APC and Nigeria’s restructuring
Many distraught Nigerians lightened with optimism when the All Progressives Congress, APC, appeared to set the nation on history’s path, endorsing the much-clamored restructuring through a report that aligned with public yearning.
After failed attempts to develop since the amalgamation of Southern and Northern protectorates in 1914, Nigerians believe that any genuine effort towards resolving the country’s age-long developmental crisis must accentuate structural realignment.
Nigeria currently operates a peerless federal structure atypical in every comparative sense, a system spiteful to known fundamentals of true federalism, which has entrapped its citizens under the perils of nepotism, marginalisation, corruption, ethnoreligious crisis, injustices, and an extremely divisive social system.
Over time, these problems have dominated national discourse and all shades of opinion are consensual that Nigeria requires some salvaging.
One of such discourses deliberated during the 2014 National Conference, recommended restructuring of the nation with all the appurtenances of a true federal system such as fiscal decentralisation and devolution of powers to the states among other critical issues.
Consequently, the Nasir El-Rufai-led committee was not the first to observe a ruptured federal system in dire need of quick fixing. When the panel towed the path of the 2014 National Conference, a fortnight ago, recommending devolution of powers, resource control, the establishment of state police among others, it simply accepted the inevitable. Nigeria inexorably requires a structural change to avoid reaching a breaking point.
Critics have however described the report as a ruse, a political gimmick carefully crafted to deceive, especially as 2019 approaches. The onus is therefore on the party and its political leadership to prove their critics wrong.
Surprisingly, it is not to public knowledge if APC has even submitted the report to President Muhammadu Buhari who, on the other hand, has not hidden his aversion to restructuring.
Following the delay on further actions since the document became public, and the limited time available to this administration before elections, the suspicion that the APC-led federal government could use it as a bait to seek re-election in 2019 is not being wished away so easily. Although restructuring takes time, under a determined government, the process can be accelerated.
Also, the silence of the National Assembly over the issue is deafening. We recall that the APC-majority National Assembly struck out the debate on restructuring during its deliberations on constitutional review. Although there are assurances the issue could be revisited, such an important change in the nation should not be treated like an afterthought.
Having endured hardship, insecurity, job loses, unemployment and other trappings of a struggling economy under the present administration, the government has a chance to leave a lasting legacy by reinventing the structural base of Nigeria and set it up for accelerated growth and development.
Much as we are elated over the party’s decision to tow the part of the reason, one must not be carried away by the sheer promissory nature of the recommendations as we have heard that from the National Conference of 2014. What is important to every Nigerian, is to initiate a process of implementing the recommendations.
The APC National Working Committee must urgently forward the document to the president for assessment, adoption, and implementation; as well as notify its National Assembly Caucuses to commence amendment processes to the constitution to convince Nigerians that they are not only playing politics.
Constructive engagement with dissenting political and regional powers is also encouraged to promote discussions that would enhance national cohesion towards achieving this noble objective; because while the novel task of restructuring Nigeria is doable in the foreseeable future, it must be backed by Nigerians from all regions.