My Thoughts on Restructuring.
Bashir Abba Sharif
Captioned as above, the advertorial, laced with unpardonable distortions, contradictions and fallacies, that appeared in the Daily Trust issue of 6th July, 2017 and posted on the social media by Attahiru Baffarawa was, for many reasons, a sad reading to the extent that one would not have bothered to pen this piece but for the necessity to forestall any tendency to derail our democracy by systematically corrupting and subverting the faith and aspirations of the vulnerable in particular, who admire, trust and wholeheartedly support President Muhammadu Buhari proudly.
Secondly, in this defining period, one is obligated to brake any ominous silence and take position on what is paramount to Nigerians, the survival of the country and the domestication of democratic values, otherwise the reckless among us would, out of a false sense of grandeur or mischief, take advantage of “the motley crowd that is making a sing-song of restructuring” to recklessly consign and deliver us to perdition.
On my first and indeed only reading of the incongruous tirade, “my thoughts on restructuring”, I was dumfounded by how shamelessness is elevated to a virtue in the world of our politicians of fortune, where integrity and selfless service are mere sophistry. Although one can understand why Baffarawa will, even if mischievously, castigate, blackmail and malign the President for being resolutely determined and committed to recover looted funds and national assets, clip every thievery instincts in Nigerians as well as cage the guilty, it is perplexing that self-absorbed Garkuwan Sokoto could blame the President for the manifesting consequences of the failings of the immediate past administration, bereft of any sense of responsibility or decorum.
To be candid, the hogwash advertorial reminded me of the fabled story of a proverbial ostrich, which wanted to hide its disfigured feathers from the public. It found a hole but only big enough to cover its head and after putting the head that made it not to see the outside world, it felt fully secured with a false sense of victory when indeed the rest of the body was exposed for the entire world to see.
Right from the onset, Baffarawa shoot himself severally on the foot when he alluded that “In the last two years or so, the word ‘restructuring’ has become a recurring decimal in virtually every political discussion in Nigeria”. At the risk of sounding historian, a brief narrative is imperative here to debunk the kernel of the advertorial and invariably expose the real motive behind it.
Contrary to what the former Governor portrayed, apart from the Northern Cameroon plebiscite, he ought to know that agitations to restructure the country started with the 1966 coup, when General Ironsi tempered with the delicately balanced federal structure for a confederation, after killing the Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Sir Ahmadu Bello Sardauna, whose leadership qualities, anchored on integrity and selfless service, were recognized the world over. Not long after, the federal structure was restored with twelve states as federating units by General Gowon.
By a secessionist bid however, Ojuku, as Military Governor of the Eastern Region, moved to subvert the federal structure again in 1967, but was defeated after a 30 months prolonged and excessively costly civil war. After that, in response to genuine agitation, General Murtala restructured the country with additional states, local governments and the relocation of the federal capital from Lagos to Abuja.
Without any deep reflection, some military renegades again attempted to excise the northern states from the federation in 1992. When the move was aborted forcefully, additional states were created as agitated across the country. Moreover, by a much more legitimate and consensual modality, the country was restructured into the existing six geopolitical zones in line with genuine agitations by General Abacha. This is not to forget about the OPC incursion into the North Central with the aim of merging it with South West geopolitical zone forcefully and the Truth and Reconciliation Committee that addressed all fears and agitations militating against the stability of the country under the Presidency of Obasanjo.
Baffarawa cannot also be unaware of the fact that, by the benevolence of President Obasanjo`s oil revenue formula and late President Yar`Adua`s concessions, real and perceived agitations in the Niger Delta were settled. It however beats all imaginations that the former Governor could appear ignorant of the National Conference, expensively convoked by former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, to address outstanding agitations.
To my mind, appearing ignorant is a calculated and deliberate option as it fits his untoward motive. It is pertinent to remember that the recommendations of the Conference and the whitepaper thereon were never implemented up to the time administration was voted out. Nigerians cannot also forget how the former President actually sowed the seed for the childish agitation now when he selfishly jettisoned both the stipulation of the PDP on rotational power sharing and the promise not to run again in 2015. At one time, a group from the Niger Delta detonated a bomb in Abuja and claim responsibility but the former President openly exonerated them because, as he confessed, they were his brothers and attempted to pin it on other people for it. Hence to mention the former administration in any discourse must be avoided to avoid collateral damages as it will necessitate the opening of the can of worms that it has left behind.
In view of the foregoing, it therefore ought to be obvious that political discourse of the word restructuring cannot, in all honesty, be said to be a recurring dismal in the last two or so years that President Buhari is being at the helms let alone the actual agitation for it. The lone sing song claimed to be running now is rooted in the misadventure of 1966 and, rightly or wrongly, became a recurring dismal in the subsequent years and administrations.
Be that as it is, this piece is by no intent about the merits or demerits of any or avalanche of demands for restructuring but on the genuine concern about the vituperation against the President of the Federal Republic by a person, out of power by the loss of power, rendered irrelevant and effete by posterity and without any glint of hope to recover from the excruciating grip of nemesis.
For Baffarawa to be taken seriously, he must avoid this blame game for a better gambit in the language that people now understand: good governance, integrity and selfless service for our dear nation. It is true that sometimes ignorance is excusable but peddling falsehood, concealing or even distorting the truth with the aim of denigrating or distracting a popular, legitimate and selfless mandate as that of President Muhammadu Buhari, a General that fights not because he hates traducers in front of him but for his love of the masses behind him, will not be excused even from a condemned.