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Over the past three decades, active calls to politically restructure Nigeria away from the structure bequeathed to her by the military has continued to grow and gain traction. The agitation has seen many geo-cultural groups, strong-willed individuals, geo-political associations, and even religious institutions join the call to craft a new roadmap as the current structure is assumed to be unsustainable.
Interestingly, southern Nigeria has seen more individuals and groups who believe in restructuring, and this has made their Northern counterparts who are on the other end of the dichotomy not only jittery, but full of suspicion; fearing the unknown.
The truth is, under normal circumstances, no region in Nigeria is supposed to hate restructuring. The disdain for restructuring which was orchestrated by fear is a fake narrative created by a greedy few whose only intention is to keep the country stunted for their greedy benefits while a vast majority of Nigerians suffer the pains of a system that was designed to fail from the very beginning.
Perhaps the most potent narrative that has been brought to bear by this heartless bunch of people who often refer to themselves as the members of the ‘Elite Class’ is that the Northern region will lose its much-touted influence and power if it ever allows the country to be fiscally and geo-politically reconfigured to create balance in the system.
This is not only a wicked lie, it is plain foolishness because contrary to the idea that is often being propagated, the North which the so-called present system is supposed to be of benefit to, is not actually benefiting from it anyway as a region. The sad truth is that it is only these wicked individuals, their families, and their cronies that are benefiting, and not the common man who innocently believed the lie.
Since Nigeria became an independent country from her colonisers, the country has had 13 leaders, 9 of which are of Northern extraction, and yet, the region is home to all the negative indices pervading the country today.
Despite winning most of the elections and triumphing in most of its coup plots, the lives of common Northerners have not been better for it. This clearly shows that someone has been telling despicable lies and people need to wake up to the truth.
It is rather painful that these forces that have sworn to hold Nigeria down as though it is their private estates do not appear to give a hoot about the fact that with every passing day, the threat of disintegration, existing as a direct consequence of the absence of harmony and understanding among the different ethnic nationalities constituting the artificial entity called Nigeria as an independent, sovereign state continues to worsen.
They do not care that the present system does not support governments at the grassroots level. They do not care that the present system is stifling, overbearing, and seriously lacking in inclusivity. They do not care that the present system will only favour an over-bloated center without giving room for the much-needed cut in governmental spending. They do not seem to care about the fact that a country immensely blessed with resources, both natural and human, shouldn’t be as backward as Nigeria. No, they don’t care. They only care about themselves and not even the sufferings of Nigerians can change it.
One of the biggest fears the average Northerner has been manipulated by their elites to harbour is that the region would no longer get access to the country’s ‘Oil money’ if they allow restructuring to happen. The propagation of this lie and the traction it has managed to gain shows a clear lack of understanding. This mindset has continued to breed lazy governors who, despite sitting on vast lands with mind-numbing resources, would prefer to always throng Abuja every month with their plates in hand begging for a meager FAAC allocation which in most instances cannot even run the state.
Truth be told, the over-reliance of Northern Nigerians on the federal government for almost everything have made them unproductive and beggarly in nature. The North has allowed the dependence on oil to become something somewhat of an obsession, which has not in any way improved their condition.
Going by figures obtained from the NBS, the 19 Northern states in 2021 had an Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of N208 billion per year, while that of the 17 states in the South was N981 billion. Nobody develops with this level of unproductivity. If the vast majority of Northerners understood the impediments of the present Nigerian system, they would be the ones championing the course to have a restructured Nigeria.
One idea many Northerners have not come to realise is that a restructured Nigeria will benefit the region the most if done properly. But then, just as behavioural scientists have submitted, the theory of loss aversion – where the fear of losing clearly overpowers the hope of gaining – has done so much damage to the psyche of many Northerners, and thus, has prevented them from seeing opportunities but rather focusing on non-existent fears.
The Nigerian political structure which was created by the military out of lust for power is deeply flawed and is causing serious ethnic tensions across the length and breadth of Nigeria today.
Everybody appears to be competing to put the face of a tribesman in Aso Rock while the other region sulks and waits for their chance to bite the cookie. Because of how powerful Aso Rock and by extension, Abua is, during every election cycle, Nigerians simply wear their garments sewn from primordial sentiments to make hollow decisions which will always backfire.
How can Nigeria work without being restructured to reduce the powers of Abuja?
The North sincerely needs to understand that restructuring does not only mean allowing Niger Delta to keep her oil wealth and Lagos her taxes. It actually means going back to something close to what was obtainable before the military struck.
It is interesting to recall that just before the military undemocratic interventions and eventually the civil war, the North was almost economically self-reliant. The groundnut production, the advanced textile industry, the mining of tin as well as the hide and skin tanning industries, always accorded the North a strong tax base on which it built its sustenance and was able to manage its economy better.
A restructured Nigeria will guarantee that the North will now have its security architecture rejigged to allow the establishment of state-controlled police formations. This will not only bring security closer to the people, but it will also give people a sense of belonging that will help in no small measure to restore the peace and security badly needed in the region.
In conclusion, the time is ripe for the North to tell itself the uncomfortable truth. The present system only works for a select few and not a generality of Nigerians. Nigeria cannot achieve greatness as a country without national stability, unity, and cohesion and only restructuring can help Nigeria achieve this. The North can choose to either stabilise Nigeria by supporting the move to restructure it or continue playing the ostrich by maintaining that the processes and personnel are the problems, and not the structure. One thing is, however, very certain; Nigeria, as presently constituted cannot work. The North must think again and think better this time.