RESTRUCTURING; NIGERIA’S REALITY-CHECK

 

Have you ever wondered why the word restructuring always sets a rippling effect through the Nigerian political space?  Why it has now become a time machine that all of a sudden halts or freezes every activity in the Nigeria sphere at its mention. It is very simple: It has become a popular and controversial political prescription to the country’s worsening political tumour that is threatening her longevity.

Restructuring! It is a one word magical spell that ignites fervor, bickering, fear, optimism among Nigeria’s political actors and her geopolitical divide.

No doubt It has somewhat become the country’s worst nightmare in the last decade. However, it is a necessary evil the political leaders can’t do without irrespective of their simmering differences, perceptions and interpretations to it.

For more than five decades, the Nigerian locomotive has failed to move at full throttle. She has huffed and puffed. It is a conundrum that must be sorted if the country is to fulfill her potentials.

Ethnically diverse and endowed with massive land mass, enormous human and mineral resources, the sixth largest oil producer in the world has failed to actualize her moniker “the giant of Africa”.

Political power play, supplanting nationalism for sectionalism has led to suspicion and deep -seated resentment among the many nations that represent Nigeria.

Like in every heterogeneous society, certain peculiarities or symptoms like marginalization, perceived fear of unequal ‘playing ground’ are definitely going to surface .However, it is the diagnosis, prescription and applicable dosage that soothes this discomfort and eventually cures it. But in Nigeria’s case the prescribed drug “Restructuring” is not really popular nationally. It is seen to be divisive and anti-Nigeria in certain section of the country while others see it as the ‘perfect tonic’ to rejuvenating an emaciated Nigeria.

For the latter (the pro-restructuring), ‘change’ is the mantra. Sticking to a ‘modus operandi’ that has failed to deliver for a long time calls for a tactical change and adoption of a new strategy. As it is, Nigeria is an ‘old soviet’ locomotive, lagging behind schedule and spewing pollution that should be replaced with the ‘bullet train’ which is faster,  effective, and reliable.

However, the anti-restructuring group sees it otherwise. They believe “slow and steady” wins the race.

But for how long, would ‘the sleeping giant’ continue to slouch to greatness.

‘Restructuring’ is not a problem. It is not a nightmare to fear. The real problem here is the interpretation or perception of the political actors toward it.

It is crystal clear to see that the Northern part of the country sees it as a divisive and sinister tool to undermine the unity of the country. It is a fact that has been laid bare for all to see judging by their statements. Statement like the “unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable” is an avid reminder of where the region stands.

For the Southern part of the country; most especially the South East, restructuring is considered a political plumbing tool to address and fix all the leakages and sewage spill of the edifice called ‘Nigeria’. It is seen as a perfect solution to addressing all the problems, lopsidedness and fear in the country’s political terrain.

Rather than see it as a conduit pipe to planning a ‘prison break’ from Nigeria, they consider it as an opportunity to sit down, identify and correct the structural defects that are threatening the very foundation of Africa’s heavyweight.

It is not a hidden fact that rancor over resource control, true federalism-not the diluted one the country is currently practising- just to mention a few have always made national headlines. Addressing these anomalies once and for all is what the southern part of the country is rooting for.

And quite interestingly, this position has been welcomed by a credible and influential voice from the North in the mold of former military president, General Ibrahim Gbadamosi Babangida.

The maligned former military ruler surprisingly approved of restructuring. It was an action that somewhat created a mini-tremor in the polity. Why? It is ‘IBB’ of course.

The Minna strongman played a pivotal role in Nigeria’s political sojourn; one that left a serious blemish on the country’s political landscape.

However, his approval of restructuring Nigeria somewhat shows that the strong man clearly wants the “cracking walls” mended-which is a good development when one considers the ongoing slugfest in the polity over restructuring.

Out of this cacophonous atmosphere currently gripping the airwaves is the scholarly voice of Nigeria’s nobel laureate Professor Wole Soyinka. The literary guru aired his opinion emphasizing “the unity of Nigeria is negotiable” just last week.

Nigeria’s situation is not strange. The beauty of democracy lies in its unassailable rights to express oneself, to associate and also provide equal level ‘playing ground’ for all individuals, stakeholders or groups irrespective of their clime, status and size.

However, if a group or groups feel left out, it is acceptable under democracy to air its grievances and hope for a quick resolution. Like feelings being expressed by some regions in the country’s south.

The vociferous call now to redress and carry out extensive interior and structural works on the edifice ‘Nigeria’ is timely and long overdue.

The country can’t continue to be run on a torpid mode if she is to catch up with emerging economies in the middle-east and Asia. Charting a roadmap to greatness should be the in-thing for the acclaimed giant of Africa.

Making Nigeria the ‘Singapore’ of Africa is not out of reach. It only needs commitment and addressing the fundamental issues that have halted the giant leap of Africa’s most populous country economically and politically.

California, a state in America is the third largest economy in the world thanks to visionary leadership and the tested and proven ‘American democracy’ that allows federating states to develop at their own pace.

It is a model Lagos state is trying to build on. Caught in the snare of the bureaucratic bottlenecks and political maneuvering that has always plagued the country, the State has been able to meander itself to open space without ripples.

Her ability to look inwards has had a swelling impact on her internally generated revenue (IGR). The availability of funds have enabled her to embark on massive infrastructural transformation that has shot the state up to glowing levels. It is a blueprint worthy of replication at the national level.

But, to do this, there must be the political will and resilience to listen to the fears, and grievances of all groups that make up the Nigerian entity.

Accommodating these views and finding a truce is not suicidal like certain groups perceive it to be.

The interest of the nation must be championed before any personal or sectional interests. Hence, restructuring or any terms given to discuss the ‘Nigerian issue’ is a nightmare those in charge of the country’s political destiny would have to confront sooner or later.

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