SIR: It has become a fad among Nigerian politicians of late to join the populist bandwagon by trumpeting the call for the restructuring of the country. Failed politicians, corrupt politicians, political buccaneers, political profiteers and all sorts of selfish personalities now feel that they can suddenly redeem their image in the eyes of the Nigerian people by calling for the restructuring of the nation. But we cannot be fooled anymore. While I am definitely not against restructuring, I believe that we should not be fooled into thinking that the moment President Muhammadu Buhari restructures the political system, all our problems will just vanish into thin air and we will suddenly find ourselves in the promised land. There are certain huddles that need to be cleared before we can now begin to advocate for the restructuring of the country in order to make it a truly federal both in word and in deed.
To begin with, the restructuring which most stakeholders have called for should not blind us to the fact that we once practiced true and fiscal federalism in the First Republic. The various regions that made up the federation then were truly independent and had control over their own resources. But most people also forget that it promoted ethnicity, strife, nepotism which eventually led us into a 30-month fratricidal civil war. This means that it ended in a failure. Also, we have tried several political systems in this country and none has been able to take us to Eldorado. We have tried federalism, parliamentary, constitutional monarchy (1960-1963), confederation (which was the trigger for the civil war), military rule, democracy, diarchy (under Babangida), yet all of these political experiments did not bring us much fruit. What is the guarantee that if the President decides to heed the call of the politicians and restructure the country that Nigeria will suddenly become a great and prosperous nation? I dare say that there is none.
I strongly believe that the call for restructuring of the country is not a genuine one. Why was the call not made during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan? Most of the people making the loudest noises today were political office holders in the Jonathan administration yet they made no efforts to restructure the country while in power. Their mouths were shut because they were busy eating the national cake and now that there is no cake to eat they are now whining so that the country can be restructured and they can continue the eating of the cake at the local and regional level where they and their cronies still hold power. Some of them were past military rulers who enacted decrees that made us the quasi-federal structure that we are today yet they shamelessly talk about restructuring and proceed to give instructions on how it should be carried out. For others, it is a political buzzword which they need to win elections in 2019.
Restructuring of the country into a truly federal state will give great economic and political power to the states. There is a critical question which advocates of restructuring are overlooking. That question is “Are our governors sensitive enough to the awesome powers that will be theirs when Nigeria is eventually restructured? Take the issue of state police for example. Imagine what would happen between the Ekiti State governor and the President or between ex-Governor Rotimi Amaechi and former President Goodluck Jonathan. There would have been bloodbath on the streets of Ado Ekiti and Port Harcourt because of political squabbles between these politicians.
I concur totally with the assertion by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that what we need is the restructuring of the mind and not the restructuring of the nation. It is the people who make a nation great and not vice versa. This is also buttressed by the fact that there are only 16 federal republics in the world of which Nigeria is one yet with the exception of the United States and Germany, most of them are developing countries while there are over 100 unitary states in the world and many of them are developed countries. The problem is not with the system but with the people. Let us embrace spiritual values of love, honesty, truth and integrity and shun vices like corruption, nepotism, hate speech and tribalism. We should be loyal to our country and patriotism should be our watchword most especially among the youths. Let us not engage in acts that will be beneficial to us and harmful to the nation. It is only after the restructuring of the mind and the embrace of true spiritual values like sacrifice and selflessness by a majority of Nigerians that political restructuring can succeed. Otherwise, it is but an effort in futility.
First Published By The Nation On: October 2, 2017