By Okezie Ikpeazu
Of recent, re-structuring has become the catchword in Nigeria’s landscape with key political leaders and socio- political groups pushing forward certain ideas and views. ‘What exactly is the idea of re-structuring?’ and ‘Is a restructured Nigeria feasible?’ The answer is simply yes, provided it favours a peaceful, safe, prosperous, virile, united, and indivisible Nigeria that offers every man, woman and child a brighter and better future where each and everyone has a chance to build and share in this great nation’s potential.
Overtime, the clamour has been made for the re-structuring of our federal system in response to the cries of marginalisation by various segments of our country as well as the understanding that our federation, as presently constituted, impedes optimal development and the realization of our peoples’ aspirations.
Inall these years, the various leaders have considered and embarked on various re-structuring templates of Political, Administrative, Fiscal and economic, Educational, Monetary, Socio-administrative, Socio-economic, Politico-administrative, Geo-economic, Geo-fiscal re-structuring and Re-structuring of security apparatus. And by whatever name it is christened, re-structuring is not a magic bullet that would resolve all of Nigeria’s challenges or those of any section, region or zone of the country. This assertion does not detract from the fact that our country is in need of Re-definition and conversation to address all the imbalances inherent in the present Nigerian nation.
I am therefore constrained to draw our attention to the fact that the needs of our dear country is beyond re-structuring because we are yet to realize the urgency and depth thereto, rather, exigencies of our time make this roundtable imperative a sine-qua-non. In addition to the debate on re-structuring, on how resources are allocated, power shared or devolved, there is need for Nigerians to renew their commitment to moral renewal, spiritual reawakening and reorientation. Reframing the mindset and attitude of the citizens are a major catalyst in our objective to propel our country to greater height. Therefore my fear is that the greatest threat to the call for Re-structuring is our fixated mindset and lack of mutual respect for one another. The present times therefore call for patriotism, tolerance, strength in our diversity, fair play, self-sacrifice, hard work, selfless service and commitment to public wellbeing. It is in the interest of our nation that we build bridges of accommodation, understanding and brotherhood.
It is possible to re-define the Re-structuring paradigm in such a way that it can accommodate some fundamental or foundational requirements that are key enablers for the needed or desired socioeconomic growth and survival of our country.
Some integral issues staring us in the face include a) Citizens who are fractured, disengaged and poorly mobilized for the needed sacrifice required to trace the pathway to sustainable economic growth and nation building b) and an unwilling populace reluctant to trust no one, neither proponents nor opponents of the call for re-structuring. This is dangerous because until we see more Igbos moving into Gwoza and Sambisa to build shops and plazas just as we expect to Dantatas and Deribes establish in Enugu, Abakaliki and Ohafia we cannot expect any meaningful change.
Taking this into cognisance, the need for a holistic approach to re-structuring becomes imperatives. With a growing population that will become the 3rd largest in the world by the year 2050 and agriculture contributing less than 10% of our earnings, as land constricts and coupled with poor technological infrastructure to advance frontiers of crop/food production, health and manufacturing, Nigeria is at the brink and we must make or mar; we must restructure to enable us begin the reconstruction of a completely deconstructed nation.
The political class and leadership must demonstrate exemplary conduct in terms of probity, integrity, transparency, consistency and altruistic commitment in order to mobilize Nigerians to face our common challenges of poverty, ignorance, infrastructural decay and under development. Stellar leadership at various levels in our country is also a critical requirement, if we must galvanize our people, provide templates and framework that is capable of supporting a redistribution of opportunities and resources, not necessarily by collecting from one zone and throwing to another, but by empowering the ordinary citizens on terms that he/she can comprehend and grasp for meaningful participation in the Nigerian socio-economic enterprise. The decisive step in our long pathway of re-structuring is probably to create a sense of inclusion, participation in our economic and democratic process.
Most public institutions for National cohesion, integration and good governance have been subsumed and succumbed under the weight of nepotism, inefficiency, intolerance, infringement and arbitrariness. Apart from the military, others such as NYSC are gradually receding into catharsis of abrasion, divergence, dysfunction and irrelevance. The time to build is now and we the leaders of the moment must restructure our mentality and thinking. A leader should be able to accurately access the circumstances and then do what the situation calls for. We as leaders must be constant in doing that which is right, our style and purpose must reflect the yearnings of our people, not what the leaders feel like doing. What did China do, that has changed the burden of leading 1.3bn people to blessing of having 1.3bn people produce food and solutions for the world? There is a key balance and nexus between technological advancement/knowledge, population and opportunities. We must strike that balance immediately, otherwise we run a risk of annihilation through self inflicted tensions.
Finally, I want to seize this opportunity to reiterate my unflinching commitment to national unity, territorial integrity and oneness of Nigeria where justice, equity and fair play reigns in a country that works for ALL; though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand. Happy New Year Country Men and Women.
– Okezie Ikpeazu, Ph.D, is the Executive Governor of Abia State.