Some time back ‘change’ was the keyword. But not long after, some of us were left wondering whether what we started seeing was the so-called change. And now, ’restructuring’ is the word floating around everywhere in Nigeria. Respected figures in the country have also added their voice on the need for this.
But what do people have in mind when discussing restructuring? This is no doubt a rather ambiguous concept, as we can see in the country. What it entails for a person may not be what another conceives. How likely is this to happen?
What is Restructuring?
To restructure, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is ‘to organize a company, business, or system in a new way to make it operate more effectively.’ Restructuring Nigeria, in this case, rightly means re-ordering our system of government – of doing things – for things to run more efficiently. The hope is that this will enable every Nigeria to enjoy better quality of living.
Nigeria operates federal system of government, or so we are made to believe. Ideally, this is the best we could probably ask for, considering the great diversity of people. Let’s tell ourselves the truth: our experience is not the perfect federalism you might have read about in textbooks.
The relationship between federal and state governments is far from the ideal. The former is superior, too much so, to the latter. There appears to be excessive accumulation of power at the centre.
The outcome of the current situation of things is the increasing calls for restructuring. But, as we have seen, this seems to mean different things to different people.
How Do You View Restructuring?
This question might sound redundant or maybe stupid. But the truth is that restructuring may mean anything you conceive it to be.
Greater power for federating units
Some see it as giving more powers to the state. The current federal arrangement is not the best we can have. States have become beggars of sort to the centre. During periods of economic crises, it is not uncommon to see them running cap-in-hand to the federal government for revenue sharing.
States have no control over resources in their domain; everything belongs to the central government. This inability to control exploration of resources by individual states has a connection to most political issues around this part.
Revenue derived from a state gets shared out to others, even those contributing nothing. Now, will such a state or people there be happy? The other time I heard on-air that tax proceeds from alcohol consumption get to states that prohibit consumption. While I’m not the type that drinks alcohol, I think this is unfair!
Some other actors think restructuring is going back to regional government of yesteryears. These cannot be said to be wrong, though. The current system, in my own view, appears to have made some parts of the country lazier. For instance, agriculture, which some of these could focus on, is left to suffer. Regionalism may not be a bad idea really, from this perspective. Competition could make us better.
Restructuring, for some, is being allowed to secede from the country. Let us go if you won’t help our situation. Well, everyone knows what cooks his beans. Available evidence suggests this may not necessarily be the best, though. Consider the Sudan example.
Unfortunately, I do not always believe that the other man has my best interest at mind. That’s what experience here can do to you. Most of these political actors do not have your interests at heart. If you want to be objective, you will observe that all those bent on running this country aground are not all from a particular part. They all come from different sections.
I find it saddening, therefore, when some clueless, ordinary Nigerians exhibit their folly on public forums, such as Nairaland. Any report of a bad incidence leads to tribal name calling. A pity.
Should You Be Optimistic About Restructuring?
Well, that’s for you to decide. I am not optimistic, if you care to know. The sham ‘democracy’ we practice around here may not allow that to become a reality. Majority decision required for that may not be feasible, considering the lopsided arrangement of the National Assembly, the legislature. You got the clue?
With the system of government we operate around here, I do not think a saint can make things to improve for better. The dubious checks and balances or separation of powers won’t let that work. For instance, a bill with good intention may never scale through the legislature, if some interests would suffer.
How likely do you think it will be to make the lawmakers reveal their entire earnings, along with allowances? They might tell you the constitution allows them to keep it secret. So how about amending that constitution? It’s not happening.
The legislature and the judiciary are not necessarily minnows to the executive, as one Mr. Lloyd Ukwu wrote in an article. We have heard stories. They are all to blame, I dare say. The whole experience is just depressing.
However, I agree with Mr. Ukwu’s call for a National Conference. This should contribute ideas for the drafting of a new constitution. The outcome needs to be put to the people to vote on in a referendum. It is only then that a constitution can rightly claim that the people in a country agreed to live under it.
The only other solution I can think of is costly and may not be worthwhile in the longer term. Don’t ask me what that is. I don’t want law enforcement disturbing my peace. I beg you.
Are You Part of The Problem or Solution?
Restructuring starts with each one of us, I would say. We also need to realize that the problems that led to the increasing calls for this are the result of the decision and indecision of people like you and I.
If we only sought to live right and justly, we might not have found ourselves in this quagmire. Will you be vindicated by your creator and posterity by what you are doing currently? Think about it.