some of which States, or even Local Governments, should handle.
NO progress has been made on restructuring since the breakdown on talks about mending a collapsing country in Aburi, Ghana, 51 years ago, cascaded into the Civil War. Restructuring after Aburi fell has seen centralisation of decisions to decapitate the abilities of parts of the country to develop, independent of the centre.
IN 51 years, all parts of the country have depended on the centre for decisions on parts the centre barely knows. Provisions in the Constitution about the unity of Nigeria being a matter beyond negotiation left Nigerians shackled in a union that made no provisions on how its peoples would live for their benefit.
UNITY is the ultimate aim of the union. Once hemmed in, falling parts refused any indications of their decay. The “prosperous entities” gloat over their ingenuity. Others use the Constitution to threaten any suggestions that things could be done better. Nigeria’s progress is then measured in multifarious standards of duplicity tied to unity.
WE think of unity differently. If we are to consider unity a national value, it must have benefits that can improve the lives of our people. How does the unity of Nigeria benefit Nigerians, except the tiny few, whose have legislated a different Nigeria for themselves at the expense of the people? Are resources wasted in running an unwieldy Federation – which through the Constitution ensures States replicate – unavoidable?
ARE there resources to run Nigerians humongous bureaucratic wastes, when oil revenue stops? When would we think of Nigeria beyond the immediate gains of occupying office? When would the blackmails about restructuring stop?
CONCENTRATION of powers at the centre has created a cessation of thinking in the States. Competitions for economic and social developments that the various regions had because they harnessed their resources, invested them for their good, and paid taxes to the centre, from which they also benefitted, have been wiped out. In their place are guile, greed, and outright disruptions of Nigeria.
RESTRUCTURING is not an option or alternative to whatever Nigerian leadership is doing now. It is imperative – and the most developed countries still opt to do things better. The befuddlements that have been heaped on it are unnecessary interruptions to injecting life to an ailing patient called Nigeria.
HOW restructuring will work is what Nigerians should be discussing now. The patient, Nigeria, is in the intensive care unit, and treatments for what ails it, must be dressed with emergency attitudes that reflect the seriousness.
THE “non-negotiable Nigeria” is a military imposition that stripped us of our freedoms, our rights to be open with our fears and doubts about the country, and offering these concerns on national platforms that would have attended to them. Nigeria is run as pretence, it is no longer sustainable.
WHEN Nigeria restructures, Nigerians would have freedoms to think, to talk, to engage in alliances and associations that would create wealth across various platforms of our existence, engender trust, generate relationships that celebrate competences of our various parts, and rejuvenate a competiveness that would see individuals, organisations and governments engaging each other in worthy pursuits away from the constricting structures of Abuja deciding everything.
ELECTIONS, in which we invest abundantly, are not the solutions to the ailments that the centralisation of authority in Abuja has imposed on Nigeria. Without restructuring, Nigeria is guaranteed a slow painful death. Yet it is avoidable, if politicians place their interests behind the interests of Nigerians.