There are a lot of wide controversies which dominated the meaning or definition of ‘restructuring’ in Nigeria’s context, especially at this time that many people are clamouring for it, and that the issue has become partly trending in the public discourse and in most of the media platforms.
There is difference on how the “six geopolitical zones” understand restructuring and perceive it on their own perspective!
And each of the geopolitical zones has its own interest on how it should be affected; if implemented. Let me reiterate the crux of my argument on restructuring here, as I penned on my earlier article which was published in Blueprint newspaper of May 26, 2018, and Daily Trust newspaper of May 27, 2018. The article was captioned, “Will restructuring heal the wounds”? It formed the question and premise of my argument about the issue of restructuring in Nigeria.
The Southeast are clamouring for more states, thinking that the other regions are ahead of them because of the opportunity of having more states. While the Southwest wants Nigeria to operate a truly federal system, because they berated the military for distorting the core principles of the true federalism, they want Nigeria to operate a truly federal system where every component part (for example, Southwest component part), controls their resources, have their own domestic laws, have their own police, have their own legal system, and their own education system and tax system. Also, in this instance, a state like Lagos wants to be granted a special status in the fiscal federalism, because of the large revenue they generate to the nation.
The Middle Belt are agitating for federating unit, to have equal and coordinating powers with the central authority. And they also want the abolishment of superior treatment, where no state is subjected to inferior status in the country.
The South-south are making a vociferous demand for resources control because they view other regions as intruders, benefiting into their economic right.
They consider other regions as benefiting from their resources as a privilege granted to them, but not a right!
The North hitherto was the only region that was yet to take a position on the issue of restructuring. The other regions have already been seen to partner and engaged in different forums, taking a stand, irrespective of the region’s demarcation.
Notwithstanding, the North has invincibly given a hint on the issue of restructuring through some prominent Northern stakeholders.
According to Dr. Usman Bugaje, the Chairman of Arewa Research and Development Project (ARDP), it’s a very wrong notion for any state to claim ‘oil producing status’, because all the mineral resources belong to the Nigerian state.
He insisted that the North will organise a gathering, otherwise a conference, on the matter, which will involve state governors, groups, Northern stakeholders, leaders of thought and other intellectuals towards their quest to reach a common stand.
Another elder stateman and a Northern stakeholder, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, said: The North would make a grave mistake by taking any stand, without fully knowing what the agitators are really looking for.
However, without any fear of contradiction, for any form of restructuring to be effective in Nigeria, devoid of any uproar and threat to Nigeria’s peace, there must be sacrifice. But which region is inclined to make a true sacrifice or comprise, without fear of any repercussions in posterity? We shouldn’t be economical with truth. Even though I am not an advocate of restructuring, but we shouldn’t also deny the apparent fact that there are some states that are obviously “short-changed” in terms of allocating some dividends, especially in the area of federal character system.
States with a huge population like Lagos, Kano, and Kaduna, receive the same number of slots on employment in the federal establishments with a state with little population like Zamfara, Gombe and Bayelsa. Of course, this kind of imbalance needs to be checked with sincerity of purpose.
The major problem which facing restructuring Nigeria is that it can be only smoothly implemented by a military regime. And unfortunately, it was the military that are in turn accused for frustrating true federalism.
Therefore, under democratic dispensation whereby everyone has equal say, the issue would generate more controversy and acrimony.
Keenly looking at the whole issue of restructuring Nigeria is akin to seeking a divorce. It seems like the other marriage partners are tired. Therefore, I pray that Nigeria would continue to be a united nation! Amin. But, let me go back to history a little bit.
Thousands of lives were lost just to make Nigeria a united nation during the Civil War in the 1960s. If we allow this country to be separated it is as simple as betraying the effort of those who fought the war to make Nigeria one and united country.
Usman writes from Kaduna South, Kaduna