Many Nigerians have been talking about restructuring Nigeria as a whole. Many talk about the devolution of powers, a change in the sharing formula, marginalisation, state policing and fiscal federalism. These are just a fraction of so many different definitions of what the term means to so many different people.
I believe that these definitions are all interrelated, and as the debate continues, we will at some point come to have a clear definition of what restructuring means with respect to Nigeria. The
We must be careful however. The tigers are, as always, waiting to pounce. They will hijack the debate, morph it into an empty slogan like the 2015 “Change” slogan, and then go ahead to sing the song to Nigerians until it brings the votes they need. We all know what will happen after that; our leaders are that shameless. 2019 is close, and it is our duty to make sure this does not happen — or at least try to.
Already, Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president, is talking about restructuring Nigeria. What the word means to him, we do not really know. Even Ibrahim Babangida, a man, who, in 1985 seized all the power available in the country for himself is talking about restructuring. Is it that time has convinced Babangida and Atiku that the country needs to be restructured, or are they playing to the gallery for the sake of 2019? Time will tell.
No one person can unilaterally and single-handedly restructure Nigeria. As far as I know, a sizeable number of people from all the geopolitical zones must agree to it, at least in the background of things.
It is not too early to start asking the hard questions, so here are the questions I have for all the presidential aspirants that are going to promise to restructure Nigeria in 2019.
First, you must tell us what restructuring means to you. A plan must be properly articulated for us to see. Tell us about the plan.
Authoritarianism has never helped us. The amalgamation and the Ironsi decree №34 come to mind. Who did Ironsi’s Supreme Military Council ask? Who did they talk to? Did the Nigerian people agree to it? Those two decisions played a huge role in why things are the way they are in Nigeria today. The British did not care if we wanted the amalgamation, they did it for their own selfish reasons. Ironsi and his crew unilaterally announced the decree 34 for whatever reasons seemed okay to them. As an aspirant preaching restructuring, who have you been talking to? Do you have the majority’s backing from your party?
How do you intend to deal with those who would attempt to block the process? How do you intend to break through forces of resistance? There are people who benefit from the status quo and would do everything possible to make sure the current structure remains. What is your plan for them?
What are the short-term goals that can be used to encourage the sceptics and the cynics along the way?
It is important you surround yourself — mostly — with people who share your visions. You cannot promise a weaker centre and surround yourself with statists or power drunk ex coup-plotters. Their values must be similar to yours. What kind of people do you plan to surround yourself with? Who are they?
The aforementioned are the questions I have for now, feel free to add yours. It is not too early to ask these questions.
The trouble with Nigeria
The late Chinua Achebe said, and I agree with him, “The trouble with Nigeria is simply and squarely a failure of leadership.”
Nigeria has never had a real leader, and it is crying out for one now. All we have managed to have — at best — are managers who were good enough to maintain the existing structure. If we want transformation, we need leaders more than managers.
P.S: A manager is often the one who is able to maintain an existing structure or status quo; to keep things in place and run things smoothly. A leader, however, is a dreamer, a creator of organisations; the one who comes up with the ideas and a very good plan of executing it. A good leader listens; he knows that he must carry everyone along and take their input very seriously even if he doesn’t like them. He knows that his dreams and ideas must be sold to a reasonable number of people in every department of the organization.
Who will bell the Cat?
Restructuring is only a precursor to the much needed transformation Nigeria needs and I hope we get it right in 2019. 2019 must be a battle between ideas and values; and not tribalism and religion. This must begin at the primary level. Our political leaders must get their heads out of the cooking pot and present ‘leaders’ as aspirants, that is if they have any intentions of getting things right. We need leaders in 2019. Who will bell the cat?
Olusegun Tinubu is a Materials Engineer based in Texas. He spends his spare time worrying about Nigeria and thinking for her.