‘Communities and native authorities should have a stake in Nigeria’
It is not yet clear, whether some ‘disgruntled forces’ within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are trying to use the renewed call for the restructuring of the country at this period to distract the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, or they were serious about how Nigeria could be structured to true federalism.
The former Vice President, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, one of the founding pillars of the APC, recently raised the issue, when he bluntly said at a public function that Nigeria has to be restructured and since then many prominent Nigerians have taken up the matter.
Unfortunately, President Buhari’s body language and comments on the subject irked many Nigerians who supported the party. They claimed Mr. President betrayed the promises his party made to restructure the country during the build-up to the 2015 general elections.
Prominent among those who lampooned President Buhari and the APC was the former Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Alani Akinrinade who said, “It is political suicide for the APC to say restructuring was not in its manifesto.”
He went as far as saying that Mr. President signed an agreement to restructure the country before he gained the support of the South West region during the campaign.
Speaking on the issue recently, a former Minister of Health for State, Arc. Gabriel. Y. Aduku warned that the agitation for the restructuring of the country should not be based on ethnic and religious consideration but more of political.
According to him, “Yes there have been strident calls for the restructuring of the country from a lot of people, from different parts of the country. While some of the calls have primordial and political undertones, a lot of the calls are anchored on well-established premise of ensuring the survival of the country.”
Wondering why the issue has suddenly become so loud and reverberating across the country, Aduku attributed it to the failure of the leadership to keenly address the nagging needs of Nigerians and all segments of the federating units.
Said he, “This failure on the part of the leadership and the political elite, essentially, has led to a disequilibrium in the distribution of the common wealth, thereby giving rise to calls for restructuring. Some parts of the country feel alienated in the scheme of things with the attendant calls for self-determination by some ethnic groups, some Nigerians do not feel safe in parts of the country – so much violence and insecurity in the land – and economic marginalisation of the majority.”
He, however, took a different position on how the issue could be approached, saying: “Restructuring the country should start from a fundamental restructuring of our educational system and a massive investment into the educational sector. Let us pause and ask ourselves a question: if we have control of resources in our communities and our youths are lacking in quality education, what would be the outcome? It means we will still be having militancy and other related crises because of inequality of access to quality education and the attendant ability to hone skills and talents. We need to restructure the educational system by rebuilding schools, training and retraining the teachers, re-examining and enhancing the curricula to include, among others civic education, moral instruction, and ensuring access to quality education for the Nigerian child.”
Explaining how the country could be restructured amidst the ethnic and religious complexities, the former minister said, “Most of the fears, which tend to drive present day agitations for self-determination stemmed from ethnic and tribal dominations.
“The minority tribes are afraid of the dominance of the majority tribes, while the majority tribes are afraid of the onslaught of the agitators from the minority tribes.
The fears in most cases are real. I believe that while education and moral rearmament are vital for survival and sustenance, managing the ethnic and tribal complexities of our national life should be tackled through a bottom-up approach in the twin issues of responsibility and authority.
“Each federating unit should be made and reassured of a sense of belonging through a well-articulated charter of equity. Authority and responsibility should be driven from the local authorities (family, community, town, local government), to the state and the centre. I do recall that in the First Republic, communities and native authorities played essential roles in ensuring compliance to, and the enforcement of law, order and values.
“We can look at such a structure, the things that worked effectively, modify them based on current realities and incorporate them into our national code. When communities and native authorities have a stake in the collective survival of the country, they will play their roles keenly, thus reducing the fears of dominance or stampede, which are fuelling crises in the country.”
Aduku in his explanation averred that political restructuring was imperative “but we also need to pay close attention to the subliminal factors that can make such a restructuring a positive one. It should not be restructuring along geo-political or ethnic/linguistic boundaries alone. We should look comprehensively at our past, current state-nation structure and where we want to be in a world that is now a global village.”