THE CALL FOR RESTRUCTURING IN NIGERIA: A SOLUTION OR A CLOAK OF THE REAL PROBLEMS. By: Samson Obaro
The failure of government is most manifest in the thinking of the bourgeois who at all time seek to control the wealth of a whole for the benefit of a few.
Restructuring in Nigeria into six geopolitical zones has become the big word in the lips of the ruling elite and some microscopic few who sing and dance to the song and drum of these elites with little or no mental drill as to what restructuring is about.
In the Nigerian context of restructuring, it means the partitioning of the nation into six geopolitical zones, what this means is that the existing thirty-six states structure will be collapsed to form new political zones. The proponents of this thought posit their main arguments from two stand points viz;
1. Administrative convenience, and
2. Practice of true federalism.
Firstly on the issue of administrative convenience, I have no difficulty in advancing my thought as to why those calling for restructuring on the basis of this are misguided. Prior to the birth of what is today known as Nigeria, history has it that what was on ground was the Southern and Northern protectorates and the colony of Lagos. The amalgamation of these two protectorates according to the colonial masters in 1914 was for “Administrative convenience” the context in which the British overlords used this word was for the purpose of adequately maximising the raw material potentials deposited within the region. This of course has all the trapping of a capitalist who is interested in the proceeds of what is on ground than building an institution that will lat beyond these mineral deposits.
In this vain, the Nigerian politicians and elite have unceremoniously robed themselves in the awful regalia of the white overlords in their call for restructuring for administrative convenience which they have said includes resource control, and the watering down of the item currently in the Exclusive legislative list among others.
The irony is this; when a system becomes tight and economic activities dwindle, it is the nature of the elites to feed their appetite for power and wealth by requesting for the break from the norm to allow for structure that will accommodate them easily. It is worthy of note that the call for resource management is not the cure to sectional agitations from those who feel they are marginalized within the Nigeria state. For instance the case of the Niger Delta agitation for the control of their oil is one on the fore. A recent study has shown that in each of the core Niger Delta region, there are not less than ten different militant groups (emphasis on Different). What this suggests is that within the people there are also minorities of the minorities which in itself shows a circle of endless agitation as to marginalization which will be further expanded when the doors of restructuring are opened.
In the campaign for administrative convenience and resource control at this time is sickening and a fairytale lies in the fact that different states and ethnic groups within Nigeria have different proprieties and this in all respect affects their scale of preference. The easterners are agitating for a nation of their own; it is gross misconception to offer such worrying faction of the country a region in exchange for a nation.
Secondly, the argument for the practice of true federalism is one that is bear footed and wears no slippers at all. The theory of federalism is built on the following different pillars;
1. Social contract theory
2. Ideational theory
3. Infrastructural Development theories and
4. Cultural theories.
It is a known fact that the concept of federalism is not universal in its approach and practice i.e every nation that practice federalism tailor it to suit their internal needs. Flowing from this is a point that stand on its own and unbeatable. The America model of federalism has been construed over the years to suit the needs of the America nation which it has been claimed was ‘copied’ by Nigeria. Also the Canada model of federalism is focused on fighting separationist movements. Therefore a call for the practice of true federalism is a thought in its abstract and fictional form as the nature of federalism currently practiced in Nigeria has been so designed to meet and accommodate the desires of the over three hundred ethnic groups in Nigeria.
The real Nigeria issues can be summarised into one broad heading which is ‘Failure of Government.’ The failure of the Nigerian government both at the federal and state levels have birthed unemployment, crime rate increase, dwindling participation in government ventures (except during elections), and ultimately sectional agitation for the control of their resources. There is an unanswered question which is what did the government of those agitating for resources control done with the derivation they get as oil producing states? Edo state for instance gets derivations from oil; Ekpoma and others like it are still suffering from bad roads and active government presence. The emergence of agitation is not attributed to the failure of the central government alone but that of the states. It is no news that in the Nigeria of today very many states cannot pay their workers and internally generated revenue is low and hence the need to milk the centre for bailout funds.
The idea of restructuring is at best a cloak designed by the bourgeois to cover the real issues. It is not in any near time a solution to the Nigeria challenges.
An enforcement of the social contract theory is a readily available tool to ameliorate the hardship that has made the song for restructuring sound sweet when in its entirety has no substance. When citizens are provided with basic amenities such as good roads, water, electricity, employment and an enabling environment for commerce and trade to thrive there will be less than no time for the calling for restructuring.
Also building strong institutions where activities of government will not be cut across ethnic lines but on the fact that it is Nigeria and Nigerians. The Tanzanian model is a ready and effective model to be copied. Today Tanzania is not cut across ethnic lines but on the spirit of nationhood and nation building. There are one hundred tribes (ethnicity) in Tanzania yet the people are less concerned about which tribe becomes president but the fact that the person is a viable choice for Tanzania. The emergence of H.E John Magufuli as Tanzania president is a case to be studied.
Conclusively, there is no such fear as having the enemies of a nation milk it dry on the basis of been think tanks for the country hence the need for government to play its role and the people their roles.