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5 things the presidency said about restructuring on Thursday that should get you concerned

Aso Rock

5 things the presidency said about restructuring on Thursday that should get you concerned

The good news is that the presidency has finally said something about restructuring the polity. The bad news is that the comments lack the rigour and understanding that Nigerians expect from Aso Rock on such a topical issue.

There were many things about the speech delivered on Thursday by the Special Adviser to the president on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, that should raise concerns in the minds of well meaning Nigerians. Adesina was speaking at the fifth anniversary lecture of News Express, a newspaper published by Isaac Umunna.

  1. The time may be ripe for Nigerians but it is not ripe for Pres. Buhari: Even though “restructuring” is the most talked about issue in the polity at the moment, Adesina said the time is not ripe for the President to consider it.  “The mandate is for four years. The President had identified three key things: securing the country, fighting corruption and reviving the economy. When he gets to a point where he feels, oh yes, we have made strides in these three areas, then he can look at the manifesto and consider what next. Devolution of powers could be the next thing.”

  2. Automatic restructuring: Whereas most people agree that true progress cannot happen by chance, Adesina believes that “Nigeria is positioned for automatic self-restructuring.” He said that “there is something that has been naturally built into Nigeria that makes it to self-restructure” and cited the example of the 2015 election where several forces aligned against the then president Goodluck Jonathan as an example of self-restructuring “that brought change to Nigeria.”

  3. A tool of the opposition and a distraction: Adesina defaulted to the standard response for anything which citizens agitate for that the government of the day is uncomfortable with – blaming the opposition. “People that are agitating for restructuring, I may be wrong but my feeling is that they have turned it into another tool of opposition. It is a covert way of opposing the government of the day,” he said. “If you oppose the government of the day to the extent that you distract it, what should be achieved would then not be achieved at the end of the time.”

  4. Restructuring = Division: Adesina concluded that “if you read in between the lines, what people that canvass restructuring seek at the substratum level is the fact that they want to break the country, what they want is dismemberment. I have heard the president say it many times that we did not fight that civil war to keep Nigeria one and then we will sit down and watch some people want to dismember this country. So, a restructuring that will deepen our unity is good but restructuring that will fragment the country is bad and no government, no president who has sworn to uphold the constitution, because the constitution recognises a united and indivisible country will agree to that kind of restructuring that they are trumpeting.”

  5. Undefined debate: The president’s spokesman argued that “the areas of restructuring are yet to be defined. Ask 100 people what is restructuring and you will get 100 different answers. It shows you that there is no unanimity on what restructuring really is. So how then do you begin to work on restructuring when it has not properly been defined.” This argument is curious considering the fact that Pres. Buhari had promised ro deliver on restructuring in his manifesto. Surely he must have had an idea of the kind of restructuring he was considering. Sharing that idea and acting on it could go a long way in defining the debate if the president cared about it.

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