The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it (George Orwell)
estructuring has become a buzzword in the political lexicon of Nigeria. The term has become many things for many people. To the out of favor politician, restructuring is a catchword to curry relevance in the politics of the day. Incumbent power holders view it as an anathema; a ploy to disarm them of their legitimate mandate which must be resisted with power and wit. The masses see it as a scheme of liberation from the clutches of years of misrule in Nigeria. To the lovers of One Nigeria, it is the only and best option for our continuous existence as one country. To those who want Nigeria to disintegrate, it is a worthy tool for the arousal of ethnic consciousness and nationhood. In fact, the term has become a double edged sword that could make or mar Nigeria, if not properly handled.
One of the erroneous notions of the call for the restructuring of Nigeria is that it is a Southern agitation against a Northern resistance. This notion implies that restructuring will solely benefit the South, while becoming a loss of significant magnitude to the North. This line of thought places much emphasis on geography as the most important factor in the restructuring of Nigeria. In as much as geography is of great importance in the restructuring of Nigeria, I tend to believe that the greatest problem that restructuring should and must address in Nigeria is the problem of class; that is, the astronomical gap between the rich and the poor as a result of years of mismanagement of our human and natural resources.
My take in this essay is that restructuring will become an exercise in futility if after it, an Adamu, a Balogun, an Oparadike, and a Bassey who are hard pressed today because of ineffective central governance will still not be able to enjoy the dividends of restructuring in the form of steady power supply, clean pipe borne water, affordable health care services, improved infrastructure etc.
It is therefore my central line of argument in this essay that the fear of restructuring in Nigeria is not basically a Northern oriented phenomenon but one that cuts across all the six geo-political regions of the country. There are people in the North as there are people in the South who would prefer to die rather than see the restructuring of Nigeria become a reality. Their sole opposition to restructuring stems from the vested interest they have in the present Nigeria structure. Those who are beneficiaries from the present system wouldn't want it changed because a change will unmask in detail their greediness and years of untold enslavement of the poor masses. These are the people I called the Pharaohs of Abuja in my poem "The Pharaohs of Abuja" as published by Nigeriaworld. Their interest is not for the common good rather a personal enrichment at the detriment of nation building. They are initiates in what I call the 'We We Club' where the 'We' refers to a privileged few who have access to the corridors of power.
Tell me; how many of the past and present Governors, Senators, members of the House of Representatives, Ministers, entrenched power blocs(borrowing the words of Tunde Bakare) like Emirs, Obas, Kings, Retired Army Generals, Businessmen etc are seriously clamoring for the restructuring of Nigeria? Those who do are merely paying lip service to the subject while in reality do not want it to see the light of the day. For example, how will one expect the Sultan of Sokoto and Theophilus Danjuma who are alleged to be oil bloc owners in the Niger Delta to be forerunners of the restructuring of Nigeria that will eventually put the control of the oil blocs in the hands of the regional government of the South South? That will be like one intentionally shooting oneself in the leg.
I believe that the restructuring of Nigeria will become a reality faster than thought and imagined, if there can be negotiated agreement that would let oil remain a national asset that must remain under the control of the Federal Government. But this I think will be a grave mistake of greater magnitude than the ill conceived amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Proletariats into one country called Nigeria in 1914 by Lord Lugard.
Those who oppose the restructuring of Nigeria don't put much emphasis on geography but on vested selfish interests and the maintenance of class difference. Many of these agents of anti restructuring in Nigeria are not even interested in the development and progress of their various regions. These people have investments all over the country and world that serve their selfish interests and purposes and most times do not even reside in their regions of origin.
So when these men and women of the anti restructuring league of Nigeria resist change, they are not thinking of the benefits accruable to the masses, but the loss they would incur from such an honorable venture. Take for example, our president, Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, in all his sectarian and religious intoxications could still have an undeveloped plot of land in Port Harcourt, and I doubt that it is the only reasonable investment he has outside the Moslem dominated and populated areas of Nigeria. One would have expected Mr. Buhari to limit his tenets of investment to the Moslem dominated areas of Nigeria, but he didn't. So if Mr. President and his cohorts resist restructuring, they do so bearing in mind the amount of loss they will incur from such an honorable venture.
One of the greatest obstacles to restructuring in Nigeria is the fear of accountability on the part of the political elites. This fear is majorly sponsored by the fact that restructuring would bring government closer to the people, and that would mean an increased public oversight and input on the daily workings of government. It will mean that the race for public offices will become more 'intra' rather than 'inter' which invariably will place more demand of accountability and good stewardship on the candidates for elections.
Another major effect of restructuring in Nigeria is that it will make Abuja, the Capital Territory less attractive to politicians who would kill to get there. The race for the Senate, the House of Representatives, Ministerial portfolios etc will become a race for service and not a mission for personal enrichment as has been the case so far, for real power will shift to the regional bases. Restructuring will eliminate the deadly craving for a piece of the national cake which has been the bedrock of the politics of do or die prevalent in Nigeria today. In a restructured Nigeria, the national cake will become the regional cake which will entail a more 'Umunna'(Brotherly) participation in wealth distribution.
When I was growing up in the eastern part of Nigeria, we had a thief from my village called 'Kebeke'. This man in all his criminality did not steal in or from my village or villagers. Surprisingly, he didn't encourage criminal activities in and around our area. Grown up people from my area knew quite well that 'kebeke' was a thief but didn't bother much about his criminal activities as long as they were not home bound. One day, I asked one of my uncles why 'Kebeke' didn't steal at home. He replied, "if he tried it, we (our own people) will kill him and bury him and nothing will happen".
Worthy of note is that 'Kebeke' met his waterloo the day he went to steal with his gang from his aunt (his mother's sister) that was married in the neighboring village. On that fateful Sunday, the youths of that village who had been accused of being responsible for the series of break ins in that house were alerted by a palm wine tapper, who while plying his trade saw the unholy moves of 'Kebeke' and his gang. The youths immediately left the church service at the Catholic Church and went for 'Kebeke' and his gang. It was alleged that they caught 'Kebeke', drove a six inches nail into his head and threw him into an abandoned water well for there was a sworn agreement in that village that whoever was caught to be responsible for the series of break ins in that house would be killed irrespective of who or where the person came from. The truth of the matter is that from that day till date, no one has seen or heard from 'Kebeke' and no one (not even the mother and wife) mourned him.
The morals of this story, in relation to the central theme of this essay, is that restructuring will bring government and power closer to the people. Those whose corrupt practices have long been condoned because of their Abuja connections will find it harder plying their nefarious trades in an 'Umunna' driven government.
In the 1980's, 90's, most communities in the eastern part of Nigeria embarked on rural electrification projects with launching organized as a form of self help. These electrification projects were often handled by the Community Development Union which is a separate governing body aside the traditional ruler. I want to ask; how many of those electrification projects became abandoned projects? Few, if any. The reason being that the people demanded accountability from the Development Union Officers. During launching, some community people came to the event with pen and paper to record every donation made (pledge and cash). So it became very difficult for Development Union Officers to manipulate the process for self enrichment. Even where there was the need for a pat on the back, for the Igbos say that "Ogbu opi na ezi imi"(Loosely translated as 'a worker deserves remuneration), it usually came in the form of miscellaneous expenses which must remain within a reasonable range, lest questions be asked. Translate the tenets of this "Amala'(Peoples') driven government to the regional stage and progress and development will become our second nature.
Just like in political thuggery, it is the youths who would become foot soldiers in the fight against restructuring in Nigeria. To my Nigerian youths, I implore you thus: ask yourself how many of the children and wards of leading politicians of our time are seen in the streets fighting each to death in the bid to put their parents and guardians in power? None. Many of them are comfortably and specially rooted in the Ivy Universities of the world waiting for the right time to be drafted into the system as leaders. But the rented crowd of youths, armed with ignorance and deprivations ply the streets in droves killing one another while the beneficiaries from their stupidity laugh and dance in orgiastic fashion to their folly.