Why are They Afraid of Restructuring?



with Eddy Odivwri; eddy.odivwri@thisdaylive.com 08053069356

The buzz word around town now is restructuring. Suddenly, there seems to be a general acclamation to having found the solution to our age-long problems as a nation. And the solution is restructuring! While almost everybody echoes and parrots the word, there is no consensus on either what it really means or what it really entails.

What is not in doubt is that there is the belief that restructuring holds the key to both our development and peaceful co-existence. No doubt, the twin issues of the crave for secession championed by the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB) and the recent quit notice issued to the Igbos in the north by a coalition of Arewa youths has reopened the inquisition into the Terms and Conditions binding the Nigerian entity.

As recently said by the Sultan of Sokoto, sa’Ad Abubakar III, the fact that there are pockets of agitations here and there across the country means there is something fundamentally wrong with the Nigerian federation. What is wrong is not only a feeling of inequality but overwhelming evidence of inequality, where the odds and aces of the federation are verily skewed in favour of a section of the country. That, in a nut shell, has generated the endless whine about marginalization and oppression from various sections of the country.

A careful examination of the parameters of governance and government clearly support the fact that the country is suffering from gross imbalance.
First, in the simple geographic classification of the Nigerian federation wherein there are 19 states in the space described as Northern Nigeria and 17 states in the space described as Southern Nigeria. It is fundamental to note that states have always been created by military governments, often headed by people from northern Nigeria.
Although there is the broad classification of the federation into six geo-political zones, three in the north and three in the south, it is noteworthy that while almost all the geo-political zones have six states each, the south east has five states while the north west has seven. It smells like robbing Peter to pay Paul. I have heard such banal issues of land mass as one of the reasons for the creation of states. How narrow minded!

Related to the issue of number of states is the issue of number of Local Government Areas. While the north has 419 (what a figure!) LGAs, the entire south has 357 LGAs. At this, there will surely be a skew in the delineation of constituencies. Little wonder that in the House of Representatives, for instance, while the entire South south and South East zones have a total number of 98 representatives, and the South west, 71 members, whereas the North west zone alone has 92 members, with the North east having 48, North Central 49 and FCT having two members,

Every thing put together, the entire south has 169 representatives, while the North has 191 representatives.
Are we still wondering why the North East Development Commission (NEDC) sailed through at the House f Representatives with a fiat, while the same type of commission targeted at addressing infrastructural challenges in the South East failed woefully at the lower House, what with the overwhelming voice vote of the representatives from the north.
Those who bicker about the glaring cases of what is perceived as injustice note that while Bayelsa State, for instance, which produces oil has just eight LGAs, Kano which does not produce oil and no significant contribution to the nation’s treasury has 44 LGAs.
The simple interpretation of this is that if Nigeria baked a big cake which was sliced into 774 slices, while Kano will take home 44 slices of the “national cake”, Bayelsa will just do with a measly eight slices, whereas while the former contributes almost nothing to the treasury, the latter is a major contributor.

It is the redress of these and many other cases of inequality is what constitutes restructuring. No section should be allowed to lord over the other. No section should parade itself as the main tree and the others are mere supportive branches.
Or shall we refer to the vexatious issue of Federal Character/ quota system? How can it be explained that in the one and same country with a uniform curriculum, school calendar, same payment for teachers, same standard for hiring of teachers etc, certain children are grouped as being from “educationally disadvantaged states” and the others from “educationally advantaged state”. And following this dichotomy a child who scored 250 in a National Common Entrance is denied admission into a Federal Government College, because he/she is from an educationally advantaged state, whereas another child who scored 180 is offered admission because he/she is from educationally disadvantaged state.
And as a rule, it governs even the hiring system into government jobs. One country, but two standards. How unfair can a system be!
It is the sustenance of such skewed paradigms over the years that has fuelled the various agitations in the land and fed the feelings and experiences of injustice and oppression.
I am certain that as soon as these issues are addressed, the quantum of agitation in the land will subside significantly.

But rife as the call for restructuring is, it is not new. I recall that as a reporter, I had covered and monitored closely the works of the Devolution of Powers Committee set up by late Gen Sani Abacha and headed by (also late) Abdulrahman Okene . The entire brief and mandate of that committee is how to restructure the power architecture in Nigeria. It was a committee set up in the wake of the June 12 annulment, and it is now clear that it was Abacha’s own gimmick to douse tension and give the impression that government is interested in devolution of powers. Till date, the centre has remained as powerful as ever. The call for the reduction of the power is at the heart of the call for restructuring.
Indeed, many ethnic nationalities, except those in the north have called for fiscal federalism, wherein states and regions can explore/exploit the natural resources and endowments in their lands, sell same make profit and pay tax to the central government, as it was in the First Republic. This way, not only will there be healthy inter-regional competitions, there will be less national friction and tension.

But some people like Ibrahim Coomasie, Ango Abdullahi, Balarabe Musa are sore afraid of restructuring because they fear that their regions will be left bare and stranded. That cannot be. Why are they scared? The mass of untapped wealth lying beneath the ground in form of solid minerals have the great potential of turning around the economy of northern states. No region is expected to have the short end of the national stick.
And if super capitalists like Ibrahim Babangida and Atiku Abubakar, erstwhile promoters of northern oligarchy have joined the crusade for restructuring, it will just be a matter of time for the dream to come true. As said, it is the panacea to ethnic and regional tensions. Ignoring the call and imperativeness of restructuring is like resolving to live with cancer. No matter how long it takes, cancer will soon kill the patient. Now is the accepted time.
The acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo should have the courage tpo respond to this demand. To claim that it is not a priority top this government is to miss the point. Nothing else seems as urgent as dousing the tension in ht eland. To hold all the dialogues in the land and avoid the real issue of restructuring will be like treating leprosy with the drug for headache.

Chai, Even Evans is Talking About Rights

Can you imagine his impudence! He has the effrontery to sue the Inspector General of Police for illegal detention. What a gut!
Who? Who is getting you this worked up? Who sued the IG?

Is it not that notorious kidnapper called (scratching the head) em…em … the thingamabob called Chukwudi Onwumadike
Oh, You mean Evans the kingpin of Kidnappers?

Yes, that notorious executive criminal. He sued the IG claiming N300million for the infringement on his fundamental human rights. Can you just imagine! A notorious killer kidnapper saying he is being detained illegally and so demanding to be paid damages
But don’t forget he has a right too. Don’t forget he is merely a suspect in the eyes of the law. Don’t forget even a condemned criminal yet has right. Don’t forget he also…

(cuts in) Please stop those annoying legal shenanigans. Which eye of the law does not know that he is a criminal. If the Law does not see him as one, then they should call for Tinubu’s glasses. What stupid right are you talking about? Here was a man who admitted kidnapping scores of people, demanding and collecting his ransom in hard currency. One who kept his victims for as long as six or even seven months. One who killed some of his victims even after they had paid ransom. Such a person will foul-mouthedly come out to demand for his fundamental rights. So if he knows about people and their rights, why was he kidnapping people and torturing them for months? Didn’t those victims have rights to freedom and even life? He is just being given a fore taste of his own medicine and he is claiming to have right. Look, such a one deserves no mercy , not even before the law.
Well, Evans has not denied that he did not kidnap. He is saying he should be charged to court if there is any accusation against him, otherwise he should be released unconditionally. Those are his prayers.

Stupid prayers that will never be answered! I don’t blame him. I blame the hungry lawyer who will even accept to take up the case of such a killer criminal. Is this a call to professional duty or a quest for blood money? How can a normal lawyer take up such a
Mind your tongue. Everybody deserves to be defended. It has nothing to do with hunger or craving for any blood money. It is the right of any accused person, no matter the crime, to be defended. And for all you care, the law can set Evans free with a team of brilliant lawyers.

(spitting out in defiance) God forbid! Which judge will set Evans free? Such a judge will be his next victim. He is a danger to society, QED!
So why have the police not charged him to court since his arrest?

Investigation is still going on. Have you not been hearing of his wonderful tales and escapades? After the notorious Lawrence Anini case of the 80’s, have you had any entertaining and chilling story like that of this Evans?
Don’t you know that when the matter gets to court, we can no longer comment on it again? Then it will be come subjudice?
Nobody should pressure the police. Let them take time to conclude investigation before arraigning him. After all, this criminal was terrorizing Nigerians for over seven years. Why is he in a hurry to regain his freedom when he has not even spent seven weeks? Look, I can tell you that taking him to court is merely to fulfill all righteousness. He does not deserve to live. He is even asking to be paid N300 million! Imagine the lawyer-imbued guts!
Thank God the Lagos State government had signed a Bill into law few months ago that any such kidnapper who killed his victims will also be killed. So he will go beyond and ask for his right from Devil when he gets to hell.
But Evans said he has never killed?

Rubbish! Smelling lie! Didn’t you read about the ex- Super Eagles’ footballer, Chikelue Iloenyosi’s whose 86-year old father was kidnapped, murdered and buried by Evans and his gang even after they had paid N15 million. Didn’t he say one of the members of the gang (Nonso) took them to the shallow grave they buried his father? How do you even explain that a man who ran such a complex web of crime wouldn’t have killed severally to remain the Capone that he is?
Look, I am telling you that that fellow was callous and demonic.
But the #FreeEvans campaigners are mounting pressure and really reaching out., hinging their plea on the life and fate of his innocent children

It is a weird world. Were it not so, who should stick out his neck and name for such a notorious robber, kidnapper and killer?
Only the inherently wicked will join the campaign for the release of such a social misfit. Thank God the law is not sentimental. You talk about the lives of his innocent children. What about the lives of children he had ruined by killing their parents? Ehn, my friend, if you want us to remain friends, just detach yourself from this ungodly group campaigning for Evans. He deserves the gallows
That cannot separate us my friend. Don’t forget your religion preaches forgiveness.