Restructuring Nigeria is a must

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar

It was quite interesting that a renewed call for the restructuring of the Nigerian State came from a former Vice President of the country, Atiku Abubakar.

In his well chosen words, “our current structure and the practices it has encouraged have been a major impediment to the economic and political development of our country. In short, it has not served Nigeria well, and at the risk of reproach it has not served my part of the country, the North well. The call for restructuring is even more relevant today in light of the governance and economic challenges facing us. And the rising tide of agitations, some militant and violent, require a reset in our relationships as a united nation.”

This call is not new but one in a series of clarion calls by eminent and well-meaning Nigerians. Mr. Independence, Chief Anthony Enahoro of blessed memory, made a renewed effort through his Movement for National Reformation and the Pro-National Conference Coalition (PRONACO) to restructure the country and even came up with a people’s constitution. The United Action for Democracy also had a draft constitution for the country. These were against the background of the effort of the Alao Aka-Bashorun-led National Consultative Forum (NCF) under the military dictatorship of General Ibrahim Babangida and later the Beko Ransome-Kuti-led Campaign for Democracy (CD) and the Pa Ajasin-led National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) which made the call for Sovereign National Conference (SNC) one of its cardinal programmes in the fight against military dictatorship.

Nevertheless, what is significant about the current call is that it is coming from a man who hails from a section of the country which has persistently perceived the call for restructuring as translating largely into the balkanisation of the country. Indeed, the renewed call has received a rousing accommodation from prominent Nigerians, including Alhaji Balarabe Musa, Tanko Yakassai, Junaid Mohammed, General Ishola Williams and importantly, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth who had backed the call for restructuring right from the National Political Conference era in 2005 and most recently at the inauguration Conference of the Ibadan School of Public Policy and Governance. The emerging pan-Nigerian support for the idea of restructuring means that the standpatters are coming to terms with the fact that the country has been living a lie for more than half a century.

Whereas the compromised federal structure at independence endowed the three regions and later four regions with a considerable measure of autonomy and consequently engendered growth and development as well as healthy competition among the federating regions, resource allocation was also based on 50 per cent.

This was, however, dealt a blow by the centralising dynamics of military regime. The present structure has bred identity politics of ethnocentrism, undermined national unity and patriotism, institutionalised corruption, violation of the rule of law and a dehumanisation of the people. These antinomies have also led to state-led violence and enduring separatist impulses on the part of many nationalities that make up the country. Not a few agree today that Nigeria is not working. Nigeria’s federalism, as it exists today, encourages parasitism, dependency and laziness.

Stupendous oil wealth which drove the centralisation impulse is gone and restoring the resourcefulness of the state would be invaluable. It is perhaps time to ponder the concept of federalism and what it should mean in the context of Nigeria’s particularisms. K. C. Wheares’ classical definition of federalism sees it as division of power between central and regional governments in a manner that provides shared independence in their respective spheres. Its meaning is to be found in the nature of society, not in the constitution. Nigeria by nature is multinational, linguistically and culturally diverse and its component nationalities are territorially segregated. What is erroneously called the Nigerian federation has been governed by principles that are anything but federal – a centralising bureaucracy, a heavily skewed three-tier structure not based on social contract but created by administrative fiats – and has continued to expand domination with a corresponding societal disorder.

On the contrary, federalism ought to mean that states should survive on their own. Each state should unlock its potentials. It means real resource control, that is, ownership and control of the resources by the people so endowed who should decide who to share it with. The country is simply living a lie, hence the imperative for restructuring.

The incumbent government is not interested in the 2014 National Conference report and is dismissive even of its gains which its predecessor spent an estimated N9 billion to organise. Although some people may not agree with all the recommendations of the conference, it did provide avenue for Nigerians to air their opinions about the nature of the Nigerian state, disagree and agree on some ways forward. A genuine path to restructuring should not dismiss outright the outcome of that conference. The outcome of the conference still remains substantial in the main. Without federalism this country is doomed.

  • Olufemi Bello

    Well said sir theTuraki of Adamawa. The ordinary people in the north are greatly short changed unfortunately by their military and political leaders. Firstly they refuse to give education to the people. Today the north is least developed with over 8 million almajire on the street. Sicknesses that could easily be cured force people to beggars. The situation is very pathetic . Agriculture and Animal Husbandry are not modernized. Even the Fulani herdsmen issue in Nigeria is part of the callous neglect of our people. Before now Ranches and Grazing reserves would been have encouraged so that these Fulanis who contribute so much to the national economy will have a better life. Lots of solid minerals are in the north yet nothing is done. Our leaders present our people to the people as lazy but this is not true. If a man is lazy he will not leave Maiduguri or Kano to be splitting firewood or fetching water in Ibadan or Onisha. The GIANT North of Great Ahmadu Bello has been turned to beggarly midget because of this bad structure which brings bad leadership. I’m a proud northern Yoruba I’m not afraid of restructuring this system that has kept us northerners down. Let our Leaders from the north who are for the progress and economic advancement of our people joint the Turaki in this crusade.

    • Andrew Okobah

      Thank you my brother. Seriously, it is for the sake of the future of this country that we must restructure. No one is making progress the way things are presently.

  • Edobor Agbagie Ozakpolor

    If Britain can openly discuss and test their EU membership, I see nothing wrong in exploring the possibilities for of a restructured Nigeria. Turaki said it all! But I also remember Asiwaju being on the side of true federalism, or is jagaban enjoying the status quo?

  • peaceman

    Honestly, what baffles me is apc chieftain Ahmed Tinubu’s silence in all these. Why he has criminally kept quiet since the issue of restructuring was raised. For a man who made so much noise about sovereign national conference (SNC) and later ran away alleging attempts on his life by the military, should annoyingly kept quiet, his integrity is call to question. Because his party is now in power every other persons should go and die. Why are we so wicked and selfish in this country? Atiku Abubakar has proved to Nigerian across all divide that he is a true Democrat who believes in oneness and progress of this country. God bless him.

    • Adeyemi Owolabi

      You cannot take a bet on Atiku .if he had succeeded in winning the APC ticket, he would not be flying the kite of restructuring now . He is one of the beneficiaries of the incongruous construct. Yes we all know Nigeria is not working and needs a more than political reconstruction, what about the mindset of an average nigerian in positions of responsibility ? It was thesame K C Wheare who propounded the idea that “For forms of govt , let fools contend whatever is best administered is best ” Certainly this nature or current form of govt is not serving us well or has outlived it’s welcome.

  • swash

    Our major solution may not be a restructuring of Nigeria ( which some suggest regional autonomy in form of a separate nation) well, while this will consequently allow for proper allocation of new national budgets and proper management through transparency and accountability (An advantage of decentralisation) , the action may not lead to a conspicuous economic stability ( e.g Cameroon that disintegrated from Nigeria) . In my own view, most African nations lack the doctrines of deep ecology/ egalitarianism in their code of conduct (social justice and welfarism) which continue to breed dictatorship, cynicism, nepotism and unbridled materialism/ oppression . We are only interested in the ‘self/ individualism’; not in the goal of ‘communism’ and that is why our constitutional laws cannot be embraced or put to effect. Our religious institutions are not helping in this regard. Focus of sermon is based on individual spirituality and financial uplift. To build a more desirable Nigeria over the already devastated one, it is time our schools started to teach students at all levels of formal learning (primary, secondary and tertiary till PhD level) the more advanced scopes of human rights, sustainable development or social ethics). Many people do not know the principles of humanitarianism including moral ethics ( be it at work, in school or as a leader). Not even a carpenter knows his moral obligations to do a good job for the GREATER GOOD. Why am I concerned about this? In the developed nations, consumer rights and the fundamental human rights of their citizens are not toyed with and these doctrines have been embedded in their hearts right from childhood stage. Besides, any course you enrol in overseas will touch upon one or two branches of moral ethics be it in the field of economics, engineering or law. It is the tenet of all UN development goals because something you keep instilling in someone’s mind from infancy to adolescence is hard to do away with. It will shape the person’s character, reasoning and actions. For instance, how often are our engineering students reminded of the ‘precautionary principle’ or responsible innovation in their syallabus? How often are economics students taught the new spheres of economics ( environmental economics and the principles of sustainability: are they compulsory courses or electives) how many primary and secondary schools teach these moral-based philosophies to their students other than the traditional scopes of Sciences and Arts? In future, they will now end up in managerial positions and take up from where our past leaders stop resulting in the continuous vicious cycle of social inequality and tribal conflicts. Our schools should rather be the major agents of restructuring Nigeria not these our incumbent leaders who witnessed colonialism and tyranny. Let us start with the kids and secondary school students whose minds are still young and developing.

    • Bd

      That is the change we are talking about it must go down to the grass root and touch every facet of life.It is no use fighting corruption without taking this fight to our schools in order to change and reorient the leaders of tomorrow

      • swash

        Yes. We can’t keep wasting our scarce resources arresting corrupt individuals indefinitely. Leading to no where.

    • honesty NO1

      This is an excellent and revolutionary idea. This is what we call GRASS ROOT MOVEMENT It is never too late to . start. A journey of one thousand steps start with one step A 5 year old child in Nigeria has been exposed to corruption. We can start NOW ! ! ! ! !

      • swash

        Yes we can. To have a better Nigeria. Also, we should give them room to express their fears and ask questions. Children spend almost 8 hours in schools . That is where value -based teachings should start till tertiary level. The little I learnt from my parents, though while growing up I thought they were strict but it’s worth it. If we give them the proper training, they won’t be as worse as our parents. What you sow is what you reap.

  • vincentumenyiora

    [The incumbent government is not interested in the 2014 National Conference report and is dismissive even of its gains which its predecessor spent an estimated N9 billion to organise. Although some people may not agree with all the recommendations of the conference, it did provide avenue for Nigerians to air their opinions about the nature of the Nigerian state, disagree and agree on some ways forward. A genuine path to restructuring should not dismiss outright the outcome of that conference. The outcome of the conference still remains substantial in the main. Without federalism this country is doomed.]

    The problem I noticed you have from that early 1979 was the idea of the ‘Head start’ ambition in the Constitution and your Electoral Act; worse still being that those you had as leaders were not trained to lead civilians as such and all were driven by greed, vindictive and vendetta dispositions thus rather then promote policies that would encourage harmony and hopefully engender grounds that could promote a form of cohesive thinking on the people they endeavored to use the policies to drive wadges between the composite groups in the country! As a result, rather than see the the hope of fulfilling their aspirations and or destiny the Nigerian were almost driven to that desperation that it looked more of delusional indeed, wondering, in fact, what the package is all about really! To those who could read the letters on the walls, it was more like the Trojan Horse Gift – they could (did) not see any good future in the Polity especially in all the their attempt’efforts to see whether the Constitution can work for the interests of the people! Rather than re-assuring the people with that promising expectations the contrary was the order of the day and made worse by the deportment of the leaders such that the actions of the leasers engendered suspicions and hatred on the people! In most of the cases the so-called leaders were not exuding the kind of trait you expected would will come from the kind of leaders in the true sense for country like Nigeria totally fractured culturally, in custom and worse is the religion all of which acting as encumbrances on whoever was fielded by the clique in Nigeria, as leaders! Unfortunately, the number favored were the least educated or knowledgeable about what political leadership is or to be for country like Nigeria – sadly they were all Military officers and kind for Nigeria with the British system – they turned to become wealth expectant officers and leaders!

    Perhaps if they can read again my definition of what Nigeria is as a country you’ll be able to accept truly that there is the urgent need for her restructuring particularly with the population growth in the country! Those in the South are almost all educated and now know what human development is all about against what you have in the North with such a sluggish growth! The much I can or want to contribute is that when you all agree on the need which is necessary by all the considerations, is that I have once again produce – evolved something close to the ‘Option A-4’ which is not only compatible for your need but the cost effectiveness is unbelievable – you have not seen this kind before! I hear that both the APC and PDP have now resolved candidates for the Governorship election for Edo State without fighting this time – shows that the OPTION A-4 is now accepted and is beginning to have the effect it is meant for Nigeria and her people! So, my ‘New’ political leadership solution is intent to be applied along side with ‘Option A-4’ to bring the advantages to full circle in Nigeria!

    • swash

      I am glad you also identified the major shortcomings of our political system since early 1979. This still boils down to one’s psychological attributes. Because of Nigeria’s ethno-linguistic diversity, one would suggest ‘a Decentralisation process’ which has its own advantages. There is no clear cut solution to our crisis. Due to its complexity, a multi-faceted solution will have to been applied. To me, I feel the leaders of tomorrow need to be paid attention to. If more than half of any given population have a shared value and a shared pledge, the corrupt minority will be insignificant. We can’t keep begging our old incumbent leaders to change their ways since 1979. It’s like trying to cut down a mature trees. You can imagine if you are the president of Nigeria. You have very good intentions but 80% of your subordinates are as lethal as a snake’s venom. Will you go to all 36 states to inspect how the civil officials perform their duties? Can you alone fight a battle? Northerners are pressurising Buhari to concentrate on their needs and aspirations, the SS and Eastern Nigeria claim it’s time they voiced out their anguish or split away from Nigeria. All these are the aftermath of decades of moral defects in Nigeria. Jonathan was the ex- president. A southerner. His administration did very little in that region and in Nigeria as a whole? Let us take whatever we can take and leave the mess for the next administration to clean up . So let us all work on these our young ones. They are also watching. If the East/SS becomes a separate nation tomorrow, it will still need leaders that would be loyal with visionary goals which rests upon the foundation of one’s value-based mentality.


    Atiku is my Leader any day anytime. A strong man in battle who is never afraid of any politician whether president or not. He speaks without fear and of all the APC chieftain, Atiku is the only one directly telling Buhari today that what He is doing to Nigerians is wrong. Atiku is saying to Buhari “Implement the National CONFAB” aspect that recommends true federalism or else “Nigeria as a Nation is Doomed”.

    God Bless the Turaki of Adamawa and Punish all those other APC chieftains who have become deaf and dumb suddenly over issues of National and Public concerns. May they remain deaf & dumb till death do them path.

    • Andrew Akinloye

      he was once in power, what did he do apart from making a lot of money like the rest of them?

      • Kengbe

        But of what benefit is this comment of yours? Does it matter at all to you that this nation is in a terrible state? If anything, Atiku must be credited for voicing this out at all.

        • Andrew Akinloye

          It might not mean anything to you, the integrity of people matters very much to me. The fact that we overlook it as you appeared to is why we don’t have leaders but people who manipulates for their own sake. It doesn’t take much to see through the lines that Atiku is positioning himself for presidency not saying what he said in the in the interest of all.

          • Kengbe

            Ok, Andrew, seeing you actually mentioned in your response “in the interest of all” so i’ll ask, do you agree that the nation does need restructuring and that things are not working? if you do, then i’ll tell you not to waste your energy on who the messenger is and just make good use of your time by joining the call for the restructuring. Nothing but the grace of God is really working around here the nation can not continue in this mode.

          • Andrew Akinloye

            The messenger is very important, I don’t ally myself with anyone with questionable character not even from my home town

  • Basil Ogbanufe

    Nigeria as at today is not a nation, how much more a united nation, and is not walking or working in that direction. We must focus our attention on discussing this unholy amalgamation to either annul or adopt it. This is very paramount to nationhood.

  • apinofiga

    If we restructure as stated in the editorial and by others,it means some Governors will lose their seats ditto for Senators and House of Repres.even some Ministers as they represent their states.Are Nigerian politicians this altruistic and selfless.Let us be realistic for now until then.Increase the ratio of subvention to states,give local government full and financial autonomy and give right to states to exploit minerals in their domain while paying a percentage to the federal government.Lets put this in place and move from there until our politicians mature

  • Bex Chukwuma Akwsda

    I join in the final conclusion statement above, viz; WITHOUT RESTRUCTURING, THIS COUNTRY NIGERIA IS DOOMED!

  • vincentumenyiora

    swash – The problem of Nigeria is first the leadership not trained nor experienced to manage country like Nigeria in her composite forms, and with the kind of civil war we had; then the Constitution, which they did not think properly before the adoption and which was drawn to not only favour but to afford two sections of the country a ‘head start’ in politics and the economics – i. e. commerce, as it were! In the two situations you have people without the right perspective to even manage such ‘supposedly head start’ advantage – they ended up with their heads swollen and with the selfish dispositions made parody of the advantages such that it soon become even clearer to their own sects that they are not the right people to be in the position of leadership for them, come to think about the characters involved, hence I want to take the case of the ‘redoubtables’ in the North and in the South-South! On all of it, they were given a simple solution that early that could have made possible for things to be organised in Nigeria if in fact they had the proper knowledge of how America managed their own formative stages political and economic, which going by records looks similar to what the experience is same in Nigeria in corruption and crime wave, you could say! Like I usually say even now the solutions are there but for that lack of foresight and experience and knowing what makes human being what they are really! Reason I say this is that given next 50 to 100 years with the population growth, you will be dealing with the present 10 to 12 year ‘olds’ in West and Central Africa, for example, and within this age-level you don’t have mistrusts – the kind that shows in the older generations, whatever their tribe or ethnicity is just like you have it in the psyche of the ‘white and black’ children as the dissension is discovered is mostly prevalent within the older generations and the younger ones soon get infested with their whims and prejudices!

    Well I am not advising anybody am only making suppositions so, the simple answer to all these problems is to be open, well disposed or willing to see through reasons and ready to be rational about the issues at stake or under discussions! Like I said, solutions for Nigeria has been handed in only that they do not want to act and like my people say about the child, which does not want the mother to sleep – to have a nap in the night, will inadvertently be denied and will not have good sleep itself also – a double edged knife experience, folks!

  • vincentumenyiora

    swash – See what I left out; the effect of the idea of ‘almarjiris’ is for Nigeria vis-a-vis the 10 to 12 year olds through the period! We don’t know what the curriculum is and what the gearing is for or about Nigeria!