By Usman Ibn A. Lapai Kaduna
Retired military offi cers, including Generals, have expressed support for restructuring of the country, saying the foundation and unity of the nation as an entity are currently being threatened. Th ey spoke under the aegis of Retired Army, Navy and Air Force Offi cers Association of Nigeria (RANAO). Speaking to journalists during the 8th RANAO Day in Kaduna, Permanent member and Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the association, General Zamani Lekwot, said the current call for restructuring is very valid.
He declared: “Th e foundation and unity is shaking because it has derailed from the particular way the country was ruled when it got her independence in 1960. “Th e unity of this country is resting on a shaking foundation. Th e reason is when we got independence; there was a particular way the country was run. Somewhere down the line, the military coup took place in 1966, and a decree was enacted, dismantling what we inherited as independence. “Th at was the foundation of the current problems. Somewhere down the line, states were created, it’s a blessing that states creation has brought rapid development, but other problems have cropped up. “
Th e current call for restructuring is very valid because, in management, when things go wrong, the manager must come back to the drawing board to fi nd out what had gone wrong.” Continuing, the retired General reasoned that “in other words, in computer operation, after loading programme, when you fi nd out something is not working, you have to check to correct it. “Our population is increasing, awareness is increasing; we now have economic recession. So, what is required is to take a look at what is wrong. Population increase and the fall in educational standard are parts of the problems. “Students from higher institutions are half-beaked and cannot be productive, and the population increase put serious pressure on the infrastructure – electricity, roads, water.
Happily enough, the development in the telecom industry has brought the electronic, and things are much better.” Th e association, however, noted that power supply had made it impossible to grow and sustain industrial development. “Epileptic power supply has made it impossible for industries to grow. Many other people have said restructuring means taking more look at the set up in other to see where we can do the needful and improve standard.” Th e association lamented the manner the call for restructuring is being politicised, noting that the centre was too loaded. “Unfortunately, some people are reading politics into it.
Take for instance, the question of devolution of power. Th e federal government is carrying too much loads. Th e military introduced the LG reform as deliberate policy to create a third tier of government so as to distribute workloads as equitably as possible.” He also explained “that, even though the local governments are the root of the system, where majority of the people are living, but the present structure has landed Nigeria in federal government taking the lion share of the budget and leaving the state with little or nothing going to the local government.” Analysing the infrastructural challenges facing the nation, the retired Generals lamented that “people in most villages and local governments still drink from stream instead of boreholes, with waterborne diseases. Lack of roads network for transporting farm output to cities, all, contributing to increase in prices of food stuff s in urban areas. Health care is a problem; therefore we cannot run away from the devolution of power. “During my time as a child, the native authority was running majority of the schools along with missionaries and voluntary agency, then secondary schools, teachers training colleges can be handled by states, and the ones that can fi nance university can go ahead because we are running a democracy.” In his welcome address , Chairman, Kaduna chapter of the association, Lt. Col David Idoko, said RANAO was conceived by the founding fathers on 8th August, 1987 at the ancient city of Ibadan, and had since gone nationwide across the six zones in Nigeria with a chapter in UK.
He said Kaduna is a vibrant chapter and 3rd in order of seniority, and chartered on the 28th October 1997, making it some 20 years old. He said the essence of the body as embedded in its constitution, include among others; “living in unity, harmony among ourselves as one social and united group, under the guidance of God, with loyalty to the federal government, encouraged their compatriot on active list and dedication to the nation. Also speaking to journalists, Major-General Alexander Shehu Bola (retd), said the association’s membership had grown to over 2000, and recorded several achievements, including defending and fi ghting for the rights of its members.