What Exactly Are We Restructuring? – By Dele Momodu

Fellow Nigerians, let me say
categorically that I’ve never seen a
country where the citizens like to
argue over every miniscule issue like
Nigeria. We are a country of
absolutism.

Every now and then we
just enjoy coming up with highfalutin
theories out of the blues and
everyone begins to recycle and
regurgitate the mantra. Once upon a
time, TRUE FEDERALISM was the
swansong. Half, if not most, of those
shouting the phrase had little or no
idea of what it meant. It seems we
just love to hear the cacophony of
our own voices and prefer to join
whatever is in season or in vogue.

I vividly recollect how a SOVEREIGN
NATIONAL CONFERENCE became
the only panacea for a united Nigeria
after the satanic annulment of the
June 12, 1993, presidential election. If
you asked the exponents of that
discordant idea how to activate and
actualise such event, they always
drew a blank. For example, who
would represent each zone? How
would the representatives be selected
to the general acceptance and
acclaim of the people? How binding
would the deliberations and
conclusions be on the generality of
Nigerians? Would the outcome
replace our Constitution? If the
Conference goes ahead and by
whatever stroke of luck or miracle
Nigerians for once agree that the
present Presidential system is
bunkum and we need to return to
Regionalism and Parliamentary
system, how would the current
beneficiaries like Governors,
Ministers, Commissioners, Senators,
House of Reps members, Local
Government Chairmen, Councillors
and a long retinue of political jobbers,
agree to effect this unpleasant
decision that would render them
impotent and ultimately sack most
of them? Answers: BLANK!

The latest craze in Nigeria now is
RESTRUCTURING. Everywhere you
turn, someone must tell you Nigeria
needs to restructure fast. Everyone,
including those who have controlled
power the longest, is crying and
lamenting, like the Biblical Jeremiah,
that they’ve been MARGINALISED.
You begin to wonder what is wrong
with us.

The renewed agitation for
BIAFRA is borne out of that supposed
persecution complex of the Igbo
people by, as always theoretically, the
Hausa/Fulani oligarchy. Surprisingly,
geography is not a popular subject in
Nigeria. Many of those tribal jingoists
often lump the whole of Northern
Nigeria together as a monolithic
entity. They studiously forget that the
North has its own majority/minority
brouhaha. Indeed, there is not one
Igbo nation as the agitators may
want us to believe.

The arguments of those seeking
justice by fire by force thus falls flat
on closer examination because there
is no one North or one South, or one
Igbo, One Yoruba, one Hausa. New
and uglier problems would instantly
emerge as soon as we break Nigeria
up into pieces.

I’m reasonably assured that fresh complaints of marginalisation would resume. In the
State of Osun, where I spent half of
my present age, the people of Ile-Ife
are already grumbling aloud that no
Ife son or daughter has ever been a
Governor even though Ile-Ife is the
ancestral home of the Yoruba race.
And that is the tale and litany of
woes everywhere. Whatever we see
happening now is nothing short of
marriage of convenience.

Let’s get down to brass tacks and
tackle the matter of restructuring. The
word itself suggests that there is
something faulty about the present
structure and configuration of Nigeria.
That has never been in doubt.

However, the problem in my view is
largely political and less economic in
nature. Those who have controlled
Nigeria politically in the last 57 years
have shown no capacity to exploit
their humongous power to the overall
benefit of their people. All they’ve
succeeded in doing is empower a few
of their cronies who become
demigods during their reign. Most end
up frittering the loot they make away
with like prodigal sons and soon
return to irrelevance and infamy.

I’ve asked many of those saying they
feel cheated in Nigeria to explain
what they mean and I’ve concluded
from their answers that it is more of
politics than anything else. None
could answer me when I asked why
a strong and highly educated Dr Alex
Ekwueme could not do much as Vice
President under President Shehu
Shagari from 1979 to 1983? I asked
a similar question of why at least five
Igbos were Senate Presidents, one
Deputy Senate President, one Deputy
Speaker and none has been able to
seek and cede more power to the
Igbo people in the last 18 years? If
the Igbos argue that they want the
Presidency as a matter of legitimate
right, then the answer is they must
keep working like others.

The example of Chief Moshood Abiola has
demonstrated clearly that for anyone
to win the race, he must build
consensus everywhere. He showed
that it is a game of mathematical
numbers and it is never a gift to
anyone. Out of the old six regions in
Nigeria, a Presidential candidate must
lock down about four to realise his
dream. The point is that you should
never become Nigeria’s leader simply
by virtue of where you come from but
by what you have to offer in nation
building. Rotation and zoning are
largely responsible for proliferation of
poor and preposterous leadership in
Nigeria.

Let’s highlight some permutations.
Had the Igbos worked well with the
South West and the North Central, it
might have been easier for an Igbo
Presidency to materialise. Just
imagine if they could lock down the
entire South where majority are
Christians and the Southern Muslims
even marry Christians, the next job
would be to align with the so-called
minorities scattered across the
Northern belts. I’m certain many of
our youths are unaware that Chief
Obafemi Awolowo once performed
such experiment when he chose an
Igbo man, Phillip Umeadi, as his
running mate. He would probably
have succeeded if he had secured
massive votes from the South East
and South South. All he would have
needed was to poach from mostly
North East and North Central. Alas,
the audacious experiment failed
woefully. Since then no Southern
candidate of note has ever dared to
pick a running mate from the South.
There is an enduring lesson to learn
from the people of South West
Nigeria. In 1981, Chief Moshood
Abiola was frustrated out of a
political party in which he invested so
much time, energy and resources, the
National Party of Nigeria (NPN). He
went back home quietly to lick his
wounds. He had enough cash to try
and destabilise the polity at the time
but he opted to up his philanthropic
work. He reached out to every nook
and cranny of Nigeria helping the
needy, contributing to schools,
churches, mosques, creating jobs,
investing in agriculture, sports and so
on. From being one of the most
hated Nigerians, he became one of
the most loved. It was only a matter
of time before his chickens came
home to roost. By the time he
launched his Presidential bid in 1993,
even his most vociferous critics knew
he was unstoppable. Chief Abiola won
the election, but lost the mandate
freely given to him by every part of
Nigeria.

The Nigerian Mafia, connived
and conspired to rob him of his hard-
fought victory. Every effort to regain
his mandate was rebuffed and
frustrated. The strategy was simple
and effective. Reduce Abiola’s victory
to a Yoruba affair, repeat all kinds of
lies till they become believable, and a
pan-Nigerian mandate was burnt into
ashes. Abiola was abandoned and left
in the lurch. Still the Yoruba people
did not seek revenge or retaliation.
They fought and without firing a shot
extracted a form of justice as
payback.

The destroyers of June 12
could not believe the resilience of the
people. In frustration and desperation,
they sought and found a perfect ally
to dump the stolen mandate on since
they didn’t want Abiola by all means.
General Olusegun Obasanjo served
this purpose and it was a coronation
of sorts when he reincarnated as
civilian President.

It is important to note that the people
of the South West were not over-
excited about the re-emergence of
Obasanjo. As a matter of fact, they
became his most ardent opponents.
In anger, Obasanjo turned his war
against Yoruba leaders like Asiwaju
Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Lagos State was
deprived of its statutory allocations,
even after the Supreme Court ruled in
its favour. Interestingly, the current
Acting President, Professor Yemi
Osinbajo, was the Lagos State
Attorney General that fought spiritedly
against the Federal Government at
the time. The lesson I wish to draw
from this is that, sometimes, it is
better, and safer, to fight a battle of
wits than a duel of brawn. The use of
force can never guarantee a
meaningful victorious end.

Another example is Dr Goodluck
Jonathan’s emergence as President
of Nigeria. When President Umaru
Musa Yar’Adua’s cabal was going to
stop him from acting as President in
the face of obvious incapacitation of
the President, some Yoruba leaders,
including Professor Wole Soyinka, Lt.
General Alani Akinrinade, Bola Tinubu,
Pastor Tunde Bakare, Femi Falana,
mobilised other Nigerians to fight for
the Nigerian Constitution to be
respected. Afterwards, it would have
been tougher for Jonathan to defeat
Muhammadu Buhari in 2011 but for
the superlative support he got from
the South West.

The same Yoruba people may have
felt marginalised under Jonathan but
only retaliated with their votes in
2015. This principle should be
borrowed and adopted by other tribes
of Nigeria. Your greatest weapon is
your vote and not how many guns
you can acquire and fire. The
calculated support for Buhari paid up
handsomely when Osinbajo became
the Vice President of Nigeria.
Osinbajo is Acting President today
because of the principle laid and
nurtured by the Yoruba in 2010 when
they supported an Ijawman as Acting
President. It has become almost
impossible for anyone to go against
our Constitution.

The Igbos enjoyed no special infrastructure privileges under Jonathan but had a quasi-
Prime Minister in Dr Ngozi Okonjo-
Iweala. They threw their full weight
behind him in 2015. Unfortunately,
Jonathan was sacked from power.

Let’s now fast forward. Nigeria is in
big trouble. Suddenly, everyone is
talking blah blah blah and crying wolf
where there is none. The virulent,
violent agitators will not consider
dialogue or compromise. They are
fixated about breaking away from
Nigeria. All well and good. The
liberals feel that is not the way to go.
They want Nigeria restructured fast
and now. I support the latter and I
have two fundamental suggestions to
make…

The Presidential system we
miscopied from America has become
too convoluted and expensive. Nigeria
can no longer sustain 36 States plus
Abuja and the attendant political
operatives. Any call for the creation
of more States is therefore reckless
and irresponsible. I know it is
impracticable to collapse some of the
existing States and return to the six
Regions or 12 states but this must be
considered. The resources of Nigeria
are being carelessly wasted on less
than five percent of the population. If
we truly love ourselves, we must bury
our foolish pride and do the needful.
The principle of federal character was
adopted to give every part of Nigeria
a sense of belonging. The born to rule
mentality of some people must be
discouraged and curtailed
immediately. Such puerile and
nauseating statements credited to
some Arewa youths that they donated
power to Abiola, and later to
Obasanjo, should be totally
disregarded, dismissed and kept
where it rightly belongs, the dustbin.
Democracy is a game of numbers
and whosoever can mobilise enough
Nigerians is the leader. The principle
of rotation is unconstitutional. It is
left to the political parties to accept
or not. Any Nigerian is free to contest
his popularity at the polls and should
never be threatened into abandoning
his dreams. That is why Nigeria is
not a one-party state. Anyone who
threatens the peace of Nigeria should
be sanctioned and disciplined. A
powerful Sultan Dasuki was
dethroned and banished from Sokoto
for whatever reasons. His son,
Sambo, a once powerful National
Security Adviser, has since been in
indefinite detention, under whatever
guise. A popular Shiite leader has
been incarcerated without trial all this
while. Why should some pseudo-
cultural leaders feel they are above
the law and that they can insult
fellow citizens to the bargain? Enough
of that crap. The law should take its
course within the confines of the
Constitution.

The Buhari government should
declare a state of Emergency on
Education. The reason our youths are
easily brainwashed is because of the
preponderance of ignorance and
poverty in our country. The
comments spewing out of some
people are just too jejune and
disgraceful at this time and age.
Educational pre-requisites should be
brought to par in all States. Never
again should we breed sub-standard
students under the guise of
educationally disadvantaged zones.
Education is education and those
who cannot meet the requirements
should stay longer in classes to catch
up on their studies. I wrote my WAEC
exams thrice in 1976, 1977 and 1978
before I made my credits. No one
should be admitted into a university if
they can’t meet the cut-off marks.
We’ve damaged our education
almost irreparably by condoning
mediocrity in the past. Our myopic
and sectional leaders obviously did
not know they were sowing seeds of
backwardness (or did so deliberately
to clone a nation of morons) and the
result is the bountiful harvest of mass
illiteracy and dangerous brigandage
we have in our hands today…

God bless the Federal Republic of
Nigeria.

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1 Comment

  1. Nnamdi Maduekwe responded,

    The paragraph on education got my attention the most because I believe that politicians across all sections of Nigeria deliberately destroyed public school education and promoted or allowed the educationally disadvantaged nonsense in our public schools and universities to further weaken the quality of products of the schools.

    The feudal mind set and policy of maintaining the talakawas is the preferred operational tactics of the Northern elites. If controlling political power was a panacea for educating and empowering the most important pillar for developing a nation that is the human resource, Northern Nigeria would have been far ahead of all the regions in Nigeria. This is exactly my disgust with all manner of Igbo’s who have held sway as our leaders since we returned to democratic governance in 1999. Our Igbo political class have not used our native intelligence and sold out to other interests for opportunity to share in looting our commonwealth. Our Igbo politicians copied the Northern elites and deliberately started the policy to destroy our most potent weapon against the rest of Nigeria that is our human resource probably with the goal to Lord over us as the Northern elites do to the talakawas. But they fail to realize that the average Igbo person is fiercely a free thinker and independent minded and cannot be tamed like the talakawas.

    Nnamdi Kanu resonates and he is more credible today than every Igbo politician and he is rattling them and some of our opportunistic politicians will wish to ride on his mass appeal to power. NK has shaken our politicians and it is time to do a clean sweep of all of them or make them return to their senses. We Igbo’s cannot afford to let our public schools rot away. We must say no to our politicians degrading our public schools. Igbo’s are politically marginalized but we remain an economic force in Nigeria. Our education created opportunities for us to have lucrative employments across the America’s, Europe, Asia, across the globe. How many Northerners have the capacity to compete like the Igbo’s across our global village. So many of our parents who served our country meritoriously have been degraded in most of our SE states by the likes of Okorocha who hold sway in our government houses and refuse to pay them the pittance called pension but we sustain our parents. What gave us the opportunity and ability to do this? It is the excellent education we received in our public schools that created opportunities we enjoy today.

    To whom much is given, much is expected. It is our sacred duty to sustain the most important pillar that created opportunities for us for our children and we must restore public school education. We can start by rebuilding our common heritage CIC to a world class secondary school. We must begin to organize and sensitize ourselves that education is a right for every Igbo child and a priority for every government in SE.

    Like

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