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For a united Nigeria

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A Nigerian fan waves a scarf as he celebrates after the FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifying football match between Nigeria and Zambia in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on October 7, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

The compelling need to restructure Nigeria for efficiency, unity and development is something that all citizens should take as a crusade and insist on if their future would have any meaning.

As this newspaper once said, a properly structured and effectively administered federation is the only way to a united and prosperous Nigeria.

Not only must the work begin now, it is work for all. And only enemies of Nigeria will oppose or even delay that work.

It is strange indeed that anyone with a sense of history and who has diligently followed the story of Nigeria before and since independence would find ambiguous, the concept and the need to restructure this country into a federation in deed and in truth.

The first point to make is that, since the days of the northern and southern protectorates, the geographical expression called Nigeria has been restructured according to the wisdom of managers of its affairs.

This explains that, for many reasons that include administrative convenience, economic viability and benefits, political patronage, and ill-motive, social cohesion, this country has been  shaped and reshaped  from two large protectorates through  three and later four regions, to12, 19 and now 36 states.

The overriding principle of these steps, at least as claimed by each government of the day, was to decentralize government, including, in the words of the former head of state, Yakubu Gowon in May 1967, ‘to remove the fear of domination.’

The ultimate aim of what is called restructuring is to make Nigeria an effectively governed and stable country.

Second, over the years, justification for restructuring Nigeria has been well argued by so many people – politicians, intellectuals, businessmen, even traditional rulers – such that, for any one genuinely interested in making informed judgment, there is no shortage of literature on the matter.

Indeed, the most recent well-articulated resource is the proceedings and recommendations of the 2014 National Conference which cost billions of naira of public fund – not counting the precious man-hours of highly placed Nigerians from all walks of life.

And, generally, the objectives of each proponent – justice, equity, unity, are precisely in line with expressed desires of the northern senators.

Once again, to all reasonable intents and purposes, there is no reason to quarrel with the need to restructure Nigeria.

It is a settled opinion that change is the only permanent feature of life and anyone who resists it will ossify and, in time, die.

Re-structuring is therefore a continuous, inevitable process in the lives of people and of nations.

Within the context of perennial internal and global changes, Nigeria cannot but continuously self-assess and adapt if it is to survive and thrive.

It is clear to see that, since 1960, other nations that have come to terms with this fact of life have left Nigeria behind.

Once again, restructuring takes many forms, and is implemented on different fronts – economic, political, administrative, and even social – in either chosen or imposed response to exigencies.

Nations restructure their political system as Nigeria did from the parliamentary to the presidential system of government; and administrative restructuring from protectorates to many states.

Regardless of the obvious need and the loud call from increasingly wider and even unlikely sources to restructure the country  to achieve better governance and move Nigeria forward, some deride and dismiss the whole idea as merely a political tool of the elite to serve their  personal  and  sectional
ends.

Some think that the urgent concerns of Nigerians are more of ‘bread and butter’ basic necessities and not an esoteric, hard-to- grasp word bandied about by politicians. Still, others say that the most necessary restructuring is of the mind.

This is fine. But it may be argued that it is indeed the continually restructured Nigerian minds, who generate the very many ideas to improve the polity, imperfect as these ideas may be. Closure and tunnel vision are dangerous characteristics of man.

The opponents of restructuring therefore need to restructure their mentality and it must be said that the problem is more with the elite who benefit from the status quo than with the citizens who suffer its debilitating effects.

The northern part of Nigeria, endowed with vast agricultural land, a huge variety of proven solid mineral reserves, hydro power sources and large pool of labour, has everything to gain and nothing to lose from a patriotically-motivated comprehensive restructuring of Nigeria. But only if the selfish and parasitic elite acknowledge and act upon this evident truth.

It is heartening to acknowledge though that genuinely informed northerners and southerners have lent their voices to the pro-restructuring views of their compatriots.

The first provision in the manifesto of the change-chanting APC is to ‘initiate action to amend Nigeria’s Constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties and responsibilities to states and local governments in order to entrench true Federalism and the Federal spirit.’

The sixth provision promises to ‘restructure government for a leaner, more efficient and adequately compensated public service.’ These are some of the key components of restructuring that Nigerians call for.

Let it be said again:  there is no viable alternative to a comprehensive restructuring of this polity if Nigeria would be united, peaceful and prosperous.

Irrespective of whatever any one at any level thinks, if Nigeria is to actualise its manifest destiny as the leading Black nation, there is no viable alternative to its comprehensive restructuring. Now is the time.


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