Recently, I have observed keenly on how the word ‘restructuring’ has dominated almost every discussion in Nigeria today. Some people are not even cleared on what the word itself portrays, but all they want is Nigeria should be restructured so that it can respond to the yearnings and aspirations of the people.
Various people that have contributed to the discuss in the past have called it different names preferable to them, ranging from devolution, decentralization et al.
In as much as I agree with many people who have made various submissions in the past on the need for us as a country to change our current political structure because of all the discrepancies and the political tensions it has generated so far, it is imperative for me to reiterate my stance which is, our political actors, as well as we as citizens as a whole need to restructure our orientations and behaviors toward politics and governance. In as much as majority of we citizens sees political offices as a means of getting money,in as much as we still believe that once we find ourselves in politics and governance then we are in money, it is logically deduce-able that no matter the system of government or pattern of federalism we switch to, development might still not be in conformity with the ideal Nigeria we desire.
Many people believe Nigeria should be restructured so that the center will be less ‘juicy’, more powers and resources will then be concentrated at the federating units, be it States, Regions or whatever we decide to call it. The argument that it is the concentration of enormous powers and resources at the center that is stifling our march to greatness does not hold water as far as I am concerned, if we claim so then what can we say of countries like Brazil and Malaysia where the federal government controls a larger percentage of their resources. In fact,in Malaysia, the federal government controls over 90% of their resources and that has not made them to be less developed.
The critical question we need to ask ourselves before discussing restructuring at all among other numerous ones includes, “Will restructuring guarantee us a corruption-free Nigeria? Will restructuring put an end to all the ethnic and religious crisis confronting us? These are some of the basic questions we decided to ignore and all we want is for the country to be restructured. If we restructure the country today and more powers and resources are entrusted into the hands of the federating units, how sure are we that the current trend of unprecedented corruption that manifests on daily basis will not be sustained.
In Nigeria’s first republic where the country practiced regionalism (1963-1966), though there was development in all the regions; if the system was good for us why the military coup of January 15, 1966? That is to tell you that the structure does not really matter, but the attitudes of the political actors in ensuring that the structure responds to the yearnings and aspirations of the people matter most.
William Livingston, in one of his submissions on federalism, posited that ‘the essence of federalism is to be sought for not in the constitutional and institutional terminologies, but in the forces economic, social, political, cultural which have made the outward forms of federalism necessary’.
In a nutshell, Livingstone argued vigorously that we should be less concerned with the structure we have on ground, but we should be more concerned about the political actors who will ensure if the structure on ground will either respond to the yearnings and aspirations of the people or not.
I read with mouth aghast when the ruling All Progressives Congress inaugurated a committee on TRUE FEDERALISM to go round the country and gather people’s views in order for the country to be restructured to a system that will be more accepted by the people. The question we need to ask her (APC) is, this structure we currently have in which it spearheading and running this way, what gives us the impression that even if we restructure to another system we will not be entangled in the web of underdevelopment?.
The truth remains that our political leaders are the major problem confronting us as a country. Even if Nigerian is restructured and more power and resources is devolved to the states, how sure are we that some of this political leaders at the centre will not still go back and be the grand commander in their various states?
You won’t be surprised if you see former Governors, Ministers, running back to their States again in a bid to govern and maintain the status quo, because by then there will be more power, resources and money to loot. So, how do we expect such a system to work?.
In conclusion, it is undisputed that the current structure we operate needs some adjustments, but we as citizens should know that if only that is done, our problems still lingers; not until our political actors also restructure their mindset, orientation towards governance before we talk about restructuring the system, development might not be in consonance with the Nigeria of our dream.
Jesutola Adebayo is 300 level student of Political Science and Public Administration,
Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko Ondo state.