By Donu Kogbara

I HAVE been corresponding privately with Mr Olayiwola Adedayo ([email protected]), a Vanguard reader who occasionally sends me thought-provoking emails. He recently made some very interesting points about the burning issue of restructuring – I’m in favour of it, largely because I know that it will help the region I come from – Niger Delta; and I’ve said so on this page a few times.

I am reproducing some of my correspondence with Mr. Adedayo below and will appreciate other Vanguard readers chipping in via text or email and sharing their opinions on this important matter. Restructuring – the buzz word of our era – is being opposed by President Buhari and his supporters. But it is regarded by many politicians, pundits and regular citizens as the only thing that can save Nigeria from ills like decay, underdevelopment and friction.

Friday, November 16

Dear Donu, how will an executive president institute restructuring? No one has been able to provide a good explanation for me. Please assist me if you have any idea. I really need to know how it will be done, otherwise we may fall for the biggest deceit of the century!

I love the concept of restructuring because it makes a lot of sense, but it is a death sentence for my state, Kwara, where there is absolutely nothing outside Federal Allocation. The same holds for 90 per cent of states in the North Central, North West and North East.

So, how do you get the numbers to vote in favour of a restructuring? President Jonathan was smart enough not to push the confab report to the National Assembly because it was dead on arrival.

I will only believe and trust a candidate who will be frank enough to recognize the difficulties of attempting a fundamental polity re-engineering  (note the current experience of Theresa May with Brexit in the UK) and pledge only to give a committed trial /attempt by submitting a bill in this respect.

You cannot boast that as executive president you will carry out restructuring. As it stands today, it can be done only by the National Assembly through an amendment of the present constitution. Is there any guarantee that the composition of the next Assembly will be favourable either way ? Certainly not..Anything short of this is falsehood.

Saturday, November 17

Dear Mr A,

I love your email! The honesty is refreshing and I’m very inspired by your comments to study the restructuring issue more carefully.

Truth is that I don’t know enough about it at the moment but have been led to believe that every state will benefit ultimately. Some economic experts say that weak states will become stronger because of restructuring, while richer states like mine, Rivers, will fly higher.

And I’m wondering whether the fear of ceasing to be so dependent on federal allocations isn’t like someone on crutches who can walk unaided if he tries harder refusing to let go of his crutches because he has persuaded himself that he will collapse without them?

But I guess that we will need massive mindset and behavioural changes to turn anything we do into a productive activity, whether we stick with the status quo or embrace a new modus operandi. I used to make this point when I was a member of the Presidential Oil and Gas Sector Reform Implementation Committee.

My colleagues would excitedly say that if the reforms we were recommending were established, the Nigerian oil industry would be transformed. I was more sceptical and used to say that nothing would change if the same old crooks continued to be in charge. In other words, restructuring will not solve any problems unless it is managed by sincere and capable people. And, by the way, if restructuring will seriously undermine northern states, why are some northern leaders like Tambuwal in favour of it?

Monday, November 18

Thanks Donu. Good Morning.

I agree with you totally on all points, especially with regards to change of mindset which in my opinion is one of the failures of leadership.

It is good and worthwhile to probe into the subject, but I assure you that your first disappointment will be in the definition. So, whilst we use the word ‘restructuring’ it actually connotes different things for different people, depending on occasion, convenience, motive , political persuasion and religious leaning.

The devil in the detail is actually ‘Resource Control’ – the position of the genuine agitators of restructuring i.e The Niger Deltans.

Another group is disenchanted with the inequality of governance in the polity. They argue that the Nigerian state is structured in a manner that gives undue advantage to a particular section in terms of benefit distribution. This is one argument for restructuring.

Some other proponents see restructuring from the point of view of homogeneity. I describe this group as ethnic champions! They believe economic prosperity can be better attained through identification, language and tribe. And I guess this is the concept that is canvassed by Biafra activists, my elders in Afenifere and other social-cultural fraternities.

But if homogeneity is so great, why is there internal strife between Ife and Modakeke in Osun State and Urhobo, Ijaw and Tsekiri in the Niger Delta, to mention a few.

Whilst the younger ones have moved on to a global village without barriers via technology and specifically social media, our old men and largely unenlightened citizens are occupied with territorial partitioning in 21st century.

Some other groups see restructuring from the prism of religious leaning. They attempt to rationalize a nexus between religion, geographical location, tribe and system of government.

The restructuring discourse is all muddled together to create a vague concept subjected to unlimited meanings and interpretations. But I think this is what makes it an interesting research item.

Ordinarily, restructuring shouldn’t undermine the Northern states, but the effort that is required to achieve self-reliance after decades of laxity is indeed a daunting task. If you suddenly remove the feeding bottle, you will immediately create serious economic and humanitarian problems in specific zones (an elongated programme for self-discovery and economic empowerment may be designed as a cushion for most affected zones, as a suggestion).

Donu, pls don’t take seriously what politicians say on restructuring. These things are better discussed with serious minds. The governor of my state at some point also argued in favour of restructuring, but I don’t know which kind of restructuring these governors are talking about!

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