By Runsewe Solomon & Damilola Akinmolayan
The agitations for restructuring have reverberated across the country for many years. As things stand, Nigeria is a federal republic in name. The Hope Classics spoke with lawyers and stakeholders on the generated issues. Excerpts:
The Nigerian tabloids have been replete and awashed with articles bordering on the Nigeria’s problems and solutions to address the plethora of problems bedeviling Nigeria propounded mainly by the academics, politicians and public affairs commentators through the print, social and electronic media.
These problems are so glaring and discernible not only to the educated but equally to the uneducated, as their ripple effects are deeply felt by all and sundry.
The most prominent and common suggestions to put an end to Nigeria problems as propounded by these public analysts and commentators are: restructuring or constitutional Amendment .
Other suggested solutions which are in fact embedded in Restructuring and Constitutional Amendment include the demands for:
1. True Federalism, Devolution of Powers , Fiscal (Financial) Autonomy, Resource Control, State Police, Judicial and Legislative Autonomy, Unbundling of the Executive Legislative List as presently contained in the I999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended)
A critical and painstaking appraisal of these suggested solutions which are glaringly interwoven and overlapping, have all been explicitly taken care of by the legal framework as encapsulated in the extant Nigerian constitution and other statute books and International Conventions of which Nigeria is a member.
Indeed, Nigeria is acclaimed to have one of the most voluminous and all-encompassing written Constitution and Statutes, which are well crafted by renowned legal luminaries and legislators.
However, as much as I agree with the solutions put forward by these eminent Nigerians as itemised above, I hasten to add that without considering human factors as a sine qua non and condition precedent, I will liken suggested solutions to a well prepared soup having all the necessary recipe but without salt and most importantly without a good cook! The Holy Bible captures the Nigerian situation more succinctly when it posits that “the land (country) is good but the water people) is bitter.”
Conversely, Nigeria is good, inclusive of her body of laws, but the implementers (both the leaders and the led) are terribly wicked, for their thoughts are inherently evil, with dishonesty, avarice, nepotism and corruption! No wonder the incumbent President, President Muhammadu Buhari said during his first term inaugural speech in 2015 that “If we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”
However, the import of this seemingly remarkable statement is left for posterity to judge.
Another cankerworm that has utterly eaten and destroyed this country to its fabric is nepotism. Again, I quote from the First Term inaugural speech of the incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari wherein he said inter alia “I am for everybody and I am for nobody”. With the current unmistakable body language of our president to the worrisome security and economic challenges in Nigeria, his compliance and non compliance with his landmark statement quoted above, he is certainly not recondite.
In concluding this piece, I make bold to say that the problem of Nigeria are manmade and self inflicted due to nepotism and avarice, corruption and religious bigotry and intolerance.
Therefore, the need for convocation of national dialogue, where all major stakeholders including notable clerics and traditional rulers that are altruistic, apolitical and nonpartisan is of paramount importance and urgency.
Lastly if every Nigerian no matter how highly placed can have positive attitudinal change by paying blind obedience to our laws as they do whenever they leave the shores of this country, our lost glory and wealth shall return much sooner than we can ever imagine.
I am a little sceptical about restructuring as being touted as a cure-all antidote for Nigeria’s trailer load of problem. Yes, the nation needs restructuring, and urgently. However, we may continue to restructure Nigeria a million times in a year, unless we have value reorientation, sociologically re-engineering, cultural redesign and grow our national emotional intelligence, we are going nowhere.
Laws don’t grow but developed and high moral standard make the enforcement of laws easier.
But for a little need to tinker for some aspects of the Constitution, e.g., State Police, fiscal federalism and devolution of more powers to the State, our Constitution as it is presently constituted could be run and operated to serve the best interest of the citizens. What stopped the Federal Government, by fiat in writing, subject the State Commissioner of Police to take orders from the State governments and allow them to function without interference?
It is not the Constitution that forbids the Police Authority from granting licence to the officers of Amotekun Corps to bear sophisticated guns in order to confront AK 47 carrying Fulani herders.
It is not the Constitution that is spending so much money on elephant project everywhere in Nigeria, it is not the Constitution that is appointing incompetent persons to sensitive positions of responsibility that should ordinarily be occupied by the best of the best.
As the Constitution is today, once the people at the corridor of powers are ready to operate the Constitution with the fear of God and respect for humanity, most of the problems will disappear without notice. Another evidence of the need for cultural reorientation today is the security problem in Nigeria- the Boko Haram, banditry, kidnapping, ritual killing, fake and substandard products, drug abuse, yahoo yahoo, armed robbery, and to a very large extent, food insecurity in Nigeria cannot be totally eradicated by restructuring or constitutional amendments but by value system orientation.
If we all decide to be good citizens, almost all our problems will go away. We do not need national restructuring to become ‘omoluwabis’ what we need is mental restructuring.
Therefore, it is my humble belief that we need quality leadership in Nigeria, Leadership that will believe that all Nigerians are the same and that cows are not more important than human lives. Leaders that will not appoint known rogues to sensitive positions, political office holders who will not appoint only his friends and his tribe men to leadership positions.
We must uphold the tenet of equal rights, social justice and quality. Then, we will have the right mindset to holistic restructuring and constitutional re-engineering.
Restructuring is to organise something such as a system or a company in a new and different way… This means that restructuring entails re-organisation of an existing system in a way different from how it use to be.. Tobiora Okonkwo 2018: to restructure is to change an existing order to make it more functional. Deductive from his assertion is that restructuring is a purpose-driven motivity that hinges on replacement of an existing nature of a system with a new.
Restructuring in Nigeria is an inter decadal issue that it’s trend might not be outweighed if nothing is done. This restructuring which impinges on the federalist political structure of the country challenges the dysfunction of the existing political structure with the aim of transforming us into a new and improved one. There are some prominent people that clamours for restructuring in Nigeria.
Former president, Goodluck Jonathan has cautioned that the clamour for restructuring which has been on the front burner of national discourse will not solve the gamut of problems confronting Nigeria, unless fundamental challenges like independent.
The ending problem in Nigeria is restructuring several rational arguments, make a strong case for taking the bull by the horn and re-engineering Nigeria.
All Nigeria should reflect and act with these arguments in our collective self interest.
Let us go back to the regional arrangement, where we had Eastern Region, Northern Region, Western Region and later, Mid Western Region, and we saw more sense of responsibility in the leadership and we also saw coordinated progress, so, let us go back to that arrangement.
Let us restructure the country and go back to the regional arrangement, and so, should abolish the states and go back to regions.