Restructuring challenges the leadership to demonstrate capacity to create wealth for every layer of governance
Restructuring is not just about the devolution of powers to the States, it is about transforming the role of the federal government
Restructuring, is not limited to constitutional tweaks, it is a about deliberate, purposeful and sweeping Cultural Revolution
Nigerian States are poor not because they are not receiving a fair share of oil money, but because they are not receiving a fair shot at true federalism
What we will do
Decongest the exclusive and the concurrent list in the constitution
The Central Government would also retain the role of providing the required direction for the economy, defence and national security, internal law and order, currency, international affairs and foreign policy, customs, citizenship and immigration, firearms, and related matters.
Issues bordering on minerals and mines, internal security including Police, law and order, railways, communications, transport, environment, land matters, etc, would be devolved to the concurrent list
Local Governments shall become an independent tier of government
Federating units will be supported in economic management. Nigeria’s common resources will be shared equitably in accordance with a new revenue allocation formula to be negotiated across the board.
The above are excerpts from the Policy Document of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, GCON. Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party PDP in the 2019 general elections.
It appears that Atiku’s theory of restructuring is valid and applicable to the Nigerian situation.
Should we insert the issue of restructuring in political manifestoes? Or can we say the PDP believe in restructuring as a viable way of getting Nigeria to ever work? Can we say restructuring appeals to an average Nigerian voter? Maybe they only desire a better Nigeria.
In a situation where all presidential candidates include an ideal restructuring in their manifestoes if elected as president. What are the chances of finding a presidential candidate that will implement true restructuring agenda as promised? An ideal restructuring will transform Nigeria from a quasi unitary state into a true federal state. The following are expected in a new dispensation;
By decongesting the exclusive list in favour of the concurrent list, the president will concede powers to the governors, by implementing this agenda as a president, he waives his existing right of enjoying what his predecessors enjoyed i.e. his presidential majesty will be modified and his burden lighter and thus saving the president from taking all blames for bad governance.
The same applies to the legislative powers. The National Assembly will concede legislative responsibilities to state house of assembly. Some items within the exclusive list will be transferred to the concurrent list. A state house of Assembly will have exclusive legislative competence on matters in the concurrent list.
The aspect of sharing formula of Natural resources will be unverified by the people. It is up to the new president to call the shots in this regard. There is no hint whether the policy of derivation will be preserved, modified or deleted from our national policy.
The local government autonomy will be fully guaranteed thus checking the excesses of some governors at the state level. The local government account will be separated from the state government account.
Restructuring will expose underperforming governors especially in terms of wealth creation. Transparency, accountability, efficiency and adherence to the rule of law can be easily tested. Democracy could work better under this dispensation.
It will draw the needed attention to the local government thus increasing the quest for accountability and good governance at the grass root.
It could be a reckless gamble to expect effective restructuring from the presidency, while a sincere effort from the presidency is not impossible, it is rare to find a president who will do restructuring and if a candidate promises to restructure Nigeria, he should give details that will guide voters on what to expect from him.
The issue of restructuring goes to the root of Nigeria as a sovereign state, it should not be about an individual. The focus could shift from individuals to groups for the greater good of Nigeria, their ‘representatives’ at the national and state legislature. Definitely the powers of the federal legislature will be reduced, it takes selfless service for the National Assembly to consider restructuring.
While the issue of Constitutional amendment may not be the most important step towards restructuring, it is the first step towards making restructuring the order of the day and a window is here, the Federal House of Representatives is taking steps on constitutional amendment
Summarily insisting the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable will not make the wrongs go away rather it may delay worst of times.
The template on which governance is based is faulty. it could be one of the reasons why it seem impossible to find a President to fix Nigeria as it is; We may take a conscious step to consider the matter of national concern constituting a threat to the unity and development of Nigeria. The institution strong enough to take up the challenge of restructuring is the legislature and it will save restructuring from being used as political bait for inducing votes during electioneering.
The legislature is a platform to engage the rigorous exercise of ascertaining what restructuring Nigeria will look like, whereby the people know the detail of what they are about to encounter as the new governing order. Within the legislative arena there will be lobbying, aggregation of public opinions and interest, negotiations, debates, deliberation and publicity of the new order safer than a promise in the wind. Anthony Enahoro moved for Nigerian independence from the British Colonial Government, a motion can set the ball rolling towards restructuring Nigeria which is a quest for independence from the few in favour of many.
It is a step, if painstakingly implemented could enable her to reclaim the vacant spot as the true giant of Africa.