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By Arinbomen Star
There has been a rising hue and cry from some quarters, in recent times, about the need to restructure the current configuration of the Nigerian State. Besides the bona fide proponents of this crusade, some fair-weather politicians have also disingenuously aligned themselves with the thrust of this drive, with the ulterior motive of inveigling themselves into the affection of the supporters of the crusaders. The true proponents of this drive believe that the existence of the sovereign state called Nigeria, from the amalgamation of its protectorates in 1914 to its attainment of the status of a republic in 1963 and down to its current status quo, has been a mere charade choreographed by the West. They regard the co-existence of the enclaves that constitute Nigeria as a marriage of convenience. This marriage of convenience, according to these crusaders, not only provided the foundation for the current lopsidedness in the allocation and distribution of the common wealth of the nation, but also gave unfair advantages to the northern region at the expense of other enclaves.
In the light of the foregoing purported physical and material skewness, the proponents of the crusade for the restructuring of Nigeria, therefore, propose a review of the status quo along political and economic lines. They advocate the granting of autonomy to the composite enclaves of the Nigerian State, so that each enclave can control and manage its resources and make contributions to the federating unit at the centre. They also propose the devolution of some key functions by the federating unit to the composite enclaves, strict adherence to the “federal character” principle, among other components of the thrust of their restructuring drive.
Unfortunately, this restructuring drive has precipitated some antisocial inclinations which have culminated in chains of gory events in the country’s history. From the secessionist propaganda in the south-east region to the militant restiveness in the south-south region, the waves of the restructuring crusade have been rocking the ship of the Nigerian State. Perhaps as a reprisal move to emphasize their place as a bona fide enclave and de jure beneficiaries of the nation’s extant configuration, some folks in the northern region have entrenched terrorist cells in their domain. Not only have these terrorist wreaked untold havoc on human lives and physical structures, they have also put the peace and unity of the country in a precarious state. Plus, these bloodthirsty elements have shown sheer disregard for the sanctity of the human life and proved to be untamable monsters.
Truly, the current structure of the Nigerian state, in terms of allocation and control of resources, distribution of the common wealth, wielding of political powers, management of state-owned institutions and suchlike, is grotesquely lopsided. Thus, the call for the restructuring of the status quo is not out of place. However, an objective assessment of the existence of Nigeria and how it has fared within the confines of the extant structure reveals a more pressing imperative than the current call for physical restructuring. It is the need for psychical restructuring by Nigerians, especially the ruling class.
A holistic evaluation of the chequered history of Nigeria reveals the greatest challenge bedeviling the country- the dearth of moral scruples on the part of its leaders. The real bane of the Nigerian State is not much of the extant configuration; rather, it is the self-defeating leadership styles and the avaricious mindsets of its leaders. Nigerian politics no longer makes much appeal to the interest of genuine analysts and the literati in general. It has become boring, commonplace and predictable. Pettiness, frivolities and avarice have supplanted the real essence of governance in the country’s political amphitheatre. The recent waves of political shenanigans in Lagos, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, Ondo and Imo states, as well as in the National Assembly attest to the moral depravity of most Nigerian politicians.
Moreover, an objective review of the struggle of these pro-restructuring crusaders brings to the fore conundrums that beg the question as to the genuineness of their intents. With the extant centralized system of government, every enclave has representatives, albeit uneven, at the centre. How have these ambassadors fared so far? How have they imparted their regions and their people? Aren’t they driven by selfish interests and avarice? Even if the current restructuring drive is realized, what assurances do the masses have that their lots will be better off under the new architecture? Who will be the ones running the new structure? Won’t they be the same crop of ambassadors who currently represent their people at the centre? These are puzzles whose answers are pertinent to the restructuring drive.
The case of the Niger-Delta militancy readily betrays the hypocrisy and mendacity of the pro-restructuring crusaders. The crusade by the local militia at the behest of their handlers was supposedly borne out of the need to emancipate the region from the tangles of unfair exploitation and perennial neglect. However, recent happenings in the region have belied this position. Through a surreptitious pact with the mercenary avengers and their handlers, and a hollow public commitment to address the thrust of their agitation, the government got them to capitulate. As a result of the two-edged pact, their crusade has been officially called off while the supposed thrust of the struggle remains unmet. In reality, however, the militant agitation still hangs in the air as a sword of Damocles. As long as the mercenary crusaders and their handlers remain ‘state assets’, their crusade remains suspended.
In the same vein, the existence of several non-viable states in Nigeria today is attributable to the same quest for restructuring. These states can barely meet the basic needs of their people. Their political honchos have to receive reimbursement from the federating unit before they can run state affairs. Even when such allocations are secured, they are misappropriated. Most state governors in Nigeria are almost as rich as their states, perhaps richer. They use public office as a platform for personal aggrandizement while the masses who afforded them the platform wallow in abject penury. To these political honchos, restructuring consists in paving the way for the crème de la crème to wax stronger while the proletariat go cap in hand to them.
Without mincing words, Nigerian politicians require psychical restructuring. Unless there is moral rebirth on the part of our leaders, no meaningful and enduring physical restructuring can be achieved. A nation where politicians exhibit flagrant disregard for the rule of law; give a premium to personal interest at the expense of national interest; epitomize the ills and the evil they profess to stamp out; resort to hypocrisy and mendacity, as well as gerrymandering, in order to perpetuate their political reigns; and create virtual impregnable empires that protect them and their cronies from the laws of the land; moral rebirth is sine qua non for enduring physical restructuring.
It should be reckoned that a true nation is not defined by the ability of its enclaves to make even contributions to its common wealth. True nationhood is defined by common ideology and purpose, and the resolve to run a system that is truly egalitarian. A true nation is poised to fairly harness its resources and utilize them for the general good. It appreciates the strengths and weaknesses of its enclaves, while ensuring that the better endowed units make up for the inadequacies of the less endowed ones. Suffice it to say that the key hallmarks of a true nation are patriotism and egalitarianism.
In conclusion, it is undeniable that the current structure of the Nigerian State is skewed. Thus, the call for restructuring the status quo is justifiable. However, it is imperative that, first and foremost, moral rebirth be attained by Nigerian leaders, in order to create the right platform for the masses to reap the dividends of such restructuring. Achieving the thrust of the current restructuring drive otherwise will only open a Pandora’s Box.
Arinbomen Star writes from Ibadan, he can be reached via Starins4real@yahoo.com.