Saturday, 24 June 2017

​Who is afraid of restructuring? By Mahmoon Baba-Ahmed

Like the proverbial bad coin, the question of restructuring Nigeria has once again resurfaced with a potent force. It is now vehemently canvassed by powerful political groups, ethnic chauvinists, separatist movements and even die-hard insurgent groups. Suddenly, debates on whether to restructure Nigeria or not, began to feature fervently at all fora where national issues are discussed intelligibly. While heated debates raged on, many believe that the restructuring of Nigeria is long overdue and, therefore, urgent steps need to be taken now to ensure its actualization. Other people simply reflect on why governments after governments in the country failed to give a hoot a bout the subject, avoiding its execution as if that will lead the nation to Armageddon, or cause its eventual disintegration and consequent destruction.

Funny enough, most of the supporters of that cause have in the past been in a position to give fillip to the agitation for restructuring the country but had, instead chosen to remain totally aloof and completely complacent. The central argument in favor of restructuring is hinged on the fact that it would make the federation less centralized by concentrating power to few hands, making it less cumbersome and less autocratic in  managing the affairs  of the country’s federating units. Incidentally, ethno-tribal groups such as the  Yoruba  Afenifere and the  Pan-Igbo Ohaneze have constantly been renewing  this agitation  with renewed vigor  since the fall of  president Goodluck Jonathan from power.

But if the truth must be told, restructuring a multi-ethnic, culturally diverse country like Nigeria is an uphill task which demands a favorable executive-legislative interfacing. It is also a time-consuming undertaking which if not carefully handled may precipitate ugly situations that could lead to civil war. It is precisely because of that, the previous PDP administration, propelled by the inordinate Ibo interest, spent prohibitive sum of money on an unsuccessful National Conference intended to achieve the aim of restructuring Nigeria, but having lacked a political will, it failed to achieve the objective for which it was commissioned.  Many Nigerians believe that the ready-made solution to the country’s numerous problems is the restructuring of the country without really considering the question of incredible leadership which has largely remained unaddressed, and which also had always failed the nation.    

True federation cannot certainly thrive under the conditions that promote corruption, indiscipline, tribalism and favoritism.  Any democratic structure founded on these vices is bound to fail woefully. It is quite obvious that a nation where a very negligible percentage of its leaders are kleptomaniac, stealing huge some of money enough to impoverish their compatriots requires  an extremely potent dose, more that simple restructuring exercise,  to overcome its  predicaments.

Nigerians who indulge in luxury, brought about by corrupt practice, who also hail and celebrate corrupt people and officials and condone freedom from unpleasant consequences will never benefit from the advantages of true federalism and will always remain the victims of leadership-inflicted poverty. Can Nigerians really, now or in the not too-distant future address the issues of money politics professed by immensely powerful money bags and embrace people with unquestionable character and leadership acumen even if they are financially handicapped? 

With the prevailing unfavorable politico-economic conditions in the country and the prevalent corruption and vile practices among the strata of the society the unending agitations and deafening calls for restructuring will, to a large extent, remain unreciprocated. What is going to be more helpful is massive enlightenment   about the imperatives of good leadership than clamoring for restructuring that may hardly ever materialize. Anything short of this would really put an old wine in a new bottle to be dispensed to newly restructured units, the well-intentioned objectives of its exponents notwithstanding.

With the nation now practically lying prostrate, and faced with the prospects of another distractive, impracticable preposition of restructuring the country, many agree that Nigeria is not ripe or even overdue for any overhaul. The time is not now for bringing about a drastic or fundamental internal change that may alter the relationship between different components or constituents of a country. Nigerians have lived together for long, seeking to understand their differences, and have learnt how to forget or ignore areas that cause occasional frictions in their relationship.   In that way, they have forged ahead together, plodding on a tortuous road to the shaky and rickety unity which they always sought to fortify and render more purposeful.

As it is now, it is quite easy for everyone to talk about restructuring whether or not he or she understands what it is all about. Many believe that restructuring Nigeria will lead to its eventual disintegration, but if that is inevitable, let it disintegrate so that the components could go their own way and devise the best means by which they could survive. Nobody is  really afraid of restructuring.  After all Nigeria is said to be an accidental contraption of many incompatible constituents   by our former colonial masters. So, let us revert to the position we were before colonialism.

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