For the umpteenth time, I am writing about the noisy clamour for restructuring which seems to be a cure-all placebo for all manners of political discontent in Nigeria today. As in previous times I had written, I still hold onto my position that there is nothing more than political deceit around the noisome restructuring clamour and no time is that dubious political content obvious than now.
If I may ask, why is it that there is still no clear, concise and generally accepted idea of restructuring several years after that bogus and inchoate demand made its way into our chaotic national discourse? What is amazing is that as at today, so many people mouth restructuring without anyone showing the light as to how it could be realised and what outcome would be acceptable to the diverse groups that have invested hope in it to cure all the national maladies Nigeria has accumulated since independence.
Strangely, the term has remained bogus, undefined, queer and unclear while it has become a ready hatchet in the hands of all manners of displaced politicians who employ it to sow rancour, division, hatred and schism among Nigerians.
As I contended in a previous report I did on the issue, restructuring, as presently employed in Nigeria, is like an elephant felt by 100 blind men. All describe the elephant by whatever part of the body he feels and this bodes more confusion and discord among the blind men as to what the elephant really is. That is the absurd trajectory sorounding the present clamour for restructuring. It is strange that none of the people or groups welding this political cudgel has attempted to give a clear roadmap into what the term practically translates to all Nigerians. None has told us how restructuring could be brought about besides noisily telling the President in a democracy to 'restructure Nigeria'.
No one has told us how Nigeria will look like after restructuring except the pandering of utopian visages of an eldorado that Nigeria will turn into after 'Buhari has restructured Nigeria'.
As it is today, restructuring has become a deadly political weapon those who find themselves holding the shorter ends of the country's political stick employ to get back at the country and possibly secure a firmer hold on the politics of the country. What is amazing is that many of these fellows were once in leadership positions where they would have restructured Nigeria but criminalised demands for restructuring when they were in power. Take the case of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Cumulatively, he has ruled Nigeria for 11 years, which was long enough to restructure Nigeria to an eldorado. But Obasanjo did nothing of that. In fact, he was known to roundly abuse those asking for restructuring when he was civilian President. The term was practically outlawed during his regime but today, Obasanjo has made the loud deceitful clamour for restructuring his sole anthem!
Some have equally used the duplicitous demand for restructuring to blackmail the North given that a Northerner is in power but in our present 21 years of democratic governance, the South had been in power for 14 years, why was it so difficult for the South to restructure Nigeria to its taste in those 14 years? Why did those Southern regimes outlaw restructuring when they were in power and now find it so attractive that they are blackmailing a regime that is only five years in power? That shows the dubious, divisive and acrid political wrapping that encases the present noisy restructuring demand.
But not to miss the essence of this report, there is little or no good faith in the present, noisy and distracting demand for restructuring. There is a huge dosage of mischief and political guile in the clamour. Those that have made restructuring their sole mantra have done nothing to give conceptual clarity to the term, what it is all about, what the outcome holds for each and every Nigerian, who should bring it about and how such a person should go about it. In the absence of such clear specifics, restructuring is only a dangerous cudgel that is weilded by ethnic irtidentists, displaced political profiteers, those who seek political relevance or who are worsened by their placement in the present political structure in Nigeria.
For the avoidance of doubt, Nigeria has no structural problem. The problem lies on Nigerians deliberately sabotaging the system and using the outcome to cause further damage to our collective purposes and interests. Take the issue of local government autonomy for instance, the third tier of government that should take governance closer to the people has been annexed and vassalled by states which end up appropriating the humongous amounts that are allocated to this important tier from the federation account each month and killing this tier. Under the watch of previous regimes including the one headed by Obasanjo who has become one of the queer apostles of deceptive restructuring, this order worsened thus obliterating a vital third tier of government. But the Buhari regime against whom this present dubious clamour for restructuring targets, has boldly issued orders that will restore the efficacy and financial autonomy of local governments and also the judiciary and state assemblies. Curiously most of the advocates of the present restructuring lingo, supported and urged the governors to oppose this bold move that should take governance down the grassroots, just for their dubious evergreen political interests. This should be a defining move to assert the existing structural tenets of the country. This should be a critical component of power devolution which has been one of the snippets advocates of restructuring have been mouthing.
So silly is the demand that Buhari 'should restructure Nigeria'. Sho? In a democracy with clear cut division of responsibilities? Should Buhari transmogrify into an absolute dictator to do this? This is what happens when a people buy into what they hardly understand but which is marketed by vile and sly politicians. I think the power to tinker with the structure of Nigeria in a democracy should lie with the legislature. Why demanding Buhari to give you restructuring when you have representatives you elected to the national and state legislatures? This reprehensible demand that Buhari should restructure Nigeria exposes the dubiousness and ignorance of the noisy advocates of restructuring.
However, I believe if restructuring is the desire of majority of Nigerians, it is realisable within the extent legal constitutional framework of the country. What the agitators need to do is to develop a buyable idea of the term; what restructuring is all about, what the various people will benefit, how it will strengthen the country. Having done this, they need to aggressively market it across the nooks and crannies of Nigeria. Then, they need to approach their representatives in the legislature to enact bills to that effect and drive those bills through laid down legislative procedures. Anything done besides this is mere political gimmicks deployed to satiate ulterior and murky political interests and nothing more.
To sum my viewpoint, there is nothing wrong with the structure and laws of the country. What is wrong is the attitude of most Nigerians to sabotage the system and stultify the merits we stand to gain as a multi-ethnic nation because of narrow, transient political interests. What is wrong is the self-destructive penchant of Nigerians to sabotage themselves and the nation for their nebulous interests. Let Nigerians work to enforce and strengthen the structure and the laws beyond their deadly crave for selfish political interests and the country and all Nigerians will be the better for it.
Peter Claver Oparah