Since our national, ethnic, regional and state alarm bells went off simultaneously to launch the current talking point in our ever shifting, vexed debate, I couldn’t share my take hitherto. I thought the ensuing characteristic marketplace-like virtual parliament rubbished the essence of dialogue. In spite of and despite the frequency and loudness of our speakings, no meaningful communication happens when we all talk at the same time or deploy highfalutin and intemperate verbiage. However, with the decibel of the cacophonous debate on restructuring normalising, one can now comment on the Mission Impossible.
The idea of restructuring Nigeria is like a patient who arrived hospital stone dead, fit only for burial or body donation. I shall dwell on that presently. Meanwhile, what does the layman understand by restructuring, beyond all the grandiloquence and hypocritical grandstanding by our men and women in power? Nigeriapedia should enter the term simply as reconciling and reconstructing the ethnic components of the country to remake her into the federation she is and not the unitary structure the authorities have made her. Proponents, mainly from the South, have restructured such jargons as decentralisation, devolution of power, unicameral National Assembly and comparative advantage into recurring adjectives to qualify their call for restructuring. Terminologies like resource control, derivation formula, marginalisation, and so on are also bandied here and there in the mix.
Opponents of restructuring, mostly northerners and especially those in government, camouflage their intendment with the empty talk of Nigeria being best as one indivisible entity. But those who should know decode the underlying vibes of fear, dependency and mistrust, as succinctly captured by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, himself a (latter-day?) supporter. Turaki knows what he’s talking about, surely. Yet, there are people like me who hail from the South (South-South, really) and are not in government but don’t support anything restructuring for other than the Turaki reasons. No Nigerian who has lived in Nigeria and understands the workings of our system would buy the restructuring sweet-nothings, no matter the delectable pitch by its salesmen. Restructuring is deceptive, all-round.
How is it that all the elder statesmen hosannaing restructuring today wanted its supporters crucified when they were in power? Conversely, what new light did yesterday’s northern supporters of restructuring, who now find themselves in government, see that makes them so born-again and dismissive of their ‘Old Testament position’ as an anathema? As Nigerians ruminate on the next President, people like Gov. Nasir el-Rufai spoil the market for Turaki. For crying out loud, what assurances exist that this restructuring lover would not transmogrify into a hater once he leaves Eagle Square on May29, 2019?
Also, talking about the Kaduna State chief executive, he’s by far the most telling proof that the governing All Progressives Congress won’t change restructuring from the wild goose chase it’s been. The man appeared on television to renounce restructuring, but was appointed by his party a few days thence to head its committee on restructuring. What a country! If you missed that feedforward messaging, an ad hoc social media post is a barely intelligible follow-up. A very un-Nigerian politician, Sen. Shehu Sani, incidentally a Kaduna (Mafia?) man, took to Facebook last Saturday to share his timetable for restructuring: “1. In 2017, restructuring in COMMITTEE mode or buying time mode. 2. In 2018, restructuring will be in CAMPAIGN promises mode. 3. In 2019, restructuring will be buried in ELECTION mode. 4. In 2020, in New Government Needs To Settle (Down) mode. 5. In 2021, in Looking Into It mode. And on & on.”
From the activist-senator’s height, that was a joke taken too far; but this is Nigeria, where citizens don’t mind expensive malfeasance. Instead, we would thank the lawmaker for the tip-off; just as you would thank me now for rewinding to our unfinished business.
The leaders we gave to ourselves, the same way we did the 1999 Constitution, didn’t bring back this debate on restructuring to bury us. No, they are not that mean; at least not yet. Restructured politically, that means smart alecks in government donated a dead matter to the masses for purposes of distracting, confusing and keeping us busy!
Any Nigerian still expecting restructuring is waiting for Godot. Even if restructuring happens, crisis would persist. It’s restructuring of the mind that Nigeria requires fundamentally. The country would hit the sky flying when we restructure the injustice and hypocrisy and sheer ungodliness that becloud our humanity. For instance, Lagos and Kano compete in population but the former dwarfs the latter by over twice the number of local government areas. Cheated up north, that same Lagos takes its pound of flesh down south by inhumanly collecting taxes from Mobil, in the name of housing its headquarters while the people of Akwa Ibom State bear the brunt of the multinational’s operations and exploitation.
That interesting Cicle of Injustice spirals as Akwa Ibom, shouting itself hoarse at Mobil, Lagos and the Federal Government over glaring infractions, allowed Oron federal constituency, the lead layer of the state’s golden egg, to languish away in the minor league of underdevelopment. If success smiles at Gov. Udom Emmanuel, said to have begun restructuring that perennial injustice, then Akwa Ibom would have shown Nigeria the way to go. Addressing the injustices visited on minorities and indeed all helpless citizens or groups in Nigeria, and entrenching freedom, fairness and equity is the major restructuring that the country needs. Until then, the restructuring debate is noise, nothing more. God bless Nigeria!