Time to act is now!

By Emmanuel Ado

There is a general consensus  that comrade   ” Adams Oshiomhole, the deposed National Chairman of All Progressives Congress(APC) tenure, in every respect was an unmitigated disaster, as he spectacularly failed himself, his staunch backers like the President, who expended political capital in making him the Chairman of the party, which with hindsight was obviously a misplaced judgement of Adams’ taunted capacity to help build a formidable party with the necessary vision and discipline to deliver quality services to Nigerians.

Adams, came with a big bang, but left with a shattered reputation,leading the ruling party into scandalous defeats, some without the party fielding candidates for the 2019 elections, due to Adams’ meddlesomeness. The surrender of Edo State, to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party(PDP),a party he demonized, captures the rise and ultimate fall of a man, who tragically squandered the tremendous goodwill he had hitherto enjoyed.

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Had Adams been less combative and more perspective, he probably would have grabbed with both hands the opportunities presented by the Nasir El-Rufai True Federalism Committee Report to write his name in gold, an issue extremely dear to the party, and considered urgent by a vast generality of Nigerians. Rather Adams, primitively focused his attention on the impossible mission of impeaching then Senate President, Bukola Saraki and playing god with the party’s ticket, due to a grand delusion of seeing himself as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the party, with the power to make or mar the political career of any aspirant,whose face he didn’t like. The tragic implication was that APC, which during the 2015 general elections canvassed for power on a reform (change) agenda, as part of the solution to the deep structural crisis confronting the country lost focus, and often embroiled in crisis, that were essentially Adams making.

Adams, like every other APC member, aware of the numerous challenges, which El-Rufai rightly asserted dictated an urgent sense of action to remove “the structural bottlenecks that hobble our country”, and unleash the potentials of Nigerians that poor governance had seriously inhibited, but willfully refused to act is guilty of an unpardonable sin of betrayal. The abysmal failure of Adam’s executive to act on the Nasir El-Rufai Report submitted in January 2018, confirms his very poor leadership, and the reasons  vital party organs never met. Adams is past, and the APC has no excuse not to immediately act , considering the real threats posed to Nigeria’s continued corporate existence. It must be stressed that the APC owes itself the duty to sort out its leadership crisis, and give the El-Rufai Report the attention it deserves or pay huge political price for it.

The #endsars protest,though badly managed, is an indication of what an effectively mobilized citizenry can do, if and when the issue is built around a specific agenda, that affects everyone as opposed to SARS brutality, which though a reality in the South, wasn’t a reality of the North, just as insecurity, which is a pathetic reality of the North,is  not that of the South.

The importance of the El-Rufai Committee Report,like any good food is in its eating and thankfully the committee has produced a workable solution to the myriads of challenges confronting Nigeria, and very remarkably, it produced the draft bills to help fast track the proposed amendments, which would cut short the work of the National Assembly. If only the 9th National Assembly is serious about amending the 1999 constitution, El-Rufai Report, has provided them with all that they need, which apart from saving Nigeria the financial resources it doesn’t have, would hasten the much needed amendments, to strengthen the federation, which presently is more or less, a unitary system,than a federal system.

There is absolutely no question about it that Nigeria has suffered very severe consequences due to its very faulty foundation,worse is that it continues to be a source of agitation, like the #endsars protest that all most brought parts of the country to their knees, and in the process exposed the inadequacy of our police force. Some key issues addressed by the El-Rufai Committee in a very fundamental manner, hold out promise for a united nation, and the consequences of failure to act, will be Nigeria remaining  a nation of great potentials, but  never achieving pertinent  and corresponding results.

For the average Southerner, who despises Northerners as parasites, as consumers of a disproportionate share of what they contribute to the federation account, the bold recommendation that upholds the derivation principles and control of mineral resources by the component states, who will only pay applicable taxes and royalties to the federal government, should excite them. Hopefully,the resources would not be mismanaged like that of the Niger Delta Development Commission. To achieve this, extant laws like the Petroleum Act, the Nigerian Mining and Minerals Act, the Land Use Act and the Petroleum Profits Tax Act will naturally be amended. The inclusion of hydro-power, solar, wind and other forms of renewable power generation,and according them same status as crude oil, is a commendable foresight that will stop future agitations from host communities. Invariably an holistic review of the sharing formula, would become inevitable, considering that certain responsibilities would also have been devolved to the states.

Other revolutionary recommendations include the transfer of some functions from the Exclusive Legislative List to the Concurrent Legislative List, which technically would give the states and federal governments,dual policy oversight and legislative powers. Top on the list,is the police. The report also unequivocally supports the creation of state police, with clear responsibilities vis-a – vis the federal police force. A proposal the #endsars movement,should wholeheartedly back and ensure its ultimate realization. Others are ;Oil and Gas (other than offshore resources in the Continental Shelf and Extended Economic Zone) protected by the Nigerian Navy; Mines and Minerals (other than offshore minerals in the Continental Shelf and Extended Economic Zone), Correctional Services; Fingerprint and criminal identification records with statewide and federal linkages; Stamp Duties;Railways Registration of Business Names; Food, Drugs and Poisons (other than Narcotics); and the vexed issue of Minimum wage that would enable the various governments pay what they can, within their respective jurisdictions,unlike what presently obtains.

Restructuring has numerous other advantages, for instance corruption incorporated that’s prevalent in federal ministries of health, water resources education,agriculture would be drastically reduced,as there is a strong linkage between corruption and the faulty federation, which public servants cash in on. The submission of El-Rufai at the Arewa House 50th Anniversary, that the #endsars protests present Nigeria with yet another unique nation building opportunity, which shouldn’t be squandered like previous exercises,is on point.

Nigerians have never hidden their desire for an effective federation, the problem has always been leaderships that in the past played games with the various efforts to reform. Moving forward, the Buhari government cannot toy around with Nigerians, who look poised to hold them accountable, as clearly shown by the #endsars protest, powered by a generation, that has lost its patience to indulge the leadership, and ready to remind it of the grave responsibilities on its shoulders.

Essentially what restructuring means in the words of El-Rufai is for states to fully “exercise consequential powers, assume more responsibilities and control resources to enable them deliver better outcomes” for the benefit of their people. If that be the case, why would anyone be opposed to freedom, or refuse to bid farewell to servitude of the federal government and its officials, who sit in Abuja and decide on projects that have no direct bearing on the lives of the people,another reason abandoned projects litter the nooks and crannies of the country? Why can’t people see that the intrinsic advantage of restructuring, includes governors and other elected officials that would no longer pass the  buck  or make excuses about their manifest failure.

Restructuring is a win,win for Nigeria,but it can be likened to political independence, which in itself amounts to absolutely nothing, unless it invariably leads to the lofty goals of security and economic development. Expectations are high, but a word of caution, as restructuring will not be a political Eldorado, but most certainly would lead to improved governance and reduced agitations that have always pushed the country to the precipice.

Our progress is in our hands and the time is now, and not tomorrow, because tomorrow might be too late.

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