Monday, 29 August 2016

THE EXIGENT CALL FOR THE RESTRUCTURING OF NIGERIA

President Muhammadu Buhari
The outcry in Nigeria has reached a crescendo. While some are trumping ‘change’, others are chanting ‘restructure.’ For several others, it is ‘resource control, self-determination and fiscal federalism.’



The cacophonous voices are deafening. May be, even the deaf can hear the outrage. The blind, perhaps, can see the carnage. Nigeria is bleeding on all sides, from the Boko Haram-ravaged North-East and poverty-stricken North-West to the bleeding fields of North-Central, allegedly by Fulani herdsmen, as well as militancy in the South-South, kidnappings in South-East and ritual killings in the South-West.


The orgy of violence and blood-letting is unprecedented even as deprivation is petrifying. Rev. Fr Ejike Mbaka, a well-known Catholic captured it succinctly in an emotive sermon recently. “Hunger is everywhere,” he said. He was not wrong. The current plight of most citizens is horrendous, even as the situation is worse for many Nigerian patients and students stranded abroad due to naira depreciation and epileptic financial policies of the government and the regulatory authorities such as the Central Bank of Nigeria.
 

The destitution across society has reached exponential levels, requiring serious rescue strategies But little has come. The reason is simple. The convoluted structure of the configuration called Nigeria makes it possible for leaders to transform into rulers, for the vile to become nobles, for the inert to become the stupendous rich, and unlearned to railroad into the highest seats of power. These years of mindless enthronement of systemic incongruities in the polity have given rise to a fractured and sick country called Nigeria.

The nation has been stifled by roguish rulers operating as military despots or democratic demagogues, entrenched widespread corruption, favouritism, nepotism, tribalism and religious extremism as well as abject poverty across the polity. Indeed, the outcry in the land without doubt is a result of mind-boggling diversion of public funds by these corrupt leaders particularly  military dictators, politicians and their acolytes.


Sadly, the current administration at various levels is no different from these of the past, as most of the key players today are the same old and recycled past military oligarchs, convoluted politicians, tainted contractors and unsaintly top civil servants.


Corruption, as it were, has virtually wrecked the nation’s public sector and has eroded meritocracy and the ideals of the founding fathers after independence. The level of infrastructural decay and poverty across the country is unprecedented, with the epicenter in many northern states. This is rather unfortunate, as the northern region has produced the highest number of  rulers and military dictators, since independence.


This has resulted in the increasing clamour for restructuring of the country. Nigeria is not working, because its present structure is weak and convoluted. It has never really worked. It will be foolhardy to expect it to work. Every good house, the Bible says, is built on a strong foundation. Hence, Nigeria needs to revisit its foundation in order to overcome the raging storms.


Perhaps, if there was justice across board, the country may have thrived. The current spate of killings over resources, skewed federal character, religious extremism  in the north, tribalism and ethnic tensions, have more than anything else waned the fragile unity that may have existed. For whatever reasons, this woeful tide should end, many insist.


The present regime keeps chanting the mantra of ‘One Nigeria; claiming  that Nigeria is indivisible, while ignoring the obvious. This position is laughable, as the Nigerian union was  contracted in 1914 by the British colonialists for administrative convenience, but with a caveat for dissolution, after 100 years if the constituent parts so wished.


The clamour to restructure the country has intensified with political leaders and notable Nigerians leading the campaign. The list includes former Vice-President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku,  former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Gbonigi (rtd), Gen Alani Akinriade (retd), Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Bishop Mike Okonkwo and Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, among others. Others include Senator Femi Okunronmu, Chief Albert Horsefall, Pastor Tunde Bakare, National Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin and President, Ohaneze Youth Council, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro.

The President and his advisers will do well to listen to these calls as well as cries of the people before it is too late. It is often said that the voice of the people is the voice of God, thus as the eternal creator, he has the absolute authority to redefine any nation and its people.

The collapse of the Russian empire was inevitable.  Same for Sudan. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh used to be one country but are now independent nations. Ethiopia and Eritria separated after a bloody war. Nigeria’s leaders must spare the citizens endless ethnic struggles and renegotiate its existence and structure.

A major fallout of the recent exit of Britain (Brexit) from the European Union (EU) is a renewed clamour for Scottish independence, which according to pundits, may possibly lead to  the eventual break-up of the United Kingdom (UK). It is a truism that cowards fear change, while the brave embrace it. This is an irrefutable fact of man’s dynamism, existentialism and mortality. (Sun)