• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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BusinessDay

Who is afraid of restructuring Nigeria?

President Tinubu

In recent times the clamour for restructuring has been on the front burner of national discourse. Several public office holders including former presidents, vice president and serving and former governors; civil societies organisations, professionals and religious leaders have all made their contributions to this national issue.

So, for many Nigerians, last week’s letter by Edwin Clark demanding President Bola Tinubu to immediately restructure Nigeria to save the country from collapse was not new. Of course, maybe, it also reinforces the urgency of the issue.

His letter has continued to generate divergent reactions among the citizens.

Clark, a former federal commissioner for information in the first republic, was of the view that it was imperative that the country is restructured, if it is to remain one.

He lamented that successive governments have shied away from the issue, noting that it was the first step towards resolving the nation’s woes.

Read also: Now is ripe time to restructure Nigeria, citizens tell Tinubu

The 2014 National Conference was midwifed by former President Goodluck Jonathan with 492 delegates that represented a cross-section of Nigerians, including the professional bodies in attendance to deliberate on a wide range of topics – devolution of powers and political restructuring among others.

Clark also called for a political solution to the travails of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, who is standing trial for alleged treason and terrorism at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

He also accused former President Muhammadu Buhari of trying to subjugate Igbos for unknown reasons.

“I repeat, the immediate restructuring of Nigeria must be carried out if this country is to remain one, and I appeal to the President to take immediate action to implement the historic 2014 National Conference Report which submitted 600 recommendations to the Presidency on how to restructure Nigeria in every aspect of our lives.

“President Buhari did everything to subjugate the Igbos for reason best known to him. Perhaps, it may be necessary to cite some examples; the NNPC board which he constituted when he came into office had 9 members, 1 from the South-West, 1 from South-South, and no member from the South-East, even though 3 South-East states; Abia, Anambra and Imo are oil producing states…”

Speaking further, he told President Tinubu that the discrimination of the Igbos by his predecessor had continued in his administration.

“President, even in your administration, the discrimination and injustice against the Igbos has not abated. The old Eastern Region and the old Western Region, to which I belonged, were equal competitors and partners before and during the First and Second Republic but today.

You have appointed 10 Yorubas as Ministers from the South-West, and only five (5) Ministers from the South-East, and you even failed to give them the ministerial appointment due to their region that would have made it six (6) Ministers.

“There is no justification for this grave omission and no effort has been made to correct it.”

However, Clark’s suggestion falls in line with notable Nigerians and leaders who have in the past, stated that there was the need to restructure the country and give fair representation to all parts of the country, because the current myriads of socio-economy challenges would not leave us if the right decision is not taken.

In different fora and interviews, eminent Ni­gerians, including former Mil­itary President, Ibra­him Babangida; former APC National Chairman, Bisi Akande, Ayo Adebanjo and Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Ohanaeze Presi­dent-General, have in the past few days renewed the call for the restructuring of the country.

They stated that it was time President Bola Tinubu initiated struc­tures to realise the struggle for true federalism championed by NADECO which he famously belonged to.

However, many Nigerians agree that successive governments have lacked the political will or are simply afraid to carry out restructuring of the country.

Many thought the issue would be given speedy attention in this administration, before becoming the president of Nigeria; Tinubu was one of the prominent Nigerians, who had consistently called for restructuring of the country.

Although there are different interpretations of the restructuring debates, with Northern Nigeria not keen on the issue, many political experts say the country was long overdue for restructuring and that even a piece-meal amendment to the 1999 constitution was not the solution.

So, for many citizens, it is surprising to see that after assuming the mantle of leadership, President Tinubu has developed cold feet over the issue.

“Re­structuring is one of the most discussed words in Nigeria. Basically, there are two schools of thought on the restructuring of Nigeria.

“One school prefers main­taining the status quo by sim­ply asking the Federal Govern­ment to relinquish some of its exclusive powers and the other school of thought calls for a fun­damental devolution of powers to the states or federating units and a lean Federal Government with few exclusive powers over external relations,” Emeka Iheonu, a Lagos-based lawyer, said.

Speaking further, he noted that “The two schools agree that there are fundamen­tal defects in the system because of the over-centralisation of the federal system following years of military rule with its central command structure, hence, the call for restructuring.

“There have been several recommendations on how to restructure. However, what is lacking is the political will to implement the recommenda­tions.

“Nigerian leadership should summon courage or have the political will to implement the recommendations emanating from past constitutional con­ferences.

“Also, Nigeria should com­mence the restructuring of the mindsets of the people which will create in the citizenry the virtues of honesty of purpose, dedication to duty, and absence of corruption.

“I believe that real and hon­est restructuring can resolve the country’s current political challenges. For one, it will help in reducing the level of agita­tion for Biafra by Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).”

Speaking recently, Emeka Kalu, a seasoned politician and Na­tional Coordinator, Peoples Democratic Party Coalition (PDPCO), said that the call is a step in the right direction and that restruc­turing Nigeria is long overdue

Kalu, who is also the Director General, Global Initiatives for Good Gov­ernance (GIGG), said the country urgently needed a holistic restructuring.

“But, it is better late than never. Nigeria needs political, constitutional, economic and foundational restructuring, a holistic and conscious desire for a paradigm shift to a more workable system because what we have today is not working and we all know it.”

Speaking recently on the need to restructure the country, Ayo Opadokun, secretary-general of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), said the country cannot afford to remain like this, without it being restructured.

According to him, “I have no quarrel with the concept of restructuring, but the truth is that let us go back to the 1963 Constitution.

“When we go back to that, all other matters will be sorted out instead of dissipating energy on diversities that people have over restructuring.

“I am happy that the leader of the group is from Sokoto. They now realise the implications of somebody sitting down in Abuja dictating how the security of Zamfara and Sokoto will be managed while the indigenous people are being massacred by invaders and they are exploiting the resources of the state without anyone responding.

“From media reports, the government leaders of Zamfara and Sokoto many times live much more in Kaduna or Abuja than in their states. It is good that the man leading this thing is from Sokoto and he and his group are to be applauded.”

In recent times, the issue of restructuring Nigeria has divided citizens along regional lines, however, Sunday Oko, a political analyst, said opposition to restructuring in Northern Nigeria is caused by lack of understanding by some people.

“I think a lot of them do not know what is at stake, or how it would benefit them. They simply think when you restructure the country, they would not share allocation with you again or they would be denied some benefits they are getting from the current system.

“But it is the best, you can tap into what you have and grow from there. Look at the Northern region in the first republic,” he said.