There is no doubt that Nigeria, with its multi ethnic groups, cultures and languages, is a dynamic society. Nigeria’s diversity, which many think is its major problem, can be its strength at times. Unfortunately, the country has not positively exploited its diversity.
The beauty of our politics is the diversity of its participants, some of whom intervene at a crucial point in the life of the nation. The recent letter written to President Muhammadu Buhari by former President Olusegun Obasanjo exemplifies such worthy intervention. The effect of the letter is being felt in the polity.
That is why some Nigerians are hardly not surprised at the All Progressives Congress (APC) belated U-turn on restructuring after Obasanjo’s open letter to Buhari. I recall that this is an issue the party has been struggling for months to find its exact meaning. If there is any single achievement of the Obasanjo’s letter, it is the APC’s new posturing on restructuring, an issue it has not given any serious attention before. The party’s hurried move in defence of restructuring is suspect following the bitter missive of Obasanjo.
That the party has dramatically come up with its recommendations on restructuring, an issue dismissed by President Buhari in his New Year message to the nation, is an indication that Obasanjo’s simple letter is capable of achieving some aims. It shows that words have power and such powers can be politically deployed to achieve some changes and goals.
More confounding is that the APC’s recommendations on restructuring, which include devolution of powers, resource control, state police and scrapping of existing local government structure among other things, are not quite different from the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference report. Why did the party jettison the 2014 confab report? Is government not a continuum?
Apart from APC’s move to restructure the country, Obasanjo’s letter has made the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to wake up from its slumber. To show that the anti-corruption war of the administration is seemingly on course, the anti-graft agency has, at last, arrested the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal. What about the case of Maina that Obasanjo mentioned in his letter? There are indeed more questions than answers. It is unfortunate that simply because of Obasanjo’s letter, APC has now found the meaning of restructuring it didn’t know some months ago. How much the party believed in restructuring is yet to be seen. How far the APC restructuring will go is open to conjectures. How the party tries to restructure Nigeria will be seen before the 2019 general elections commence. If the party wants to be taken seriously by Nigerians it must walk its talk.
It must do what it is saying because mere pronouncement without action is not enough. Will the APC play politics with restructuring or will it actually do it before the general elections? This is one question begging for an urgent and honest answer from the party. On one hand, if the party really shows signs that it will restructure the country and make serious efforts to do so before the 2019 poll, it will be fine and good.
And on the other hand, if the APC plays with restructuring or uses it as a bait to get the votes of Nigerians in 2019, it will mark its political end. And if the APC thinks that it can gain any political mileage by its sudden U-turn on restructuring, the party should better think twice. Implementing its restructuring recommendations at this point in time will never confer on it any political advantage. Therefore, let it not think that restructuring Nigeria now, something it should have done before, will give it any advantage in the coming poll. At the same time, using restructuring gambit to buy time will not save the party from the impending electoral doom that awaits it if it fails to fulfill its electoral promises, chief among which, is restructuring.
The party should know that Nigerians are very angry with it over many unfulfilled promises. The better life it promised Nigerians is yet to be seen. The change it promised has become a mirage. The protection of life and property, the main reason government exists, has turned into untimely deaths to many Nigerians and destruction of property by rampaging Fulani herdsmen. APC should be made to understand that it cannot deceive Nigerians twice.
A party that has not kept faith with its numerous promises should not be trusted again. There is no doubt that Obasanjo’s observations in the letter are true and objective assessment of the Buhari administration. Even the government recognizes the patriotism of the messenger but faulted the message. But Nigerians have taken the message and no amount of propaganda or media campaign will make Nigerians to disbelieve it.
Most Nigerians have dismissed the APC’s new posturing on restructuring and questioned its timing and integrity. They see what the APC is doing with restructuring as a diversionary tactic to win the 2019 poll. They see it as a means to buy the needed time and sweep aside the germane issues raised by Obasanjo’s letter. But the more the party does that, the more Nigerians understand the import of Obasanjo’s state of the nation address.
I have doubts that the APC can truly restructure Nigeria before the 2019 election exercise. The time from now to the commencement of the election is rather too short for it. This is the problem with its restructuring posture. There are so many reasons Nigerians will doubt the party’s new romance with restructuring. In the first place, this is a party that did not initially understand what restructuring means even though it is part of its manifesto during the 2015 poll.
This is a party that never believed in restructuring. This is a party that has consigned the 2014 confab reports to the archives. This is a party that says that the problem with Nigeria is process and not structure. Why did the party waste two and half years seeking for the meaning of restructuring?
Besides, key members of the party, including those that are now fronting for restructuring, did not believe in the concept called restructuring. This is the moral burden of APC’s new stand on restructuring.