Acting President Yemi Osiban

*Let’s restructure our mindsets first


By James Ibechi

Long before and after Goodluck Jonathan national confab, if you tagged Bola Tinubu with ‘restructure Nigeria choirmaster’epithet because of his unrelenting call to restructure the country and give federalism a true meaning to Nigerians, you probably were not wrong.
But something observably happened: the Jagaban’Lagos suddenly turned down the volume of the restructure Nigeria music rather than attenuate the sound if not shutting it down completely once Maj. Gen. Mohammadu Buhari mounted the sinew of power as the President, just because Mr. President is averse to restructuring.
Understandably, Tinubu surely laboured to bring Mr. President to be. Buhari presidency was and still is his project. He invested so much in it and cannot afford to dabaru it or brew a conflict of interest between him and Mr. President by carrying the call for restructuring too far as to pit himself against what Buhari holds dear, and what is this? Absolute concentration of power in the centre that makes the FG almighty and if possible Buhari will do more to strengthen the federal frameworks and tendencies that give increasing powers to the centre.
Of course, it is hard to find any man once he is in power who would naturally allow restructure that will certainly reduce his powers.
During his maiden broadcast to the nation, as he set off, if Buhari was really disposed to restructuring he would’ve mentioned that he will implement Jonathan confab resolutions that are in support of restructuring big time, but he never did. Instead, as his presidential agenda began to unfurl, he said he will bring back the Nigeria Airway – our national carrier that is long gone in the interest of privatization or devolution. This is surely a signpost that President Buhari is not for restructuring.
So, what am I saying? Over the restructuring thing, Tinubu has gone mum and must have lost his voice on the altar of politics while Turaki Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar had been stealing the show by laying claim to being a number-one advocate of restructuring. I don’t know if this would become the plank on which he will campaign himself onto Presidency in 2019. He had launched out against Buhari administration once, by saying the nation’s political system and the economy are in shambles (my words) and nothing is working more because the president is not giving attention to restructuring, which he says the president needs to, since the political and economic structures as they are currently are not working.
Whether Atiku’s orchestration of the restructuring campaign does not have a political underpinning so that once he’s able to clinch the presidency which he has for long been gunning for, and not abandon the mantra soon after, is another thing for another day talk.
Away from Atiku, IBB in his 75th birthday message strongly sued for restructuring and devolution of powers.
On those heels, governors under the aegis of Nigerian Governors Forum also recently backed the calls for restructuring and operation of true federalism.
That is how the restructuring call is trending such that from the pedestrian tracks on Lagos streets to the dingy burukutu joints in Gboko, and from the Urhobo root-drinking- joint somewhere in Oju LGA to cyberspace where Emmanuel Eche-Ofu John, Queen Doosh, let alone Josephine Akioyamen and many others like them hold the ace, to the airwaves – TV and radio (even this morning as I write it is the topic of discourse on CHANNELS TV) and from the sidewalks in Port Harcourt to Ogun or Calabar the whole place is awash with talks of restructuring Nigeria. The consensus is that all  are agreed on restructuring. can sensitively understand that something is surely wrong with Nigeria. All of us including the powers that be, amongst them the inhabitants of the National Assembly that are unwilling to support restructure of Nigeria seem to agree that something is certainly not working. We all seem to concur that this is not the best Nigeria can be. We all seem to believe that something major needs to be done for us to make progress.
However, what we don’t have is a consensus on what the actual problem is, and what the solution should be. The diagnoses are different and the prescriptions are inevitably different.
The Igede people or Idoma in Benue state who think the Tiv people refuse to let them taste state power want powershift, and have remained in throes of agitation for power to change hand from Tiv to Idoma or Igede.
The Igbo who think they are marginalized in Nigeria want disintegration. Those who think it is the law that is faulty want a new constitution. Those who think it is religion want to set up a caliphate.
Niger Delta people who want resource control demand true federalism, else disintegration.
Our intellectuals combined with ethnic chauvinists like Kanu the IPOB crooner who think the problem is Lord Lugard want disintegration too.
Sadly, Nigerian political firmament is filled with hardliners — the “my way or the highway” brigade — and what hard-line positions do is to place emotions above logic and blind the mind to possibilities.
One-way minds are a danger to any society, yet the restructuring song leaders seem unawares. Politics is always seen by many as a zero-sum game — “your gain is my loss” — but there is always the chance of a third way where there’s a win-win.
A multi-ethnic, multi-religious and volatile polity like ours can use some less hard-line positions in devising the best way forward.
That Nigeria needs to be restructured to deliver better development outcomes is becoming more glaring by the day, and we can’t deny it. I am not against it.
However, how my mind works is different. I have my own dissenting view, informed by my basic theory that at the very root of our frequent political squabbles is the gross underdevelopment in the land.
When the vast majority of the population in our villages in rural areas is living in poverty, denied the basics of living life meaningfully; when nepotism is allowed to thrive like no-holds barr when the bulk of teachers and sundry workers are not paid their salaries; when our teeming young graduates roam the streets with no work to do; when the Awajir-Oju roads of this country that a whole LGA can boast of as the only link they have to a state capital Makurdi is in a state of disrepair,  we can’t have a better recipe for political instability than that. I believe we are doing such a bad job of navigating the political landmines on the road to development that we may not get there anytime soon.
In fact, I believe the political management of Nigeria is not working for all; the least being the Igedeland of Nigeria. Look up Igede on the map of Nigeria and check for the avoidance of doubt.
The ethnic and religious tensions in Nigeria are provoked by political mismanagement, I should think.
I want to believe that what Nigeria needs is not the restructuring of the country the way they are singing about it, for nothing is really wrong with how it is economically or politically organized as it is.
But everything is wrong with our “mental”, our minds. So the first thing on my proposal is “mental restructuring”. It is our minds as individuals and as a people that I think need restructuring, reconfiguring.
Many development possibilities currently exist which we are not exploiting because we keep blaming the structure of Nigeria.
We may need to reform the economic and political system. Beyond this, in spite of all the excuses we give for why Nigeria is not working, there is still a lot opportunities we can exploit from how it is structurally. But the political class is too lazy, too conceited, too deluded, too bitter, too parochial, too blinded to see the opportunities. This goes for all other sector of Nigerian life. All we can see are the problems.
We must first liberate our minds to see the possibilities that exist for everyone.
Another Gospel truth: most agitations for restructuring today are designed to spite the North, to make them look like they are finished without the Niger Delta oil. The resistance from the North is also fuelled by the fear that they are finished without the oil (this is changing, though).
Yet, the indisputable fact is that we are all parasites on this oil. The recent dowturn in oil prices, coupled with militant activities, brought the economy to a standstill. We were all in soup. If oil prices had not recovered and militancy had continued, Nigeria would be paralysed by now. We must first restructure our minds to see this truth.
If we do not restructure our mindsets, we would still not see great opportunities even in a politically and economically restructured Nigeria. We would remain the same. Restructuring will not put better brains in our Ogbonge heads.



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