By Segun Olatunji
There is no point in belaboring what restructuring denotes. Since 1966, there have been numerous review conferences on restructuring. By now from the review conferences, literature review, symposia, and articles we should comprehend what restructuring means and entails. We also should fathom the positions of the regions on restructuring: the South, the South East, the West, and the Middle Belt are enthusiastic about restructuring while the North is lukewarm to restructuring.
Because of the dichotomy between other regions and the North, the polity is incessantly overheated causing regions to proclaim their nationhood: Southwest, Odua; East and South, Biafra. The disintegration of the country is reasonably foreseeable in the nearest future if compromise continues to be elusive. The clamor for restructuring is so ubiquitously deafening that conceding the presidency to any region will not assuage the agitation for restructuring. For real, ignoring or downplaying the exigency of restructuring Nigeria will be too perilous.
Restructuring is the re-engineering of the relations between the center and the federating units, among the federating parts, and among the citizenry. It covers the superstructure and discursive issues of law, technology, economy, security, politics, infrastructure, etc, for actualization of good governance at all tiers of government, patriotism, and sustainable development.
We cannot deny the overdue issue of restructuring at this critical juncture; any further ado will blow the entity into pieces. Although there are some variations in the definition and implementation of federalism, the core requisites are indelible: 1.) devolution of powers from the federal government to the states where the federal is limited to internal and external defence, foreign affairs, and macroeconomics (executive list) and some very limited roles in the concurrent list; 2) the states deal with the issues of education, water provision, transportation system, electricity, policing, firefighting, etc; 3) each state controls resources and allocates part of its revenue to the federal; and 4) empowerment of minorities from marginalization.
The inveigh against the prevailing pseudo-federalism is at climax, provoked by distinction in poverty; eroded life-expectancy; skyrocketing unemployment rate; pervasive insecurity; ruinous infrastructure; rundown social amenities; over-dependency on the finite mono-culture economy; over-centralization of power, fiscal policies, and resources at the center; massive brain drain; stampeding business flights; wrecking inflation; audacious disdain for justice; glorification of corruption; and promotion of mediocrity over meritocracy, which is about to deliver a monster baby in form of disintegration of the country if exigent, holistic and patriotic actions reflective of our heterogeneity are procrastinated.
Lest we forget, the characterization of the current relationship between the fake federal government and the 36 states as a federal system is misnomer. In current Nigeria, where the center forms and maintains the police force, transfers funds from the federal to the states, controls resources given to the states, approves the amenities for the state to establish and determines the ability of a state to generate electricity, cannot be said to conform to federal orthodoxy. Little wonder why the country is infested with precocious and intractable corruption, bad governance, sprawling poverty, pervasive security fiasco, deterrence to upward mobility, and auto-degenerative malaise which are axiomatic of a failed state.
Besides, many people mistake confederalism for federalism. Where confederation is an association of sovereign states, the federation has only one sovereign center. While confederalism is characterized by a weak center, the states are powerful, making the dissolution of the country easier. In a federal system, both the center and the federating states are powerful, making the country powerful because the healthy competition and symbiotic relations among the states hasten development across the states, consequently, the country. In Nigeria, the current configuration weakens the center and emaciates the federating units because of the dependency of the federating parts on the center; it demotivates creativity and innovations for diversification of resources because of the financial largesse from the center to the unproductive states instead of incentizing productivity across the federating components.
Most of the proponents of restructuring have erroneously latched on to physical and security restructuring to the exclusion of institutional, attitudinal, and fiscal restructuring. A holistic restructuring should be done within a set period of close-ended dates as opposed to a slow-grinding approach with open-ended dates, especially after squandering 55 years (1966- 2021) over-killing restructuring. An inch-meal or delay-restart approach is not an option. The fact that esoteric individuals drew the 1999 constitution makes the document a nullity for various reasons; thus, a pointer to either a restructuring or a new constitution or a burst. Geographical expression devoid of institutional, economic, security and attitudinal restructuring is more injurious to the nation and its citizenry than not having restructuring at all.
Whistle-blowing, non-governmental organizations, autonomous and financially independent judiciary, tribunal, security apparatuses, and research centers should be permitted to flourish in order to provide the institutional backbone to nurture and nourish functional federalism and democracy. The attitudinal/mental restructuring must be geared towards socialization of the ultimate sovereignty (the electorate) on the provisions of the new constitution on a continuous basis through several agencies in addition to be a part of the curriculum from elementary to secondary schools, and all media: radio, television, social and print.
Furthermore, the paranoia about true federalism stems from centripetal forces with strong vested interests in the infested status quo, and ignoramuses assuming that confederation and federation are fungible, and assuming that oil is forever. And the centrifugal forces who subscribe to infinity oil suffer the same fate. The current pervasive insecurity will escalate beyond imagination and containment absent restructuring. Nobody will be safe, especially the political and economic prodigals.
Source: Guardian NG