Nigeria: Restructuring - Definition and Form

12 December 2018
opinion

Restructuring is a constitution review strategy aimed at bringing government as closely as possible to the people at the grass roots. Lest we forget, the restructuring we are talking about is the one anchored on the reframed 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria that was documented in the 2014 Confab Report. President Muhammadu Buhari, I hope you are listening? The whole idea of restructuring is to achieve unity of objective, efficiency and effectiveness by creating and locating our significant political, economic, social technological, educational and legal units as near as possible to the people at the grass roots.

Since 1987, there has been a padded discussion on restructuring. Yet Mr. President stirs up another ratty and rancorous conflict in 2018 when he says there are many people talking lazily about restructuring in Nigeria... unfortunately people are not asking them individually what they mean by restructuring and what form they want restructuring to take?" Restructuring is not a return to regionalism. Restructuring does not suggest disintegration as former President Olusegun Obasanjo thought. Restructuring does not mean breaking up the nation to use Prof. Ango Abdullah's phraseology. Restructuring has nothing to do with Muhammadu Buhari's hypochondria on the possibility of rolling back the 36 states and Abuja to 3 or 4 regions using the 1954 Republican constitution.

Nor has restructuring anything to do with Prof. Yemi Osinbajo's claustrophobia on tinkering with the genetic or geographical structure of the nation. The word restructuring will become clearer in my learned professor's mind when he begins to see it as political, economic, social, technological, educational, legal and cultural strategy used to reframe the legislative powers in the 1999 CFRN.

If APC has failed today it is because of President Muhammadu Buhari's solipsism and fixation in government.

If Buhari had seen governance as a continuum when the 2014 Confab document was handed to him after his victory, he would have gone far with the form of restructuring and its implementation. We have crossed over to Presidential system of government since 1999 and we have burnt our bridges. We cannot go back to Egypt. So there is no going back to regionalism and parliamentary system of government. But subject to cost-benefit analysis and prudential reward management strategy the extant presidential federalism can be made as cost efficient and cost effective as the parliamentary variant. What is required is to reframe the legislative lists in the 1999 constitution by transferring at least 60% of the powers of the Federal Government to states and local governments.

The discussion on restructuring has been ongoing since 1987 when members of the old school of restructuring started an intellectual discourse on the sovereign national conference.

In fact, it has been a ratty and rancorous conflict between the old school and the contemporary school to which I belong. Who are the members of the old school? Let me mention a few of them as follows. Edwin Madunagu, Ben Nwabueze, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Ayo Adebanjo, Wole Soyinka, Pat Utomi, Guy Ikokwu, Maitama Sule, Olu Falae, Emeka Anyaoku and lastly Abubakar Atiku.

These members of the old school understand restructuring only in the context of return to regionalism and parliamentary system of government under the 1954 constitution. The way these people package their stories on the success of regionalism makes me wonder whether I was in Nigeria at the time of this Eldorado they call regional government. I know we were in regionalism when General Gowon declaimed that Nigeria was fantastically rich. The problem was how to spend it!! Even at that, I know it was not yet uhuru!! If the going was as good as the old school would make us to believe, one then poses the question "why the military incursion and takeover? Why did Nigerians jubilate on a continuous basis each time the military took over government from civilians? The only reason for the jubilation was the opportunity it gave the people to have a feel of the government of the day through the decentralisation of governance. Restructuring will not only decentralise decision making, it will bring the structures of government very close to the people. Democracy will indeed be a government of the people, by the people for the people. I remember what I told members of the old school of restructuring in the conversations that preceded the National Conference in 1987, 1989, 1995, 1998 and 1999. I told them that regionalism is a euphemism for tribalism, nepotism, favouritism and impunity. Ask Rochas Okorocha! It appears that the member of the old school do not seen to appreciate that the coast has expanded. Nigeria of today cannot be vertically compared with the pristine nation under the over eulogized federation running a parliamentary system of government. The regional governments could only be seen and felt in Lagos, Ibadan, Kaduna and Enugu. Let Abubakar Atiku note that we cannot return to Egypt. So let Atiku specify his 2019 road map and ideology.

The form of restructuring we in the contemporary school advocate will not take us back to regionalism to relive tribalism, election malpractices, brinkmanship, hatred, acrimony, impunity and dehumanisation of man by man. The form of restructuring we in the contemporary school advocate is not based on the 1954 constitution.

Our restructuring is based not on parliamentary system of government but on presidential system of government. This presidential system is not the extant unitary system of government run by Buhari. Any presidential aspirant (and Abukakar Atiku be you one) who hopes to contest under any other form of government than the reframed 1999 CFRN would have started on a wrong looting. The old school believes in rolling back the states to the size defined or specified in the 1954 or 1963 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (CFRN). Rolling back the states will be counterproductive. This will reverse the visible gains, we have made over the years through the warped and deviated 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria (1999 CFRN).

Recently the national assembly seems to have bought my definition and form of restructuring when it granted autonomy to the 774 local governments. This will surely translate to tremendous growth and development at the grass roots since government bureaucratic institutions will be domiciled in the significant political and social units closest to the people.

It was in this context that I defined restructuring as a growth and development strategy used to reframe the power perspectives of the institutions and levels of government. With its recent autonomy to the 774 local governments, the National Assembly will reframe and rework the exclusive legislative list on the 2nd schedule, section 4, part 1 in the 1999 CFRN. Currently, the exclusive list is negatively skewed to the central government:-

The National Assembly should farm out, up to 60% of the items on the extant exclusive legislative list to the states and local governments. The states and the now self-governing local governments should be allowed to appropriate and expropriate their resources and pay royalty to the federal government,

There are significant political units that have in the last one hundred and four years (1914-2018) not felt the impact of government on account of their remoteness. Under the parliamentary system of government the regional governments are mere city governments limited to state capitals viz Lagos, Ibadan, Kaduna, and Enugu. But under the extant presidential system the scope of development has expanded to at least 37 city governments. But under the restructured system of government city government will expand meteorically from 37 to (37 + 774) 811 city governments.

In spite of Rochas Okorocha's recent shenanigans and infant narcissism, Ngor Okpala is left in the rain-shadow area of the state capital. Imerienwe is less than 15 miles from Owerri but has no linkage roads to Owerri. Imerienwe is so near the state capital, yet so far from development.

I am not a party member, but I am a card carrying patriotic Nigerian. I am prepared to discuss this issue of restructuring in the context of presidential federalism. Restructuring will expand the frontiers of development from dual federalism to cooperative federalism and from cooperative federalism to a creative federation.

Some of the restructuring modalities will include the consolidation of the security architecture, state policing, community policing, state maritime commissions, federal maritime commissions fiscal federalism, resources control, states central banks, and the proliferation of job vacancies in the hands of both public and private sector participants. Restructuring is the easiest route to the attainment of budget goals and monetary policy objectives e.g. goal of full employment.

Uwalaka is the national coordinator of Leader Inculturation Foundation.

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