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The meaning and imperative of political restructuring in Nigeria.

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I wrote the short treatise below in response to some of our people, fellow Yoruba, who derisively asked me to define/describe to them the meaning and logic of political restructuring. I took a stab at it as summarized below. They all kept quiet while some of them called to thank me and to seek more clarifications in the background. We need to actively engage with our people as many of them genuinely do not understand the meaning and essence of political restructuring.
My short explanation was as below:
I will address the posers you raised thus:
Yes, that was what Obasanjo did and I gave near granular details of what happened. That is with respect to the history of the 13{ea8c11308c9c5919903708965b7b7a67d75ff567d88a1bebc318ff793fd0b309} Derivation that the Niger Delta gets from our oil revenues up till today and how it contributed noticeably in restoring peace to the Niger Delta in the early 2000s.
Now to the question of what is restructuring, I will like to first describe what a federation is. It’s a system of government whereby a number of independent states/territories agree to come together to form a federation under the principle of equality, equity and mutual respect among the states. The source of power and resources is in the states, but in founding the federation, each of the federating states then agree to cede some mutually agreed measure of its powers and resources to a central body, the federal government, with each and everyone respecting each other’s boundaries, resources, powers, etc. The Federal Government is usually granted the power to run and manage the army, foreign relations, etc but is not expected to lord its choices or decisions over the states unless as permitted by the constitution they’ve all agreed to be governed by. Each state owns and manages the state resources in its territory and sends an agreed portion of the revenues to the central purse, not the federal government running and managing it only to send a portion of the taking to the state. The latter alternative, which is what we’ve been practicing in Nigeria since the military era, is like the tail wagging the dog rather than the other way round. The above description of federalism was the principle behind the name and the system of government of the *United States*. It’s the states which united and formed the federal government. This concept is usually very common with societies where there’s a multiplicity of people types or nationalities or ethnic stocks, etc. The United States thus adopted it being an immigrant country that people populated from different parts of the world. It was also what Abeokuta agreed upon when the city was founded in 1830 with the coming together of Ake people ruled by the Alake, the Owu people ruled by the Olowu, the Oke Ona people ruled by the Oshile, and the Gbagura people ruled by the Agura.
That was the same principle agreed upon for the running of Nigeria by its founding fathers, the British and the various peoples of Nigeria through their leaderships when self government was being established in the country during the colonial times. Each time a constitution was to be written or amended in those days, the various peoples sat together to negotiate and discuss and then reach a consensus. It was the military which came and changed all of that. When Ironsi, in the natural mindset of a military General finding himself in the unusual situation of having to APPOINT (military) Governors for the regions, he brought up the idea of a Unitary system, so that all the governments could report to the centre since it was he who appointed them. He was killed, partly, for the idea of Unitary government which his successors then also implemented, essentially, though without formally declaring it so. What we have today is in that same mould of a military constitution where the President can arbitrarily and without discussion with a state, wish to take over that state’s resources (e.g land and its appurtenances), whether the state likes it or not. That is simply out of line with the principle of federalism. A situation where a president would be scheming to take over some people’s land to hand it over to other people, is simply not in line with the principle of federalism and should not be possible in the constitution. If the Federal wants land in a state, it should be as granted by the state Governor, not the Federal enacting a law to empower itself to take a state’s land or its streams and rivers. That was what the Land Use Act did for us, unwittingly, so I believe this can be used to fight off the so-called Water Bill.
Now, as must have been obvious from the above, and from other previous writings from me on the topic, political restructuring is essentially about running our country to ensure the following lofty principles:
1. True Federalism in which power and resources are from the state, not the federal.
2. Equity, justice and peace which arise from strict adherence to that principle. So, an NNPC would not be running our oil sector with children of other territories enjoying cushy jobs/employments, contracts, etc in the sector while the owners (Niger Deltans) are mostly shut out. The NNPC today is an establishment dominated by Northerners in the manner already generally identified with Buhari and we all know the North would not agree to be treated like that if the shoe were to be on the other foot and they were to own the oil but Southerners were the ones to call the shots. Imagine a federally controlled Gold Mining Corporation taking charge of Zamfara gold and that corporation to be dominated by Yorubas or Igbos while Northerners look on.
We must restore equity and fair dealing among ourselves. Just as the West ran/managed its Cocoa Board and the Mid-West, its Rubber plantations,the East its Oil Palm board and the North, its Groundnut farms, and they all paid taxes to the Federal Government, the Niger Delta should run the oil fields and pay agreed tax to the federal while Zamfara does the same with its gold mines. This will promote efficiency, hard/smart work and healthy competition among the regions/states. Zamfara would mine its gold and pay agreed tax to the federation, etc but Zamfara children will find employment in the gold mines before the children of Òyó State, not a situation where the Nigerian Ports Authority has been almost totally populated (at the top) by Northerners while those with the water are looking on. How many children of Lagos State or Delta or Cross River or Rivers, etc are in the upper echelons of the Nigerian Ports versus the children of Northern states today?
That principle will also encourage us to stop the unhealthy and unsustainable life of doing nothing other than expect daily windfall from the gift of nature. India is making much more money from IT than Nigeria is making from oil. Indian citizens disproportionately occupy the top positions among the S&P 500 companies and if we add the incomes of these Indian top executives, it’s much more than Nigeria’s oil revenues in a year. Indians make more money in America than even American whites. Nigeria can achieve almost that if we pay the right attitude to training our large pool of talents that’s all over the place locally and internationally. Just a few days ago, these young brothers (Ikorodu Boys) were featured on CNN for reenacting Hollywood/Netflix plays from little or no budget in a manner that is attracting global attention now. The boys are in Ikorodu and Hollywood stars and CNN are swooning and wowing all over them. Ezra Olubi and Shola Akinlade conceived and founded Paystack and now, we hear they’ve just sold it for $200m. Another Nigerian star, Chinedu Echeruo, built a navigational app, Hopstop, which works underground and for the American subway system. Apple bought the app/business from Chinedu at $1bn a few years ago. Jelani Aliyu is an automotive design engineer who designed the beautiful and commercially successful car, the Chevrolet Volt. Jelani is still making waves in the automobile industry in the US. Many of these guys are all over the place in Nigeria and outside our shores if only we could be deliberate and organized in seeking them out and promoting them and their potentials.
3. Lastly but very importantly, restructuring is needed for the principle of cutting down the monstrous and unsustainable cost of running our country. We need constitutional statutes to cut down the tear-inducing wastes in Nigeria, e.g two houses of National Assembly that are a huge and unsustainable liability to the country, and good-for-nothing “refineries” where staff are paid handsomely for work not done and when Nigeria still bleeds dollars to import needed fuels. Examples of such wastes abound all over the place.
These are the main reasons and fundamental underpinning for the principle of restructuring. It cannot be done by amending this constitution. It can only be done by the peoples of Nigeria sitting down together and negotiating and working out a new constitution, a constitution crafted by the people, not a biased government agent and few friends locked up in a closet. A friend of mine described it as a situation where a car tyre has had up to 100 patches and keeps going down every hour. What is needed is not another patch but a new tyre. Nigerians should not be afraid to sit down together to fashion out a constitution. As if God is showing us by His divine hand from above that the North’s major fear of economic strangulation from restructuring is unfounded, We hear oil has been found in the Lake Chad basin and exploration is now going on in Niger, Kogi and Kwara and Gold is now being mined in Zamfara. God has blessed us  much more than we deserve, and no one should be afraid the others are out to starve them.
This is Political Restructuring 101, essentially.
May God help us to see right and do right.
Segun Sanni
Ex-banker and now finance and investment practitioner.

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