Many Nigerians have posited that the nation’s current geopolitical structure has been largely responsible for many of her failures in governance, and the growing spate of unpleasant developments in the country. Nigeria is not a failed state, but could become one if critical steps are not taken to restructure the polity, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has argued. It is this that form the basis of his recent article titled “Nigeria Needs The Peace Serum of Restructuring”.
The article enunciating the pressing need for restructuring was written against the backdrop of the current happenings pertaining to the Fulani Herders situation. Atiku Abubakar stressed that Nigeria’s problems are rooted in the absence of a structure that represents every Nigerian in the spirit of true federalism. His words read in part:
“Nigeria needs to be restructured. Just look at Nigeria today. The truth is staring us in our collective faces.
“The current ethnic and religious clashes bedeviling Nigeria are symptoms of the disease. They themselves are not the illness. We must address the root causes of the various symptoms of insecurity Nigeria now faces.”
This general feeling has equally been the perception and position of many well meaning Nigerians and major stakeholders in the country, which in itself has informed the calls for restructuring over the years. The nation’s challenges, particularly with the current ethnic/religious clash emanating from the Southwest over Fulani Herdsmen activities are indicative of the expediency with which the matter ought to be addressed.
In light of this, the former vice president noted that, “We have been operating from the same unitary foundation, and have given it several names since January 15, 1966. Other than slight name changes, the mould has remained the same, and the yield has changed little.
“Nigeria needs to restructure to avoid the various failed state prophecies, first advanced by an American think-thank against Nigeria in 2006. Most recently regurgitated by The Financial Times of London, about a month ago. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”
The PDP presidential candidate stated that Nigeria is not a failed state but stands the risk of becoming a failed state, “if we do not resolve our foundational challenges that make it rather difficult for the central government to discharge her responsibilities effectively.”
Atiku Abubakar added that “Nigeria is now of age. It is now time to trust the component units of this federation with devolution of powers from the central government to handle issues such as policing, in tandem with the Federal Government.”
It is generally believed that Nigeria has the potential and the resources to emerge as one of the greatest in the comity of nations. The position she has attained today in spite of the numerous challenges and problems bedevilling her is indicative of the colossal progress it would have made if she was on course in the right direction. As it is, things are not exactly working with rising tension in ethnic and religious scuffle almost when any slight situation triggers it, coupled with the protracted malaise of Insurgency, even though it has recorded significant improvement in the last six years. The rate at which kidnapping and banditry are fast becoming a trend is nonetheless worrisomely alarming.
These and other uneventful happenings not only generate negative feelings, they raise doubts in the minds of many Nigerians who believe Nigeria is heading nowhere in spite of sincere efforts of the past years. Reverend Kukah’s controversial speech and the mixed reactions that trailed it are indicative of the cacophony and disjointed voices that follows when such situation and scenarios tests the unity of the country. The same scenario was seen in the EndSARS protest as some people in the North were influenced by views that it was a southern affair. This saw a brief contention between the North and the South.
The Fulani herdsmen crisis in the South-western states is particularly mind-boggling as a good number of people have now criminalized the entire Fulani race for the evil some bad eggs in the tribe have perpetrated in different parts of the country.
According to Atiku Abubakar,” if half of our people expend their energies pulling Nigeria in one direction, and the other half counter by pulling Nigeria in another direction, our motherland will never know pace, unity and prosperity.” This is why major stakeholders in the country have raised an alarm that if measures are not put in place to curtail this trend of disunity now, it might plunge the country in the direction of a large scale civil war that can obliterate the country from the map.
Noteworthy is the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari strongly believes in the idea of restructuring which in itself was one of the major highlights of his campaign promises. He himself promoted the establishment of the panel which brought the reports of El Rufai. It has been years and the reports have not been brought to manifestation. This has led many, particularly dignitaries from the Southwest to question the president’s sincerity in realizing the demands of restructuring.
Buhari however has shown that this is not the case. He feels there are more pressing needs that ought to be addressed in the country which if not addressed will run counter to any exhortation on restructuring. The problem of corruption and other related menace are some of the vices the Buhari-led administration has given due prominence to, while tackling other major challenges that has brought about significant progress from transportation through agriculture to power supply, across others sectors.
But like Atiku Abubakar V opines, “Nigeria has foundational issues, which we have to resolve. Until we resolve those issues, our nation may not fulfil its potentials of being the beacon of light for the Black Race, even if we have the most righteous people at the helm.”
At this point however, it appears more expedient than ever to revisit various reports on restructuring which has remained in the shelves for so long. Simply put, no time is better for bringing to fruition the recommendations of past national conference reports than now. The president has to do all he can to prove such individuals as Femi Falana and Femi Fani Kayode wrong, who themselves are fond of making his administration lose face with the public by raising doubts in the minds of the unsuspecting public over his sincerity in bringing about true dividends of democracy and federalism to the Nigerian people.
At the end of the day, restructuring like Atiku Abubakar recommends, ” is the lighthouse that will guard the Nigerian state’s ship back to the safety of land. Even in the little things, we must restructure for the good of our people.”
Even so, Nigeria needs peace and unity which is very paramount. All the in-fighting and bigotry should be discouraged because like the saying goes, if two brothers fight to death, it is a stranger that will inherit their father’s house. Nigerians should expend their energy in fighting for a better Nigeria as opposed to fighting one another.
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