CALLS for there to be a comprehensive restructuring of Nigeria have intensified over the last 24 hours with the Northern Elders Forum (Nef) advising Nigerians not to be tired of making the demand despite the government’s opposition to the concept.
Over recent years, there have been calls for a restructuring of Nigeria whereby the powers of the central government will be greatly reduced and states given control over the resources within their domains. This will represent a return to the 1958 Lancaster House Agreement, which formed the basis upon which Nigeria was granted independence, with over 100 leaders signing the communique.
Over the last week, calls for restructuring have come from unexpected quarters with Pastor Enoch Adeboye, the general overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), urging President Muhammadu Buhari to restructure Nigeria to avoid the possibility of the country breaking up. In a swift response, however, President Buhari in a statement signed by his official spokesman Mallam Garba Shehu, said his administration will not succumb to threats and undue pressure over the matter.
Backing those calls by Pastor Adeboye, the Nef said the Nigerian state has failed, especially in the management of security, hence the need to revisit the way the country is structured to provide security for citizens. Nef spokesperson, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, insisted that the country must be restructured to address fundamental issues that ought to have been addressed since Nigeria gained independence.
Pastor Adeboye, who spoke at a symposium alongside the Ooni of Ife Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, former Cross River State governor Donald Duke and a former education minister Oby Ezekwesili, warned that it was either the country restructured as soon as possible or it broke up. He added: “You don’t have to be a prophet to know that one.”
Baba-Ahmed backed this call adding: “The two basic functions of the state is to secure citizens and provide for their welfare. Now, the Nigerian state is failing in both camps, so, restructuring for us means addressing those failures and identifying ideas, suggestions and changes that can actually fit into the process of improving them.
“Policing is a fundamental issue. Here in the north where I come from, you could spend three days with bandits ravaging communities and you will not see a single policeman. Something is wrong with the way the country is structured to provide security for citizens, so, we need to revisit some of these issues.”
He stressed that the Nigerian constitution must be revised to deal with issues that divide Nigerians rather than unite them. Dr Baba-Ahmed noted that many conferences whose recommendations have not been implemented need to be activated.
“We need to look at our constitution, look at the way it provides for the Nigerian state, the federating units, allocate responsibilities in power, the works of vital institutions, or the failure of vital institutions to work and how we can improve them. When we make demands for the restructuring of the country, we are not necessarily saying that the government is deliberately causing the problems, they are cumulative issues, matters that should have been addressed a long time ago but they were not addressed. Nations must accept to revisit how they live.
“Nigerians have a right to ask for changes, for amendment, for improvement in the manner in which we live. There is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is for the government to specifically say we don’t want to hear anything about restructuring.
“Right now, no one will dispute that the federal government carries too many responsibilities most of which it doesn’t discharge, has too many resources and is not well run. It has become a focus of intense competition, the type of competition that makes the political system unstable.
“Everybody wants the presidency. Everybody wants to go to Abuja and Abuja is everything. This is wrong.
“We believe that Nigerians should never be tired about demanding that their country must be made to work. If the government is not going to do it on its own, it needs assistance. If it needs some pressure, we believe we can provide that pressure,” Dr Baba-Ahmed added.