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Odumakin’s compelling clamour for restructuring

“Truth is eternal. Lies are short-distance runners”

– From Oyoze Umeche’s book: ‘Hard Facts About Life’

The two critical issues of national importance which reverberated from Osun, his home state and echoed across the country and beyond in April 2021 after he was laid to rest from the ambits of our wicked world were restructuring and good governance. Incidentally, these twin political paradigms, which couched the fanciful electioneering campaign promises made by not a few of our political actors-from the period of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to that of the All Progressives Congress(APC)- still remain some of the elusive rainbows as at this day. One is talking of course, about none other than the passionate patriot, activist extraordinary and torchbearer of timeless Truth, Oluyinka Odumakin (now of blessed memory).

Interestingly, these two issues came up to the public sphere a few weeks back. That was during Odumakin’s First Year Anniversary and the launching of a Foundation in his honour as well as that of a fitting biography, titled ‘Comrade’ written by his wife, Dr. Joe Okei Odumakin. That was at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Ikeja, Lagos state. Virtually most of the remarks made by the Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo who was the chairman of the occasion, host governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Osun State Governor, Adegboyega Oyetola, Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, his Oyo State counterpart, Mr. Seyi Makinde and the former governor of Ogun state, Ibikunle Amosun touched tellingly on these thought—provoking issues. There are significant lessons to learn from Odumakin’s thoughts on political restructuring as the way forward for our embattled nation.

“Yinka was a fighter. He was unapologetic about his pursuit of restructuring. We will continue to pursue those things Yinka pursued laboriously until we have a Nigeria that serves all Nigerians. We must not succumb to the agitation for secession.”

-Dr. Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti state.

For instance, have you in your sober moments engaged your mind with the long-lasting solutions to the comedy of errors as exhibited by the recent APC bazaar for the presidential nomination form? That is, by the good, the bad and the ugly characters angling for the plum job of the presidency? Have you given a thought to the way out of the only democratic government in the world where state governors go cap-in-hand every blessed month to the centre to take their shares from the so called federation account? It comes more like a freebie which they hardly account for, leaving the long-suffering workers and pensioners stewing in their own hell on earth, with many heading to their early graves? Have you wondered why the minimum wage has become a mirage, with some workers taking some insulting percentages of what they have duly worked hard for? What about our fragile unity going to the tatters, with the patently obvious marginalized Igbos calling for the presidency to be zoned to the South-East geo-political zone, to avert the steaming danger of disunity? Yet, more questions stare us fully in the face.

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How, for God’s sake would you explain to the younger generation that we should continue with this manner of a dysfunctional government of the rich by the rich and for the rich when education is thrown to the shadows? How do you explain the long-winding ASSU strike when the demands by the patriotic lecturers still staying back in the country are denied peanuts compared to the billions of public funds being openly squandered by the political elite? And how would the much-maligned ‘lazy youths’ to repay the humungous debts that have risen to N39.55 trillion as at December 2021? This represents a N1.55 trillion or 4.1% increase in 3 months!

The answer, my dear fellow Nigerians hang on the balance of restructuring of the polity catalyzed with true, fiscal federalism, as canvassed by Odumakin when he was here with us. Let us consider some of his views on this querulous matter.

On September 19, 2017, the Nigerian media was awash with his views on restructuring. Said he: “ A Nigeria earnestly restructured, is a Nigeria positively restored: a country restored to a previously-travelled path of developmental progress, rapid educational advancement, robust and committed Public Service, which genuinely and competently served the Nigerian public – both at Federal and regional levels.. Restructuring will bring back THE CONDITIONS for a return to that golden era of public service and effective governance, regionally and at the Centre”. Can we fault this solid stand considering the current over dependence on the federal centre by the states for economic survival? The answer is obvious. And he went further.

“Our demand is therefore NOT for a previously unknown Nigeria; We only demand a return to a Nigeria that worked for human progress and development – across the entire country, before young and in-experienced military boys truncated the evolution of Nigeria’s democracy on January 15, 1966. Of course, pre-1966 was not a perfect period; it had its peculiar problems of political and democratic evolution. Whichever way one looks at Nigeria today, it is unarguably in a much worse and more dangerous shape, compared to the strongly-federalist process and era of democratic learning that the military boys suddenly destroyed in 1966”. Assessing this view against the backdrop of the search for a more people-oriented government policies, programs and projects one cannot but align with the objective position of the late critic.

“A Nigeria restructured is a Nigeria with enhanced leadership-building culture, where a truly-federal system allows each region to locally identify leadership for public governance, nurture and closely monitor such leaders for hard work and spirit of public service, focused on the development of each region, at a pace and a rate that reflect the quantum of each region’s effort and efficient use of local resources; indeed, the rivalry-for-regional-success resulting from a truly-federating Nigeria, will boost sustainable development across all zones of the country.” This valid position hits the nail on the head more so now as all attention is focused on the centre to grab political, more for the self than for the state.

“We propose that every region, within its smaller, manageable-governance-space and enlarged policy possibilities, should anchor in its constitution, unambiguous clauses and provisions that are weighted in favour of the citizenry; clauses that make public office less attractive, except to those who seek office to ‘do something’ societally positive, rather than to ‘become somebody’ without contributing; clauses which allow for statutory and legally-prescribed citizens action, to challenge unjustified ostentation, self-indulgent benefits, sundry abuses of public- office privileges, etc – by both elected and appointed officials”. That sums it up, all in the best interest of a Nigeria evolving in the future that imbibes the culture of a sustainable allegiance to the nation-state from the citizenry.

And as Odumakin rightly reiterated on 11th October, 2019 as the spokesperson of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, the only option that can guarantee Nigeria’s survival today is restructuring. Though he is no more amongst us, his thematically relevant thoughts on restructuring should be considered by the political leaders now, to save the country from preventable chaos, crises and bloodshed. May his gentle soul continue to rest in perfect peace.

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