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Buhari: Defining Restructuring

By Julius Oweh
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It is highly disturbing, worrisome and painful that the Buhari government is presenting itself to the Nigerian people as one built on dissembling and deceit. Or how else could President Muhammadu Buhari say that he is at loss on what some Nigerians are agitating about restructuring of the political space called Nigeria. It would be recalled that prior to the 2015 presidential election, the APC campaigned vigorously on theme of restructuring but suddenly became dumb on the matter on mounting the mantle of leadership. Restructuring is clearly written in the manifesto of the party. When the clamour of restructuring assumed a life of its own, the present government set up Governor el Rufai committee on restructuring and the report was submitted to the president. The question is what is on the report of the El Rufai committee and why is the president now turning around to tell us that he does not know the definition of restructuring.

For the benefit of my readers and for this piece to wear the toga of credibility let me make reference to the last outing of our president to Paris. Buhari addressing the Nigerian community in Paris took a swipe on the advocates of restructuring, saying that they were not only lazy and talking loosely and that such people are yet to define the concept of restructuring. Hear part of the president`s speech: `There are too many people talking lazily about restructuring in Nigeria. Unfortunately, people are not asking them individually what they mean by restructuring. What form do they want restructuring to take? Do they want us to have the three regions we used to have? And now we have 36 states and the FCT. What form do they want? They are just talking loosely about restructuring. Let them define it and then we see how we can peacefully do it in the interest of Nigerians`.

This is very sad indeed for a political party that campaigned on restructuring and the government that even went ahead to set up a committee on restructuring. The translation of the actions of the president and the APC is that all along they led Nigerians through the garden path about their intents and purposes. A reminder of the saying is that believe the words of a politician to your own peril.

Graduates of Political Science and Law, I hope will forgive my transgressions for my layman definition of restructuring, for yours sincerely is a graduate of English and Journalism. Let us look at restructuring by examining the name of our country: the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Ours in the current dispensation is federalism just in name and everything about its operation is unitary in nature. Federalism died with the Ironsi coup and since then we have been limping from one form of unitary system of government to another and pretending to be a federal structure. I am yet to see another example of federalism where the states government go to the capital to collect monthly allocation in what one critic described as `feeding bottle federalism`. The basic element of fiscal federalism is that the states or local government have control over their resources and they pay tax to the central government. If Buhari and his fellow APC politicians are not aware; this is the basic ingredient of federalism that operated very well in the First Republic until the military incursion. Once you are operating fiscal federalism, other things will fall into shape. Dust up the First Republic Nigerian constitution, the meaning of federalism will be clear to the present holders of power. That is why I am very incensed about the current ASUU strike and the negotiation of national minimum wage by labour and federal government. All these are vestiges of unitary system of government.

The duties and functions of the various tiers of government should be well spelt out and not the current system where the local government councils are treated as departments of state government and the tenure of the council chairmen and councilors are not guaranteed but depending on the pleasure of the state governor and the rubber stamp state House of Assembly. No federal structure operates in that form. I am highly disturbed why the state government should bother about the sinking of borehole in my village, maintain the market, the maternity and should have agency on refuse collection. What then are the functions of the local government councils?

The definition of restructuring will only be difficult for those who are not ready to apply the principles of federalism and more interested in cornering power for the sake of wealth accumulation and pursuing ethnic agenda. There is too much deceit going in the present administration and taking Nigerians for fools. If my little explanation of restructuring is another lazy exercise, I advise the president to read the pre-2015 APC manifesto and the report of El Rufai committee. If he can implement half of the recommendations, the fortunes of the nation will never be the same.

Julius Oweh, a journalist, Asaba, Delta State. 08037768392

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Julius Oweh and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."