The national leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, met last Monday at the Dr. Alex Ekewueme Park, Awka, Anambra State and reiterated strident calls for the restructuring of the country. Among the cardinal demands made at the conference was the need for a review of the country’s constitution to pave way for rotational presidency among the six geo-political zones.
Also, Ohanaeze demanded that the constitution should be reshaped so that future presidents of the country should serve only a single term of six years. They asked for the creation of an additional state in the South East, and an amendment to the constitution to accommodate six vice presidents, each representing each of the six geo-political zones.
These resolutions have been described as a rehearse of the South East’s position in the country’s polity since after the Civil War. It is also largely similar in content with the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference constituted by former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Aside from the Confab report, the Ohanaeze’s resolutions are equally, to a great extent, similar to the one passed last year at the Ibadan Yoruba Summit and a similar one passed by the Pan Niger-Delta Federation (PANDEF) and the Middle Belt Forum.
What all these resolutions therefore point to is that there is undisputable synergy in restructuring ideology from greater population of the country. And perharps, the most prominent restructuring agenda on the table is resource control.
Most Nigerian and international economists believe that the monthly ritual, named the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting is a needless waste of time, energy and misplaced economic prism. Take for instance, why should gentlemen and women, who ordinarily should devote their energies planning how to optimally put in their best in the services they were hired, engage in this monthly ritual simply to share accrued national resources, money they did not actually work for? The general argument is that engaging in this ritual had actually prevented some governments down the strata as listed in the constitution, from engaging in thoughtful economic discourse that can move their people forward. It is for no other reason than that they would get somewhere monthly and share money. This is preposterous and a bunkum!
Doing so repeatedly as we have done all the years, have therefore made the component units of Nigeria, beggarly component units. They neither toil, nor think; they neither work, nor engage in any activity that can prompt innovative advancement; they are only thinking gathering and sharing money. No wonder at a point, a ruling political party got the sobriquet ‘share the money’.
Now that the drum beat of restructuring have resurfaced, it behooves on President Muhammadu Buhari to seize the opportunity and bring in the desired ‘changes’ he promised during his campaigns in 2015. Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) should not expect any different result if they refuse to do things differently. If the government refuses to seize this golden opportunity and implement the call for restructuring, rather than being caught in the web or semantics being bandied by people and groups who actually do not mean well for Nigeria, it will remain unfortunate.
Nigeria has been advancing retrogressively for a long time because the drivers of the nation’s governance systems had failed to muster the needed political will to take the right steps. They are always pulled back by primordial retrogressive sentiments, that have all along nether brought any progress to the country, nor advanced national cohesion.
The recent call by Ohanaeze for restructuring should not be viewed as the position of a section of the country, but should be appraised from unbiased, non-sentimental prisms. If we pause to consider why the country has not made significant progress after independence, or why things seemed to be steadily getting worse, it is for the simple reason that we had failed, or simply refused to embrace reforms. And except we shift from our present iconoclastic positions, we cannot make progress.
Nation states that had moved beyond their independence prisms, did so because their leaders took the bull by the horn at the opportune time and put in place radical reforms that had today transformed the social, economic and technological fortunes of their countries. Rwanda, which not too long ago witnessed what could be dubbed one of worst global genocide cases, is today among the fastest growing economies. Or do we talk about Tanzania, and several African and Asian countries? The truth is that we must embrace reforms and one of the surest ways to it is by restructuring.
Arguing on the opposing semantics is begging the issue. We must start somewhere, which is why several people blamed the Jonathan administration for not lifting a finger after the 2014 Confab report was submitted to him. Nigeria is good at setting up panels, upon panels and committees, upon committees before it could implement simple things that can lead to astounding growth. And that is partly why we have never really taken off.
This time, the Buhari administration needs to shake off these draw-backs and take off like a thunder-bolt by taking incisive decisions. There is no better time to do so than now. A stitch in time, they say, saves nine.