One of the distinguishing attributes of mathematician-turned-preacher, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, is his avowed taciturnity on political matters. You hardly hear the international leader of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) making political comments from the pulpit, or making careless comments, or lambasting political leaders through his messages. He has never, unlike some preachers, aimed at any political office. It would be misplaced assertion to make any political link to his comments.
His recent comment, in which the cleric said the country should restructure, if it wants to remain united, ought not be dismissed as idle political comment. Although Adeboye laced his comment with humour when he said they could be those of a mathematician who could be eccentric, he was merely making light of a serious matter.
He advocated devolution of power in all strata, and encouraged inclusion of traditional rulers in the power equation, amid other recommendations. But the most critical comment from Adeboye, in my view, is that restructuring is inevitable, given that dismemberment stares the nation in the face in the absence of moves to change how things stand.
Adeboye’s comment fall atop several others; an indication that he just laid his own block on a building under construction. The preacher said Nigeria ought to create the type of democracy akin to its peculiarity. Former President Goodluck Jonathan organised a National Conference in 2014. The white paper and recommendations of that gathering have been gathering dust on the shelves. All the top shots of the current regime have dismissed the conference, and would not seem to touch it even with a long pole. I do not know the content of the recommendations, and why this regime loathes it.
Some people have said constitution amendment is inevitable in the process, but that is not rocket science. It takes political will and consensus to get it done. The implication is absence of unanimity on the matter. If the political elite agree on it, everything will be railroaded into making it succeed. Those who insist that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable, and still snub calls for restructuring, tend to think that those agitating for self-determination are jokers or that Nigeria has immunity against dismemberment that former Soviet Union, Chechoslovakia and Sudan did not have. These nations came to the inevitable conclusion that forced unity harmed, rather than helped, them.
Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant (Media) to the President Buhari says Nigeria would not be stampeded into restructuring. An insinuation from that response to Adeboye comment is that restructuring may be on the cards, but the timing is not now. What better time would be acceptable than now that security problems and killings have tended to multiply? Is it right that Federal Government gets over 50 per cent on national revenue to the detriment of component states that grapple with paltry sums that hardly pay for their workforce? Is it right for police to be controlled from Abuja, such that a governor’s orders can be countered by the Inspector-General of Police? The current agitation against Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) has shown the efficacy of people power. I would intervene on that matter later.
Is it right for the President to have the sole power to appoint over 5,000 heads of ministries, departments and agencies and such appointments appear to be skewed to certain parts of the country? The questions are endless. Each question produces one or more sets of aggrieved segments of the society. The tendency to have pent-up anger and animosity is high, and it could explode.
An unrestructured Nigeria is a keg of gunpowder. Those who conceived Nigeria in regional structure must have seen what we now see. The regions have results to show for their existence. The proposed restructuring need not go the way of 1960. Pastor Adeboye recommended that we should ‘Nigerianise’ our restructuring. The zones could become regions, as a way of assuaging aggrieved people. There is an intrigue in the reluctance of a regime, which put up restructuring as a campaign promise, and actually set up a committee headed by Governor Nasir el-Rufai, but never told the nation what became of the report. If the Jonathan conference came from the opposition, can that be said of the el-Rufai team? The party may have told Nigerians what they wanted to hear, but knew it was deceptive to have made that promise. Those who make restructuring impossible make breakup inevitable.
It is patently false to think that only people from the eastern part want self-determination. The lie came to light when agitation for Oduduwa Republic found vent in many voices. Centralised power is a military concept in the Nigerian political equation. It may have been conceived to overcome the challenges prevalent at that time, but it has certainly lost relevance, and has become a problem in itself.
Those in central power structure have largely come from those who conceived the concept. Times have changed, so much so that insistence on retaining the current structure is tantamount to living in the past. The clear choice is between restructuring and breakup. Men of yesterday should not lead Nigeria to the unprofitable paths it treaded yesterday. The consequences are scary.