By Ladi Ayodeji
RESTRUCTURING has long been the buzzword in our politics; it’s always been the rallying cry of ethnic nationalities that feel marginalised in our country. Various governments since independence have responded to the quest for equity, justice, and devolution of power to aggrieved ethnic groups, which is why the Midwest region was carved out of the western region in the first republic.
Yet, regional rivalries culminated in the power struggle that led to the civil war. The military regime of retired General Yakubu Gowon, which prosecuted the civil war, did so to keep Nigeria one, but the unity of the country has always been tested by the perennial struggle between very aggressive centripetal and centrifugal forces, especially before, during, and after every election cycle.
This inspired the participation of a patriot, thinker, renowned clergyman, and political reformer, Rev. Chris Okotie, in the political process. Since 2003, the Reverend has been canvassing the idea of a paradigm shift as a way to reposition Nigeria and align it with modern developmental trends going on around the world. Okotie threw his hat in the ring by contesting the presidential election three times.
However, in 2019, he began a new process of taking the idea of restructuring to a new level altogether, by calling for the adoption of aboriginal democracy as the best template for a new Nigeria. Aboriginal democracy is a dynamic new proposition that could solve most of the existential problems of ethnicity, religious bigotry, corruption, mismanagement, phobias, and other issues that have continued to hamper the progress of the country.
Okotie has argued correctly that his campaign for restructuring through the adoption of aboriginal democracy, which would be facilitated by an interim government, is based on the fact that no incumbent government can restructure Nigeria.
This is a fact of history. All previous governments tried to restructure the country through national conferences, by whatever name they were called, but such efforts always ended up being blown away by the selfish manipulation of the process and the intrigue of politicians.
Moreover, no subsisting government would yield power to an interim government because it would automatically lead to its demise. Okotie, therefore, decided to summon himself to the enormous task of heading the interim government he is proposing, being a neutral player and patriot who does not covet the presidency as career politicians do.
Okotie regards himself as the face of restructuring, a political player on the scene today who embodies the type of radical change that could result in all Nigerians participating in the governing process. Previous attempts to restructure Nigeria have now culminated in the adhoc approach of seeking to address the problem by promoting the idea of devolution of power, state police, resource control, and other elements that only turn out to aggravate the challenge of wholesale restructuring, which is what Aboriginal Democracy is all about.
Restructuring by contending politicians cannot work because the main goal of these politicians is to capture power by all means, not to restructure Nigeria. Running Nigeria is no longer possible under the current constitution, with all its flaws and obvious structural defects.
It is a document hurriedly authored by the military around 1998, which is why it has the elements of a unitary constitution. This constitution must be replaced immediately by a truly federal, original constitution, which must be a product of the collective will and aspiration of all Nigerians.
That’s what aboriginal democracy, as championed by Okotie, is promoting for the benefit of all Nigerians, irrespective of tribe, creed, religious beliefs, gender, or other peculiarities. Being the face of restructuring, and the chief exponent of restructuring, Okotie is not running in any election that would follow the restructuring he is advocating. That’s proof of his sincerity and commitment to this project.
This is why the integrity of his campaign cannot be impeached. This is why restructuring should come before the 2023 general election. Any transition programme that ignores restructuring is unrealistic as it would automatically return the country to the musical chairs game we have been playing since 1999, when the present constitution became operational.
For those who haven’t read the details of aboriginal democracy and the modalities of its operations, I implore them to read the relevant material on the internet, various media reports, and interviews with Rev. Okotie on the matter. They would be educated on the merits of this restructuring template.
However, in a nutshell, let me attempt a summary of the interim government proposition. First, and probably most fundamentally,is the elimination of the legislative branch of government. In its place, professional associations like the Nigerian Medical Association, the Bar Association, the Teacher’s Union, and such bodies, would undertake legislative responsibilities.
Okotie believes that, these organisations are better suited to make laws pertaining to their respective areas of interest,than lawmakers who know little about the specialised functions they currently preside over aboriginal democracy has no provisions for ministers, political parties, and most of the current structures of government have become wasteland for public resources. The aboriginal democracy, as the basis of a restructured Nigeria, would reduce or eliminate corruption, mismanagement, and regional xenophobia, which constitute the perennial headwinds that hold back our progress.“
Ayodeji, a social commentator, wrote from Lagos