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Nigeria: What Kind Of Restructuring?

It is beyond conjecture that the simple phrase ‘restructuring Nigeria’ has migrated from its simple lexical roots in the English language, to suffer in this country, the derogation of a problematic catchword for any interest that latches on to one or more of its political connotations. It has in the process, also imposed on the country an ambience of unhelpful, deepening divisiveness.

However, a more profound perspective of the widening conversation on restructuring Nigeria, really betrays little else beyond  hasty and parochial considerations and therefore poor management of the core interests of the proponents of the agenda, to restructure the country. From indications, the bone of contention remains the context as well as pace of whatever restructuring should Nigeria undergo. 

The foregoing consideration remains illuminated by some of the trending comments in the course of the restructuring debate. For instance, while speaking at a recent symposium that was arranged by the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) and the Nehemiah Leadership Institute on the way forward for Nigeria, the General Overseer of the church Pastor Enoch Adeboye lent his voice to the resounding call for the restructuring of Nigeria, if possible in a political configuration of a ‘United States of Nigeria’ which will accommodate and harmonise the interests of all constituent entities, from the perspective of their respective socio-political peculiarities.

According to him Nigeria has to restructure in order to avoid breaking up.

Against the backdrop of Adeboye’s studied and sustained silence on political issues in the country as well as strict, self-imposed restriction to his clerical duties in overseeing his church which is endowed with a global presence that boasts of about 14,000 churches and millions of members in at least 80 countries of the world, his intervention on Nigeria’s restructuring debate, not surprisingly enjoyed wide and authoritative acclaim.

However Presidential spokesman Shehu Garba, countered with a most disproportionate response which went beyond Adeboye, and allusively referred to proponents of restructuring Nigeria outside the parochial mindset of the Buhari administration as “unpatriotic’. Shehu went further to gloat that the Buhari administration was not going to entertain any suggestion on restructuring that is outside the context of its mindset. Even as Shehu’s response – dripping as it was with arrogance as well as vitriol, and which is widely believed to be a response to Adeboye’s, offered no credible clue on the government’s plans now or in future on restructuring, it nevertheless served as a condescending warning to all exponents of restructuring, requiring them to jettison whatever independent brainwave they may be nursing.

In the alternative they are required to key into the administration’s mental construct on the matter, which for now remains in limbo. However in just a matter of days, Shehu’s denunciation of Adeboye and other advocates of restructuring collapsed in the face of an expansion of the counterpoint to his take, when the revered Northern Elders Forum (NEF) threw their weight behind restructuring of the country, and even called for the process to commence with changes in the Constitution itself.

Speaking on ‘Channels Television’ recently on behalf of the NEF, its spokesman Hakeem Baba Ahmed asserted that Nigeria as a country was not working, and needed to be restructured in a manner that will address the fundamental faults in it. As things stand, the intervention of the NEF should matter to the Buhari administration as its core significance was the marooning of Shehu’s  position on a lonely road, which leads to a dead end featuring a disconnect with the trending restructuring agenda.

Needless to state that such a dispensation is hardly a comfort zone for the administration as it stands as working at cross-purposes with the very people it was elected to serve. For one, the call to restructure Nigeria is not new and has been on the front burner since colonial times, as records exist on various past efforts to integrate the disparate ethnic nationalities that came together to form the country. Even after independence, additional efforts had been made to foster closer co-existence among Nigerians, in order to sustain the agenda of unity in diversity, on which the country is intended to thrive and progress.

In that context, the sporadic calls for ‘restructuring Nigeria to avoid its break up’, could only have been spawned by a syndrome of failure to follow-up by succeeding administrations, on the founding vision of the patriarchs of the country. This scenario comes as a play out of the allegory that ‘what the fathers gathered with the rake, the children throw away with the shovel’. Seen in context, it needs to be considered whether latter day Nigerians are not building capital on a cocktail of questionable tendencies which include mutual suspicion, intolerance and hegemony, in the context of which some potent elements remain fixated on failure factors which are working against the unity of the country.

But for this divisive mindset, it is not difficult to see that the country was programmed ab initio as a work in progress, which needs time to mature and consolidate. This mindset which thrives on factors that are distant from the foundations laid by the founding fathers of the country, rather than anything else, has been the driving force behind the miasma around the restructuring conversation. In the final analysis the restructuring of the country is a process rather than an event.

The difficulty confronting this present administration remains its misreading of the restructuring of the country from a narrow prism of piecemeal perspective as defined by its own systemic limitations, rather than a wholesale framework as is derivable from the complement of copious insights as elegantly articulated from several fora by Nigerians. By jettisoning the works and wisdom of past administrations this Buhari administration shot itself in the foot, and lost out in connecting with legacies of preceding administration.

Otherwise what can the administration say about the off-handed repudiation of the resolutions from the past national dialogues, the most recent of which are the 2005 National Political Reform Conference on which the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, invested a whopping sum of N6 billion, and the 2014 National Conference which cost about N15 billion? Granted that each of the conferences made far-reaching recommendations on restructuring the country, the question looms up on whether Nigeria is better off now with the denunciation of the invaluable insights from them?

 Is the country not crippled by the handicap of tunnel-thinking as some would say?

The response to such questions being in the negative, constitutes the principal face of the dilemma of the country, courtesy of the evasive approach by the present administration, to the issue of restructuring Nigeria, beyond the parameters it remains fixated to.

Courtesy Daily Trust

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