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Enough of flimflam ‘restructuring’

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Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar


There we go again. The word, restructuring, has now become the new slogan on everyone’s lips. The story of Nigerians is hardly different from that of the deaf and dumb who are known to keep repeating what someone else has said. The habit of supporting any cause or opinion hook, line and sinker, most times without careful scrutiny, is almost an age-long tradition. It would be recalled that the very first person to mention the word: restructuring at a public function some time ago was Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. It is noteworthy that even Atiku himself who released the bombshell never explained what he meant properly, or how such can be realised. But ever since the word came up, many other Nigerians have continued to lend their support for it. Surprisingly, most of the dominant voices on the issue are those of senior citizens and retired diplomats in whom most Nigerians repose so much confidence and from whom much is expected. When people who lack proper knowledge raise a flimflam, what is expected is that those who had been in the saddle and know how government operates should put issues in proper perspectives so that the younger generations may learn some lessons in the ideals of governance. But what has happened in the clamour for restructuring is that both those who know and those who don’t have fallen easy prey to cheap propaganda, and all the noises that now rent the air is that restructuring.

Those who follow the trends of events in Nigeria keenly will however not be surprised by the hackneyed clamours. Few years back, the same thing happened when almost all voices went into asking for a Sovereign National Conference. At that period, it was as if all Nigeria needed was to convene that conference and all the nation’s problems would be solved automatically. It was as a result of the general support the clamour for SNC had at the time that propelled the immediate past president, Goodluck Jonathan to convene it in order to satisfy the yearnings of millions of Nigerians. At the end of the wild-goose-chase of the so-called conference and after the submission of its reports and recommendations, not even Jonathan himself was ready to commence implementation of any of them.

Now, SNC has become history, and the rave of the moment is restructuring. Funny enough, most of those whose voices dominate the air on the issue never explain what it means or how it can be actualized in a country like Nigeria considering the prevailing situation the nation has found itself. It is not enough to advance a cause there should also be a clear-cut rational justification for it. It is perhaps necessary to examine one of the key explanations put forward by the advocates of restructuring in order to see if there is any element of sense or otherwise in it. It is being suggested that every state of the federation should be allowed to develop its own mineral resources so each can stand on its own and stop depending on the centre for hand-outs. On its face value, one might be tempted to believe that the argument is good, true and desirable. But the fact perhaps hidden to those making the proposal is that, for each state to develop its resources as being suggested, billions of dollars are required.

How can that be realised now with the current state of things in the country and considering the poor conditions of most states of the federation many which are unable to pay workers’ salaries? Some people may suggest external borrowings to actualise such dreams but most states of the federation squirm under the burden of huge foreign debts already. So, if the Federal Government (FG) wishes to dance to the people’s tune and hurriedly embarks on restructuring, how will the states source for funds to develop their mineral resources without still depending on the FG? And with the current state of Nigeria’s economy, how can the FG shoulder such responsibilities without the nation drifting into another round of dilemmas? If states are allowed to stand on their own now without proper development of their mineral resources and workers start to lose their jobs to retrenchment, will accusing fingers still not be pointed at the FG for embarking on an anti-people policy?

Even if restructuring were desirable and plausible, can the executive possibly embark on it with a fiat without recourse to the National Assembly? So why can’t all those clamouring for restructuring prevail on the members of National Assembly to commence the process of making the proposal a reality, and why must all calls be directed at the presidency as if it is for only the executive to decide on or is Nigeria now populated by illiterates and hordes of mediocre who never understand the tenets of democracy? Obviously the term: restructuring as now being canvassed by some Nigerians is no more than a cheap propaganda by those who simply have refused to sit down to understudy issues critically and do not understand the current state of things in Nigeria.

Far from restructuring which may take the centre-stage when the nation is truly ripe for it, what Nigeria has lacked since independence and needs urgently is honest and sincere leadership that will put the nation first and see the interests of all Nigerians as paramount not one whose clandestine activities while in office will be blown open later to revolve majorly on massive looting of the nation’s treasury.
Oyewusi, an educationist, lives in Lagos.


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Atiku Abubakar
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