First Thing First: Restructuring or Elections

nigeria flag

My heart bleeds each time I come across the myriad of propaganda materials in Nigeria. There are countless materials on the mantra of change, corruption, rule of law, orientation and re-orientation and all sorts of clichés. All of these frenzy, pomp and pageantry are to no avail, as long as the cart still continues to be put before the horse. It seems inconceivable that as educated and enlightened as we are in Nigeria, we have refused to realize and recognize the best sequence or order of our political movements to proper governance, equity, justice, peace, security and prosperity. I am sick and tired of reading and hearing about nothing but the 2019 elections. I need a break, I am suffocated already! There is a more important activity before any elections in Nigeria and that activity is RESTRUCTURING.

A few days ago, Nigerians got the shock of their lives when they had Senator Shehu Sani let the cat out of the bag on the juicy and jumbo take home pays of the Senators. There is no doubt that all the down trodden and impoverished Nigerians are very grateful for this painful revelation. We all have been hinted that this is only a tip of the iceberg as other public office holders – Senate President, Deputy Senate President, Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Ministers, Governors, Deputy Governors, State House Speakers, Deputy Speakers, are equally ‘super blessed’ and rewarded on a monthly basis, even with the fumbling economy. Short of saying that ‘We the people’ of Nigeria are jealous of these ‘blessed privileged few Politicians’, I will like to caution the millions of us complaining that these politicians are not to blame! They did not just get there to fix their salaries and allowances.

Law makers and other public office holders with jumbo pay packets have no questions to answer from us. They have not committed any offence or crime by taking home these Jumbo pays. This cannot certainly be classified as Grand Corruption. None of us can take them to court on their legitimate incomes. Please let us leave them alone and face ‘what and where’ the problem lies. The problem is in the set up (constitution) or better still our structure as a nation, hence the incessant calls for restructuring. We need to take the problem of ‘de-amalgamation’ very seriously and respond to the calls for restructuring if we want to move on and be at peace (coexist) with one another as compatriots.

Our problem lies squarely in the constitution, the kind of governance we bargained for, that which we adopted, or that which was imposed on us by the military. Our Bicameral instead of Unicameral legislature has made the cost of governance outrageous and wasteful. The forced amalgamation and putting together of strange bed fellows (tribes and tongues), we all know is not working to the advantage of ALL Nigerians. The same situation continues to enslave different tribes – major and minor, and there is nothing we have been able to do about it to date. Until we can wake up and find a lasting solution(s) to these problems, we will continue to cry, whine, and wallow in the pity of being oppressed by a section of the country. This is the truth but it is not palatable! Restructuring is the magic solution which has unfortunately been turned into an albatross.

Everything that has happened, is happening and that is going to happen in Nigeria is within the ambit (constraint) of our constitution (from where power and authority are derived). No wonder the courts are able to throw out (dismiss) many high-profile cases at the expense of the people of Nigeria. These fat bellied greedy politicians are able to get away with fat salaries, allowances, and loots while other workers – top notch professionals and academics are complaining that their ‘take home pay cannot even take them home’! What a pity! Our ‘lucky’ politicians are able to take home remunerations more robust than their teachers and professors, immediately they leave the four walls of their Institutions, just because they have become Politicians!! May be, we need to rethink and counsel our children properly on their choices of professions! It may continue to be well and rewarding these days to choose to be ‘Professional Politicians’ than any other known professions, if money and corruption is what we want for children! At least so as to be able to survive the harsh economic conditions.

As long as politics continues to be attractive and juicy, even with minimal integrity, education and experience, nothing is going to change in Nigeria. This explains why politics in Nigeria has become a do or die affair. In as much as it continues to be lucrative, it will continue to attract the mediocre, who are prepared to force their way to the front and win elections. Thuggery will continue to be a lucrative preoccupation to get roughians on the elm of affairs. Besides this ugly situation, Nigeria is not addressing the important issues as yet – restructuring and reordering our relationship as we co-exist as one nation.

The constitution remains sacrosanct and if it is not altered to suit our circumstance, we are heading nowhere! The cat is and will continue to be put before the horse. We will be going around in circles. The 2014 Confab Report, which was arrived at through the consensus of the representatives from all segments of the Nigerian society will remain our only recourse, if it is a less traumatic approach than RESTRUCTURING, to the government at this time! A referendum, which will be another waste of time and money will bring us back to the same result of calling for a restructured Nigeria. Restructuring means – equity, justice, autonomy, peace and prosperity for all citizens of Nigeria. It certainly does not mean fragmentation of Nigeria. It means the autonomy of Regions, Zones, States or whatever nomenclature.

Everything pertaining to elections seems to be on top gear and on the minds of Nigerian and this is wrongfully so. Our focus is on Elections and who our next ruler is going to be. However, I am one of those realists, who will not want to fool myself or other citizens. Permit me to say bluntly that we are not ready for any elections in Nigeria, the way things are. First thing first, we must put the house in order for the incoming political settings through constitutional adjustments or a restructuring exercise. INEC may put out a long-term election and voting arrangements till tomorrow! As far as I am concerned, this is a waste of time and energy, judging from the way Nigerians rubbish their predecessors in office. As we speak, the incumbent in office (INEC, CEO) is having his decisions on the order of elections altered by the legislators, even before it is actualized. What is the chance that a grandiose long- term plan as it is being proposed, will ever see the light of the day?

What is paramount is putting the right foot forward in our march to true democracy and if I may say, home-grown democracy for Nigeria? Any departure from this, is an exercise in futility. I have no doubt that probably, a referendum to tinker with the constitution and restructure will be the most appropriate solution as we prepare to hold any meaningful elections. What do you expect of the incoming set of politicians? Are they to prescribe their own salaries and allowances outside the current constitutional provisions? No way! Its going to be business as usual unless we want to deceive ourselves. We can be sure that we are heading for another bout of misrule and complaints galore! What a journey to another catastrophe?

Nigeria has to be restructured as a matter of urgency before the upcoming elections. The hue and cry over the legislative and political office holders’ corruption is a mere waste of time and energy if nothing happens to the status quo. That thing called ‘corruption’ is endemic and systemic in nature. It has become a normalcy and seemingly an inseparable part of many Nigerians. It is clear that establishing strong institutions to curb corruption is the only solution to this chronic and age-long problem. Systems should be put in place to make it difficult to steal and defraud before the next set of politicians take office. We need to stop crying but get up and act before it is too late. Restructuring is sine qua non to the very existence of a peaceful and functional Nigeria. When we go regional or zonal in terms of autonomy, each sub-division will be able to contain the corruption scourge and ensure security of its unit as it wishes.

Nigeria needs to call a spade a spade and do the needful. Nigeria has been troubled for a long time now, in terms of security from every direction and in many parts of the country. We need to always be cognizant of the fact that restructuring is not the fragmentation of our dear nation but a re-ordering for autonomy, equity, justice, fairness and peace. We need to rejuggle and reorganize the workings and governance of Nigeria in general for us to enjoy the full dividends of democracy. Any further delay may not be in the interest of our nation on the short or long run. Let us change the political dynamics in Nigeria from now on. It should be Politics for Service and Sacrifice as opposed to Politics for Money and jumbo package allowances. If we want progress and development there should be a paradigm shift in the game of politics and governance henceforth. A word is enough for the wise and I want to believe that we all know that all is not well with our nation today. It is a big shame that the giant of Africa is being put to shame and ridicule. Nigeria deserves better than this. We need to wise up and put restructuring before elections to correct the ills of the past and put the nation on the tract to autonomy, equity, justice, fairness, and prosperity for all.

Written by
Adekunle Akinyemi
Join the discussion