• Saturday, May 18, 2024
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The clamour for restructuring

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All military problems are political; all political problems are economic; and all economic problems are technological – Carl Von Clausewitz, “On War”

This piece you are about to read is slightly modified, but was first published in this column on 3 October 2017 with the title – “Statesmanship and the calls for restructuring of Nigeria.” Since then it has always been published in this column during independence anniversary celebrations to remind those in authority that there is a pending job which needs urgent attention- restructuring the country.

Permit me to state that this article is about fostering peace and unity in Nigeria; it’s not on warfare. The perception of people about the government and its military is key in strategic thinking when a nation requires reformation. The strategy to be adopted must take into consideration prevailing socio-political and economic factors, and indeed the multi-cultural values of the people.

Although strategy at the highest level and its broader sense covers both military and civil aspects of societal continued existence, it is the mode of survival of the people that matters. The people of Nigeria need to survive current political, economic and social complications. Regrettably, the mode of survival remains a challenge.

The voice of citizens’ matter. Most Nigerians are clamouring for restructuring. The demand for restructuring is at different decibels with devolution of power, resource control, constitutional amendment and regional autonomy being various stanzas of the demand.

The oil boom of the past became our oil doom instead of giving birth to a technological boom. When a sick economy is not responding to various policy treatments, it only shows that technology is conspicuously missing in the nation’s quest for industrialisation

Some Nigerians say they want a brand-new constitution and some scholars of constitutionalism have suggested how the nation could get it. Some analysts said that the process for a new constitution reflecting the aspirations of the people can only be initiated by Mr President. They further argued that the National and state assemblies are not empowered by law to initiate the process for a new constitution.

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While some experts say that our federal and state lawmakers are only to carry out oversight functions, make laws and represent their people. Will the Senate empower Mr President to initiate the process of a new constitution in order to foster peace and stability? Maybe, maybe not. Brazil, Kenya and Zimbabwe are some of the countries that have new constitutions, according to reports. One thing is certain: There can be no development in any country without peace and stability. But there are those who want true federalism, in addition to resolving the North-South divide in Nigeria. Endless desires, you may say.

Let’s turn our attention to the paraphrased quote above. The society, according to Clausewitz, is a “remarkable trinity” comprising the people, the commander and his army, and the government. One could argue in support or against the fact that the people constitute the centre of gravity of a nation with a population of about 200 million. If the people are prosperous, you have a rich nation. And when they are poor, you will have a poor nation laced up with agitations.

So, when the military in any society is having problems particularly with the people that it is empowered to protect as reflected in the above quote, one should examine thoroughly the political leadership. The job of the military is pure and simple- defend the territorial integrity of Nigeria from land, sea and air. But when the military, as alleged, embarks on torturing, harassing and intimidating “innocent” people as a way of carrying out its legitimate functions, then the commander and the army may have to explain to the people on how it arrived at the overzealousness exhibited in executing its mandate.

Today, the population of Nigeria, which is about 200 million, is almost six times what it was at independence in 1960. The political challenges of the nation such as pervasive corruption and huge cost of governance amongst others have compelled the people to clamour for restructuring. Citizens believe these challenges are responsible for extreme poverty and a fragile economy which need to be squarely addressed.

The oil boom of the 1970s has not only weakened the nation’s agricultural base, but has destroyed significantly the promising technological foundation which would have sustained the phenomenal upsurge in population. This was the genesis of Nigeria’s economic problem.

The oil boom of the past became our oil doom instead of giving birth to technological boom. When a sick economy is not responding to various policy treatments, it only shows that technology is conspicuously missing in the nation’s quest for industrialisation. Due to Nigeria’s reluctance to emerge as an industrialised nation with a thriving capital goods sector, reducing inflation figures to single digit has been herculean.

What do people need in a country as diverse as Nigeria? Each generation of Nigerians looks for leaders- statesmen and stateswomen- who will do what is right and just, build a consensus among the people, and who will bring about the required reformation in the nation. Unfortunately, statesmen and stateswomen are very scarce in the society.

Where are we going to get political leaders who will take responsibility for their own actions in fostering unity between the north and the south in our country? It is time for men and women who are true democrats to stand in defence of the unity of Nigeria and the citizens. Strong-minded political leaders out there who possess egalitarian spirit must compulsorily display leadership qualities that we need to remember at this time of our nationhood.

Nigeria needs honest and God-fearing leaders in the nation’s political landscape. This is because “when the righteous are in authority and become great, the people rejoice; but when the wicked man rules, the people groan and sigh.” Political leadership at all levels of the society is expected to set examples to the present generation. They are to work tirelessly to leave a legacy of greatness for the next generation to build upon. Since those in the Buhari-led political party have faith in restructuring, their word should be their bond.

Restructuring must be done with all sincerity. Why? An energy which can neither be created nor destroyed has been generated through the demand for restructuring. If the call for restructuring is not attended to now with all sense of patriotism, it may metamorphose into something else in the future.

Notwithstanding any political undercurrent, the clamour for restructuring reverberating across the nation cannot be treated with levity. The Federal Government must give the call for restructuring the attention it deserves in the interest of national peace and unity.

The call for restructuring is beyond any political party at this stage. All institutions of the government led by President Buhari are urged to start working on the calls for restructuring. I suggest that the path of dialogue should be chosen as one of the ways to address all agitations. Blocking of roads, and disturbing the peace of the larger society will not make agitators achieve their objectives. Yes, “together shall we be,” but we should ensure that the labour of our past heroes is not in vain.

Happy 60th Independence Anniversary to all Nigerians. Thank you.