By JEROME-MARIO UTOMI
The melodious ‘hymn’ about restructuring that resonated through our nation’s political wavelengths, playing in a very high key has gradually morphed into a decrescendo mode and chances are that in no distance time, it may fade further into the graveyard of abandoned discourse which of course, is our regular trademark as a nation.
Whichever way, if by luck it survives this forced holiday, it may have to remain on life support, enjoying the same fate that has befallen Agricultural science as a subject in our nation’s secondary schools. This, I will come back to if time and space permits.
The recent happening that points to this progressive fading and dysfunctional sabbatical via inaction is occasioned by so many reasons;
Chiefly, the ‘defocus button’ of our political deconstructionists who plays the self- imposed agenda-setting role on our space, using the media has been pressed. Hence, we have suddenly moved from discussing the need for the nation to be restructured to the resultant effects of our nation not being restructured.
These effects turned subjects of discussion includes but not limited to; youth restiveness, operation python dance, operation crocodile smiles, Fulani herdsmen ceaseless killing of innocent Nigerians as well as mindless agitation of dismembering the nation called Nigeria by some groups. All these have now taken over the front burner of our nation’s political discourse thereby relegating the root cause to the background.
I advanced the above position after an objectified appraisal of this topical issue tagged restructuring, looking at its current proponents, their intentions, demands, operational matrix and our environmental dynamics as a nation-state.
Another point to remember is our utter lack of the ‘needed will’; political, social, economic and even cultural. It has evidently manifested that both the masses and government are lacking in the needed will to push for the actualization of restructuring. This absence has created a disconnect, leading to a communication gully between the masses and the government. And until this gully of disconnect is filled, clamour for restructuring will continue to be willing tools in the hands of the ‘political capitalists’ which they will use when they want and drop when they wish.
it is important at this point to stress that the need for restructuring this nation should be compared with, and likened to, the indispensability and inseparability of the blood from the body. For this reason, I thank the sincere proponents but at the time, point out that the process seems hijacked, the purpose muddled up with some personal and selfish ambitions of some groups masquerading as agitators while echoing public interest as their propeller.
Very regrettably also, the media that is supposed to moderate this debate and amplify this call for true federalism has deliberately undermined or circumvented this needed guide. Some of the media practitioners have visibly ‘jumped into the arena’ using subjective reportage, thereby abandoning their social responsibility role of educating the people on issues of national importance.
The above misfortune has presented this all-important discourse as nothing but a platform for the dissemination of information, misinformation, disinformation and outright exchange of ignorance in some cases.
Consequently, the ‘false proponents’ has used the gap so created to set the process that will help the call for restructuring share the same fate, body, and soul with Agricultural Science, a subject in our secondary schools as mentioned above.
Adding context to this discourse, my eldest brother was taught, back in the mid-1970s the basic problems affecting agriculture in Nigeria. These challenges he clearly scripted one after the other. But to my utmost shock, in the early 1990s, in the first week of my journey to Senior Secondary School, I was also greeted with these same litanies of problems bedeviling agriculture in Nigeria. When I compared notes with what my brother had in the 70’s, I discovered that all were replicated, meaning that none has been solved. And those problems discovered over four decades ago are still affecting agriculture in our country till date.
I see this call for restructuring descend towards the same direction if urgent steps are not taken.
Instructively also, people have complained that the nation is currently structured and stands in an inverted pyramid shape with more power concentrated at the top and the base not formidable enough making collapse inevitable if fundamental steps are not taken. A position I completely agreed with.
But, to the false proponents of restructuring, this is the good news and the joy of being a Nigerian. This is a country where we nurture little challenges to make it grow and turn to a ‘political advantage’ of the sort to some individuals. So, don’t be surprised that come 2019, ‘ I will push for restructuring’ will become a campaign promise that will form the political manifestos of some aspirants even when they are doing next to nothing about it presently.
In contrast, one discovers that the above comes to play because the masses allowed it. Majority of Nigerians view their relationships with these leaders as ’remote control /television set’ form of arrangement. They allow the leaders to very mechanically manufacture issues, brand it ‘national interest’ then use it as a springboard to signposting their personal dreams and advance their political visibility. Immediately they achieve their needed needs, they switch off. Call for restructuring is, but a screaming example.
Put differently, our challenge as a nation is more of leadership than restructuring. A proof to this fact is that, when our leaders are blessed with political positions they preach unity and oneness and when they fall out of favour, they swap topic too to; marginalization, repositioning, re-engineering and restructuring of the nation. What these portend is that the seating position and ‘stomach infrastructure’ determine what they present or view as issues of national importance.
In the same light, some commentators have argued that devolution of power at the centre has become inevitable as most of the items contained in the exclusive list should serve their best purpose when handled by the states and the local government. The padding of the exclusive list of activities has made ‘Abuja’ appear as a general surrounded by many lieutenants instead of the order way around.
But certainly, the above arrangement is to the advantage of some and they are willing to spend a fortune in making sure that this much-talked devolution of power remains a rhetoric or mere academic exercise.
Why?, the simple truth is that Abuja remains the proverbial ‘Vice Chancellors list (VC List)’ of the inglorious admission racketeering days back in the 90s
‘Abuja’ means different things to different people; our Governors, the certified politicians as well as novitiates and as such, they will never support that call for power devolution based on their personal interests or when they do, they will want it in their own terms and conditions.
To some state Governors that have remained clueless on how to increase their state’s internally generated revenue(IGR), they believe that with ‘Abuja’ intact and FAAC still dripping, their administration is financially secured and their government cruising in an auto-drive mode.
In like manner, for the politicians that have been outsmarted at the state levels, Abuja remains the ‘wilderness of consolation and a desert of hope’.For those that lost a fortune vying for one political position or the other in their states, Abuja is the source where that sweet and gentle message ‘weep not child’ can only be muffled from via political appointments.
Marked by the above fact, my view about Abuja effigy as it stands is that unbundling it of its powers through restructuring will require the strength of a bulldozer.
But in the same vein, let the masses be reminded also that achieving something worthwhile requires ceaseless effort, resourcefulness, and ingenuity.
However, while I strongly believe in the unity of Nigeria as an individual, the truth must be told to the effect that the whole gamut of restiveness of youths, whether in the Southeast, South-south, North or Southwest, and resurgence demand for the dissolution of Nigeria stem from mindless exclusion, injustice, and economic deprivation.
Correspondingly also, the template to solve these problems is already there: the Report of the 2014 National Conference. The holistic implementation of that report is germane to the survival of the Nigeria which is right now in its most fragile state since the end of the civil war.
In addition to the above, going back to the regional system as some commentators have clamoured may also be an option. So let our government and the masses transcend calls for restructuring as a mere discourse but take drastic steps that will help transform Nigeria into a nation of our dreams.
Finally, even if we suppress this call for restructuring as being presented currently, chances are that it will resurrect by few minutes to 2019 under a new nomenclature.
God Bless Nigeria.
Jerome-Mario, a public commentator and social critic wrote via email@example.com
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