Restructuring: The Need For Total Commitment

Restructuring: The Need For Total Commitment

The issue of restructuring has once again taken the front burner in national discourse.  Although several opinion leaders have since before the 2015 general elections, routed for an overhaul of the system, the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, had for all this while, not supported the idea.

The pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere for instance has been at the forefront of this call.  Also, former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida thinks the time is due for restructuring but that means we as a nation have to tinker with our constitution to accommodate new thoughts that will strengthen our nationality. He strongly advocated for devolution of powers to the extent that more responsibilities be given to the states while the Federal Government is vested with the responsibility of overseeing our foreign policy, defense, and economy. According to him, even the idea of having federal roads in towns and cities has become outdated and urgently needs revisiting.

Presidential hopeful, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar believes many of our states have never been viable from the start once you take away the federation allocations from Abuja. He therefore thinks we have to find creative ways to make them viable in a changed federal system. “We can constitute a body of non-partisan experts to suggest other ideas. But in all, we must devolve more powers and resources from the federal government and de-emphasise federal allocations as the source of sustenance of states. We need to start producing again and collecting taxes to run our governments in a more sustainable way with greater transparency and accountability,” he stressed.

In a similar vein, popular activist and former General Secretary, National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers Union, NUPENG, Chief Frank Kokori, believes that the call for restructuring was merely the call for a functional structure. He said: “In Nigerian terms when people talk about restructuring, they say they need true federalism. I don’t know what true federalism is because federalism is federalism. A nation that practices it as a system of government must abide by its tenets. That is what the constitution says. Because of the military incursion into politics in 1966, Nigeria became a unitary government. So they were not following the tenets of the constitution that allows for devolution of powers to the federating units. It is on that basis that the minorities are demanding to restructure. If we had real federalism, there will not be agitations. Real federalism was what we had before 1966 when the regions had their own institutions.” And so the debate has continued but despite all these arguments and more from several Nigerians, the ruling APC waved it off.

Recent events however seem to have forced their hands around. The Nasir el’Rufai committee on restructuring eventually made a U-turn accepting to recognise the need for restructuring.  While this move is commendable, since leaders must always be seen to project the desires of the people they lead, it is pertinent not to politicise these concerns, but to look at the real issues.

We at Aljazirah Nigeria therefore charge the ruling APC to guard against a separatist movement but to look at the resolutions by all parties including the submissions from the South West, South East, and all other regional blocs and interest groups so that we can as a people return the country to the path of peace, unity and development.

The issues of Boko Haram, Fulani Herdsmen killings, militancy in the South South, secessionist movements in the South East and all the myriads of security challenges that have continued to impede our continued stay as one formidable nation would die a natural death with commitment to purpose. Total commitment should be the driving force.

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