The call for the restructuring of the country received additional boost recently when Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State made a case for the exercise. The governor also called for a national endeavour to secure the necessary constitutional amendments to achieve the goal. According to him, “restructuring is a pragmatic imperative for a more efficient governance structure in our country. It will enable a departure from excessive centralisation, re-balance the federation and locate powers and responsibilities in the tier of government that can effectively discharge them.” At the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) in Abuja, the governor chided some northerners for opposing the restructuring of the country. He pointed out that those opposing it are doing so for their selfish benefits which do not apply to the entire north.
El-Rufai’s stand on restructuring is in tandem with the views of many Nigerians and groups on the matter. The agitation for a restructured Nigeria has been on the front burner of national discourse. Many Nigerians, including human rights activists and leaders of civil society organisations, have stridently called for the restructuring of the country. They want a Nigeria where more powers should devolve to the federating units in line with the hallowed principles of federalism.
Restructuring the country was one of the recommendations of the 2014 national conference organised by former President Goodluck Jonathan to ensure equitable development of the country. The current administration has, however, not given serious consideration to the matter. Therefore, it is refreshing that the Kaduna State governor is rekindling the agenda. His remarks at the Abuja event tallied with the recommendations of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Panel on Restructuring, which he headed. The report also aligned with the APC agenda to halt the dangerous drift of Nigeria to a failed state. The party had then stated that “to achieve this laudable programme, APC government shall restructure the country, devolve power to the units, with the best practices of federalism and eliminate unintended paralysis of the centre.” The party should do that now that Nigerians are calling for restructuring.
In the same vein, socio-cultural groups in the country, such as Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Pan Niger-Delta Elders Forum (PANDEF) and Middle Belt Elders Forum (MBEF), have also expressed support for restructuring the country. Similarly, notable Nigerians, including former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, the Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka and the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor Enoch Adeboye, have called for the restructuring of the country. The calls for restructuring are altruistic and must not be ignored by the government. Restructuring the country will stem the general insecurity and prevent the feared disintegration of the country.
The position of the Kaduna State governor on restructuring is commendable. However, as the chairman of the APC Panel on Restructuring, he should lead the way by persuading his party, the APC, to ensure that the country is restructured. The current centralised system of government is not working. It does not allow for growth and development of the federating units. Besides, it promotes indolence and makes the states to perpetually depend on federal allocations. They cannot think of how to generate enough revenue to develop their states.
There is an urgent need for devolution of more powers to the states so that they can develop at their own pace. It is also good to reiterate the fact that the call for restructuring does not mean the dismembering of the country. Rather, it is a patriotic call to make it work efficiently for the good of all Nigerians. Without restructuring, Nigeria will continue to grapple with its current avoidable crises. There is too much concentration of power at the centre, which has led to fierce struggle for power.
We believe that the devolution of more powers to the federating units will reduce the struggle for power at the centre as well as the prevailing ‘do or die’ approach to politics. Those opposing restructuring should think of the nation first before any other consideration. Therefore, we call on the National Assembly to enact the necessary laws that will ensure the restructuring of the country without further delay. Restructuring the country is an idea whose time has come. We cannot shy away from it. A restructured Nigeria will be in the best interest of the country and its people. It will allow Nigeria to play its leadership role in Africa and the world.