Restructuring and its frenemies By Louis Odion, FNGE

Ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar….The man who started it all with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, National Leader, APC

Back in the Athenian garden where the tradition of
public debate was first documented in antiquity, the danger had long been
recognized. Logicians call it red herring. 
Those in the habit of artfully
diverting an argument in order to obfuscate the question prefer this kind of
fallacy.

Such, it would seem, is the clear
and present threat now encroaching the national gallery over the issue of
restructuring. Depending on where you stand on the divide today, the word is
applied loosely in a manner likely to confound even those who originally
conceived the word, “perestroika” (restructuring), in the last years
of the old Soviet Union.

Mikail Gorbachev….Perestroika and glasnot was the only means to bring food to the table…

Unable – well maybe unwilling – to
keep the old empire together under the force of arms, often meditative Mikhail Gorbachev did not stop at
“perestroika” beginning from 1986, he added “glasnot”
(openness) in a steely resolve to reform the old union, but ended up as the
last president of the empire cobbled together by the Bolsheviks several decades earlier. 
To the political establishment in Abuja and a faction of the ruling party
today, the word is perhaps no more than the new synonym for the shriek wailing
of the politically displaced, if not treasonable dismemberment of the nation.
To the opposition, it is undoubtedly an invocation to hold the ruling party to
certain high standards to which they themselves were however also unable to
rise yesterday when in power.
Further afield, the understandably
querulous actors of the civil society are no less divided today in defining
restructuring in the Nigerian context. So, in the ensuing philosophical melee,
we now find ourselves having to separate the truth from lies the same way we
distinguish our friend from the enemy.

Does Mr. President believes in Restructuring?

Or, is it the darker creature the English dictionary newly classified as
frenemies – enemies disguising as friends?
Only a few, in in my view, have
brought a clarity to the issue like Bashorun
Seinde
Arogbofa does in his new
book, Nigeria – The Path We Refused To Take. He identifies the
challenge as twin: systemic and human. To resolve the malaise, the first step
is to “plant a good system and
simultaneously… grow the right people to implement the system.”
His prognosis is that a return to
regionalism will revitalize the polity and free the latent energies across the
land that will, in turn, catapult the nation to greatness. He argues that the
quality of leaders a country parades is only a reflection of the integrity of
the system in place.

The Old Wine & The New Wine

 

It needs be clarified, however, that
the problem with Nigeria’s federalism from the outset was more human than
systemic. By obliging regions to retain 50 percent of the fruits of
their labor and remit 30 percent to the government at the center and
the remaining 20 percent to the general pool to be re-distributed
according to collective needs, the post-Independence federalism recognized the
nation’s cultural diversities, abundant resources and, therefore, sought to
incentivize industry rather than entitlement mentality. 

The Author, Louis Odion FNGE…His analysis draws a big question on the Nigerian Problem

It is a measure of the synergy of
such symbiotic arrangement that the groundnut pyramid spiraled in the north,
cocoa boomed in the west and palm oil flowed abundantly in the east,
to the prosperity of the nation at large. 
But poor actors soon tainted the
politics with nepotism, intolerance and “ten percent”, eventuating in
the collapse of the First Republic and
the military incursion of January 15, 1966.

Late Aguiyi Ironsi: The Master Backer of  Unitary System of Government

 

Since the military is unitarist in
philosophy and operation, the next casualty was the federalist character
beginning with the Aguiyi-Ironsi’s
unification decree. The nation then morphed into one huge garrison synchronized
to a central command. Long years of military rule helped deepen this
aberration. 
Sadly, successive constitutions fashioned
by soldiers for the nation only sought to normalize this anomaly, which
gradually shifted emphasis from real production to the carnality of monthly
sharing of oil receipts in Abuja.
Hence, the intensification of the struggle to control political power as
the master key to easy money and the weaponization of the
electioneering process as do-or-die. 

Bukola Saraki: His Senate is indifferent to the issue of Restructuring

This, let it be said, has been the
bane of Nigeria’s development in
negation of the evidence of phenomenal growth. 
Meanwhile, symptoms of the old
gangrene, which metastasizes by the day, are quite visible to all. State
governors have to daily fund a Federal police they don’t control. Someone
sits in Abuja and aspires to build
homes for residents in faraway communities they don’t know. Niger Delta generates wealth that does
not reflect its material condition. Lagos
generates roughly 60 percent of VAT, gets back only a fraction of the amount,
but have to endure the environmental pain arising from the economic activities
that make that possible…

The APC Chieftain; To restructure or not to restructure?

Paradoxically, the average Nigerian
politician usually shares this perspective until they gain power. Suddenly, the
erstwhile clear-headed, fire-spitting visionary turns an agent of
reaction, feverishly seeking to preserve the sitting arrangement at the national
buffet and the crooked sharing formula. 
It explains why PDP hierarchs had
pooh-poohed the idea of restructuring while in power but today are quite
vociferous in its advocacy. The same reason the APC barons who canvassed the
idea most vigorously yesterday now seem to either feign memory loss or are busy
scratching their heads in false ignorance, having secured power. 
Therefore, the perennial tragedy of
the Nigerian situation is the assumption – usually promoted by whoever is in
power and their friends – that tends to conflate the promise of “good
leadership” with the imperative of restructuring. They are far from
related. The former is the product of the exceptionality of man. 

Can we wish Lord Luggard well in his grave?

Conversely, durable institutions
don’t happen by accident; they are erected on solid foundation resulting from
clear architectural vision. If any lesson is to be learnt from history, it
is that institutions are far more durable than mortals. So, whereas the
exertions of the “good leader” may secure today, only institutions
guarantee social security expected to endure much longer. 

Donald Trump of America: He can run mad anytime but the American system checks him and put him in place

No country readily
illustrates this today better than the United
States
. If the world’s super power has not yet collapsed under Donald Trump’s foul eccentricities and
abominable imprecations, it is because America’s socio-political institutions
are durable and kicking. The system ensures that even when the avuncular
Republican bully would rather have fellow citizens who don’t see the world
through his narrow prism be either “punched in the face” or thrown
overboard and those wishing to enter “God’s own country” henceforth
be screened based more on the faith professed or colour of their skin rather
than the content of their character, there remains a good number of
conscientious judges across America
committed to interpreting the law in a manner that defends and promotes social
liberty. 
For Nigeria, the enduring challenge of statesmanship, as powerfully put
by Bashorun Arogbofa in his book, is
not to settle for what is convenient for the day but muster the political courage
to institute a new reward regime that instead frees the Nigerian from a
fixation on only what they stand to gain rather than what they can contribute
in a new shared commitment to true nation-building.

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