Restructuring of Nigeria is unavoidable, says Akinrinade
Simon Utebor, Yenagoa
A former Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Alani Akinrinade, has said that restructuring is unavoidable and inevitable for Nigeria in the face of national consensus which has coalesced around the issue.
The former Chief of Army Staff from October 1979 to April 1980, therefore, called on the Federal Government to take immediate steps towards restructuring the country in the best interest of the citizenry.
Akinrinade expressed these positions on Monday in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, while delivering a lecture, titled, ‘Restructuring and the Dawn of a new Nigeria’ as part of the activities marking the sixth anniversary of Governor Seriake Dickson.
Proponents of restructuring, who formed a panel of discussants include, a former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife; President of the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, Mr. Shettima Yerima; Spokesman for Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin; and the founding President, Nigeria Oral Literature Association, Prof. Godini Darah.
While stressing the need for state police, Akinrinade particularly urged President Muhammadu Buhari to initiate a bill to unbundle the overburdened centre by removing some of the items in the current Exclusive List.
“In the last few weeks, a national consensus seems to have coalesced around the issue. Restructuring is unavoidable and inevitable for Nigeria. It is not a done deal yet; neither are the procedures and modus operandi cast in marble.
“But with the All Progressives Congress committee on the subject turning in one of many of the cardinal imperatives of restructuring report with a bold approval and the Peoples Democratic Party buying substantially into the project through its legislative caucus, a new vista of bi-partisan cooperation has been opened.
“If we cast our mind to the recent battle for restructuring in Nigeria, we see all the rich ironies of history in slow motion. Four years ago as the battle for the restructuring of the nation raged unabated, then President Goodluck Jonathan convoked a National Political Conference with the express mandate to look at the grave political issues facing Nigeria and come up with an acceptable solution.
“Given the urgency of the situation, one would have thought that the convener would have acted with express resolve once the conference turned in its report. But for reasons best known to him, Jonathan delayed and prevaricated until he was defeated in a landmark presidential election, which for the first time in the history of the nation had the opposition winning by a landslide.
“In his own case, and as if the government is a radical discontinuum, President Muhammadu Buhari would have nothing to do with the conference report. In fact, it is on record that the former infantry officer went as far as to flatly assert that he would make sure that the report ended up in a permanent cooler – the archives. This was not just a case of benign indifference but active hostility.”
He recalled that the battle for restructuring had always been an intra-elite affair, noting that currently, the quest was assuming a popular dimension, reaching its highest decibel of hype and hysteria with the struggle for ethnic self-determination by the IPOB and other groups.
He said what began as a cry of marginalisation had morphed into a bitter separatist drive and called for a national referendum to determine the status of the union.
Akinrinade added, “The blunt fact remains that this renewed ethnic restiveness is a vote against centralised tyranny and inefficiency as well as the ethnicisation of the Presidency, which have become the hallmark of the Nigerian post-colonial state particularly in the Fourth Republic.
“Successful elections and the restriction of the military to the barracks have failed to resolve the National Question. In fact elections, including a historic regime change, have tended to exacerbate the regional and ethnic fault lines, opening the door to a resurgence of primordial sentiments and new centrifugal forces.”
Also speaking, Dickson reaffirmed his position that restructuring held the key to preserving the unity, stability and economic prosperity of the country.
Dickson said those championing the restructuring crusade were the true patriots of an egalitarian, just and fair Nigeria.
He called on all well-meaning Nigerians to support the restructuring movement towards actualising the Nigerian project.
He said, “Those in support of restructuring and constitutional amendment to address the imbalances in our nation are indeed believers in the Nigerian project and not the other way round.”
Also, Ezeife, Yerima, Odumakin and Darah, who formed the panel of discussants during the lecture, emphasised the need for more interactions amongst Nigerians particularly the northern people to assuage the fears and misconceptions surrounding the issue of restructuring.
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