By Bankole Shakirudeen Adeshina
CLOUDS of uncertainties are swirling around the nature and major actors in the expected federal election in 2019, even as agitations for restructuring the nation’s governance structure continue to grow.
Regional leaders, traditional rulers, retired and current politicians, social development and right advocates, as well as Nigerian youth, appear headed for a threshold of nationwide unity, as they push for a system of government that would inspire inclusive economic growth, equity and social justice.
Irrespective of their political affiliations or ethnic differences, these agitations have led to evolving coalitions across geo-political divides, in a bid to assume a formidable force that can coerce the government into taking the desired action.
According to CITY VOICE investigation, the clamour for a reorganization of the nation’s structure has been impetus by the poor performance of the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration and its perceived arrogance and insincerity in handling fundamental governance issues.
Many Nigerians who have placed a lot of hopes on the APC-led government are now distressed and unsure what to expect of any other administration in the country.
Our findings revealed that voices behind the agitations can best be classified into three categories. The first are the genuine patriots, seeking the good of the country. The second are those who see the imminent revolution as an opportunity to plot the downfall of the current government. And the third category are the professional opportunists who leverage on every development and political challenges to create relevance for either political or economic benefits.
Already, the agitation has prompted serious political realignment nationwide, with regional blocs reaching out to one another in a rare coalition.
One of such is the recent birth of a group called Southern Leaders Forum, a conglomerate of eminent socio-political and cultural groups across Southwest, South-south and South-Eastern geo-political zones. They have met severally, with the first meeting held in August and the second in October this year.
At their widely reported meetings, SLF has unanimously pronounced its resolve to work assiduously in the dismemberment and reassembling of the current governance structures in the country.
They argued that no matter any palliative measure, only restructuring can ensure an efficient, inclusive and equitable governance template for the country.
Speaking exclusively with CITYVOICE about SLF’s plans, Comrade Yinka Odumakin, the Publicity Secretary of Afenifere Group, said the Yoruba are all on the same page on the clamor to restructure the country.
“On the 7th of September this year,” he recalled, “we had the Yoruba Elders Summit in Ibadan where all the Yoruba leaders gathered and voted unanimously for restructuring.”
Odumakin explained that such a consensus “was the loudest statement” the Yoruba “have made in the country this year. Even those that were not present at the meeting, like Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Pastor Tunde Bakare, among others, have all supported the restructuring separately.”
The Afenifere spokesman lamented that “Lagos was a division. Sokoto was a division. Kano was a division. But today, the Lagos division now becomes Lagos State. When you go to the senate, they have three seats there. The Kano Division has become two states—Kano and Jigawa. When you go to the senate, they have six senators. Sokoto Division has become three states—Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara. When you get to the senate, they have nine senators. Is this fair and equitable?” he asked rhetorically.
Today, SLF has gained foothold in almost 20 states in the country, wafting like an irresistible fragrance through four geo-political zones of the federation.
According to observers, if its acclaimed substance is anything to go by, this may determine, to a large extent, where the political pendulum will swing in the future.
READ his full interview here.
In attestation to this, the two most eminent traditional kings in Yoruba land, the Ooni of Ife, His Imperial Majesty Oba Adeye Ogunwusi (Ojaja II) and Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi have both spoken publicly to voice their support for the movement.
Interestingly, the Middle-Belt which holds 14 out of the 19 States in the North have also embraced the movement. “And we are also reaching out to the core north to discuss this matter,” Odumakin added, hinting about a possibility of a national consensus.
Interestingly, the Igbo have never being this unanimous on a matter of national interest before.
The region, no thanks to the now fugitive Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which had almost pushed the country into another political convulsion in its call for a dismemberment of the country.
President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, had in a lecture in Chatham House, London, organized by the British Royal Institute of International Affairs, recently, reiterated that “our endurance has been stretched beyond Hooke’s gauge for elastic limit” on this subject.
Nwodo, a visible critic of the outlawed IPOB, insisted that to continue to ignore the need to restructure will spell doom for Nigeria.
”Nigeria is a world power, but if it continues to be wrongly administered it will continue to be a laughing stock,” he had said, warning that “unless we restructure this country, we will slide into an uncontrollable crisis.”
Chief Guy Ikokwu, a chieftain of the Ndigbo and prominent member of SLF, who was also one of the heroes of the civil war, admitted that though the agitations were no doubt a product of accumulated frustration occasioned by poor governance over the years in the country the matter had been made worse by the government of President Buhari.
He argued that President’s arrogance at power, obvious display of empathy to the socio-economic challenges facing the people and the concerted efforts to twist every falsehood into propaganda , was just too unbearable.
“For instance,” he said, “the government knew that the situation of the country was bad enough when it promised us a change. And when something is bad, the natural change expected is to transform it to good. That was his electoral promise.”
Ikokwu also described the APC’s efforts to soften criticism from Nigerians as ‘crass nonsense and totally untenable.’
“The President and his party appeared to have a full grasp of the challenges bedeviling the nation. They were confidently brandishing facts on how to turn the fortune of the country around. This is explicitly expressed in their manifestoes. And that was why we voted the party and the president into power. Therefore it’s a lame excuse to be telling Nigerians why they are have failed and still failing,” he said.
BASIS FOR AGITATIONS
Historical facts showed that prior to the invasion of the British Colonialists, Nigerians had independently existed as a conglomeration of prosperous and well administered kingdoms.
But these components were forcefully amalgamated in 1914, for the purpose of administrative convenience by the British colonialists. This programme was supervised by the British Governor-General, Lord Frederick Lugard, whose wife, Flora Shaw, was said to have crafted the name Niger Area for the country. It’s today known as Nigeria.
Some forty-six years later, Nigeria secured a full blown independence in 1960, entrenching a Federal Constitution premised on three and subsequently four regions as its federating units. Under this structure, all the federating units were allowed to develop according to the resources beneath their soil and their intellection cum entrepreneurial prowess
But the fragility of the infant sovereign nation then was soon exposed, with the military taking the advantage to seize power and establish its dictatorial dominance, through coup-de-tat and counter-coup-de-tat in 1966.
This led to the assassinations of the country’s first Prime Minister, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa, sitting Head of State from the South East, Major General Aguiyi Ironsi the then Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello, a governor from the South West Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, and as well as the then Minister for Finance Festus Okotie-Eboh,
This opened a floodgate of ethnic crisis and resentment in the country, subsequently leading civil war between 1967-70.
Prior to that time, the military had suspended the country’s constitution, imposing a military version that administers by force and decrees.
Even after the military handed power to civilians, their decrees are still remodeled and wholly represented as today’s constitution.