BY: NENGE, TERNA AKAMBE LECTURER, BISHOP CROWTHER COLLEGE OF THEOLOGY, OKENE KOGI STATE. revnengeterna@gmail
By imperial fiat, the British amalgamated the northern and southern protectorates in 2014 for ease of colonial administration. Ethnic nationalities of diverse cultures were brought to live together without their consent. These led to tensions and separatists agitations that led to independence in 1960, when political power was transferred to Nigerian politicians. The system of government at this time was federal with three regions: North, East and West. The coup and counter coup of 1966 introduced unitary system of governance under which a very powerful centre decides who gets what. This has engendered mutual suspicion and cries of marginalization that always end in religious crises and general insecurity which has cost the country much in blood and treasure. Agitations for self-determination by minority nationalities subsumed under the three major tribes have been unabated, many calling for the restructuring of the Nigerian state. This paper believes that holistic restructuring through referendum is panacea to constant religious crises and insecurity. Power should be from the bottom-top. Citizens should control their resources and chart the course of their economic and political development without the fear of being marginalized or discriminated against. With restructuring, there is a plausible assurance that Nigerians will live happily ever after.
Keywords: Restructuring, Panacea, Self-determination, Referendum
The problem of the Nigerian State is right from the foundation. The British could have done well to amalgamate the two protectorates through a referendum. This could have availed the people groups the opportunity to decide to live together or not. The failure of this is the social malaise that has been distressing the country as graphically described by Chinua Achebe
The social malaise in Nigerian society was political corruption. The structure of the country was such that there was an inbuilt power struggle among the ethnic groups, and of course, those who were in power wanted to stay in power. The limited and simplest way to retain it… was to appeal to tribal sentiments, so they were egregiously exploited in the 1950s and 1960s.
This has brought about sharp divisions, belligerent and divisive rhetoric, economic backwardness, the total absence of infrastructure, ethnic chauvinism that breeds suspicion,
1C Achebe, There was a Country, England: Allen Lane (2012, 51)
religious bigotry and intolerance, crude violence, systematic crime that has always baffled security agencies, social inequality and injustice, nepotism, corruption and the absence of internal cohesion. All these are plausibly orchestrated by the unitary or quasi federal system of government Nigeria practices.
- RELIGIOUS CONFLICTS AND INSECURITY
Nigeria has a rich history of religious crises and insecurity. It was a matter of time before the keg of gun powder on top of which the foundation of the country was built exploded due to underlying ethnic and religious tensions. The coup and counter coup of 1966 were precursors to the crises witnessed in Nigeria over the years.
Some social and political commentators blame the incessant crises in Nigeria on corruption and poverty due to successive administrations incompetence, callousness and irresponsibility but others, like me, believe that they are more than that. I strongly believe that some of these crises are systematically planned and orchestrated along religious and ethnic lines in order to subjugate and cow other hapless Nigerians into political submission.
- General Insecurity
Apart from the religious crises, general insecurity pervades the country. While this is on, those who swore by the constitution to protect lives and properties of the citizens seemingly take sides or pretend not to be aware of what is going on.
Boko Haram (Western education is abomination) is the loose ideological translation of Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad or People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad. The group took a hardliner turn when their leader was extra-judicially killed by the police and the reins of leadership were handed over to Abubakar Shekau. It is worthy to note that at the beginning, some politicians in Borno State patronized the group and armed them for political purposes namely to intimidate their opponents and squeeze votes from the electorates. What is curious about Boko Haram is that even though they started as an intra-Muslim sect, their radicalization was targeted at everything western education and they saw Christianity as a major promoter of western culture. Bomb started exploding in churches as Christians were massacred in hundreds in cold blood.
As it were, politicians who had sights on political power latched on the terror unleashed by Boko Haram and actually did everything that could be done with propaganda against the presidency of Jonathan and the rest, as we all know, is history.
The Fulani Herdsmen Militia
The menace of herdsmen all over Nigeria is spreading like wildfire. The consequences are igniting conflicts in the country. Hardly a day passes without their unsavoury activities being reported in the media. From Benue to Imo, Rivers to Delta and from Ogun to Oyo States, the story is almost the same. Cattle minders simply run their livestock through farmlands, all year round; they graze on them and destroy what they cannot eat, consigning farmers and host communities to starvation and poverty.
Attempts by these farmers to protest the activities of these rampaging vandals often end in bloodshed because the cattle rearers are always armed with sophisticated assault rifles such as AK 47. Apart from damaging farmlands, they also invade villages, kill and steal as well as rape women. Reports to the law enforcement agencies often fall on deaf ears, and villagers and their traditional rulers are forced to cry out to state governors for protection with little or no help
2B Abdullahi, On A Platter of Gold: How Jonathan Won and Lost Nigeria, Lagos: Prestige (2017, 148)
Communities are being forced to fight in the absence of protection from the authorities.
One thing needs to be pointed out at this point. The minority peoples of the Middle Belt have been crying out to the government against the bias exhibited by the security agencies against them in favour of the Fulani Herdsmen to no avail. In Benue and Plateau States especially, there are mass graves to show for the passive support the security agencies have being giving to these militia our president once called our brothers. This reached a crescendo of disturbing proportions that General Theophilus Danjuma on March 24, 2018 during a speech at the maiden convocation of the Taraba State University, Jalingo had to come out publicly and after renouncing the bias tactics of the military called on the local peoples to activate self-defence mode else the government will sit idly and watch in tacit approval as the militia aided by the military will do ethnic cleansing. His exact words:
The armed forces are not neutral. They collude; they collude; they collude with the armed bandits that kill people and kill Nigerians. They facilitate their movement. They cover them. If you are depending on the armed forces to stop the killings, you will die one by one. This ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba state. It must stop in all state in Nigeria. Otherwise Somalia will be a child’s play. I ask every Nigerian to be alert to defend your country; defend your territories because you have nowhere to go.
Miyetti Allah, a herders group whose patron is president Muhammadu Buhari, has come out severally to claim responsibility for those mass killings, but till today, none of them is brought to justice or arrested to be questioned. Yet, farmers who rise up to defend themselves and their communities are promptly arrested and locked away indefinitely. The president has been plausibly accused of supporting his kinsmen, what I also strongly believe. Without doubt, this is the kind of scenario that continues to generate tension which in turn leads to insecurity in the country and separatists agitations from groups like IPOB, MASSOB among others. Nigeria must restructure, no other way around it. The entire security of the country should not be left in the hands of one man who decides when and how to deploy them.
In recent years, given the incessant ethnic tensions that have always birthed insecurity and religious crises and general political dissatisfaction, many countrymen are lining on the side of restructuring as the panacea for peaceful resolution of these crises and coexistence and economic development. Presenting a paper on this topic at Chatham House, governor El-Rufai of Kaduna State shares the same sentiment and agrees that Nigeria is a Federation without Federalism. What a paradox! He argues
…that our federation has been dysfunctional, more unitary than federal, and not delivering public goods to the generality of our people. Despite possessing significant natural resource endowments, being Africa’s leading economy and most populous nation, Nigerians are neither happy nor content with the current political structure, the 1999
3.The Nation Newspaper, March 25, 2018
Constitution, and virtually all the institutions of governance at the federal, state and local levels.
While the clamour for restructuring rages on among Nigerians, it will be noted that there are some buzz words or phrases that are used. Some of them include but not limited to these: true federalism, devolution, resource control, regionalism, and self-determination. The details and nature of restructuring that Nigerians want is also a matter of contention depending on what the advocates think restructuring is.
- Devolution of Powers
Devolution is the transference (as of rights, powers, property, or responsibility) to another; especially the surrender of powers to local authorities by a central government. Devolution usually occurs through conventional statutes rather than through a change in a country’s constitution; thus, unitary systems of government that have devolved powers in this manner are still considered unitary rather than federal systems, because the powers of the subnational authorities can be withdrawn by the central government at any time. This is actually the type of restructuring some politicians like governor El-Rufai are advocating for. He lent support to this when he said inter alia:
…I pointed out that the Federal Government needs to devolve more powers to the states, and the states to the local governments. I asserted that this is already happening under the APC national government by convention and pragmatic devolution, without any legislation, national conference or constitutional amendment. For instance, my colleagues and I in the Kaduna State Executive Council requested that the Federal Government should re-designate two major roads in Kaduna, our state capital, as state roads. The Federal Executive Council granted our wishes, restoring the two roads to our control and saving us the inconvenience of seeking permission from a federal bureaucrat before we can install street lights on a major road in our state capital.
For someone to advocate for this type of restructuring is not only laughable but also sad especially given the pedigree of our politicians for the love of power and showmanship none of them would be willing to let go the crunchy issues that need constitutional amendments to settle for the benefit of the common man. What is the benefit of street lights in Kaduna metropolis to rural dwellers who do not even have electricity? Devolution of powers does not solve anything rather; it is another way of the behemoth centre to cheat the masses and further postponed the evil day.
4. N. El-Rufai, “Next Generation Nigeria: What is restructuring and does Nigeria need it?” Chatham House, 21 September, 2017 www.chathamhouse.org/research/africa.
5. Merriam_Webster’s Dictionary and Thesaurus CD edition 2010
6. “Devolution.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2015.
7. “Devolution.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2015.
Federalism is a mode of political organization that unites separate states or other polities within an overarching political system in such a way as to allow each to maintain its own fundamental political integrity. Federal systems do this by requiring that basic policies be made and implemented through negotiation in some form, so that all the members can share in making and executing decisions. The political principles that animate federal systems emphasize the primacy of bargaining and negotiated coordination among several power centres; they stress the virtues of dispersed power centres as a means for safeguarding individual and local liberties. The federal relationship must be established or confirmed through a perpetual covenant of union, usually embodied in a written constitution that outlines the terms by which power is divided or shared; the constitution can be altered only by extraordinary procedures. These constitutions are distinctive in being not simply compacts between rulers and ruled but involving the people, the general government, and the states constituting the federal union. The constituent states, moreover, often retain constitution-making rights of their own.
Federalism brings competition, competition drives productivity, productivity inspires innovation, innovations drives development. This is exactly what Nigeria lacks; competition, productivity, innovation, efficient and sustainable development. The present unitary system has not only distorted the necessary ingredients for growth but it has also entrenched an entitlement mentality in the populace and among the federating units, making them less aggressive towards self-sufficiency. Recent statistics has shown that the bulk of the federating units (states and LGAs) are not sustainable and viable without federal allocations. What this basically implies is that if the federal government suffers a major economic sabotage in its revenue generating base, the entire country will likely run into crisis.
What we have in Nigeria as we know it is a poor paradoxical imitation of true federalism. It is in fact and indeed, a confusion between federal and unitary systems of government. The centre or the presidency has so much powers that could be used to help, hunt and hound. This led president Jonathan to confess that if he were to use a tenth of his presidential powers, he would be an almighty despot.
Successive presidents have actually exploited these enormous powers of colossal magnitude for nepotistic benefits of their ethnic peoples. For example, let us consider the introduction of Federal Character Commission (quota system). Some northern presidents felt that if their ethnic group (Hausa-Fulani) are left on merit, they would be unable to catch up with other ethnic groups in appointments or employment. The quota system was introduced. West African Magazine describes it as morally bankrupt “In Nigeria it bred deep resentment and both subtle and overt attempts to dismantle the structures in place for meritocracy in favour of mediocrity, under the cloak of the need for “federal character” – a morally bankrupt and deeply corrupt Nigerian form of the far more successful affirmative action in the United States.”
8 “Federalism.” Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2015.
9 “Memorandum on True Federalism” submitted by The ‘Restructure Nigeria’ Community as A Response to the APC Committee Call on True Federalism www.restructurenigeria.ng
10 B. Abdullahi, On A Platter of Gold: How Jonathan Won and Lost Nigeria, Lagos: Prestige (2017, 80)
11 West African Magazine, issue 2718-43 (1968, 1969), quoted in C. Achebe, There was a Country, England: Allen Lane (2012, 78)
The more qualified Nigerians are hamstrung due to quota systems while the inept and grossly unqualified are qualified because of this quota system. This is one of the more reasons why there should be proper restructuring in order to ease ethnic tension and solve our perennial insecurity problems.
iii. Resource Control (Derivation principle)
What has made the unitary federal government of our country so attractive is the oil rents. The oil beneath the feet of the Niger Deltans has, over the years, been the major factor that has kept the country going and at the same time some politicians from other regions, especially the north, would not want to discuss restructuring. They believe that they are entitled to the oil rents from the Niger Delta as they sit at Abuja and share the proceeds monthly through what is called “monthly allocation.” As a result of oil money, many state governors have become so lazy that they are not able to think beyond monthly allocations and the sharing formula.
Resource control is one of the key issues that have generated a wide spectrum of political punditry as it has become the fulcrum of restructuring agitations. Communities from where these resources are tilled want to totally control them and pay taxes to the centre as it was the case before Decree 32 of 1966 that authorized the “Federal Government to take control of revenue from natural resources and corporate taxes from regional governments.”
I am of the opinion that when it comes to resource control it should not be so much about what is beneath our feet than what is in our heads. Human intellect is a great resource that if properly harnessed it will bring rapid development beyond what material resources could do. There are examples of countries like Switzerland, Israel, among others that do not have mineral resources but are well developed economies because they developed their human resources. It is therefore important to note that the siren of fears that have been expressed by those against restructuring is all due to the problem of resource control. It will be profitable for us to move from a resource based economy to a service based economy and nobody would be standing in the way of restructuring of the Nigerian state.
Once Nigeria is restructured and achieves this form of economy, it will ease tension and ethnic agitations for resource control will wane because there will no longer be mutual suspicion where those communities from whose lands these resources are sourced will no longer feel cheated as expressed in the local parlance: “monkey dey work, baboon dey chop.”
It is plausible to argue that level playing ground should be availed to all ethnic groups for them to self-determine. A case where the minorities are subsumed under the tripod of the large ethnic groups namely Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo should be discontinued. For example, the minorities in the Middle Belt Tiv, Nupe, Berom, Jukun, Gbagy, Idoma, Igala, Ebira among others are subsumed under the Hausa-Fulani hegemony called North-Central. Ethnic nationalities should be allowed to decide how they want to live and run their government autonomously in a restructured Nigeria. The Hausa–Fulani oligarchs should no longer be given the latitude to lord it over these minority tribes and take away what belongs to them. This was what the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo had in mind when he made a case for the creation of states on linguistic bases. Enough of the imperial hubris of these majority tribes over the minority tribes even as
12 S. A. Bello “Restructuring Nigeria: A Critical Analysis” THISDAYLIVE https://www.thisdaylive.com/…/… 11 Jun 2017 accessed August 11, 2018
13 See Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s press release of 18th August, 1975 as quoted in Voice of Courage: Selected Speeches of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, vol. 2, Akure: Fagbamigbe (2017, 166-172)
their feeling of entitlement is beyond the telling of words. As we approach election year, the consensus among these majority tribes is that the Hausa-Fulani will still keep the presidency till 2023, thereafter it is either an Igbo or a Yoruba presidency. Where is the place of the minorities? When will we have a Tiv presidency? Everyone should be allowed to seek self-determination through referendum and constitutional amendment. No tribe or ethnic groip is more Nigerian or superior to the others.
- NATURE OF RESTRUCTURING
Former Vice-President and the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in his speech during the launching of a new weekly newspaper, Daily Stream, listed some agenda items to be tabled during any restructuring exercise, these include devolution of power to the states, reduction in federal government exclusive list(87) in favour of concurrent list(15), developing our own model of fiscal federalism, reduction in number of federating units, administrative restructuring, leaner bureaucracy, local government autonomy (state control), federal ownership of interstate roads, resource sharing. Others have also raised issues such as resource control, state police, federal character principle etc.
I do not subscribe to any restructuring that will not be holistic. Any half hearted restructuring that would be piecemeal decentralization through devolution of powers should be rejected by every well meaning Nigerian. The present structure of Nigeria, the paradoxical federal-unitary system (or quasi federalism) of government needs be restructured through constitutional amendment and referendum if we care about eliminating ethnic tension, nepotism and mutual distrust that fester insecurity and religious crises. Any form of restructuring in Nigeria should not be conducted by the federal government. It should not be based on the magnanimity of the president to decide what powers to devolve, what inter-state roads to give up, how much should be sent to states as revenue. The citizens, through referendum, should be allowed to do the restructuring and allow for, first of all, an inclusive constitution for the country.
Truth to be told, the present form and nature of government as we have it in Nigeria is the major problem in the country. Its constitution on the basis of the winner takes all is what engenders religious crises, social strife and general insecurity. When we the people wallow in poverty while a few politicians and their families or those who have sold their birthrights to them swim in stupendous wealth, live in luxurious homes, drive state-of-the-art automobiles, fly private jets, attend hospitals in London and get quality education for their kids in choice universities abroad while neglecting everything here, what do you think will happen? Consider this example. Every time, Yahayah Bello, the governor of Kogi state visits his town, Okene, an entire major street on which his luxurious and imposing mansion is located will be blocked from the common man by the battalions of soldiers and other security forces who stand guard over him. This is why Nigeria is not making any headway. What is the import of this type of behaviour? No matter how long we continue to suppress the anger welling inside of us, it will once in a while spill. Unfortunately, the anger gets spilled against the poor and hapless masses. This has to stop. And it should stop immediately!
- Geographic Restructuring
As I have argued before in this paper, holistic restructuring of Nigerian state should include geographic restructuring. There are several ethnic nationalities that are groaning under the yoke of other domineering ethnic groups. This is a time bomb. Since they have no one to help them
14 A. Bello “Restructuring Nigeria: A Critical Analysis” https://www.thisdaylive.com/…/… 11 Jun 2017 accessed August 11, 2018
out in getting to power so they too could feel a sense of belonging, they ostensibly care more about gunpowder than power. This is why a small spark ignites lots of religious and political insecurity in the country.
It is therefore my considered opinion that the Nigerian state be restructured according to ethnic nationalities to form what will be akin to the present local government system. These autonomous communities should be vested with political powers with the mandate of their own constitution to develop their communities and raise revenue.
- Political Restructuring – self-determination
The increase in the number of separatist agitations is a pointer to the fact that all is not well with the present structure. However, the devolution of power to federating units is not a guarantee that there will not be counter accusations of marginalization within the units. In virtually every state in Nigeria, even within those with ethnic homogeneity, cries of marginalization are rife such that, most states now have some form of unwritten power rotation formula. I am inclined to agree with Dr. Amadi on this observation while still not conceding that restructuring may not be the answer to our political problems. For example, in Benue state, we have the Tiv and Idoma as the two major tribes though the former is in clear majority. And because of the numbers, the Tiv people have not conceded the governorship of the state to the Idoma since its creation in 1976. Among the Idoma, we still have the Igede people who are further marginalized by the Idoma. This is why we need psychic restructuring. In addition to this, ethnic nationalities should be allowed, through referendum, to be autonomous and self-determine. Subsuming minority ethnic people groups under larger ethnic groups will always engender marginalization and these agitations will not go away.
iii. Economic Restructuring
Given the present state of economic situation in states where states are incapable of looking for alternatives ways of raising revenue apart from the orthodox monthly allocation and their ostensible unviability, Dr. Chima Amadi, a renown and erudite Comparative Public Policy and Administration expert and the Executive Director of the Centre for Transparency Advocacy, in a treatise using Tiebout economic model of voters’ protests when faced with harsh economic conditions plausibly warned that any form of “wholesale unbundling and re-coupling” restructuring at this time will only lead to further economic insolvency for some states. He argues that what Nigeria’s current structure requires is a “tapering” and not the wholesale unbundling and re-coupling which advocates of restructuring are clamouring for. “True federalism”-allowing the federating units to develop at their own pace. On the surface, in the light of current revenue challenges and expenditure shortfalls being experienced by many of the federating units, this type of structure will seem to favour only states endowed with huge deposits of exploitable extractive minerals with heavy taxable commercial presence.
While these fears are real and given the “fiscal perversity” of our politicians because of free money from oil rents, the unbundling and re-coupling of the Nigerian state will help in the long run because it will ease ethnic tensions and suspicion that arise from accusations of nepotism and marginalization. In the short run, tapering or piecemeal decentralization should be embarked upon so as to prepare the minds of our politicians and re-orientate them towards holistic restructuring. Again, when those in charge of fiscal management come to realize that there is no
15 C. Amadi “Restructuring Nigeria: Atiku, Soludo, Tinubu, Be-careful what you wish for!” CUWCA Jul 11, 2017
16 C. Amadi “Restructuring Nigeria: Atiku, Soludo, Tinubu, Be-careful what you wish for!” CUWCA Jul 11, 2017
17 C. Amadi “Restructuring Nigeria: Atiku, Soludo, Tinubu, Be-careful what you wish for!” CUWCA Jul 11, 2017
longer free lunch, they will have to readjust to realign with the new challenges of governance. Of course, governance will be closer to the people and they will hold their leaders responsible for lack of economic development.
- Security Restructuring
One of the vital functions of the government to its citizens is the provision of security for them and their property. Having help coming to your doorstep in the quickest time is the dream of every person. Now when the country is restructured, each state will be responsible for its police as well as firefighters. This will ensure that help can easily be provided. It is not news that most firefighters often arrive at fire scenes when issues are already out of hand and still complain that equipment they require for their services have not been sent from Abuja. But with each state responsible for providing all the needed equipment they would be able to function more efficiently
Though some people have expressed fears concerning security restructuring that could lead to states having their police departments under their control. Many are of the opinion that given the penchant of the average Nigerian politician to abuse their powers, the security apparatus at their disposal could be used as “guerrilla army” for hunting and hounding of the opposition. I disagree with this completely. We should desist from predicting the temper of the chic still in the egg. After all, what is obtainable today is not different from what these people are saying. The federal government has been monopolizing security according to their personal interests. There are avoidable cases where, if security agencies were at the control of the states, lives could be saved.
Let us consider the case of Fulani Herdsmen as an instance. When they started invading communities in Benue state, killing and maiming; raping and kidnapping women, the state governor, Dr. Samuel Ortom called for help from Abuja but none came. The herdsmen continued to overrun villages and destroying farmlands and crops. But as soon as the villagers mobilized and started self-help security efforts to protect themselves against the marauding killers, the federal government swiftly sent in contingent of army and police to come and do “operation cat race.” While the cat race was going on, there were reports that the deployed security agents were given orders from above to protect the militant herdsmen from the local folks. While the latter were arrested and their weapons seized, the Fulani herdsmen were gleefully going about with their weapons and attacking in full view of security forces. This has happened in many states in the country. Some plausibly accused the president, General Muhammadu Buhari of nepotism and providing cover for his Fulani kinsmen to operate with impunity. And, yes, the Benue people are suspicious of the president because by all intents and purposes, he chose to use the security for the militia men and not for protection of lives and properties.
The governors are designated chief security officers of their respective state but the police commissioners are answerable to the powers at Abuja. Permission and clearance has to be sought and approval got before security forces are deployed to provide security to states. All this is done according to the whims of the presidency. This type of arrangement has caused Nigeria much in blood and treasure. The answer is restructuring. States should be allowed to control their security agencies, at least, the advantages of this will outweigh the disadvantages.
- Psychic Restructuring
18 M. Ogihon “Restructuring Nigeria; Meaning, Reasons, Problems and Prospects” https://infoguidenigeria.com/restructuring… October 10, 2017 accessed August 11, 2018
19 C. Amadi “Restructuring Nigeria: Atiku, Soludo, Tinubu, Be-careful what you wish for!” CUWCA Jul 11, 2017
This is the main restructuring. Many Nigerian youths have grown in the era where they are made to believe that might is right. They have grown up in an era where wealth is worshipped and people can do anything to be wealthy even if it means engaging in wanton sleaze. They are made to believe that in our Nigeria, you cannot get work on merit except if you know somebody that knows somebody. They believe that merit has no place in our polity and national psyche; you must cut corners to make it big. This has led some of them to resign to fate and not have faith in their country and its governance. They live for what they can eat not minding the methods. Sadder still, the youths are ready tools in the hands of unscrupulous politicians who exploit their predicament, give them handouts and employ and deploy them for dangerous activities like ballot box snatching, political thuggery, and other crimes. While the politicians keep us over here fighting, maiming and killing ourselves, they are united over there tilling our national till.
Saddest is the fact that we do not see ourselves as Nigerians hence there is no internal cohesion or patriotism. There is no unity. Our cultural religious and ethnic diversities have boxed us into a corner. The prevailing attitude of us and them is killing the country. We clamour for rotational presidency because we feel that as other ethnic nationalities have presidential access to the national till, our time will come when we too will have unfettered access to till the till; “it is our turn.” This is why it is common to hear people talk about an Igbo, a Yoruba or Hausa-Fulani presidency and not a Nigerian presidency. We self identify with our ethnic nationalities and not as citizens of Nigeria. This is the more reason why we engage in sabotaging and other unwholesome activities because “he is not one of us so we can frustrate his effort at national development.”
Take the issue of fuel subsidy for example. President Goodluck Jonathan removed subsidy in 2014. The entire country was organized against him as labour and civil societies went on indefinite strike and protests were organized by the like of Prof. Wole Soyinka, Pastor Tunde Bakare among others. The present government is still paying subsidy even though we are told they are not paying, but huge sums are been paid without budgetary allocations and PMS pump price higher, yet, there are no protests or agitations because those who protested are pleased with Buhari as their own.
Any other form of restructuring must be preceded by psychic restructuring. This may be gradual but it will be worth it. Nigerians need civic lessons as to be patriotic and our brothers’ keepers. We must realize that Nigeria is the only country we have and we must learn to understand that every Nigerian citizen is free to work and live anywhere in the country. Every Nigerian citizen is free to vote and be voted for anywhere in the country irrespective of his religious and ethnic affiliations. We must restructure our mindsets and learn to live together as one.
The thrust of this paper is to show how restructuring of the Nigerian state is the panacea to religious crises and insecurity in Nigeria. Without a doubt, Nigeria has been distressed by incessant religious and other forms of crises that have made lives difficult to live as Nigerians. The country’s history right from 2014 shows that forcing different people groups of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds to live together without their consent was a mistake the British committed and which should be corrected now through restructuring powered by a referendum.
In the course of the paper, I come to the conclusion that much of the religious crises and insecurity we pass through in the country is as a result of compelling people to live in certain geo-political arrangement against their wishes. The very many minority ethnic groups are compelled to assume certain identities under other major ethnic groups without considering their own self-determination. For example, the Tiv people from the Middle Belt, far away from the core northern states in culture and topography are considered as northerners. I am a Tiv man. I once went for a contract job in Adamawa state and the folks there referred to me as Nyamiri. At Enugu for a job, the Igbos called me onye Hausa. My identity as a Tiv man was lost in the intrigues of these big tribes. This is also our unfortunate lot when it comes to the sharing of revenue and political offices in the country.
With examples like these, many ethnic nationalities do not have confidence in the present Nigerian state and desire that it be restructured to reflect the multi-lingual and multi-cultural nature of the country. By this, it is believed that every ethnic nationality will self-determine and take their destinies in their own hands rather than wait for some certain Yoruba, Igbo or Hausa-Fulani guy to decide for them. Political power and governance should be restructured to reside with the people; from the bottom-top. People should decide how they will be governed
20 Nyamiri is a derogatory name for the Igbos.
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Osuchukwu, Chigozie Emmanuel 1966 Crisis and the Evolution of Nigerian Politics
through a referendum that will pave way for holistic restructuring, what Dr. Amadi calls “unbundling and re-coupling.” No stone should be left unturned. All citizens should be allowed to partake in the restructuring process through a referendum to avoid the suspicion of vested interests or ulterior motives.
No one ethnic group or groups should be allowed to lord it over the rest. If this continues, it will engender suspicion and distrust which will in turn breed tension and insecurity in the country. When citizens are satisfactorily self-determined, there will be peace and development. People will reason well and think things for the development of the country. Above all, psychic restricting is key to our peaceful co-existence. We must be patriotic to the country and not only think of how we can exploit the country for personal gain. We must think as one cohesive nation and not as Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa-Fulani. Without internal cohesion and psychic restructuring, there is no way the Nigerian state can make progress beyond the present rat race and vicious cycle we are passing through.
In a recent thread on his twitter handle @AMADICHIMA, Dr. Amadi would finally agree that Nigeria needs proper unreserved restructuring. His stance was premised on his experience while growing up in Kano state:
I was just 9 years old when I knew that something was fundamentally wrong with Nigeria. I had passed the placement examinations for primary schools in Kano. I scored 100 in English and 98 in Maths. I was invited for an interview along with others in my school. I self identified as a Kono indigene. I could speak Hausa fluently and recite verses of the Qur’an and could speak and write in Arabic. I knew I wowed the guy who interviewed me and finally he popped the big question: which school would you want to attend? So I told him: Science Secondary School, Dawakin Kudu. My interviewer lifted up his face in surprise and disgust. He couldn’t help himself asking me impetuously: “Dawakin Kudu? And you’re from Imo? Never!” when I came home and explained to my dad what transpired, he sat me down and explained to me that the school I chose was for Kano indigenes. I had to go to another school that could take non-indigenes. But I became aware that Nigeria isn’t really for us all. I became familiar with quota system at that early age. We must restructure and that is why I support Atiku. He is the only candidate that made that subject a campaign objective. I am an incurable believer in the corporate existence of this country but Nigeria as it is presently constituted is not functional.
Words cannot be plainer, truer and self-explanatory concerning the state of the Nigerian state. What evidence do we need before we restructure? As a matter of fact, Atiku is the only presidential candidate who has been advocating for restructuring and has promised to restructure Nigeria. This should be the fulcrum of 2019 presidential election. We must be part of this restructuring. We must make it happen by exercising our franchise, our right to vote and vote wisely. We must do it for our children now and our unborn generations.
How many of you here have PVC? Use it! Vote! Tell someone to go and vote. We must deliberately do this if we want to live in a holistically restructured Nigeria where no quota system prevails and where there is malice towards none and goodwill towards all.
I call on you, in closing, to rise and join hands in the restructuring of the Nigerian state and accept that this is our mission and it entails sacrifices on our part for I am persuaded that future generations will say of you and of me that for their tomorrow we gave our today.