Opinion: Nigeria and the restructuring option – By EMMANUEL IKECHUKWU IGBO
There comes a point in the journey of a nation when it becomes imperative to make a fundamental turn in order to make remarkable progress. This also applies to Nigeria as she grapples with inherent problems, amidst popular and expert counsel from various quarters to review her structure and modus operandi in order to unlock her potentials. One common piece of knowledge by successive Nigerian generations is that the nation is a concentrate of potentials but her elusive feat has been the optimal leverage of such potentials for gains.
This is largely occasioned by the nation’s operation of a strange isotope of federalism which concentrates enormous powers at the centre beyond its span of attention; fosters a parasitic fiscal structure where units rely largely on allocations from the centre to survive; promotes a highly consumptive and unproductive economy; hampers the development of resources, infrastructure and institutions at state and grassroots levels; etc.
The argument for restructuring the Nigerian system as the magic wand for its revival resonates so much with Nigerians that it has often been dealt by the political class as a trump card in winning their support and votes.
Given this massive acceptance of the restructuring option by a majority of citizens and the political class, one would wonder the difficulty in making the urgent shift from the status quo to adopting a workable system which will serve the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians. Many versions of ‘true’ federalism have been proffered; including a revert to the ‘messianic’ 1963 Constitution of Nigeria which is widely believed to have yielded positive results before the military truncated her then nascent democracy. The poser is: who would not support the discard or review of the present operating structure and adoption of a proven workable option? They would be leaders who bask in their wide span of control or authority over the nation’s huge resources; a handful of oligarchs who also bask in their scope of influence over the Nigerian polity and resources; clueless leaders who cannot identify opportunities and innovate strategies for opening up new areas where growth and development can take place; nations, multinationals and silhouetted Shylocks who are also beneficiaries of the prevailing structure; etc. They love the size of the resources within their control, hence their vice-grip on the existing state of affairs.
These actors may be in the minority but they possess the handle while the Nigerian people hold the blade in this unfair and excruciating bargain – the posture and activities of the former are bleeding the Nigerian system pale. The challenge here is bringing everyone to the head-end of the knife and tackling the problems at the other end which include the absurdities of adopting that which does not work and discarding that which does.
If the nation elects to maintain status quo, come next decade or even century, she would still be here, quelling agitations around resource control and self-determination; prospecting for oil, a commodity which is fast losing economic value at the world market, while huge deposits of mineral and human resources lie fallow across the Nigerian landscape; curtailing corruption in a spendthrift fiscal atmosphere; doling out come-easy-go-easy funds to the units without adequate measures for monitoring and controlling expenditure; shouldering (at the centre) the back-breaking responsibility for a long exclusive list, which includes policing; trying to integrate multiple ethnicities beyond paying lip-service to the one Nigeria mantra; etc.
It is not clear how long this obstinacy about restructuring will last but as long as it does, Nigeria will continue to play catch up to the progressive world as underdeveloped nations meet and overtake her in terms of development. She would be dismissed by developed nations as not serious, ‘fantastically corrupt’, and a ‘scaler quantity’ having no direction and unworthy of collaboration and partnership. She will welcome yet another generation of citizens who will behold the huge potentials of the nation but be stranded with an unworkable version of federalism – until she drops that perverted system of government like a hot brick. sunnewsonline.com