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Restructuring – APC’s Achilles’ heel

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Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari attends a reception at the closing session of the Commonwealth Business Forum at the Guildhall in central London on April 18, 2018, on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (CHOGM).The Commonwealth Business Forum will discuss practical ways to enhance trade, showcase investment opportunities and promote sustainable development. / AFP PHOTO / POOL / Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS


The story is told in classical mythology of the invulnerability of Archilles, except in the heel. A great Greek hero of the Trojan war, Archilles was said to have been dipped in the Styx by his mother and thereby made invulnerable except for the heel which she held as she dipped her in the river. “Archilles’ heel” is synonymous with a person’s weak or most vulnerable point. So be the necessary nexus between the popular clamour for the political restructuring of Nigeria and the all Progressives Congress’ (APC’s) raison d’etre for being in government which purpose is espoused in its bold or audacious manifesto.

In the document, the party promised it would, if voted into office, “initiate action to amend (the) constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties and responsibilites to States and Local Governments in order to entrench true Federalism and the Federal spirit” Coming, as the country was, from a dubious interpretation and a thinly-vailed irredentist manipulation of the principle and practice of federalism imposed upon her by military adventurism, the promise to put the country back on the track of the true meaning and intendment of that governance ideal earned for the APC a cherished place in the hearts of many Nigerians and ensured success for it at the 2015 general polls.

The expected faithful performance of the party’s solemn pledge has become the benchmark for adjudging its sincerity regarding its polyvalent promise of “Change!” True federalism, devolution of power to the nation’s constituent units (both of them inseparable components of restructuring) have become the Achilles’ heel of the APC being its most vulnerable public policy position. The peevish, vexatious or self-indulgent attitude of President Muhammadu Buhari towards the idea is however troubling as it has further exposed the party to charges of insincerity, deceitfulness or “lie, lie“. To salvage the situation or, more appropriately, to save the party from itself, the report of a committee of the APC which has patriotically recommended devolution of power, resouce control, state police, etc. is apropos the purpose of redeeming the party from its blundering, floundering trajectory. The recommendations have interrogated the country’s false practice of federalism. Also cheering are suggestions or proposal concerning a sincere implementation regime.

One may be tempted to assume that forces of change or a brigade insisting on a detour back to the path of moral correctiveness have taken over and is steering affairs and events respecting the requirement to pull the party out of its low spirits or away from a creeping loss of integrity. Concerns are however being expressed regarding a feared ploy or strategem just to hoodwink the electorate in the 2019 elections. This is in the light of the back- ground of the party’s chief helmsman’s blatant rejection of the idea of restructuring. President Buhari has never hidden his inexplicable disdain for the provisions of his party’s manifesto which demonstrate a clear and un-ambiguous understanding of restructuring and the incidents attaching thereto.

Buhari is reportedly disturbed by the eggregious amount of public funds spent on convening the 2014 National Conference which conference report has visibly delineated the terrain of the issues that have held the nation hostage or prostrate. The clamour for the political restructuring of the polity has been so deafening it is surprising that it would take the ruling party three years to wake up from a sleepy arrogance bordering on ignorance and insensitivity. The new-fangled romance with the ideals of restructuring or the ethos of true federalism by a segment of the party’s leadership even though worthy of adulation, is suspect.

It should however be understood that the geo-political and inter-ethnic tensions which the nation has witnessed particularly in the last three or so years can be relieved by a policy and practice of true federalism and a principle for the fair sharing of proceeds from the resources of the geographical entity where they are derived. The effective solution to the myriad of socio-political agitations all over the country is a cerebal re-visitation of the major thrusts of the all-society 2014 National Conference deliberations or an unconditional hearkening to the plaintive cries of the people for the political restucturing of the country. Chief Obafemi Awolowo, unarguably Nigeria’s foremost federalist, has intoned in his vigorous advocacy of a federal system of government for Nigeria that no ordinary type of leadership is capable of making federalism and democracy work successfully in Nigeria.

He has identified tolerance, breadth of outlook, intellectual comprehension, a burning sense of mission, hardwork, selfless devotion and statesmanship as some of the virtues which leaders with a keen sense for the success of these governance types must possess. But Nigeria’s leadership have been successively weak-kneed regarding the art and practice of federalism. The present occupiers of the seat of government have curiously thought it possible to continue with the present skewed or desultory arrangement and expect therefrom the revolutionary re-minting of Nigeria through the agency of an un-dialectical “Change!” agenda. The aversion for or the reluctance of the Buhari administration to have a look at the report of the 2014 National Conference with a view to establishing the machinery for the adoption of some of its salient provisions is disdainful of the public weal.

Official opposition to the peaceful negotiation of the Nigerian national question is curious, un-intelligible, intellectually lazy and downright un-patriotic. It should be rebuffed or resisted. It is strange that a party will trifle with its avowed commitment by repudiating an a priori consciousness deriving from certain members’ longstanding history of radical policy position or stance. The Achilles’ heel of the APC can be relieved or made less vulnerable by a clear-headed re-dedication to cherished values.
Rotimi-John is lawyer and public affairs commentator.


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Muhammadu Buhari‎
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