Restructuring is one of the solutions currently being considered to help resolve Nigeria’s hydra-headed political problems. Over the last year, a lot of scholars, politicians, retired generals, elder statemen and well-meaning Nigerians have been clamouring for Restructuring as the only way for Nigeria to remain one indivisible whole. What they are saying is that all the states be left to develop at their own pace, like we had before the January 1966 Coup which brought in the Military that introduced the Unitary System of Government in the running of the country.
On the issue of Restructuring, there are 2 schools of thought. There are those who support Restructuring and those opposed to it. The first group is made up of members of the Afenifere, and a few former leaders from the South-South while the 2nd group that is opposed to restructuring is made up of prominent Nigerians from the North. As the situation stands today many big wigs and political juggernauts from the North are opposed to Restructuring. They have not hidden their opposition to it because they feel it is an Agenda by the South to break away. So, they don’t buy the idea.
Restructuring is the devolution of powers to the extent that more responsibilities be given to the states while the Federal Government is vested with the responsibility to oversee our foreign policy, defence, and economy. Even the idea of having federal roads in towns and cities has become outdated and urgently needs revisiting. That means we need to tinker with our constitution to accommodate new thoughts that will strengthen our nationality.
Right now, people are clamouring for the basic necessities of life like Food, Housing, Education, Health, good roads and hospitals. The argument is that when these problems are fixed as a result of wealth redistribution, then we would have less worry about Security, Corruption, and Nepotism, which are currently facing us as a country. The supporters of restructuring argue that there is no other way the problems of the country could be fixed if (restructuring) is not given a priority. Nigeria is now more divided than before and the only voice that can unite us right now is for us to go back to the basics and see how Nigeria could be better governed in terms of ideas and methods.
Talking about Mineral Resources: Do you know that restructuring of Nigeria would be of advantage to some states in Nigeria, especially states with more mineral resources like crude oil? Now, crude oil is the only mineral resource the government depends on, unlike then when oil exploration and exploitation were not on a commercial basis. Governors premiers worked harder to generate revenues for their regions.
It is also believed in some quarters that restructuring Nigeria means South-South will be controlling their oil and South-West will go back to Awolowo’s method of development. It’s also believed that Yoruba will also be getting revenues from other numerous things. Many people believe Northerners don’t have much for development without South-South, South-East, South West, and more specifically the Niger Delta because they (Hausa/Fulani) solely depend on the proceeds from oil to develop their zones.
Another reason Fulani would oppose restructuring is that they see themselves as being born to rule. Politics is a career for many of them.. An average northerner believes and depends solely on politics as the only means of survival. Federal monthly allocation is the only viable means of survival for many governors especially in the North, and there may be a crisis if SAfederal allocation is not forthcoming. The leaders there are yet to think of other means to generate revenue for their states.
In one of PA Adebajo interviews, he explained why Buhari would oppose restructuring.
“That is a political principle that arises from the adage, ‘When you make peaceful change impossible, you make violent change inevitable.’ It is not everybody that believes it. For instance, those who are shouting in the West and IPOB clamouring out of frustration. If restructuring had been done and we had returned to fiscal federalism, and every federating state has its autonomy, there would be no need for people to be frustrated and said ‘we don’t even want restructuring again, we want to go away.’ The military restructured and northerners don’t want a change because they are enjoying the advantage of the constitution that is skewed against us. Buhari won’t accept restructuring easily because the constitution is skewed in favour of his people. I’ll give you an illustration because when we talk about these people, you don’t understand. The revenue allocation formula being used now was what the military came up with on their own; not what was agreed to at the London constitutional conference. You can now imagine saying ‘you will contribute money on the basis of the extent of your land, whether its based on an arid area.’ Extent of land is the condition, and they claim to have many local governments and states. On what does the number of local governments in the South fewer than those in the North? What is the yardstick? No basis! Some local governments in the North are not up to a constituency in the South. That is one of the awkward things in this constitution. That is one of the things we are fighting against.
Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who is the elder statesman and Afenifere chieftain, a few months back, said President Muhammadu Buhari and the Northern part of the country were opposed to restructuring of Nigeria because they were cheating other parts of the country with the 1999 Constitution. He spoke in an interview with the Broadcasting Corporation of Oyo State (BCOS), he said there would be no real peace in Nigeria until it returns to the 1960 Constitution. While renewing calls for restructuring and federalism as critical factors for the nation to be peaceful, he particularly tackled President Buhari and the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, for paying lip service to calls for restructuring in a bid to satisfy their selfish interests. He affirmed that a return to the 1960 Constitution and consideration of the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference would help in the desired restructuring of the country and its return to federalism.
Adebanjo, a delegate to the 2014 national conference, said mischievous people who imposed a lopsided constitution on the country continued to oppose a return to federalism because the current system was in their favour.
He decried the lack of political will to see a restructuring of the country as seen in Buhari’s decision to set aside the implementation of the recommendations of the 2014 confab while also setting up another restructuring committee headed by Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, whose recommendations were yet to see the light of the day.
He rubbished the notion that calls for restructuring were targeted at dividing the nation, noting that the restructuring sought was one where all regions would be united as equal partners, not one where a region would be contributing little, yet getting the bulk of resources of the country. Harping on the need for constitutional democracy and restructuring, Adebanjo lamented that many Nigerians suffered unjustly amid plenty resources that the nation has.
He maintained that a return to the federalism propounded by the 1960 constitution would bring a return of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s time of free healthcare and free education.
“The question of restructuring is not a new philosophy. It is a question of going back to federalism as we had it at Independence by our founding fathers.
“And the minute the military changed it in 1966, our woes began.
“We discussed restructuring at the 2014 national conference and we considered all laws that were in existence in Nigeria.
“There were 600 resolutions and we agreed to return to status quo.
“The only challenge is that President Buhari put aside the recommendations. “What is difficult in going back to restructuring? What is difficult in going back to the 1960 constitution?
“Let’s go back to the constitution given to us by our founding fathers like Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe and the Sardauna of Sokoto.
“But people who want to do mischief, particularly our brothers from the North, don’t want it because they are cheating us under this constitution imposed on us by the military in 1966. “And as long as that constitution exists, those of us in the South, those of us who took part in the founding of this nation and promoters of constitutional democracy will not accept.
“If you ask our APC brothers in government, they will tell you that you cannot do without the North as if the North is the indicator of where we should go.
“We are requesting a return to the times of Chief Obafemi Awolowo that we had free healthcare, free education, and we had representations abroad.
“During this time, we never borrowed a dime from Tafawa Balewa,” Adebanjo said.
He described as enemies of the people any governor of the South West who opposes federalism, urging governors to push for restructuring to take themselves out of slavery.
“Our people are suffering for no just cause. We have the means, resources.
“The North is the rider and we are the horse. That is why I am still shouting at 93 years.
“I am fighting for my children. In your own interest, tell them to return you to federalism.
Buhari will not do it easily because it will not pay him and his people.
“Tell your governors, they should press for restructuring now. The longer Buhari stays there, the more you are under slavery. “So, we say let us return to where we started out as a nation. When we call for restructuring, they say we want to divide the country.
Also, Nasir el-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna, few weeks back, says it is time to restructure Nigeria in order to ensure equitable distribution of resources.
Speaking at a public lecture to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Arewa House, held in Kaduna on Saturday, the governor maintained that restructuring the country is in the best interest of ensuring sustainable development.
El-Rufai, who cited the 2018 recommendations of the APC committee on restructuring, noted that there was a need to reorganise the country’s constitutional framework in order to give states more control over certain resources.
The focus of the APC committee, which was set up in 2017 and chaired by el-Rufai, was to establish the party’s position on restructuring in line with ensuring that all Nigerians benefit from true federalism.
Under the proposed restructured framework, el-Rufai explained that states would have more control over the police, oil and gas resources, minerals, correctional facilities, stamp duties, registration of business names, among others.
“I am not aware of any significant constituency that is against the idea that states should exercise consequential powers, assume more responsibilities and control resources to enable them deliver better outcomes for those they govern. This will empower state governments to cease passing the buck to the president and the federal government when most of the problems our citizens face daily as a nation are, and can be solved by improved and focused governance at the states’ levels,” he said.
“It is time to make this sort of well-defined restructuring work, for the benefit of the peoples of this country.
“The report of our APC true federalism committee puts in one place the recommendations, and the legislative amendments to give life to a restructured polity. I therefore call on our federal legislators and the national assembly ad hoc committee on constitutional review to take advantage of our report and initiate the constitutional and legislative amendments in either a piece-meal or comprehensive manner without further delay.
“We, therefore, have no excuse not to seize this moment and do the heavy lifting for our country and our people. It is in our hands to make the structures, laws and constitutional arrangements in our country conducive to modern governance that will ensure our nation thrives in the 21st century.”
Condemning the northern leaders, the acting Secretary General and National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prince Uche Achi-Okpaga, said that those trying to give #EndSARS protest against police brutality, extrajudicial killings and extortion, ethnic and sentimental colorations would fail completely.
He said that restructuring of Nigeria had already begun, noting that the “#EndSARS brouhaha is just the icing on the cake.” Achi-okpaga said, “Just like the world went digital those who remained analogous were swept off by the digital wave.
“Restructuring has begun in Nigeria already. The #EndSARS brouhaha is just the icing on the cake. Those who are now trying to give it ethnic and sentimental colorations will fail completely. “The wave of restructuring will be tempestuous and all who stand on its way will be consumed. We just cannot thrive on a structure that has continued to move backwards.”
Northern governors, others on their own, Buhari’s regime’s nepotism must not continue—M’Belt Forum
Also, the Middle Belt Forum rejected positions of the northern governors and traditional rulers on Nigeria’s unity and EndSARS protests saying they were on their own.
The National President of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr Bitrus Porgu, in an interview with one of our correspondents, in Jos on Monday, noted that those who attended the meeting failed to acknowledge the need for a positive turnaround in the affairs of the country. According to him, this shows that the northern governors and traditional rulers are together with the President in the mess going on in the country. A cross-section of traditional rulers from Northern Nigeria during an emergency meeting with Northern Governors at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House in Kaduna on Monday. Photo: NAN
Describing the view of the northern governors and others as selfish, the National President of the Middle Belt Forum called on them to have a rethink in their assessment of the Nigerian situation and push for restructuring of the country.
Porgu said, “As far as we are concerned, their (Northern governors) views are for them. They do not represent our views because they are selfish. Are they saying that the current situation in Nigeria where nothing is working should continue? We have always said that bad governance, nepotism and other divisive tendencies brought by this administration must not continue. Anyone who is saying a different thing is simply on their own”
NORTH SEES ITSELF AS SUPERIOR TO OTHERS – PANDEF
The spokesman for the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, Ken Robison, flayed the present arrangement. “whereby a section of the country seems to be superior to other parts of the country.
“The issues raised by the #EndSARS protesters are fundamental. In terms of police brutality, in terms of extortion and harassment of young people in the southern part of the country, and surprisingly and very, unfortunately, the northern region is saying that these activities of brutality and extortion and extrajudicial killings that were taking place in the southern part of the country were not so in the North. So that means we are not one country.
“That what happens in one part of the country does not happen in another part of the country. Why is it so? There are questions to be answered by the leadership of Nigeria, by the high command of the police and other security agencies. Why is there discrimination or disparity or imbalance as it were that while some persons are saying that experiences in some part of the country are not so in other parts of the country?
“And a police unit that is being condemned in one part is being celebrated in another part. So already there are divisions. There are inequalities. There are disparities and Nigeria cannot continue like that. Nobody will continue to say that Nigeria is indivisible in an unbalanced, in a skewed and lopsided structure.
“What we are insisting on is that Nigeria has to be restructured. And the reality is that if this country is not restructured, the country will restructure itself.”
– ISAAC ABIMBADE