New Telegraph

Restructuring will guarantee peace

Nigerian leaders, enjoying explosive gains from the brazenly skewed system, are hell bent on maintaining the status quo at a time dynamics gravitate towards dismantling the old order. This selfcentred advantage must be cut off. The road map to peace is enshrined in the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference during the Goodluck Jonathan presidency. The succeeding administration of Muhammadu Buhari made sure that the working document remained buried in the dusty cupboard of bureaucracy. President Bola Tinubu has had a very rough time, less than one year in office. Things will not get better with his adoption of palliatives as a focal point of service. He should go back to the shelves and unearth the 620 recommendations made by the National Conference. While we will not blame Tinubu for the injustice that was foisted on the people by previous administrations, he will be judged by what he did, to bring change. There cannot be renewed hope if he continued from where his predecessor stopped. We are encouraged that he has seen the need for the decentralisation of the police. With heightened insecurity from Brass to Biliri, the president does not need his kitchen cabinet to save the country from imminent collapse.

Creation of State Police was recommended by the ‘Wise Men and Women’ of the conference held 10 years ago. While some may fault the relocation of certain departments and offices from Abuja to Lagos, it could also be part of the long sought after restructuring. The country needs a less powerful centre for governors to wake up from slumber. It is a shame that in the 21st century, many governors are still wearing leadership diapers. Each of the 36 states of the federation has enough resources to be self-sustaining. What has held back development is the ability to tap from the endowment buried underground. In the First Republic, the Premier of the Northern Region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, was more visible in Kaduna, the regional capital, than in Lagos, the Federal Capital Territory. Spending most of his time in the North meant he knew what the people needed and provided them in abundance. Since the death of the Sardauna, subsequent political leaders have literally abandoned the North. Some of them spend more time in Abuja, giving bandits and terrorists room to overrun parts of their territories. It is no longer news that while Boko Haram fighters control some local government areas in the North-East, bandits are paid tax in some parts of the NorthWest. Ahmadu Bello was so busy developing the North that he sent a subordinate, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, to Lagos as minister and later the country’s first and till date, only Prime Minister.

In the Fourth Republic, it is a different story. We have a minister in Abuja who believes his successor as governor must not tamper with the political structure he left behind in Port Harcourt. While Ahmadu Bello chose his immediate constituency over and above Federal lucre, modern day leaders use Abuja against their states. As the economy lies comatose, the Federal Government continues to spend scarce foreign currency airlifting Christian and Muslim pilgrims to Jerusalem and Mecca. This is a drain on our commonwealth. The 2014 Conference dealt with it. While Tinubu tries to settle down in office, some of his party members are already working towards the 2027 presidential elections. The 1999 Constitution said a lot about the presidency. One recommendation cannot be overlooked. In the absence of the president, through incapacitation, impeachment or death, the Vice President cannot be sworn in to complete the tenure. After 90 days, an election will be conducted to pick a new president. And the president must come from the same Geo-Political Zone as the former President. The import is that if this recommendation was in use before 2010, Dr. Jonathan would not have spent five years as President, following the death of President Umaru Yar’Adua. Under the new dispensation, lessons would have been assimilated. Politics of the Fourth Republic is cash and carry. Billions of naira goes into election campaigns, exploiting candidates and fuelling criminality. This is because the political parties are full of opportunists whose only job is to milk ambitious members dry. The parties are all crisis riddled. In Edo State, three candidates emerged after the All Progressives Congress (APC) gubernatorial primaries.

The Labour Party (LP) Chairman is facing allegations of corruption. A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) strongman is a serving minister in Abuja while striving to control the APC structure in Rivers State. The 2014 Conference worked on this by recommencing Independent Candidacy. Nigerians are learning fast and may decide to go for credible candidates with no party affiliations. Tinubu must not limit his understanding of the nascent protests across the country to hunger. The polity will be less charged if there are sincere signs of restructuring the entity called Nigeria. The naira may bounce back to reckoning but the problem is systemic. A nation that exalts injustice cannot make progress. The best way to renew hope is to restructure the country.

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