Opinion: WHY NIGERIA SHOULD RESTRUCTURE OR PERISH – By SUNDAY EZE
A house built fifty-seven years ago called Nigeria is overdue for renovation. The structure was designed to feather the nest of an elitist group – call them politicians, bourgeoisies, or god-fathers if you like; who have grown obese from pillaging our collective till. These groups of people are the problem with Nigeria. They are the capitalists and the economic hit men who have balkanised the nation and her resources at our collective peril. They foisted on the nation an awkward system beneficial to them and to their generations unborn. No President, governor, Minister, Senator, a member House of Representatives, state House of Assembly and those who earlier held political positions would easily and willingly accede to restructuring which will deprive him of his almighty political power, position and relevance in the society. These set of people will not fold their hands and only watch when the power of manipulating elections, perks of in and out of office, fraudulently acquired wealth, landed property and oil wells are about slipping off their hands. They will pull all the strings at their disposal against any obstacle to sustaining their relevance. Some believe that God has a purpose for making Nigeria one entity despite differences in tradition, culture and religion. But God’s design should not be subjected to injustice. It serves no one any good especially those who believe in maintaining the statusquo to raise standards against genuine drive for restructuring Nigeria.
The demand for restructuring is not necessarily a battle between different regions, religion or ethnic groups in the country. It is a do-or-die contest between political elites on one hand and the poor good people of Nigeria on the other who are fed up with failed promises and the ugly trend of events. The apparent resistance to change and infusion of ethnic sentiments to stall restructuring stems from the fear of losing control of available resources, economic and or political equation. In all honesty, the current socio-political and economic structure of Nigeria is a contributory factor to non-achievement of the highly expected meaningful development. Those who confidently hold unto the statusquo on account of their personal aggrandisment will be forced to flee the scene when it becomes inevitable that the nation can no longer be deceived or tolerate their rascality, inadequacies and inanity. The prerequisite for even development of nations stems from adherence to rule of law, accountability and transparency in governance, initiation of people-oriented-policies and programmes, love for each other, fairness, justice, equity, equality, compromise, consensus etc on matters of the state. The above fibres for rapid growth and development must be cultivated to erase suspicion and enrich our democratic practice.
To a reasonable extent, Nigeria’s foremost leaders had laid solid foundations for development in the then three regions of the pre and post independence era. This led to the creation of robust regional political structures, foundation for growth and raising standard for development of that golden era. Nigeria was riding on the path to greatness. The nation excelled in agriculture which formed major part of our gross domestic product (GDP). The groundnut pyramid was the pride of northern Nigeria, Cocoa production and palm oil were the main economic stay of the west and eastern regions respectively. Developmental strides in education, infrastructure and commerce sprang up depending on peculiar regional policies and programmes. There was stability and healthy economic rivalry among the three regions. However, the long haul of military dictatorship which culminated into vandalism of the existing democratic ethos and structures of the first and second republics left the nation in a cul-de-sac of some sort. It produced instability and disrupted seamless growth and development. The stability and healthy economic rivalry enjoyed with regionalism of that proud era were erased with time as the juntas lasted. The eventual handover of power to a “militarily chosen” democratically elected president in 1999 was a welcome development. Shortly after, the nation was engrossed in several ethnic and religious crises in different parts of the country. The crises were majorly the aftermaths of deprivation, exclusion, resentment and anger, frustration, displeasure in leadership style and distorted unitary-federalism practiced in Nigeria which has raised questions on equity, fairness, devolution of power, resource control, state creation and revenue sharing formula but brutally suppressed by the then military juntas.
Today more than ever, the spate of discontent regarding the political structure of Nigeria is growing by the day. Nigeria is presently sitting on a keg of gun powder and apparently in dilemma on how to convince or cajole her citizens to remain one united, indivisible entity or split. Since independence, northern region has dominated the political leadership especially at the presidency. In situations where the north loses grip of the presidency owing to some unforeseen circumstances like death as it unfortunately occurred during the presidency of Umaru Yar’adua, politicians/elders desperately crave for return of power to the region with every antagonism and strength in them. No other region has been able to muster the courage to break the jinx or conquer this myth. Consequently, there is this general apprehension among other regions that they can no longer assume the position of conquered territories or second class citizens in their own country. The minorities in the north have become grown up adults still strapped at the back of their core northern grand-mother with their legs dangling on the ground while the south has indeed become a subjugated territory always playing second political fiddle, which will never rule or be allowed to have control over their own future. We were bequeathed with a nation where various ethnic nationalities have ceaselessly dealt with each other with high level of suspicion and acrimony.
Restructuring is apposite in a nation where some suspected, notorious AK-47 wielding marauders often slaughter citizens and destroy property time without number while government remained unperturbed. A nation where age limit inhibits youth from holding political offices when at eighteen one is due to vote in an election is an aberration. Urgent restructuring is overdue in a nation where land mass is the basis for revenue allocation instead of the principle of derivation. Any nation which condones commercialisation of politics is overdue for reforms. Cost of governance in Nigeria which grows astronomically-annually since 1999 should be restructured. Change is most wanted in a multi-facet society where undue preference in political appointments is accorded one region, tribe or religion against the spirit of federal character. Restructuring is desired in a nation where pretentious love and fake religiosity is the order of the day. The way and manner local government areas were created to favour one state more than the whole of south east zone should be revisited. Reform is indeed the way forward in a federalism which empowers the federal tier of government to create and fund local government areas instead of states. Some items in the exclusive list which gave only the federal government full powers to handle should be moved to the concurrent list to enable states to act on such items as well. A nation overwhelmed by corruption deserves not only political restructuring but the recalibration of the mindset of the leadership and its citizens as well. Change is constant and there is always time for change in every polity. That was why Nigeria should restructure now or perish.
Sunday Onyemaechi Eze, a Media and Communication Specialist is the publisher of thenewinsightng.blogspot.com. He wrote via [email protected] and can be reached on 08060901201