Unknown to the people who currently run Nigeria, the country as presently constituted is living on borrowed time and if the structure is not tinkered with, it will only be a matter of time before it cataclysmically implodes. Alarms have repeatedly sounded and have only been greeted with deaf ears, however, this pretense can only be sustained for a while and this is something the present crop of Nigerian leaders must be made to come to terms with.
Africa’s most populous country – Nigeria is an amalgam of many ethnic groups forcefully or deceptively joined together for the administrative convenience of the imperialist Britain over a century ago, precisely in 1914. This ill-fated marriage was perpetrated without the consent of the disparate, ideologically diverse groups that make up the country today.
Despite this obvious structural defect, the marriage has been sustained with the country managing to survive. The perceived beneficiaries of the marriage have continually made efforts to insist on the country’s indivisibility while deaf ears, dismissing critical voices and selling empty rhetorics when issues surrounding the flawed debate are thrown up for serious discussions.
As expected, the country which has failed to ideologically melt into meeting points has had to grapple with the symptoms of the artificial problems which the British created. The most prominent of these symptoms are bad leadership, corruption, nepotism, and cronyism.
As a result of these symptoms, Nigeria has had to ensure long years of bad governance which has in turn ensured that the country is riddled with infrastructural decay, insecurity, debts, poor educational standards, and ineffective healthcare systems among others.
Despite her powerful endowments with several natural resources which many other countries desperately crave, Nigerians are presently experiencing misery and debilitating poverty. The ineptitude of those who have risen through the anomalous system to handle leadership positions in the country has only managed to make things worse for the confused citizenry.
While other countries of the world are toasts of investors due to good governance and infrastructural development, Nigeria has remained in a state of comatose, and shunned by investors due to misrule which was foisted on the country by the flawed system.
Regardless of the excuses that successive leaders in Nigeria have offered for this abysmally insulting failure, the truth any right-thinking human being who truly understands Nigeria will arrive at is that the problems of the country are more structural and institutional than they are of personnel. These structural and institutional problems stem from its birth defects– the way it was ‘cobbled together’– and its flawed governance structure which can never give good governance a pedestal to stand on.
The truth is that the only solution that can give Nigeria a lifeline is a political restructuring that will introduce equity, justice, and balance into the Nigerian lexicon.
As things stand today, Nigeria is merely a geographic expression that has wobbled so much that it is now a dysfunctional society that is now so deeply divided that it now has schismatic tendencies. Without restructuring the country will remain on a treadmill, stuck perpetually in poverty and fragility traps! To be succinct, Nigeria is sitting on a ticking time bomb.
One of the things that has held Nigeria down is her constitution. Currently, Nigeria operates the 1999 constitution which is nothing but a fraud designed to empower certain groups at the expense of the other Nigerian groups and entities. It is a document created by the military to ensure that the place of the Fulani Oligarchy is perpetually maintained in the Nigerian polity. For the country to breathe, that fraudulent constitution has to be abolished and completely discarded.
As things stand today, any Nigerian citizen who has any dint of conscience is supposed to be seriously concerned with how bad things are getting with any passing day. It is symptomatic of the fact that all is not well with the polity. There is discontent and palpable fear in the land that no one can explain.
Every past of the country is currently agitating for one thing or the other. In the South East, there is a raging feeling of marginalisation which is fueling palpable anger. In the Niger Delta, it is a feeling of exploitation and frustration. The South West is watching the body language of the unnecessarily agitated North. The middle belt is battling herdsmen and resisting ethnic cleansing. Among various ethnic groups, there is recrimination and mutual suspicion. There is palpable tension and the polity is heated up with endless agitations and youth restiveness. All these are problems which have been given life by the wrong structure called Nigeria.
The Nigerian masses are today hungry, dispirited, disappointed, and disillusioned. The abrupt removal of fuel subsidy has sent Nigerians into troubled waters and the economy is now sitting on the precipice.
The people who run Nigeria presently must get themselves to understand that if the country must remain one united entity, then the basis of the union must be properly negotiated and the right time to do that is now and not tomorrow, because tomorrow might be too late.
Contrary to the views held by most Nigerian leaders, the unity of the country is negotiable. The country will have to be restructured to stand a chance of avoiding disintegration and that is the honest truth. Nigerians have no business living like a slave in a country they call theirs at this time and age. Nigerians should not have a country where law-abiding citizens are treated like slaves, where anarchists prance around with ethnic arrogance, and where mediocrity is preferred to meritocracy. Nigerians cannot continue to live like hostages and aliens in the country they call their own. It’s an aberration.
It has been repeatedly announced to Nigerians that there is strength in diversity but, unfortunately, that diversity is what has become the worst factor that has hamstrung the little developmental process and made it almost impossible for the right leadership to emerge.
Many people who have discussed the issue of restructuring have had views that are divergent. There are some who are currently campaigning for a return to the 1963 Constitution which they believe is the most federalist ever.
Restructuring, to some, is to return to regionalism. Many think it is fiscal federalism, state police, or disintegration. However, restructuring has become inevitable because the current structure is not working and will indeed never work regardless of who is President. Nigerians must be made to understand this in order to properly situate their problems and itemise solutions.
Many of Nigeria’s current leaders do not even genuinely believe in restructuring and they don’t even understand the meaning. For many politicians outside the orbit of power who want to get back to power, restructuring is a way to routinely conjure up the word as the elixir that will cure all of Nigeria’s ills, as the motive force behind their participation in politics, and as the most important campaign promise that any seeker of high political office can make. The presence of politicians like this in the Nigerian system is the reason the country is yet to be restructured.
From now on, there are two options for Nigeria, one is to reset and go back to default which is restructuring, or to disintegrate simply. However, regardless of what happens, it is certain that Nigeria cannot be stable or prosper without restructuring which entails having an enduring political settlement that will be in favour of the masses and not some corrupt criminal elites. The present system is unsustainable and it will only be a matter of time before it crumbles like a pack of cards. Nigerian politicians must understand that they are running out of time.