Sunday, June 12, 2016

Restructure Nigeria Or Fracture Her

By Tola Adeniyi  
 I start this column today with a heavy heart and great pity for both Nigeria and those armed to the teeth to bring her down. In the past couple of weeks I wrote about the thirteen threats to Ni­geria’s survival and the need for the Federal Government to bend a little to stop Nigeria from break­ing up.
But the threat last Monday by the latest Militants in the Ni­ger Delta to collapse Nigeria with their missiles [apparently purchased with the humongous amount dashed to them under the Amnesty Project] has warranted a second look at the whole develop­ing scenario.
I am compelled to issue a warn­ing here. Even if the Militants believe they have the strongest army in the world, they should do a rethink. One can only boast about the outbreak of a war; no one can categorically predict its end. The Militants should sheath their swords and call for dialogue instead of threatening to destroy Nigeria without giving a thought to the credible possibility of also getting themselves and the region they claim to be fighting for burnt in the inferno.
Nowhere in the world has any militant group waging a war of self determination or seces­sion succeeded in destroying the whole country. PKK in Turkey and Tamil Tigers in Sri-Lanka are ready examples. Tamil Tigers campaign lasted for over 40 years and in the end they had to settle for dialogue. PKK is still at it and Turkey is still waxing stronger by the day.
Nigeria survived without oil in the 50s and 60s and prosecuted a gruesome, albeit needless war without oil and without bor­rowing a Kobo from the outside world. Nigeria can call the bluff of the oil producing region and operate on Zero oil revenue. She will fall on her knees but sooner or later will gather her senses and bounce back!
Having said this, I think it is high time the Federal Government began the process of quick and in­evitable restructuring of the polity. Whoever or whatever group that is standing against restructur­ing does not wish this bleeding country well. It is gratifying that the likes of Atiku Abubakar have joined the chorus of what people have been clamouring for in the last 60 years. The ferocious cam­paigns of JS Tarka, JS Olawoyin and Adaka Boro were all inspired by the burning desire to have Ni­geria restructured.

Without restructuring the polity as it currently stands and without a truly peoples’ Constitution we are merely postponing the evil day. And as we can see that doomsday is staring all of us in the face.
President Muhammadu Buhari should as a matter of urgency assemble the leaders of thought across the country and get legal experts to submit to the National Assembly a Bill that will spell out the process and procedure for restructuring. Every country re­sponds to its own crisis in its own peculiar way giving cognisance to the special circumstances and norms of the community.
Nigeria must right away col­lapse the already collapsed states. Government should not wait till October when it is certain that only Lagos state may be in posi­tion to pay workers salaries and all other governors stand the risk of being stoned wherever they go. We have said it a million times that our great Sir Ahmadu Bello governed the whole of the old Northern Region with less than 50 aides inclusive of his Minis­ters. The same region now has 19 states, with each state being run with over 300 aides at least. No country can survive with that kind of reckless load. We all know what the states have cost us in terms of emoluments alone.
Let us operate a six zone struc­ture based on the geopolitical ar­rangement perfected by late Sani Abacha before his untimely death. Each region may then decide how many states [which would func­tion as local governments] it may require.
Let each region control its re­sources as it is done in Canada and the US and let the regions give to the Federal Government certain percentages of their inter­nally generated revenue as may be mutually agreed. Nigeria does not need the Senate and the House of Representatives is very unwieldy.
There is no hard science about devising how a couple can live to­gether in a marriage once bound­aries are sketched out. The Nige­rian union that will emerge from needed restructuring may be a Federal or Co-federal state. In my heart of hearts, the best option for Nigeria is a robust Confederation.
There was a National Confer­ence which recently drew up essential points for a workable federation. The Report of the Conference is with the Federal Government, and it will be in the best interest of this country if the recommendations in that Report are implemented, maybe with mi­nor amendments here and there after exhaustive debates by the public.
Let Nigerians know that Gov­ernment is taking steps at restruc­turing to douse the fire on the mountain. We cannot pretend that all is well. And if care is not taken Nigeria may be fractured beyond redemption if we fail to willingly and courageously restructure the country.
One may ask, in whose inter­est is this delay in restructuring? Who is the person blocking the restructuring that well meaning Nigerians have been agitating and fighting for these past sixty years?
For now all the militants agi­tating for violent break-up of the country should tarry a little. It is not only the Joint Militants or the MASSOB or the Fulani herdsmen terrorists or the Boko Haramites who are displeased with Nigeria and are dead on finding or creat­ing a New Order. Virtually every nationality in Nigeria is fed up with lopsided nature of the coun­try’s polity and would readily opt out of the Union whenever the op­portunity arises.
The heavy responsibility of re­structuring rests squarely on the shoulders of President Muham­madu Buhari. He should take the bull by the horn and restructure this country. It is his lot. And it may well be the reason the Gods allowed him to record a win after four rigorous attempts.
History beckons. Restructure or Fracture!

 Tola Adeniyi, a veteran journalist, could be reached with abasaheed@gmail.com

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