Last week I spent almost an entire day at the Senate offices. I spoke with some senators during my interviews and in the chats, I kept asking if they think the Senate would go far with the plans to restructure Nigeria.
Senate had asked the presidency to table before it the documents of the 2014 National Conference which recommended that Nigeria be restructured for more efficiency.
From Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe to Senators Sonni Ogbuoji and Stella Oduah, they gave me hope that the Senate does her work not in line with regional affiliations or interests but national good.
Just a week after, the signs have started coming on what drives the sentiments or works of the senate. You can guage that from the defeat of the Power Devolution Bill. That bill if passed would have divested some powers and benefits from Abuja to the states and local governments, thereby decongesting the centre of power overdose.
As it is with the Power Devolution Bill so also the Land Use Act review. This failed also because the fear is that it would have been the shortcut to resource control where each part of Nigeria would have jurisdiction over mineral resources and every other endowment in the region and would be in a position to explore and make use of and make returns to the centre. That was envisaged and those that benefit from the present structure made sure it was defeated.
If these two laws had been passed, we would have covered some miles to actualizing the much touted restructuring.
But the development is still ok as it preludes the theatre we should expect when the restructuring talking comes to doing. I am sure this concern is a major one many Nigerians who don’t like the present retardation share – that those that benefit from the lumped-up Nigeria that swings the pendulum in favour of some against the other would never give in to having something different to operate here.
It therefore calls for action among the zones that push for and are convinced that until we change the structure of Nigeria nothing would work.
The National Assembly makes laws and the balance in numbers favour the north that benefits from this system, so in a situation where democracy is all about numbers, what we are left with are just two – galvanize efforts among the change seekers and move as a bloc and upturn the situation or push for pulling free on the streets.
Unfortunately, anytime one of the options is stopped, the other must be the available, and some of us don’t pray that the street option would be the available because to think people would keep taking these flaks and slavery after 51 unproductive years of this retardation is a lie. If an experiment of 51 years never gave any hope, it can’t turn a new leaf tomorrow with worsening governments over time.
I had written some weeks ago urging that we should take restructuring beyond street talk and grandstanding and the only way to do that is to align forces among the three South Nigeria geo-political zones, get the friendship of the North Central and make a push for the target.
Most of these people are not the beneficiaries but the victims and they should get a message clear that none of them would die of hunger when sharing of oil money from Abuja ceases. Only that would ginger people to work and think productively.
Let their minds be etched with the awareness that so many countries and societies started with nothing and have touched the sky several times with determination and nobody should imbibe this slavish mindset of preserving Nigeria as it is with free money that has never been enough to pick our bills and liberate us from penury.
The reason Nigeria doesn’t make progress is profligacy driven by free earning. I argue and will always do that there is no child that matures if his parents would forever pick his bills and tell her not to worry to do anything for herself. The child her parents sent to school or refused to send to school because there is enough money to take care of her, married for, pays her children’s school fees, house rent and all never gets weaned. That is what we have been operating which some have been deluded to think is some benefit. If we know the extent of potential in Nigeria that is wasting, including human resource we haven’t developed adequately, then all of us would seek a way out.
The incident of Wednesday and Thursday sends all of us back to the strategy room to seek a way round this quagmire called Nigeria.
It is time for the media to raise enough sensitization of Nigerians, engender more unified efforts of the political leaders of those that seek a new structure, engage the pressure groups and talk to the youths to all work towards clinching this goal. It should not be allowed to elude us or we would lament the loss forever.
Let the defeat of the bills be a call to wake all of us from our slumber and take nothing for granted any longer. Maybe some would have underrated the resolve of some to say an emphatic NO to those that stand for restructuring Nigeria and that takes lobbying and all other persuasion to attain.
The outing that defeated the bill for power devolution in the Senate was dismal as those that votes YES were even fewer, and far away from making the convincing majority of two thirds of the Senate 109 members.
At the House of Representatives the following day, it was a better development that still wasn’t good enough to hit the mark. The members that voted in favour of the bill were more in number, but short of the required percentage majority to give it some life. The base line is that in both chambers, the Bill lost and never to recover.
But that is just one of the legs for the actualization of the new structure we seek. Some other options still exist in the presentation of the 2014 Confab report or some other reports like it that are still pending and laden with dust. No law in Nigeria stops even a fresh bill emanating from interest groups or bodies from bringing a bill before the House seeking restructuring of Nigeria. So a lot of options still exist and must be utilized.
All of us would have suffered terrible loss if this push is stopped midway and we all go back to the old order and keep gnashing our teeth and fighting without end over inadequacies of the system. Logically, with the tempo the agitation has got to, it would be unwise to let this heat die down only to start all over some other time.
We have tested the waters with the NASS outing and have also seen what went wrong and how it did go wrong. Let us benchmark the future efforts on what happened now and ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Yes, some progress was made with the reviews where 29 of the 33 articles placed before the Senate scaled the hurdle. As an individual, I am a beneficiary with the passage of the change of the name of my LGA from what it shouldn’t have been to what it should have been.
Some of the accomplishments are good to celebrate for instance the reduction in the elective age of Nigerians. In a world where we have under-40 presidents supervising complex states, we have no need to insist on very old people to be the only ones entitled to such positions. So, it is loud acclaim to the lawmakers for that age limit reduction.