At the launch of the Kudirat Abiola Sabon Gari Peace Foundation, In Zaria, Kaduna State, President Muhamadu Buhari, via a statement by the Executive Secretary of the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RMAFC, Alhaji Bello Shehu, who represented him as Special Guest of Honour, charged those clamouring for the restructuring of the country to desist from their agitations as there was “Nothing to restructure”, proceeding to label such individuals and groups “naïve” and “Dangerous”.
Speaking further, the president stressed that his administration was preoccupied with more pressing issues than entertaining the idea of restructuring the country, charging the states to, rather than clamouring for restructuring, allow the local councils function effectively and make the Judiciary independent, referring agitators for restructuring to the 1999 Constitution.
Reactions to the president’s statement have expectedly been raucous with the South-South Govenors Forum (SGF), Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Middle-Belt Forum (MBF), Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and others expressing angst at the president’s caustic statement, while other leaders of thought have also voiced their disapproval.
PMB’s latest pun shouldn’t shock anybody conversant with his militaristic leadership style as it is simply another unforced error from a man who has become accustomed to insulting the sensibilities of Nigerians whenever it suits his fancy. It is the weapon of choice of a former military Head of State appareled in the Kimono of a civilian President.
Our president is simply not a democrat who considers the interests of the majority when taking decisions or airing his views on issues of common interest. For him, the interests of the people exists as ideals that deserve only passing attention; afterthoughts that shouldn’t be allowed to encumber his BEST intentions for the country. Buhari, like Louis XIV, sees himself as the state; the omnipotent, infallible king of Nigeria, whose word is final.
PMB’s latest goof reinforces the theory in some quarters that he is no longer in tune with happenings in a country he was twice ELECTED (?) to administer. His failure to properly gauge the current gloomy mood of the country is a sure pointer to his detachment from the real state of affairs in the country, which require concrete, properly thought-out actions. He is a president by default.
The 1999 and 1979 constitutions the president referred the acolytes of Restructuring to in his highly vexatious and combative speech are nothing but artfully doctored military constructs that have failed to keep the country’s ship of state on course; blank pieces of paper that were treacherously yanked together and decreed into existence by khaki overlords, without inputs from the people they were meant to serve.
Apart from the 1963 Republican Constitution, said to be the first popularly made constitution, successive constitutions were Martial Laws deliberately laced with imperfections that are largely responsible for the several hiccups (mostly defined by incessant accusations of marginalization by estranged groups, forging of political alliances on the basis of ethnicity, religion and other primordial considerations, and resource based conflicts between federal and state authorities et al) that Have stymied the quest for a viable democratic order since independence. Simply put, these laws were reformed versions of General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi’s “Decree No 34” of May, 1966.
It is, however, not surprising that the president prefers retaining the present jaundiced federal structure, operated via a crooked 1999 Constitution, with all its visceral incongruities, rather than setting in motion the process for the rejigging of this imposed Decree, to address the manifest issues threatening the peace, stability, development and continued existence of the country. The subsisting arrangement obviously favours the president as it helps him retain large chunks of power to continue exerting superintending control over all facets of governance and control of the country’s vast resources at the expense of the sequestrated constituent units – the states.
Sharing power is alien and detestable to PMB as he prefers an arrangement that enables him to continue the arcane practice of bullying and arrogantly encroaching on the residual jurisdictions of the governors, allowing them only such powers as would keep them perpetually subservient to him. He is more at home with a skewed structure that is a liability, rather than an asset; an asymmetric, unjust and conflict prone system that ensures the domination of the country’s affairs by a section, at the expense of other constituent units; he prefers a maintenance of the status quo ante, despite its unholy nature.
The fact remains that there are several detestable deformities in the current arrangement that must be expeditiously corrected for the country to begin to function fluidly. The challenges of unequal political representation, skewed revenue allocation regime, worsening insecurity, uneven physical development, parasitic financial dependence of states on the center and sundry other inherent pitfalls, which are logical consequences of the country’s discomfiting structural incapacitations, can only be arrested if the existing structure is comprehensively revamped. The refusal of successive administrations to recognize, with intent to practically redress, the undeniable visceral deformities in the subsisting structure, is partly to blame for the country’s stunted development. That PMB is averse to these legitimate demands, which, if addressed would bring a halt to all the crises plaguing the polity, makes it all the more curious.
However, despite the president’s negative disposition to the idea of restructuring, his self-aggrandizing stance cannot supersede the general will. Majority of the groups constituting the country’s ethnic and tribal nationalities want a restructured federation in which power is devolved between the center and the constituent units; one in which the constituent units are autonomous and allowed to assume full control of their resources, security and other responsibilities as spelt out in a popularly fashioned constitution, as obtains in true federal states.
Mr. President should stop postponing what is a certainty and do the needful. Nigerians want an inclusive system in which their interests are protected. Nigerians can no longer fathom a skewered arrangement that can no longer guarantee their future. They want a restructured Federation or nothing else. I don’t see how that makes them “Naive and Dangerous”.
God bless Nigeria!