What is it about this call for restructuring that has suddenly become a cliché in the country, and is now the keyword for politicians? This is rather troubling as the advocates of restructuring are not united in their definition of the term.
Restructuring is one of the issues the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) campaigned on, probably after a careful observation of the structure of the polity, but there is nothing to show its readiness to embark on the process of restructuring in the way conceived by the party. Key political players, groups, and even some political parties have all called for the nation’s restructuring. This cacophonous call to restructure from all parts of the country has come to the front burner yet again due to the agitation of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) – now a terror group according to Nigerian law.
The proponents of restructuring are yet to clearly lay out a master plan on how they intend to achieve their desire, other than theoretical conjectures, and vague explanations which varies depending on the person or group speaking at a giving time.
The APC during the campaign, ahead of the 2015 elections failed to provide a definition of restructuring, neither did it inform Nigerians on its implementation plan, guess they were too busy shoving the ‘change’ mantra down our throats, while we were too engrossed receiving their ‘change gospel’ to demand clarity. The former President Atiku Abubakar, who seems to be the fiercest individual advocate of restructuring, has also failed to neither be lucid about the concept nor explain how it could be carried out. Recently, Bola Ahmed Tinubu lending his voice to the call spoke largely about fiscal federalism in the context of restructuring. Socio-cultural groups like the Ohanaeze, Afenifere, etc, are also not left out.
The problem with this call is that it has been caught in the usual sectional politics that characterises Nigeria, it is falling a victim of the same problem it is trying to address. This inherent complications and political complexities bedeviling Nigeria is the very reason why it is easy for any region to agitate but seriously difficult if not impossible for us to break.
The advocates of restructuring are all focusing on Nigeria’s history to proffer a solution. They are basing their logic on the Nigeria’s first republic, immediately after independence. This is exactly the undoing of these various calls for restructuring. Virtually all these advocates are looking backward rather than forward, the structure they are hampering on with such vigour unknown to many of them was a deep chaotic balance, rooted in a lot of contradictions, which eventually led to its collapse in 1966.
All these proponents for restructuring are finding it difficult to clearly explain themselves because they are all looking at the same direction, a direction that is itself deceptive and not pristine.
Whether fiscal federalism or devolution of powers, or decongesting of the centre, it is important to state clearly that it will take more than restructuring to fix Nigeria – and this will be after the nation has decided on what shape this restructuring will take. There is nothing wrong in learning from history, but there is something wrong if history is the only lens by which events are weighed, and solutions proscribed.
It might be difficult to rationalise why the APC reneged on its promise to restructure, and the Leader of the Party in person of the President has continually stated that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable. Have we ever considered why the PDP under President Jonathan waited till the tail end of his tenure to organise a National conference on this issue with the conclusions not implemented?
Even after we restructure, if we ever dare to, we would still realise that we have not been sated, that there is more to this pact called Nigeria than the recent shenanigan called restructuring can address.