When former Vice President Atiku Abubakar urged President Muhammadu Buhari to allow Nigerians sit down and discuss the restructuring of the country little did he know that he had stirred the hornet’s nest.
Abubakar, who made the call in Abuja at the launch of a book titled: “We Are All Biafrans,” written by Chido Onumah, was only echoing what many people have in mind.
He called for the restructuring of the country, saying: “Nigeria is not working as well as it should and part of the reason is the way we have structured our country and governance, especially since the late 1960s.
“The federal government is too big and too powerful relative to the federating states. That situation needs to change and calling for that change is patriotic. We must refrain from the habit of assuming that anyone calling for the restructuring of our federation is working for the break-up of the country.
“An excessively powerful centre does not equate with national unity. If anything, it has made our unity more fragile, our government more unstable and our country more unsafe.”
Abubakar said restructuring would promote healthy rivalries among the federating units and local authorities, “thereby making us richer and stronger as a nation”.
Since that time many had risen in support, especially the Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, and Igbo umbrella body, Ohanaeze Ndigbo. They supported Atiku’s call asking the Buhari-led government to implement the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference on the restructuring of the country.
A former Secretary-General, Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, and an ex-Chairman, Transparency International, Nigerian chapter, Maj. Gen. Ishola Williams, rtd, believe that restructuring of the country would facilitate stability and development.
Anyaoku said, ‘‘I called for the restructuring of the country in 2005 at the political reform conference. My most recent public statements on the matter were made at the Ibadan School of Public Policy and Government in January and at the 40th Anniversary Colloquium of Ondo State on January 30.’’
Anyaoku had, in February, canvassed for the abolition of the 36 states in the country.
He disclosed this at a public symposium organised by the Nigerian Bible Society in Enugu State.
Anyaoku advocated for a return to the regional structure practised in the First Republic, with the country’s six regions forming federating units.
He argued that the current 36-state structure is unwieldy and very expensive.
“The present governance arrangement we have, with the country comprising 36 non-viable states, most of which cannot pay the salaries of teachers and civil servants, is not the best. Rather, we should return to an arrangement were the six regions will form six federating units.”
On his part, Williams said many Nigerians, who are concerned about the future of Nigeria, had expressed similar views in the past.
“What the former vice president said had been clamoured for by many Nigerians in the past. Even President Muhammadu Buhari knows that Nigeria needs to be restructured so that there would be resource control.’’.
Also, Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, and the Senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, described the call for the restructuring of Nigeria as demanded by Atiku as normal.
Ndume said any form of restructuring should not be through violence or force because Nigeria did not come together through violent agitation or protest.
“I don’t think he (Atiku) is wrong. It is his opinion and constitutionally, everyone is free to think the way he likes. What I don’t agree with is what is happening in the Niger-Delta and the agitation in the South-East.
“I don’t agree that you address the issue of either independence or break-up through protest, sabotage or treasonable means. Nigeria did not come together by violence or force, it was by dialogue and negotiation and even if we are going to disintegrate, God forbids, it should be through peaceful means. We are inseparable as a country. Biafra is history in Nigeria, those advocating for it did not witness the war.”
Sani, on his own, noted that the restructuring of Nigeria is necessary at this crucial period.
The senator added that “Restructuring Nigeria is a necessity and a reality that we must live up to. It is a fact that Nigeria as a federation, today, is not functioning as it is supposed to be. The 36 states structure and bicameral parliament are too expensive for a federation.
“There is need for us to dissolve the 36 states and create six straight structures, while each of the federating unit works towards generating revenue to execute their programmes and policies, they will also contribute to the centre.
“Nigeria’s federalism, as it exists today, encourages parasitism, dependency and laziness. This is what I call cap-in-hand federalism, were people do nothing in the state; they simply come cap in hand to the centre and collect money and go back.
“We must go back to a Nigeria where we would be contributors to the national cause, we must move away from the sharing of the national cake to the baking of it.”
Also, a former Governor of Kaduna State and leader of the Conference of Nigerian Political parties, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, supported the call for the country’s restructuring.
Musa, who disclosed this to our correspondent in Kaduna on Wednesday, stated that restructuring the country has become a necessity, as it would reduce the glaring injustice.
Musa called for the return to regional government “where it would be allowed to create states to develop at its own pace.”
This, he added, would encourage the growth of healthy economies in each regional government.
“Different people have different ideas on restructuring. But the question is which kind of restructuring? Is it a regional arrangement as was the case in the past, return to parliamentary system or return of the role of states in the economy?
“I prefer a return to regional arrangement, were each region creates states that they can cater for. This will reduce injustice and inequality among the people.”
Meanwhile, the Ondo State Government has urged workers to join in the growing agitation for the restructuring of the country, so as to pave way for the autonomy of its federating units.
The government said this would enable states to carry out their responsibilities without recourse to the federal government.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Kayode Akinmade.
Akinmade said labour unions and workers have critical roles to play in the actualisation of the growing clamour for a workable system of government that would enable states use their resources to address their needs.
“If the states are allowed to control their resources, government will be able to pay workers their wages as at when due and the trend of going on strike to press for wages would become a thing of the past.
“If the country is operating a workable system, were states are allowed to control their resources, a state like Ondo, with its government’s ingenuity and capability to create wealth, would not be struggling to pay wages. Anyone that wishes Nigeria well and wants our states to develop will join in the growing agitation to restructure the country. This is a solution to the challenges and problems confronting us today as a state and nation.”
In his reaction to the call for the nation’s restructuring, elder statesman and former Political Adviser to ex-President Shehu Shagari, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, said the nation must embrace the parliamentary system of government in order to address the perceived imbalance in the country.
Yakassai, however, noted that restructuring Nigeria would not solve its problems if certain issues are not adequately addressed.
The ex-presidential adviser believes that with the parliamentary system, enormous power would be stripped from the presidency.
“The call for the restructuring of Nigeria did not start with Atiku; it has been going on for many years, dating back to the time when the late Chief Anthony Enahoro formed his National Reformation Council under the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
“His argument was that Nigeria should be made of six republics, not regions, not states; each of which would contribute to the central authority on equal basis. That is to contribute the same number of soldiers to the national army; a zone would contribute the same amount of money for the running of the central government. Each zone or republic would have its own judiciary.’’
He said the first step is to convene a sovereign national conference to grant Nigerians the democratic right to sit together and fashion out ways for a national restructuring.
‘‘The second is to resuscitate the mandate of late MKO Abiola, which was wickedly and ungodly annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida and his cohorts,” he stated.
Opadokun, who is also the convener, Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms, added that there are troubling contradictions in the fact that the country earns huge monetary returns from crude oil, but is ranked among the poorest countries of the world.
‘‘It is because we have a warped, lopsided and skewed national state. We cannot maximise our potential and realise what we ought to do as a people until we sit down to discuss how to restructure the country.’’

READ ALSO  House of Reps speaker: Those who the odds favour

  • sir Oscie

    Great speech Baba Turaki.

    The truth is Bitter and can only the said by you, Kudos for the the speaking it.

    A true Statesman and leader like you helps in the development and building of a great country for the younger generation.

    Restructuring is the way forward for Nigeria and those privileged to be in power should look inwards for the development of our states which I believe will help give the youths(Boko haram, IPOB, MASSOB, The Avengers, OPC, etc)who are taking up arms against the states a sense of belonging and properly engaged, because an IDEAL mind is a TIMEBOMB.

    Turaki, real CHANGE is possible with you.

    We’re blessed to have you.