So much dishonesty is going on in the land at the moment. Some Nigerians are pretending not to know what it means to restructure the country. The impression they give is that restructuring means different things to different people. For that reason, those who are not comfortable with the idea want it jettisoned. The dishonesty is so deep-rooted to the extent that the All Progressives Congress (APC), whose ideology is rooted in a restructured Nigeria, is claiming not to know what restructuring means. Its national chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, has said that much. Consequently, the party has constituted a committee that will help to define what restructuring should mean. This is dishonesty at its most banal.
If all were to be well with the APC, we would be asking questions as to whose interest Odigie-Oyegun is serving. But the party died as soon as it won the 2015 presidential election. The moment the party assumed the reins of governance, the disparity that was the defining characteristic of the rainbow coalition came to the fore. Crippled by its inability to come to terms with its electoral promises, the party is now pretending about everything and anything imaginable. Its mouthpieces are double-speaking. They are not embarrassed by the contradictions that they have introduced into the mix. They are talking to us as if we are unthinking proles. They have invented their own mind machines to take us through their new-fangled doctrine of deceit.
If we want to be factual about the present state of affairs in Nigeria, we will readily admit that the APC is engaged in grand deceit. It is offering Nigerians the very opposite of what it promised them. The party came to power on an ideology of deceit. As an opposition party, the APC freely engaged in mental flights. It packaged all its pretensions as ideology and with them it set sail. Since ornamented and flowery things are bound to attract, the party, in no time, had a swarm of bees competing for space at its honeypot.
How did it all begin? Some elements who had hankered after power for too long at the centre had suddenly found a common ground. These were disparate elements whose political philosophies or inclinations were poles apart. But they suddenly found a point of convergence. The Jonathan presidency gave them goose pimples. They wanted it dethroned. Fortunately for them, they did not encounter much resistance because Jonathan as president was meek and humble. He did not want to hurt a fly. He thought that a man of power must strive to cultivate his enemies. He thought that he was supposed to give his detractors unfettered access to instruments of distraction.
It was on the strength of the Jonathan disposition that the APC, as an opposition party, had a field day. It did not just try to demonise the existing order represented by the Jonathan presidency, it appealed to the emotions of Nigerians. It presented them with a world of possibilities. A world where the complaints, pains and anguish of the existing order would melt into thin air once the APC formed a government. It was in this state of frenzy that the APC put together its constitution and manifesto. A cardinal point of its manifesto is its stand on restructuring. In that document, APC said that Nigeria was drifting. To this end, the party promised to restructure Nigeria to save it from being a failed state.
That promise, coming from the APC, was not quite surprising to Nigerians. The reason was simple. A major promoter of the APC at its rudimentary stages was Bola Tinubu, the former governor of Lagos State. Tinubu has a track record of pro-democracy activism. He was one of those who fought tirelessly for the restoration of civil rule in Nigeria, following frequent military incursions into politics. With the restoration of civil governance, Tinubu and many others who shared his views began to point the way forward. They provided Nigeria with a road map. They talked about the structure of the country that never worked. As an opposition politician, Tinubu was in a vantage position to charge at the ruling party and present it with its limitations. One of the major changes, which the opposition canvassed then, was a restructured Nigeria, where regionalism would take over from the present 36-state structure. The Tinubu persuasion also wanted Nigeria to adopt state police as it is done in most federal arrangements. In fact, the battle cry of Tinubu and his followers at that time was true federalism. It was this ideology that they transplanted into the new party called the APC. The populist ideals that the pro-democracy groups, led by Tinubu, were promoting were faithfully built into the manifesto of the APC. When, therefore, the opposition wrested power, the expectation was that those ideas and ideals that the party promoted would be brought to the front burner. But this did not happen. Rather, the party in government has continued to live on precepts. The dreams and ideals it shared remain stillborn.
What went wrong? The APC came about through a rainbow coalition. The meeting of minds between Tinubu, a strong believer in democratic ideals, and Muhammadu Buhari, a rabid anti-democratic element, was strange. It was one of the most unexpected things that anybody thought would happen. But it happened not because Tinubu or Buhari was a changed man but because they were driven by a common objective, to get the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party out of power. That was the end of the meeting of minds.
They differed on other fronts. Whereas Tinubu wanted a new order that would give Nigerians something to hope for, Buhari wanted to grab power to ingratiate his appetite and lust for power. Buhari also had a regional agenda. He and his cohorts wanted power to return to the North at all cost. These obvious differences between the two tendencies notwithstanding, the parties went ahead to execute their agenda. But no sooner did Buhari take over power than he began to act out the script in his head. The man who grabbed power does not believe in the ideology of the party. He probably does not know the content of the party’s manifesto. This is supposed to be embarrassing in a normal setting. But it is hardly so here. That is why strange things have been happening ever since. The party whose promoters were passionate about a restructured Nigeria has gone to sleep over the matter. It does not appear to be interested in the matter.
The party would have got away with this grand deceit but its undoing has come through an uncanny coincidence. The mood of Nigerians at this point in time favours restructuring. This tendency is rife because the people believe that that is what is needed to douse the ongoing separatist agitations. For this reason, the heat is on the government of the day, led by the APC. It can pretend about restructuring but it cannot run away from the issues around it. Whatever it does or fails to do is being noted. History shall be the ultimate judge.