Restructuring will decide the voting pattern in the forthcoming election. The election will be between pro-restructuring and anti-restructuring voters.
Restructuring of the country is perhaps one issue that will never disappear from public discourse any time so soon. Not even the usual probing of what the term means can eclipse its relevance in Nigeria of today. Even the casual dismissal of the issue by those in authority cannot kill the dream.
That is why concerned Nigerian have at one point or the other since 2014 made strident calls for the restructuring or configuration of the Nigerian edifice. In fact, restructuring is one of the items that will decide the voting pattern in the forthcoming presidential election. The election will be between pro-restructuring voters and anti-restructuring voters.
And this is one issue that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has played politics with to its great disadvantage. It has tried in vain to mute the issue. The party does not quite believe in restructuring. It has only pretended to like it. It set up a committee on it in order to buy time. Nothing, indeed, come out of that committee. And nothing will come out of it. Besides, the APC does not understand what restructuring really means. The party’s position on restructuring is that it is not necessary. That is why the party refused to look at the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference that deal with restructuring and other cogent issues facing the country.
The party’s leadership strongly believes that the problem with Nigeria is one of process than structure. But the more the APC tries to bury restructuring, the more the proponents give it more impetus. At the November 19 summit, the Handshake across Nigeria organized by Nzuko Umunna/Aka Ikenga and Core Federalists in Lagos, the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka revisited the issue and said, “A methodological way of stopping the bloodbath in the country is to reconfigure the nation. And nobody has the right, either through body language or any other means, to say no.”
The literary guru also stressed that “states must be given maximum control over their resources. There are some who prefer to grow rice. There are others who prefer to grow religion and we know where religion has brought us today. If some people prefer to grow rice and others want to grow Sharia, then both sides should be given the means to develop.”
In other words, a restructured Nigeria will give the federating units or states the freedom to develop at their own pace just like we had it during the first republican regional government. And that was the golden era of the Nigerian nation both economically and politically.
In his contribution at the occasion, former Minister of External Affairs, Ike Nwachukwu, dismissed the fear that some states would get unfair deals in a restructured Nigeria. Nwachukwu argued succinctly that “there is no state without the basic requirements for economic and human capital development. The fear, therefore, that some states would be disadvantaged under this arrangement would be removed because the Federal Government would intervene directly or through loans to the federating units to realise their developmental projects.”
Speakers at the event anchored on the theme; “Nigeria Beyond Oil” agreed that restructuring would considerably reduce the unemployment, ethnic agitations, insurgency, kidnappings, armed robbery and ritual killings in the country.
The various calls by well-meaning Nigerians for the restructuring of the country demonstrate that the issue is not going to be stopped. They point to the fact that reconfiguring the country is the right way to go. In fact, most Nigerians do not like the way things are going in the country. They are not happy with the country that has become the poverty capital of the world, where electricity supply is a luxury and where citizens cannot boast of adequate supply of potable water, and where insecurity is everywhere.
The indispensability and inevitability of restructuring have been established. It has also been proven to be the last hope for this tottering giant to survive. Although some mischievous people have tried in vain to misconstrue restructuring and give it another name and paint its advocates in bad light, it is still gaining traction and followers.
Some patriotic Nigerians are calling for restructuring because of the present unitary federalism of the country where Abuja decides the fate of 200 million people. They are calling for devolution of some powers that the Federal Government holds now so that the states or federating units can have powers to control their resources, build their roads, schools and hospitals.
They are saying that some of the items on the exclusive legislative list should be devolved o the states. The present situation where the Federal Government has control of 68 items on the exclusive legislative list is inimical to a truly federal system of government. State should have their own police. The federal government has no business over roads and schools or even hospitals. If some powers are devolved to the states, which is the ideal in any true federal system, the federal Government will be left with defence and foreign policy issues and a few others.
Restructuring means making Nigeria a truly federal system of government. It means more powers to the federating units. Restructuring does not mean dismemberment of the country or geographical reconfiguration as some people want us to believe. Let nobody be afraid of restructuring because it will be beneficial to all.
There is no state in Nigeria that does not have one or two useful solid minerals. Every state in the county can embark on agriculture. Every state has enough human capital that can be deployed to industrialise it. Now that we are in the campaign season, let us hear more of restructuring from the candidates.
The Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has been consistent on restructuring. He strongly believes that Nigeria is ripe for restructuring. He should also elucidate more on it as the campaigns hit up. The voters would like to know what the APC means by the “Next Level” and what PDP’s “Getting Nigeria working” means as well. Let the candidates simplify their messages in such a way that ordinary Nigerian can understand them.
There is no point encoding campaign messages with highfalutin words and jaw breakers. Nigerians want messages that can resonate with them. Nigerians do not need dictionaries to decode what a candidate is saying. Keep your messages short and simple. Make them memorable and appealing. But never promise the impossible.
Don’t even consider yourself a magician or a miracle worker because you want to win an election. Just tell the voters what you will do for the country if elected in simple and concise language. Avoid ambiguities.