-Blank NEWS Online (NIGERIA) -By Austen AKHAGBEME:
The sound of the call for the restructuring of the Nigerian federation has become like that of a broken record. It comes in a bewildering staccato; it comes intermittently from both the usual and the unsual, the serious and the unserious quarters.
More often than not, it is usually dismissed as a mere hollow cry at the expense of true political convenience or often taken as a mere demonstration of mischief by a ‘disgruntled Citizen ‘ who sees nothing good in the status quo.
Paradoxically, our present rulers rode vigorously to power on the back of a declared desire for restructuring of the Nigerian federation. It is on this premise that one finds it very disconcerting that President Buhari, through his media aid, dismissed the call for restructuring made by our ageing but legendary Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Church, as a stampede.
Ordinarily speaking, one will be very surprised at the quick rebuff of the Presidential aide by reducing a seemingly innocuous admonition into a national ridicule and a tirade of concealed vituperation and deep seethed animosity.
The Covid 19 pandemic and it’s potpourri of uncertainties, painfully, has become their anchor: any pressure from any genuine quarters is rebuffed and seen as putting “pressure ” on the establishment and a distraction from the expected focus on the covid 19 pandemic.
The Clergyman has spoken, just like every other Nigerian. He didn’t only speak but gave a graphic detail of how such restructuring should be done even at state level. He advocated for devolution or diffusion of power that takes away the concentration of executive powers and statutory responsibility from one almighty organ of government.
He called for a mixture of the American Presidential system and the British parliamentary type. This gives us a President that shares certain hitherto exclusive roles with an equally powerful executive Prime minister.
But all of these was dismissed as a mere “threat” to “succumb to pressure” by the government spokesman. This, ought not so to be. Especially for a government that had this very gesture as a campaign slogan and part of it’s manifesto in her bid to come on board during the electioneering campaigns.
It is most unfortunate that the genuine call for restructuring of the nation, over time, has truly become politicised. Those who called for it are often vilified and looked upon as agent provocateur by the government of the day.
Meanwhile, we already have a plethora of documents on restructuring or true federalism since the advent of Democracy in 1999. There’s the Obasanjo political reform conference document, the Goodluck Jonathan national conference document and the report of the All progressives Congress, APC, committee on true federalism.
The availability of these documents ( though on dusty shelves within the inner appalachik) should suggest that a call for restructuring or the adoption of the findings of these noble committees, must be embraced and not vilified.
Others, like the erstwhile electoral umpire,Prof Attahiru Jega, in his professorial manner, sees restructuring from the sociological transformation of the Nigerian society over time as restructuring, itself. He traces the transformation of the erstwhile regions to 12 states till we became 32 states today as restructuring. Whether this was a comic satire or a mere admirably ambivalent position, I do not know.
The Clergyman sounded a note of warning: that we must restructure now or break up. This is too serious a warning, to be ignored.
- Austen AKHAGBEME is a Columnist with :Blank NEWS Online