RESTRUCTURING NIGERIA_ A POLITICAL REALITY OR MYTH By; ISA ABASS USMAN
What is restructuring: To simply put it, restructuring is the process of increasing or decreasing the number of component parts that makes up a system and re-defining the inter-relationship between them in such a way that the entire system performs more efficiently. However, restructuring, if not well planned and handled can lead to greater inefficiency or even system collapse.
For quite some time now, probably since about 20 years ago, there has been agitation by individuals, geo-cultural groups, geo-political associations for the restructuring of Nigeria. The various heads of state and government that had been in power over this period had not seen reasons to give the calls serious consideration. The nearest they have done is either to call a national conference, as Jonathan did in 2014 or to establish a reconciliatory commission as done by Obasanjo or issue a press statement as the Presidency did about a week ago as reported.
There are 3 major reasons for this: Some people believe that there is no guarantee that such an exercise will succeed in moving the nation forward, and that it may even be counter-productive or lead to unexpected consequences; Secondly, prior to 2015, the people who were calling for restructuring never gave a clear definition of what they meant by re-structuring, neither were they specific about the scope, modalities or even the timing of such an exercise; Thirdly, up till 2015, most of the calls for restructuring had been from individuals and groups from the southern part of Nigeria, especially South South geo-political zone. Others from the North probably think that the agitation is because the south controls the major mineral resources that constitute the bulk of Nigeria’s wealth.
The first thing that comes to the mind of people when they hear restructuring is political restructuring such as creating more states or merging of states/LGA, resource control, regional autonomy, power devolution etc. The most sensitive of which is resource control especially oil wealth. However, there are many dimensions to restructuring, some of which include political restructuring, economic restructuring, educational restructuring, social restructuring, accounting restructuring, administrative restructuring, restructure of security apparatus etc.
Consequently, since there are many dimensions to restructuring, anybody agitating for it should tell Nigerians the exact type or types of restructuring he or she wants.
By far the most important restructuring we need in Nigeria today is that of our mindset. That should be the starting point and the mother of all restructuring. There are certain unproven statements and beliefs that have found a permanent residence in the heart of Nigerian adults- eg Corruption cannot be eradicated, we can never have correct census, if you don’t bribe you cannot get a contract, if you don’t bribe voters you cannot win elections, merit alone cannot get you job or promotion e.t.c. They paint the picture that Nigeria is an impossible country and the worst place on earth to live in.
Unfortunately, young men and women today are growing up with the same orientation and belief that if you don’t know a big man somewhere (e.g. Senator or Minister) you cannot secure employment, win a contract in a ministry or get admission into a Tertiary Institution. Also, if you don’t join the corruption train, you can never be rich, or make it. We need to re-orientate our mindset. No amount of political or economic restructuring can bring any meaningful progress unless we first restructure and re-orientate our mindset, change our value system and develop sound character.
If only we can restructure our mindset,orientations then fully we can have a restructured Nigeria.
ISA ABASS USMAN
Department of political science
University of Ilorin Nigeria