Sunday, July 3, 2016

Nigeria: Re-Structuring Again?

By Oshineye Victor Oshisada  
Lately, the call for the country’s re-structuring is unbridled. The clamour for it rents the air as if without it , the country shall go asunder. The issue is over-dramatised to the point of nausea, and to such degree that every Tom , Dick and Harry is climbing on the bandwagon of the agitation for re-structuring whether or not they understand re-structuring, its processes and implications.
If it is examined critically, it shall be discovered that the agitation for re-structuring is from disgruntled elements; those whose political horizon is bleak and their influence, not to mention affluence, is progressively ebbing. For an example, if a person like Atiku Abubakar, with 954 votes compared with Muhammadu Buhari’s score of 3,430 votes in the 2015 APC primary election, was successful to be the sitting President today, would he be calling for re-structuring? Definitely not. Therefore, the callers for re-structuring are not sincere.

None of the callers for re-structuring except Chief Emeka Anyaoku who once suggested that the country should be collapsed to six geo-political zones has explained what they really want. This is physical re-structure and not power re-structure. In my piece on March 2, 2016, titled “Of Buhari’s Critics, Counsellors”. I opposed this, because I doubted if any of the existing states could be prepared to surrender its hard-earned autonomy. 
In the past 53 years, states were created. In 1960, there were three regions – West, East and North ; in 1963 , Midwest was created ; in 1967 , it increased to 12 states ; 1976 produced 19 states ;1987 witnessed 21 states ; in 1991 , it increased to 30 states ;1996 ,36 states ,with the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja , meaning that seven times , the country was re- structured . Therefore, if someone suggests the collapse of 36 states to six, it is to put back the hand of the clock. The reasons for the creations were to enhance holistic competitions and bring governance to the door of the people. A collapse has the opposite effect of suppressing competition and governance.

Every protagonist of restructuring hinges the argument on the National Conference of 2014. In the first place, that the ex-President (Dr.) Goodluck Jonathan, held on closely till the end of his tenure to organise the Conference demonstrated clearly his facetiousness. A more thoughtful and earnest President would not wait till the dyeing days of his administration for an important Conference. Of course, the PDP contemplated ruling the country for 60 years. One was not surprised at Jonathan’s antics and tactics. Therefore, if the sitting President Muhammadu Buhari describes the National Conference of 2014, with 454 members on whom N9 billion was expended, as wasteful, he is right.
There are too many problems for Buhari to contend with. Without claiming to be the President’s advocate, I am aware that like a juggler with many balls in the air, there are the problems of corruption, insecurity, unemployment and the unsafety of the pipelines central to our economic survival. Now, some disillusioned politicians are adding the bogey of “re-structuring” to cause diversion, create sin jobs for themselves and thereby disgrace a well-meaning government. Corruption is the most debilitating to our growth. A former U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright and a former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson, once called on President Muhammadu Buhari to tackle corruption as his first order of business. In a joint piece by the duo, published in U.S. based magazine, TIME, they noted that Buhari must tackle corruption; “because it is a poison in any democracy”. Also, recently the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, branded Nigeria as a “fantastically corrupt”country.
Latest in the series of corruption is the $2.1 billion arms deal, shared by our leaders, who nearly dispatched innocent soldiers to their untimely graves for failure to confront well armed Boko Haram insurgents. The protagonists of re-structuring are unperturbed by these revelations. What with the gargantuan retrieval of funds from looters within the past one year, and the expectation for additional sums? Proponents of “re-structure” are yet to convince Nigerians of such parallel achievement in the annals of our history.
Consequent upon President Umaru Yar’Adua’s demise on May 5, 2010, the Vice- President Goodluck Jonathan first acted, but was later confirmed to become the country’s 14th president. His boss bequeathed a Seven-Point Programme to him. Jonathan’s regime remained the most corrupt. In my considered opinion, those who are crying hoarse to high heavens over re-structuring are merely trying to draw red-herrings across the trail. 
Talking of allocation formula. This has been a topic of contention for ages. Is it determined by the principles of derivation or of needs? If there is state police, will it not be politicised by the party in control in the state? One-time chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi now in Buhari’s administration, reiterated that the forum adopted a unanimous resolution during its summit endorsing state police as a solution to the security challenges in the country. Amaechi was reported to be the proponent of state police. All the 31 members in attendance at the forum supported the call for state police. On true Federalism, military regimes of decades caused its atrophy which can be rectified with time. Therefore, as a concerned citizen, I believe that President Buhari must not be stampeded into putting the cart before the horse.
* Oshisada, a veteran journalist, lives at Ikorodu, Lagos.

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