The wisdom to discern between what is right and proper and what is ill-timed is important to us as a nation at this time in our development. I was inspired to express my opinion on the issue of elections and restructuring because these two topics are on the lips of Nigerians at this time. I have chosen to address the other two issues of recycling and revolutions as they seem to have some symbiotic relationships with the oncoming elections and the ongoing clamour for restructuring. I do not support revolutions, with or without ammunition. However, if the cause can be averted, one should take immediate actions, as such will save whatever attending inconveniences of revolutions in the land. All of us are aware that any revolution or coup will further destabilise our nation if we do not set our priorities right. Revolutions may cause us some setback in our struggle to come to terms with the myriads of other problems we are grappling with in our already turbulent environment. I felt the more convinced to write because the more I read good articles on the subject of a New Nigerian State, the more I felt in sync with people of like minds.
I have no objections against credible and fair elections. I also think that there is wisdom in being proactive and open our eyes to the impending doom of holding any elections before peace and tranquility is restored in the land. Should we be thinking of elections where people to vote or be voted for are being killed on a daily basis? Can and will all these proponents and disciples of the 2019 Elections please sit down and think of themselves or very close relatives being the casualties of the killings in Benue, the Middle Belt Region or North East Regions (Bornu) or other parts of Nigeria?
If one had lost his or her Son, Daughter, Wife, Husband, Father, Mother or bosom Friend in a motorcycle crash or car accident or in any of the on-going killing spree in Nigeria, would one still run for an office in the 2019 Elections? I need all of us to answer this poser question very candidly. I want to imagine that most normal human being will be expected to shelve and defer running for any elective position till a possible near future. If Nigerians do not see the wanton losses of lives, as deserving the postponement of the 2019 Elections, then we are indeed a callous set of higher animals, who are gunning for the up-coming looting agenda in the muggy political terrain of Nigeria. We have become an insensitive nation which has been traumatized, dehumanized and lost any human feelings, for those who have lost their loved ones. What a pity!
The emphasis of this article is on Restructuring, Recycling, Revolution and the almighty 2019 Elections. These three Rs and E make me want to cry for Nigeria as none of them give the level of joy or sorrow desirable of the actual meanings of the words. Taking the words one by one and examining their import and significance at this time in Nigeria, will be my next approach:
Restructuring ordinarily means to re-arrange, to reorder, to reconfigure, to review or to revise. By all standards, the word restructure does not antagonize or offend anyone. In this simple way, everyone is and may tend to be on the same page, however, in the context of Nigeria politics, it goes beyond an ordinary rearrangement. It means ensuring equality – of people, tribes, states, religion, in sharing of national cake, equality before the laws of the land, equality of employment opportunities, balance in national employment allocation etc. etc. In restructuring Nigeria, there must be devolution of powers to the States that make up the Federation. Restructuring, which also means a rearrangement of the way we are, and the way we function as a multicultural, multi-ethnic nation, should be a process which will make for healthy co-existence among the different tribes, cultures and religious beliefs. From the fore-going, we can see that the full implications and ramifications of restructuring can get complex as we strive to ensure fairness and justice for all, as compatriots of one Nigeria.
It seems clear to this author that many people do not understand the meaning of restructuring or they have deliberately refused to understand the true meaning and import of it. It may also be that refusal to understand is because they know the enormity and gargantuan tasks involved in the process of repairing and rearranging Nigeria. Running away from your problem is not the best solution to problems! Nigeria got into the mess of poor foundational structure by default and she must come out with wisdom and determination of all compatriots.
Recycling as a word, means reusing, reprocessing, reutilizing, and salvaging, etc. A cursory look at the meanings of the word ‘recycle’ connotes something very derogatory for a country like Nigeria which is blessed with extremely capable, competent and qualified people in all sectors of our economy. From available information from States, many of the current Governors are looking forward to being recycled back into Senate. Other Governors are getting ready to use their children and relatives to replace them. Many former or serving Senators are set to be recycled back into Senate, even when they are not any longer productive! One then wonders what the real attraction is in wanting to be Governor again or in being in the Nigerian Senate, apart from the obsession of just being in the Red Chamber! Could it be in the Jumbo pay packets and allowances? Is it the WILL to serve the people? How nice it would have been, if the latter were to be the case?
Unfortunately, Politics/Democracy in Nigeria is defined by the politicians as “the politics of Nigeria, by the politicians, for Nigerians”! This is Nigerian POLITOCRACY! This is a major departure from Democracy (Government of the people, by the people and for the people) where our politicians have recycled themselves to the extent of keeping politics off limits for the younger ones. This automatically translates to the youths being deprived of the opportunity to get to participate and learn the tricks of the trade of ‘politics’. With the new wave of youth resistance, it is hoped that the political monopoly of the digital Veteran Politicians (older generation of politicians) will be broken. For now, the battle rages on between the old and the youth, in the struggle for political space in Nigeria. The new “Not Too Young to Run Bill” is a major breakthrough for the youths in this direction. Very soon politics will be off limits for the veteran auto-recyclists!
The abundance of Human Resources (HR) in Nigeria has made the massive Brain Drain suffered by our nation not to damage or cripple the nation or affect the supply of HR to the different sectors of our economy. Nigeria is blessed with experts and technocrats, more than any other country in Africa. The Diaspora is filled with Nigerians of worth, in all fields of human endeavors. Why then have we indulged in recycling our politicians in the last half a century? Why have the older politicians refused to be replaced? Why has there not been a systemic grooming of sets of politicians to bring in fresh ideas and innovations until now? May be this is why the Nigerian Youths seem to be rebelling and revolting, seeking to share the political space with their veteran Political fathers (colleagues!) more so as this is the trend in many parts of the world. The new Bill “Not too Young to Run” represents the green light at the end of the tunnel. Younger compatriots will from now be featured in the new political space from now on. May this new Youth Revolution herald peace, progress, development in our new Nigeria.
Revolution means upheaval, uprising, rebellion etc. which may or may not involve disruptions or blood shedding by a group of people over dissenting views. The Nigerian polity had been turbulent over the years, even after the series of military coups/governance (1966 – 1998). There had nonetheless, been waves of violence caused by riots and rallies, occasioned by peoples’ exercise of their fundamental human rights, in one way or another. In recent times, we have heard of a revolution threat by a Nigerian in faraway Hungary. Listening to that Video presentation of this Nigerian Compatriot from Hungary, Fredrick Odorige, the President of the Nigerian Association in Hungary, he says he wants to organize a REVOLUTION WITHOUT AMMUNITION in Nigeria! He is totally displeased with the killings and other atrocities and unrest in Nigeria, which he blames on bad leadership. We should all be proud of a patriotic Nigerian like this. He is one of the ‘brains’, drained to the other lands from Nigeria. This type of well-meaning revolution is all well and good, but can Nigeria afford a different type of revolution, which may be bloody like the Boko Haram, the Fulani Herdsmen or the Militants in the South-South? Whether or not Fredrick’s revolution succeeds, we should doff our hats for him for this initiative and love for his Motherland. Whichever way we look at it, revolutions are not the best option compared to dialogue, especially as they can easily turn unpleasant and bloody, if care is not taken.
Another revolution brewing all over Nigeria is that of the Youths takeover of governance from the analogue Papas! The most prominent of the new Youth movements is that of Omoyele Sowore who has titled his own brand of Youth Revolution “TAKE IT BACK”. According to him, he has disrupted the Media space in Nigeria with his Sahara Media Outfit and now ready to use his revolutionary ‘Take It Back Movement’ to put the youths in the political space of Nigeria. So far so good, these observed revolutions have not been violent or bloody, they have been peaceful and gentlemanly.
Let us hope that Nigeria can also demonstrate the maturity observed from the recent peaceful Zimbabwean revolution which got Robert Mugabe out of power. The South African peaceful revolution and baton exchange between Jacob Zuma (upon resignation) and Cyril Ramaphosa in 2018 is also worthy of emulation by other African countries. Nigeria will welcome any type of civil revolution, which will herald peace and be devoid of bloodshed in our struggle for good governance, in view of our recent losses of lives to Boko Haram, Herdsmen killings, militancy violence, Armed Bandits, and Thuggery around the country.
Elections are good in all democratic and dynamic nations of the world where peace, order, and fairness can be guaranteed. In all nations of the world, the election of the people by the people and for the people is most symbolic of true democracy. On a brighter note, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has just signed the Bill “Not too Young to Run” which opens up the avenue for youths’ entry into elective offices and governance even at younger ages. This in effect, reduces the monopoly of the older Nigerians in being voted for in national elective positions.
In the light of the present situation in Nigeria, it is the opinion of this writer that Nigerians have to reorder their priorities and ponder well on the wisdom of embarking on Elections rather than Restructuring, with the spate of continuing unrest in the nation. We just might be putting the cart before the horse, if restructuring will not be put in its place of prime importance, before Elections. With the state of the nation and the unprecedented killings of innocent Nigerian under the guise of ethnic cleansing, incessant kidnappings, political unrest in party circles, workers strike actions, tribal unrest etc., it may be wise to shelve Elections in the meantime and pursue restructuring. If the current levels of hunger and anger, inequality and injustice, poor work ethics, corruption and greed, selfishness and indolence, wide gap between the rich and the poor, are not addressed, either through restructuring or other means, then Nigeria will be seen as not being serious about solving her most serious problems. The cart (elections) will be put before the horse (restructuring), which results in zero movement!
The timing and the choice of which way Nigeria goes is therefore up to Nigerians themselves. Should we restructure to guarantee peace, fairness and equality first? Should we continue to perpetuate the recycling practice? Can we afford another revolution with or without ammunition before we come to grips with the reality that Nigeria is already at war on many fronts today? Or do we go ahead with elections for our selfish and greedy reasons to continue the looting and ‘business as usual’ postures? Whichever way we look at it, Nigerians will always remain the architects of their own fortune or misfortune. The situation now seems to put Nigeria at cross roads as restructuring, recycling, revolution and elections are running into one another and calling for exceptional wisdom from our leaders. Whether politicians like it or not Nigeria must survive and posterity will be the judge.
In conclusion, the restructuring option has been on the lips of many well-meaning Nigerians for many years, because of the faulty structure upon which Nigeria was ‘birthed’. Several Conferences and Summits have been organized by tribal, religious, academic, social and professional groups across Nigeria in the last few years and restructuring had formed the major foci of the fora. The current state of the nation with respect to agitations and incessant threats of breakaway have been blamed on the faulty political structure of Nigeria and the bringing together of strange bed-fellows under one umbrella. No thanks to our forced amalgamation by the British! Only a few days ago in the South East, the Ndigbos held another Summit wherein a communique was issued with seven points /demands.
The Ndigbo Summit called for:
- New Constitution
- Adoption of six geopolitical zones as Federating units
- Six-year tenure for the president,
- Five vice presidents… from the geopolitical zones,
- Rotation of the presidency among the zones,
- Scrapping of the local government system, and
- Creation of additional states…
The prayers of our Ndigbo brothers and sisters are in line with the aspirations of other ethnic groups in Nigeria. It is my fervent hope that Nigeria will sing a new song and put the right foot forward by ensuring that Restructuring precedes Elections for fairness, justice, equity, peace and progress of our dear nation.