And this is where the opposition ought to capitalize on and front a consensus candidate with broad-based outlook and appeal to Nigerians of different ethnic extractions.
We are at a very critical stage in the historical evolution of the Nigerian state. Since the events that led to the civil war, the prospects of total disintegration of the country are, more than ever before, increasingly daring us on the face. The present Buhari administration is simply nibbling at the surface without concentrating on the substance, the core issues at the centre of the mutual mistrust, suspicion and cries of marginalization and agitation for the restructuring of the polity. Why are most Nigerians opting for the restructuring of the Nigerian state?
The reason is very simple. Nigeria, ab initio, was contrived by the British colonial masters simply for dubious economic exploitation and not meant to survive as a united, indivisible political entity. The circumstances of Nigeria’s birth were rooted in injustice, engendering a ceaseless and vicious circle of karmic nemesis haunting the country for decades. The struggles to attain a true nationhood have been too long because equity, fairness and justice was sacrificed on the altar of unbridled greed and quest for undue economic exploitation by the British colonial masters.
The seed of ethnic discord, rivalry and struggle for supremacy was sown in a manner that would engender political instability and restiveness. This invariably would enable the British colonial masters to maintain and sustain their dubious economic exploitation long after the country’s independence. Of course, the ploy has served the British interests perfectly well. The Nigerian state has, in the past six decades of independence, miraculously weathered dangerous storms and waded through murky political waters and instability. Those who were institutionally and strategically positioned as beneficiaries of the spoils of a skewed political system insist on maintaining and sustaining the status quo of injustice and marginalization of the rest of the country. Thus, it has become extremely difficult for them to appreciate the need for restructuring the polity. Aware that the foundational structures of the country are gradually caving in to imminent collapse, these anti-progressive forces refuse to appreciate the political expediency and necessity of restructuring the system and repositioning the country for progressive development in the years ahead. These are the forces that have held President Buhari captive, bitterly narrowing his mindset, while helping to sustain the hegemonic encumbrances against ushering a new era of true federalism in Nigeria.
It is, however, sheer lack of foresight and outright shallowness of thinking for any Nigerian leader, at this period of our history, to fail, as Buhari is doing currently to read the hand writing on the wall and gauge correctly the momentum and pendulum of the current political realities in Nigeria.
Restructuring Nigeria is virtually inevitable. It is a necessity for which the time has been long overdue. It is no longer possible to treat the issue with disdain and contempt as if it is the sole prerogative of the President to decide. The wind of change is already blowing across the country and relevant authorities are putting machineries in motion to reshape anew our beloved country, not minding the President’s stand. Given the discontent and increasing demand for restructuring by a great majority of Nigerians, it is naivety at its highest level for President Buhari to slam the proponents as enemies of the Nigerian state. In his understanding of good leadership goals, he is clearly placing his personal inter- ests high and above the interests, hopes and aspirations of most Nigerian citizens. This is a clear indication of leadership failure. While patriotic and well-meaning Nigerians insist on restructuring the country to pave way for meaningful development and mu- tual economic growth among the federating units, Buhari seems more concerned with the reservation of grazing areas across the country for the marauding herdsmen from his ethnic extraction.
Buhari’s apparent conspiracy of inaction and dereliction of duty in handling the herdsmen onslaught is currently engendering feelings of distrust, suspicion and a sense of alienation, frustration and despair among the citizenry.
The most critical issue in the 2019 Presidential campaign would be the restructuring of Nigeria. Now the road to restructuring the polity would be a windy terrain because the ruling party is opposed to it. In this alone, the APC has already failed woefully. And this is where the opposition ought to capitalize on and front a consensus candidate with broad-based outlook and appeal to Nigerians of different ethnic extractions. The anti-progressive forces seeking to scuttle the agenda will not rest on their oars in their bid to maintain the status quo ante.
Atiku Abubakar’s pedigree seems to fit the picture of a versatile politician with great political clout and influence across the five geopolitical zones. He seems to have built over the years, a wide range of solid bridges of understanding and comradeship among politicians of varying degrees of persuasions and ideological inclinations. He is favourably disposed to restructuring the pol- ity and broad minded enough to appreciate the need for making personal sacrifices when circumstances dictate so. He is familiar with the political terrain, consistent and focused in his quest to assume the mantle of leader- ship of Nigeria.
Beyond all these, he has a proven track record of levelheadedness and commitment to actualizing lofty national goals. By his actions and utterances, he is a truly detribalized Nigerian, not given to primordial cleavages to his ancestral heritage like most Nigerian politicians. Of course, the greatest hindrance to attaining true nationhood since Nigeria’s independence has been our politicians’ penchant for advancing ethno-religious agenda with its divisive tendencies rather than pursuing common national goals for the collective well-being of Nigerians. Atiku’s pedigree in the political re-engineering process and long years of weathering stormy political waters without a lingering sense of rancour and bitterness gives one the impression that he is worthy of the people’s trust.
In terms of geopolitical grouping, sensible and moderate religious affiliation and populist appeal across all strata of the Nigerian society, Atiku seems the most strategically positioned to wrench power from the incumbent President. However, the grand alliance already midwifed by the opposition must be wary of unnecessary infighting and unbridled ambitions if they must actualize the herculean task of changing the baton of leadership of the country in 2019.