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Ongoing Campaigns: Restructuring tops the agenda



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By Ifeanyi Izeze

Without mincing words, the upcoming general elections especially the presidential election of 25th February in our country is a rescue mission to save the soul of the nation.

There appears to be consensus that Nigeria under the current configuration is either not working at all or working very sub -optimally. As serially said, “we must restructure to recover Nigeria.”

On the agitations by different sections of the country- the Igbos, Yorubas Ijaws etc it should be clearly understood that what most of the agitators want is devolution of powers another term of Restructuring and this is not too much to ask for.

It is the current structuring of Nigeria that made some people to regard others as second and third class citizens. It is the structure of Nigeria that rewards laziness and punish excellence. It is the structure of Nigeria that puts a less educated citizen above well grounded citizens in positions of authority in Nigeria.

It is the structure of Nigeria that makes passing laws that can prosper Nigeria and ensure good governance impossible. The current structure of Nigeria breeds laziness instead of hard work, hatred instead of competition.

Along this line, throughout the electioneering campaigns, it was glaring that only the Peoples Democratic Party flag bearer Atiku Abubarka had a clear roadmap to achieving this purpose. Throughout the presidential campaign rallies of all the political parties it was only the PDP candidate that discussed a working document that outlines areas where he will pursue constitutional reforms through the National Assembly to achieve his proposed restructuring agenda.

As Atiku canvassed during his campaigns, “Our current structure and the practices it has encouraged have been a major impediment to economic and political development of our country. In short it has not served Nigeria well, and at the risk of reproach, it has not served any part of the country, the East, West, North and, South well”.

The states are helpless babies, living on perpetual bailouts. Even as a child when you get to a certain age, you begin to fend for yourself. We keep shouting corruption. But have we ever paused to examine why there is so much corruption in Nigeria?

The most corrupt countries in the world have all the indices of poverty and failed governance. Every Nigerian is a government unto themselves: private school, private boreholes for water, private generators for electricity, private hospitals for health, housing is also private, etc and even social security is enforced through privately engaged vigilante groups. Every social service even some economic services is being 100 percent privately handled by Nigerians.

We must reform our political system. Development can only succeed when it is bottom up. Awolowo, Okpara, Ahmadu Bello and other leaders of their regions proved it in the First Republic. That era remains a reference point till today.

Oil made Nigeria too lazy. Because of oil and bad leadership, imagine states now depending on monthly allocation permanently.

Nigeria had struggled to build a nation where the component units would feel a true sense of belonging. Is it in doubt that as a country we have struggled to live up to this ideal? We have obviously not done enough to realise national integration.

For Atiku it is not restructuring lip service Nigerians have a man who is prepared for governance.


The issue of restructuring is one policy area that has not been taken to the market as it were. Restructuring frm his own perspective is not a cliché though it’s now fashionable for everybody to talk about restructuring. It is something he believes in. It is something that he has spoken about. It is something that he has written about. He has written a book on restructuring.

His own penned down idea of it is that he will restructure the economy he will restructure the polity and he will restructure security. The Orsanya Report is a document that has been ignored since this administration came into power. That particular report proffered ways to cut down the cost of governance by downsizing.

Also the issue of decentralising our internal security structure as what we currently have in place has woefully failed to check the nation’s security challenges- banditry kidnapping for ransom armed robbery etc.

The issue of devolution of power is a central piece of Atiku’s restructuring agenda.  It involves giving responsibilities and commensurate resources to the states to take of them. It involves regions and states being responsible and accountable for their own destinies. Is it not unimaginable to have the Federal Government run hospitals secondary schools or even universities in the states?

The ambiguity over what we precisely mean by ‘restructuring’ has been one of the reasons why the term excites some anxieties and concerns among those opposed to it.

Some have sought to complicate the conceptual ambiguity over the word ‘restructuring’ by advocating for ‘True Federalism’ – when in fact there is nothing like that concept. The truth is that every federation is unique.

While advocates of restructuring from the southern part of the country are often suspected of planning to use it to weaken the North or even dismember the country, the Northern oppositionists are often suspected of opposing restructuring because they want to protect their privileges under the current configuration.

Related to the ambiguity over the meaning of ‘restructuring’ is also the ambiguity over the meaning of ‘Nigerian unity’, which opponents of restructuring historically use as a weapon in their opposition of the term. Is Nigerian unity the same as stasis? Is it right to argue that anyone who complains against the current structure is against Nigerian unity?

Impressively Atiku’s Policy Document has a clear roadmap on how he is going to harmonise the ambiguity to come out with a more workable structure for the country.

Analysts and commentators seem to be unanimous in their praise of the depth and scope of Atiku’s manifesto as concerns restructuring Nigeria to make it work better for the citizens. No other candidate can boast of a more comprehensive policy document with clear cut steps on actualising the proposal.

After more than seven years of APC ploughing 63 percent of Nigerians into multi-dimensional poverty, the country needs an aggressive policy of economic and political recovery that will put more power in the hands of everyday people. “This is what is at the heart of my aspiring to be the president of this country: we must restructure to recover Nigeria.”

  • Izeze is a National Daily Columnist and writes from Abuja. He can be reached on: [email protected];