Restructuring – Why Restructure Nigeria? – By Olamide Noble

Advertisements

Meaning of Restructuring

Restructuring involves changing the structural archetype around which resources and activities are grouped and coordinated.

Benefits of Restructuring Nigeriaoriginally written by Emeka D. Azubuike (Medium.com)

 Without much ado, let me go into the common or daily benefits of restructuring to Nigeria and with that you can grab the scope of this discussion.

  • Power: The way power generation works today is that if power or a new power plant is built in Kano or Bayelsa, the law requires that it must be connected to the main grid to distribute to everyone and this adds to the cost of generation and transmission to homes and other end users. Restructuring will make it possible for Kano or Imo or Edo or Bayelsa to produce their power and share with those within their state borders and when there is excess they can share to neighboring states.
  • Mineral Resources: Do you know that if your state has any mineral resource from oil to coal to iron to columbite to gold to bauxite and many others we are blessed with you cannot as a state government mine and explore this unless for illegal miners (which comes with lots of risks). With the restructuring, a state like Enugu can tap their coal and explore the uses maximally, Jos, Plateau can explore their tin and columbite and start using to produce airplane parts and create wealth for the state and country.
  • Education: Sadly, this is also in the exclusive lists with the Federal and State government having a shared responsibility which is why we have the state and federal tertiary institutions and the secondary schools as well. Restructuring and full powers to state will have them explore the talents and abilities of students and channel their curriculum and policies to design an education that brings out the complete potentials of students. A State like Ekiti can craft ways to ensure that their Professors start researching and developing papers for development. Ekiti State is known to have produced the most Professors in Nigeria.
  • Police: With a state or regional police, security is assured as states and indigents who understand their territories can take charge of ensuring that the states are safe. The concern of abuse by state governors and executives can be checked with the right laws and policies and over time it will be perfected to be averse to abuse.
  • Autonomy: This will not just be for the sake of autonomy but due to the benefits of the reforms and changes that will come. With the above listed, it will create wealth for these states and people who live Aba, Kano, Otukpo to go and look for greener pastures in Lagos and Abuja. Trust Igbo men, if the South-East can attain economic autonomy no one will leave their villages and Local Governments. Lagos and Abuja and Port Harcourt will not be congested because every man will return to their homes and develop it. Every visits outside your states can be temporary for pleasure or work.
  • Federal Character: This was adopted to help balance our federation and it has become the bedrock of corruption, nepotism in Abuja and federally owned offices and agencies. With all these, Abuja will be less attractive because we would have more organized cities and local governments that are self-sufficient. Development will be widespread across aboard and any region or state that doesn’t develop that will be their burden and responsibility.
  • Ease of Management: When the President realizes that the work has been reduced and decentralized to the states and LGAs, he can relax and focus on other issues. Play oversight functions, monitor, carry out heavier projects and get taxes from states. Every governor will deploy resources to operate on a small scale and same for the LGAs. The states will mini-countries that when one succeeds or fails we can rate their achievements with what is on ground. Presently, they all give excuses for the system that is not designed from growth.

Challenges of Restructuring Nigeria – originally written by Bukar Usman (Guardian Newspaper)

The 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) has provisions for the necessary steps that must be taken and adhered to in amending any of its provisions. Similar provisions were made in the previous constitutions of Nigeria. The procedures for changing or altering the constitution are complex and cumbersome. The framers of the constitution deliberately made it so to discourage frivolities and unwarranted tinkering with the constitution so as to preserve the unity of Nigeria.

The call for the restructuring of Nigeria which in essence is a call for partial or wholesale review of the current 1999 Constitution should be treated under those provisions. It is the perceived difficulties in compliance with those provisions that tend to make some people want to circumvent the process by condemning the existing constitution altogether as a product of a non-democratic process. Some of these people are even calling for a new one that would emerge through what they perceive as the “democratic process.”

Advertisements

There is no doubt that the restructure advocates are few and localised to some sections of the country. However, many of them are respected and influential in the society. Among them are notable politicians, bureaucrats, academics, lawyers, clerics, traditional rulers and ex-servicemen. Some of them have held public offices. Others are still serving. Some never held public office. There are also notorious armchair critics and non-conformists among them. Some of the advocates are also fairly well off in the society. They cannot therefore be accused of acting on selfish grounds or for material gains. But it is quite apparent that they are out to promote, in the main, sectional interests and agenda that could erode the pillars of our national unity. Some of them promote their views with all the force at their disposal. Others threaten to unleash unimaginable calamity on the nation if their largely narrow and untenable wishes are not granted within a given time, ignoring the undeniable fact that nation-building is a continuous project.

However, there are those who joined the bandwagon in calling for restructuring without knowing the full import of what the concept and content of restructuring entails. This reminds one of the episode under the Gowon administration when some students took to the streets in demonstration, shouting, “Ali Must Go!” Non students joined them innocently, echoing “Ali Must Go!” without knowing what the students were protesting against. Nigeria had witnessed and successfully coped with agitations of both serious and comical elements.

Viewed closely, the restructure advocates essentially anchor their arguments on certain misgivings and perceptions in form and style of governance. They perceive intolerable imbalance in the federal structure, as currently constituted; imbalance in appointments and imbalance in the distribution of resources. They equally perceive the system of governance in practice as unitary, contrary to their yearnings for federalism.

Advertisements

The question is what are the likely solutions to the myriads of perceptions and arguments for restructuring Nigeria?

Some of the advocates of restructuring propose a return to the 1963 Constitution. They justify this by arguing that it was the only constitution in the nation’s history that was freely negotiated by our revered civilian political leaders. The three initial Regions and later four, created by that constitution, performed wonderfully as units of development under the political and administrative structure. Indeed, there is no doubt that the regions recorded unmatched developments within the rather short time they were operative.

The restructuring advocates point out that all the subsequent constitutions were handed down by the military. They emphasize that the 1999 Constitution currently in operation was a product of the military and that it is a carryover of the unitary system of governance imposed by military-style governance. Hence they call for a re-enactment of “true federalism” and “true fiscal federalism”, the like of the 1960s which left the Regions with sufficient resources to perform. They argue along this line of postulations contrary to the fact that the current 36 states of the federation get more money than the former regions.

But what are the reasons that made Nigeria to jettison the regional arrangement of the 1960s, if it indeed worked satisfactorily?

Advertisements

Memories are short. Some people seem to forget that it was similar agitations like the current clamour to restructure that brought about the balkanisation of Nigeria into states, ostensibly to redress perceived imbalance that might jeopardise the existence of Nigeria as a country. Emerging from a hard-earned independence, the nationalists could not contemplate such a suicidal act and therefore sacrificed their individual ambitions to sustain the unity of the country.

In their anxiety to bury the ghost of regionalism permanently and to shun the revival of regionalism under any guise, they were not prepared to even tolerate the existence of the residual “common services” after the abolition of the regions. The regional assets were shared to the last kobo, sometimes after a bitter acrimony among the successor states. Some promising regional industrial, commercial and financial undertakings of the likes of Industrial Investment and Credit Corporation (IICC), Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation (ENDC) and Northern Nigeria Development Corporation (NNDC), inherited by the successor states, were starved of funds and allowed to collapse or pale into insignificant entities.

Those who propose, for an experimental period, the creation of “Geo-economic Zonal Commissions,” as a more practicable answer to the clamour for restructuring, need to revisit the circumstances of the demise of IICC, ENDC, NNDC, Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission (OMPADEC) and similar institutions and also critically examine the performance of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC). Likewise they should examine the performance of the River Basin Development Authorities. Of course, a new commission has recently been approved for the North-East. Its take-off and success in meeting the objectives of its establishment and the expectations of the people in its areas of operations may inform the nation better and encourage or discourage the establishment of such geo-economic commissions. But would the agitators patiently wait for such evaluation?

While it may be necessary to occasionally undertake a critical self-examination in nation-building, it is unrealistic to prescribe the structure of Nigeria of 1963 to Nigeria of today, let alone of the future.

Advertisements

Why Restructuring Nigeria is essential – story by Ademola Orunbon

Regionalism has come back to prominence, as the political, economic, cultural and social meaning of space is changing in contemporary Europe. In some ways, politics, economics and public policies are de-territorialising; but at the same time and in other ways, there is re-territorialisation of economic, political and government activity. The “new regionalism” is the product of this decomposition and recomposition of the territorial framework of public life, consequent on changes in the states, the market and the international context. Functional needs, institutional restructuring and political mobilisation all play a role. Regionalism must now be placed in the context of the international market and the European Union, as well as the nation-state.

Since the inception of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, there have been calls for restructuring. This current system being practiced in Nigeria has failed the whole country. The whole country is on fire. What is the way out? Regionalism or restructuring is the answer. It has worked for us before but the only defect is that it promoted ethnic loyalty but on the contrary, regionalism brought development into the country. The three regions were highly competitive and this brought about rapid development.

The West till today enjoys the legacy regionalism gave the country. Majority of the residents of the West are highly educated which has and is still bringing unprecedented growth. The flairs of the type of regionalism practiced during the 1st republic should be worked on and Nigeria should be given an upgraded version.

This current system of governance in practice only makes the politicians lazy. Most of the states are in financial trouble because of the failure of past and successive governments to prepare for the worst. With an improved regional system, the problem of laziness would be curbed to a large extent. It was under regionalism that Nigeria was a pride to Africa. Do not also forget that when Nigeria was practicing regionalism, there was no oil yet discovered. Now that we are in a world whereby oil is falling; regionalism is the answer to Nigeria’s wake up call.

More so, restructuring is a song also on the lips of many Nigerians. It has trended for decades and seems to be an inter-generational topical issue in Nigeria. The persistent call for restructuring takes numerous dimensions, but particularly outstanding is in the dimension of politics. It is no surprise though, because the philosophy behind the existence of every state and the control of its resources bothers on politics. Therefore, when there is a damaged cog in the wheel of the politics of the state, it becomes imperative to politically restructure the state.

Advertisements

Nigeria as a sovereign state is one that has numerous ethno-tribal groups as matched with its vast territory, large population and enormous land mass. Each of the locales within the Nigerian territory is endowed with either one mineral, vegetative or other natural resources and/or a correspondence of resident human resources (population). In view of this, any knowledgeable administrative analyst would suggest the adoption of the federalist political structure, so as to ensure efficient administration of both the vast territories of Nigeria and its ethno-tribal heterogeneous population.

This is what has been administratively put in place as a political mechanism for governance within the Nigerian polity. The current Nigerian political structure which has its roots in the 1946 Sir, Arthur Richard’s constitution of Nigeria, right from its inception till now has shown symptoms of administratively sick system of government resulting from such issues as the issue of resources control, outcry of marginalisation, issue of ethno-tribal and regional discrimination, and issue of ensuring that every citizen irrespective of age, sex, religion, ethnic, linguistic, regional or tribal affiliation is given a sense of belonging to the country.

Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy and the most populous black nation on earth. Yet, regional economic inequality and the lop-sidedness of Nigeria’s political system have led to a series of protracted conflicts. The country is currently embroiled in crises similar to the tumultuous time after independence in 1960, when regional and ethnic tensions erupted in a vicious power struggle.

Back then, following a coup against the northern-led government in January 1966, thousands of Igbos living in the northern region were forced to flee to their homeland following the outbreak ethnic clashes. In 1967, Odumegwu Ojukwu, an Igbo military officer, proclaimed the independence of Republic of Biafra, leading to Nigeria’s first bloody civil war, which ended in 1970. Over forty years later, desires for a breakaway still linger. Both the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) aim to restore the state of Biafra and challenge Nigeria’s current political structure.

Advertisements

Despite being a federal republic, Nigeria has a unitary constitutional arrangement in which the federal government wields overarching powers. Like the United States of America, Nigeria is structured as a federation with 36 states, one federal territory, and 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs), including Abuja. However, unlike the United States, the central government controls the revenues and nearly all of the country’s resources, especially oil and natural gas. Revenues accrue in the Federation Account, where it is allocated monthly to the states and the LGAs, by a federal executive body, the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation, and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC).

The political structure has not always been this way. Prior to the creation of the present-day state of affairs in 1967, Nigeria had four regions under the 1963 constitution, namely Northern Nigeria, Eastern Nigeria, Western Nigeria and Mid-Western Nigeria. Without federal government allocation or revenue from oil, export crops were central to shaping the economy of the four regions, and served as the country’s main source of foreign currency. Political federalism reduced the power of the central government.

Thus, national debate and calls for restructuring are nothing new, but they continue to grow amid economic stress, political uncertainty and recurrent violent conflicts across the country. Especially, ahead of the February 2019 elections, the push for restructuring of Nigeria’s political system is gaining momentum. Groups from the south, which have long championed the call for restructuring in defence of regional economic development, are particularly vocal in their demands for upending the current centralisation of political power.

One of the leading voices challenging the current political structure is current-president Muhammadu Buhari’s running mate in the 2011 election Pastor Tunde Bakare. Bakare emphasised that the time has come for decentralisation to improve regional capabilities and increase local abilities to generate revenues. Currently, Nigeria’s centralisation of political power distorts its political economy by encouraging redistribution instead of productivity. By themselves, most of the constituent parts of the country are not economically viable: Nearly 70 per cent of Nigeria’s state revenue comes from an oil-rich region about the size of Ireland.

Advertisements

While there is broad and general support for a new constitution in the south and the middle-belt, the north has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Fear that change would lead to political domination and economic collapse in the region has resulted in heightened tensions across the country. While the existing constitution is unpopular, especially in the south, rewriting it will not be an easy undertaking. What a new constitution might entail remains controversial and contested.

Yet, restructuring, in the form of political decentralisation and a differential economic model, is necessary, if not sufficient, for solving some of the country’s most vexing problems. To create a more economically viable and politically functional country, Nigeria needs to overhaul its political system. While such changes might, in the short term, trigger upheaval, upset entrenched power arrangements, and exacerbate existing tensions, in the long-term, political restructuring would be beneficial for both north and south. As former President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida stated in 2017, Nigeria’s future is inextricably linked to restructuring its political system. However, political restructuring will only succeed if pursued in a democratically legitimated, participatory and coordinated manner.

The issue of restructuring Nigeria political structure is a topical issue that trends on the front page of the paper of every Nigerians or elite in Nigeria. No matter how one wants to elude it, this issue needs a quality look and an addressing touch. Therefore, all Nigerians and our leaders should stop playing the ostrich on the issue of restructuring the Nigeria political structure. A joint effort towards restructuring the Nigerian federalism will make Nigeria a better country where needless tensions and conflicts are minimal and where the sub-national governments are not reduced to mere appendages. So, urgent steps need to be taken so as to change the status quo to one that will work despite the multifarious ethnic-regional nationalities in the country.

Ademola Orunbon a journalist and public affairs analyst, wrote from Federal Housing Estate, Olomore, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

He can be reached via: orunbonibrahimademola@gmail.com or 08034493944 and 08029301122


By Adigun Michael Olamide

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.