-Ed Chukwuemeka Otuchikere
Restructure is defined by the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary as “to organize something such as a system or company in a new and different way”. The key word for the purpose of this discourse is ‘a new and different way’.
Majority of Nigerians are proposing that the country needs to be restructured while some others are prompt to point out that restructuring formed part of the campaign promises of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) when they were in opposition prior to 2015.
The APC had won the presidential elections based on a ‘change’ slogan which encompassed doing things differently from the past governments. However, since taking over the helms of leadership from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the APC had become reticent whenever the issue of restructuring is raised in public forums. One begins to wonder what was the ‘change’ mantra all about? The APC has tacitly denied any commitment to engineer any such restructuring either in principle or in practice. Their body language seems to suggest that a particular section of the country is slow to see the benefits or advantage of reorganizing how things are currently run in the nation. Notwithstanding, the opposition keeps pointing out that the present template of running the country is obsolete, clearly defective, hampers creative zeal and stalls initiative on the component parts of the federation. This they argue has stunted real development. Furthermore, they opined that this system may have worked in the past, when authoritarian leaders within the military establishment held sway for decades. That era is over and Nigeria should embrace more robust and progressive models of governance that promote true federalism. This will help her compete favourably in a more informed global stage. The demands of this dispensation is either you innovate or run the risk of becoming extinct.
The current model, they pointed out, has been subject to serial abuse from within and without as power is vested in people without recourse to transparency and accountability. Therefore with the passage of time, the fault lines and cracks in the geopolitics become more obvious. For more than a decade now, militancy and terror groups such as Boko Haram, bandits and others have openly manifested the seething intolerance within the nation. It is time to address the apparent injustices and inequalities within the system. That the increased agitation for self-determination, resource control and independence by some ethnic nationalities are symptoms of the continued deficiencies of the current system is not news. A system that seems to concentrate so much power at the centre has left many of the states unconsciously dependent on handouts from Abuja. A balance needs to be created to reflect what is good, fair and just thereby giving every segment of society more confidence in our common destiny as a nation and a people. The current model whereby states queue up monthly for allocations has rendered many state totally bereft of initiative to map out strategies for boosting productivity and thereby shoring up internally generated revenue.
Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) pales when compared alongside the BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. It is worth mentioning that Nigeria was at par with these nations only a couple of decades ago with regard to the basic economic indices. The BRICS nations obviously adhering to a well structured plan and strategy, have recorded giant strides in industrialisation, human capital development and infrastructure while Nigeria is still taunted as the sleeping giant of Africa.
The APC-led administration’s blatant refusal to reconsider its decision not to look into the recommendations of the 2014 confab reports is rather insensitive and a disservice to the Nigerian populace considering the immense resources that were plunged into that confab.
The convocation of a confab of that magnitude is a testament to the desirability of Nigerians of all ethnic nationalities to re-evaluate the terms and conditions of our federation. The stance of President Muhammadu Buhari on assumption of office portrayed a bias even when he claimed that he will not look at the recommendations, that the reports, in his opinion, will be decorating the book shelves and nothing more. This really set the stage for the type of governance we witness today, one with a messianic attitude and that does not listen to the masses that voted her into power.
However, as the days elapse into weeks and months into years, the APC has maintained its unshifting position of not considering the 2014 confab recommendations. While many revered and respected Nigerians add their voices to the restructuring request, it will be in the best interest of this government to seize the moment and not live to regret another missed opportunity to readdress the ills of the past no matter how painful.
We all know it is a herculean task, but it is either we are ready to restructure today or go through the pain of reconstruction tomorrow. The choice before Nigerians is simple- to restructure or not to restructure. The consequences of not restructuring may be dire and expensive given the quantum of despair, discontent and dissatisfaction pervading the land. In situations like this courageous leaders are required; men who can plot a new road map and navigate therein.
Otuchikere, is an entrepreneur & social commentator. He can be reached via: email@example.com