Editor's note: The former governor of Sokoto state Attahiru Bafarawa in this piece bared his thoughts on the growing call for the restructuring of Nigeria.
Bafarawa highlighted various challenges the country is currently facing. He however, noted that, the solution to Nigeria's problem is not restructuring as strong believed by many.
In the last two years or so, the word 'restructuring' has become a recurring decimal in virtually every political discussion in Nigeria. In fact, any keen observer of recent developments in the country will readily notice that Nigerians are in the mood for agitations.
While some are taking the extreme position of separatism, some others are asking for the restructuring of the country.
As a concerned Nigerian, I have reflected on these issues, particularly restructuring, and have observed that nobody is asking the necessary questions. And the questions are: Why do Nigerians want their country to be restructured now?
Why were they not asking for this before now? And if there were isolated cases of such agitations in the past, why has it become a war cry now? Why is the polity almost crumbling under the weight of an issue that was, until recently, innocuous?
The answer to these questions is not far to seek. There is an avalanche of demands for restructuring because of the failure of leadership.
Those whose responsibility it is to lead Nigeria in the right direction have failed to do so. In the absence of the much needed leadership, Nigerians have, on their own, fashioned out a system which they feel will take the country out of the woods.
Essentially, those who feel that the present political order is not working believe that Nigeria will begin to work if the country is restructured. Even though many are becoming increasingly interested in this subject matter, none of the proponents of the idea has come up with strong and cogent reasons as to why Nigeria should be restructured.
Except, perhaps, for one or two statesmen whose position on restructuring is borne out of a genuine concern for a better Nigeria, we cannot say the same thing of the motley crowd that is making a sing-song of restructuring.
In fact, a good number of those who are mouthing restructuring are doing so for selfish reasons. Unfortunately for us, the situation in Nigeria today has provided them with a fertile ground on which to plant and water the seed of what they are advocating for.
However, no matter what anybody may have to say in favour of restructuring, I blame the agitation on failure of leadership. If the leadership is doing the right thing, no one will be talking about restructuring. Let us go back in time.
Restructuring became an issue in Nigeria under the present regime of President Muhammadu Buhari. And what gave rise to this call is the feeling in parts of the country that the present government is discriminating against them.
The received feeling in such quarters is that the sweeping powers which the president enjoys under the constitution make it possible for him to run an unbalanced federation in which certain segments or interests can be left out in the scheme of things.
Those who feel this way want the political structure that makes this possible to be tinkered with. But if we take into consideration what the situation was before now, we will appreciate the fact that the problem does not lie with the system we operate but with those that operate it.
Those leaders who provided the right leadership in the past did not face the kind of agitation the present government is facing.
We can take recourse to the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency to buttress this point. During the Obasanjo era, restructuring was never an issue in Nigeria.
There was no clamour from any quarters for the country to be restructured. The reason was simple. Obasanjo did not discriminate against any section or interest. He was the father of all. He did not discriminate in the appointment of persons into political offices. He saw the entire country as his constituency.
That was why he appointed ministers and other political office holders from across political divides. This was in spite of the fact that he was of the (then) ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Under the Obasanjo era, some North West states like Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi and Jigawa were under the control of the All Nigeria Peoples Party ( ANPP) but they were not discriminated against.
Obasanjo treated them with equal care and attention like the PDP states. That was leadership. That was statesmanship. Under that atmosphere, everybody was happy. The country functioned peacefully. And nobody asked for restructuring.
Obasanjo was also a committed leader who worked hard for the good of the entire country. It was under him that Nigeria achieved debt forgiveness from the creditor nations. Today, everybody is scrambling for the Paris Club fund.
It was the Obasanjo presidency that made this possible.
The solution to our problem therefore is not restructuring. It is for Nigeria to have another leader like Obasanjo. Nigeria needs a leader that is not partial; a leader that will take the interest of every segment of the country to heart.
Nigeria needs a national leader who, like Obasanjo, will treat those who voted for him and those who did not vote for him the same way. If we appreciate this fact, we will easily see that those calling for the restructuring of the country are regional leaders with a sectional bent.
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Their call for restructuring is neither nationalistic nor altruistic. It is parochial and self-serving. They are making such calls for their selfish interests and not to improve Nigeria.
Based on the foregoing, I dare say that Nigeria does not need restructuring. If we need any form of restructuring, it is our mind and orientation that we need to restructure. We need to restructure the way we choose our leaders.
We need to restructure our thinking to be receptive to good leadership. To achieve this, we need to be more committed citizens who will choose the right leaders to pilot the affairs of the country. If we get it right in this direction, we will realize that Nigeria does not need restructuring.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NAIJ.com
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You can watch this NAIJ.com video of Nigerians speaking on the much agitated restructuring: