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What exactly are we restructuring?

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Children gather at the scene of a suicide attack in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria on July 17, 2017.<br />Eight people were killed and 15 others were injured when a female suicide bomber detonated her explosives at a mosque in Maiduguri, the head of the Borno state emergency management agency, Ahmed Satomi, told AFP after the blast in the city’s London Ciki area. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER


Not a few Nigerians from all walks of life have spoken in favour of Nigeria’s restructuring, from past and present political leaders to professional bodies, traditional leaders and even Nigerians in the Diaspora. This seems to be about the only time Nigerians seem to be agreeing on one thing; Nigeria is not working!

Everywhere in Nigeria today, the story is the same; the song is the same. It cuts across all known divides. The discourse everywhere is centered on one theme: The need to restructure the Nigerian state. It is interesting to note that the majority of those calling for Nigeria’s restructuring now have at one time or the other held authority (both economic and political powers) in this project called Nigeria. Could it be that they were shortsighted when they were in power and so they didn’t see the need for restructuring then or there was simply no need? Or were they being purely selfish and self-centered? Your answer is as good as mine.

So how are we to determine the authenticity of this deafening call by this political jobbers? Or is this call another political mantra as 2019 general election is approaching? We have had phrases such as ‘good roads’ ‘world class medical facilities’ ‘water supply’ ‘adequate electricity supply’ ‘free education’ ‘uncommon transformation’ and recently ‘change’ in time past whenever election is to hold in Nigeria. And all the attractive phrases would be forgotten or cancelled shortly after the elections! Politically exposed individuals and political parties in Nigeria have a way to deceive the general masses with sweet words, and they have been having their ways. Has anything change? Emphatically NO. How are we sure ‘restructuring’ is not another political mantra to woo the electorate for 2019?

Of course, it is easy to assume that restructuring came up as a result of recent happenings in our national life – such things as agitations from Niger-Delta youths, IPOB, Boko Haram insurgency, herdsmen invasions, kidnapping, culticism, high level of distrust among ethnic groups and other security issues currently ravaging the land. But the Nigerian electorate must be careful and demand to task the politicians this time around.

So back to the subject, assuming that these proponents of restructuring are genuine in this call, what exactly are we restructuring? Quite a number of fundamental issues have inherent flaws, from political to geographical delineation to fiscal and economic structures to governance issues all have fundamental flaws. Who is going to structure the restructuring agenda?

The different interpretations given to restructuring in Nigeria are as many as the various ethnic groups, political affiliations and inclinations, professional bodies and agitating groups in Nigeria. To IPOB, restructuring may mean provision or insertion of ‘referendum’ clause in the constitution. To Boko Haram insurgents; it may mean allowing the creation of an Islamic state. To the Niger-Deltans it could mean allowing states to control their resources. To treasury looters, it may mean granting amnesty through the instrumentality of law. To the Governors Forum, restructuring may simply mean power devolution from the center to the federating units. To the Afenifere in the south western Nigeria; restructuring may mean reverting back to the old regional government and true fiscal federalism etc. So who sets the agenda?

What exactly are we restructuring? Is it our present geographically imbalanced delineation that we want to restructure? This structure that allows two almost equally populated states to have grossly unequal numbers of local governments thus conferring unequal economic advantage and resource distribution on one over the other.

Are we restructuring governance structure? – This structure that compels us to have two legislative chambers of 469 people with a budget bigger than most states.’ Is this a normal structure?

Are we restructuring a federal system that allows the center to inflict more harm than good by stagnating development through unjustifiable control and putting all key indices of growth in the exclusive list? Situation where states are unable to generate and distribute own electricity without passing through the national grid. Is this a normal structure?

What exactly is the context for this restructuring? Everyone is talking restructuring but none is setting up the agenda. Maybe, this is just another political mantra for 2019 general elections.
Taiwo, secretary general, African Youth Renewal Group wrote from Ibadan, Oyo State.


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