OPINION: The imperative of restructuring Nigeria




 

Nigeria is an amalgam of many ethnic groups joined together for the administrative convenience of the imperialist Britain in 1914 without the consent of the disparate groups that make up the country.

The British subtly sowed the seed of discord by divide and rule tactics designed to make the country weak and perpetually dependent on them. And now, it has become apparent and imperative that it will require constant peaceful dialogue and constructive engagement to remain together as a nation. The nation has had bad governance for a long time. It is riddled with infrastructural decay, insecurity, corruption, debts, among others.

is due to ineptitude of those that had ruled it over the years. It is unfortunate that Nigeria, so endowed with human and natural resources, including oil and gas, is suffering from years of misrule and bad leadership.

While other countries of the world are toasts of investors due to good governance and infrastructural development, Nigeria, due to misrule, has remained in comatose, and shunned by investors. Nigerians are yearning for good governance. Having seen other nations with developmental projects, Nigerians really need a leader that will bring massive development to the nation.
Nigeria, with different histories, cultures and world views is a relationship among diverse people that should be nurtured constructively and like all relationships, one of the most essential tools to manage it is periodic reviews. Reviews are necessary for many reasons. First, it enables us to look at our resources, capabilities, competencies and device the right strategies for nation-building. It will enable us to define our basis for existing together, take a critical look at the past and make appropriate plans for the future in the light of the current realities. It will enable us identify our weaknesses, past mistakes and find ways to mitigate them. It will also present us opportunities to learn and copy from other people.

Reviews help us to make analysis, identify the right things we are doing, sustain them and avoid the wrong things, for the greater good of the people. It is a veritable tool for stakeholders’ engagement that creates a sense of belonging for every group within the polity. That is why even in homogenous entities, constitutions and laws are reviewed to reflect current realities in order to strengthen the union.

A truly patriotic citizen of this country should be concerned about the state of the nation as ugly things are happening in quick succession. It is symptomatic of the fact that all is not well with the polity. There is discontent and palpable fear in the land. The South-east is feeling marginalized and angry.

The South-south is feeling exploited and frustrated, the North is agitated, albeit unnecessarily. The South-west is watching and moderating, apparently, as the pendulum seems to be swinging in their favour.

There is recrimination and mutual suspicion among the various ethnic groups. There is palpable tension and the polity is heated up with endless agitations and youth restiveness.

Evidently, the present political imbroglio is pent-up anger against a government that has betrayed the masses, that has abysmally failed to usher in positive social change that has not kept its campaign promises. The masses are hungry, dispirited, disappointed and disillusioned.

The economy is not so good and insecurity has assumed egregious dimension. More than ever before, the bad policies of this administration have dangerously exposed our fault lines and ethnic fissures so much so that it may not be wrong to say that Nigeria is on brink of disintegration unless urgent step is taken to avert it. The democratic gains we have made these past years have been wiped out. The culture of impunity has been elevated to an egregious degree.

Thus, all these have led to the strident call for restructuring in order to make the nation safe and habitable for all. The call for restructuring is, indeed, a patriotic one and it is heart-warming that many eminent citizens like Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, General Ibrahim Babangida and many others, have lent their voices for restructuring.

On this note, the request by the senate to review the report of the 2014 National Conference is not only encouraging but commendable. By this act, the senate has actually, demonstrated that they are on the side of change.

The Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo, and Senate President Bukola Saraki have spoken on the need to maintain our national unity. I cannot agree less with them. They have done their bounded duty as those occupying the highest offices in the land.

While I commend their sense of patriotism, I must also state unequivocally too, that if we must continue to stay together, the basis of the union must be properly negotiated and the right time is now.

The unity of the country is negotiable. Nobody shall live like a slave in the country he calls his own at this time and age. We shall not have a country where law-abiding citizens are treated like slaves, where anarchists prance around with ethnic arrogance, and where mediocrity is preferred to meritocracy. Nigerians cannot continue to live like hostages and aliens in the country they call their own.

It is said that there is strength in diversity but, unfortunately, our diversity has become the worst factor that has hamstrung our development process and made it almost impossible for the right leadership to emerge.
I have been following the debate on restructuring Nigeria lately.

As to be expected, the views are divergent. There are those campaigning for a return to the 1963 Constitution, said to be the most federalist ever.

Restructuring, to some, is to return to regionalism. Many think it is fiscal federalism, state police, or disintegration.

If you look at the different positions objectively, may be, the campaigners have a point. Today, I am joining the ongoing campaign for the restructuring of Nigeria. Restructuring has become inevitable because the current structure is not working as expected. A structure that breeds unemployment and insecurity will only continue to ruin us. Any society built on inequality, injustice and wickedness cannot make progress.

Ngodi writes from Lagos via [email protected]




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