by Usman Alabi
It is easier to campaign on an issue than to see it through when presented with the opportunity to do so, ask the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party with a 101 failed promises. Even they promised to restructure, but Nigerians still await the fulfilment of that promise more than two years into their tenure at the centre.
Somehow the road to 2019 is not going to be different from 2015, candidates are beginning to gear themselves up, promises are beginning to surface, and issues are springing up. One issue that keeps coming up, is the call for ‘restructuring’. Even those that do not agree with it now are likely to when elections draw nearer. Hence, if restructuring is going to be a major key issue that would form the subject of campaign for 2019, it is better the citizenry is prepared to interrogate it in all ramifications.
Intending political gladiators keep using restructuring to appeal themselves to the people, explaining why the present structure cannot enhance development; some have even said that the present structure is responsible for the various secessionist agitations, especially in the south.
It is gaining traction daily as regional socio-cultural groups like the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and the Afenifere are also lending their voice to the call. Recently a meeting of traditional rulers in the Southwest also expressed that the only way forward for Nigeria is to restructure. It is thus obvious that any candidate who wants to gain the South as a whole must put restructuring on the negotiation table. Even the ruling party with a dissenting voice through its leader, President Buhari is likely to yield when 2019 draws nearer.
Hence there is more to this call for restructuring than meets the eye. Yet so as not to end up like every other campaign promises; these are some of the questions we should begin to ask, if we have not been asking. What do these various intending political gladiators mean by restructuring? We should not assume that we understand them, but give them the opportunity to clearly explain their concept of restructuring, is it fiscal federalism, could it be devolution of powers, is it about creating more states or reducing the 36 state structures to six administrative regions, or three economic zones?
The second question should be, how will they go about restructuring? This is particularly important because it pertains to implementation. Here in Nigeria, it is possible to ask the first question without asking the second, the reason why it is difficult to hold politicians responsible to their promises. This question is also the reason why politicians feign ignorance by the time they get to power, telling electorates that they are confronted with different realities and thus cannot fulfill their promises. If they are promising to restructure, then they must provide a systematic step by step process of how they intend to go about it, including a time frame.
It will take more than the answering of the above questions to, however, restructure Nigeria, the individuals advocating for this have a lot of convincing to do, hence when they come to you with restructuring, you must be sure that they answer the questions above, after which you will also have to determine whether the individual has the political capital and dexterity to carry it out.
Even after all these, do try not be disappointed if you realise that it is all a political stage play.