Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko revisits the issue of the urgent need to restructure Nigeria
The 2023 general election isn’t the most pressing and urgent need Nigeria has today.
Saving the country through a consensual restructuring of the polity, is the most urgent need.
For the next several months, struggle for political power, relevance and dominance of the political space, will rule the airwaves, media space, our souls and spirit and even our sociocultural world.
Party congresses, primaries, candidates, and election of friends, allies and relatives will occupy our every breath, world and activities.
Political power at the state and federal level certainly ensures patronage flow our way.
Our dreams are taken care of. We are stupendously empowered by our political friends and associates in power and we cross over to the billionaire club, where we eat well, party well and travel all over the world in first class.
An opportunity to sustain our lavish lifestyle and maintain a stranglehold on the polity and ensure we are covered.
Covered as we milk the country dry, covered from prosecution as we align with the power base.
Covered as we live our dream life.
Presently, nocturnal meetings, fierce rivalry, betrayal, decamping and high wire intrigue of all shades rule.
Scheming and plotting for power dominates our consciousness for the next eleven months.
Folks husbanding huge war chests in safe Bank vaults abroad, surreptitiously ferry in the hard currency in tranches to fight the elections.
Cash flows around. Excitement fills the air. All kinds of amorphous and hardly existent groups and organisations are hurriedly formed to issue press releases and also pay solidarity visits up and down.
Oaths of allegiance and loyalty are demanded and taken at shrines, deities and occultic temples and alters everywhere.
The entire contractor class and elite club are totally embroiled and fully emeshed in the rat race for power amongst the political class.
Everyone’s blinded by the greed for power. Nothing seems to matter anymore. The air is thick with the frenzy and romantic aroma of the struggle for power every four years.
Nobody is interested in anything else. Greed for political power, gives birth to pretension that all is well with Naija and truth is despised.
The appealing narrative that the election or empowerment of your friend or ally, will automatically bring about good times and great times, dominates the air.
Any one with a contrary opinion seem insane.
Greed for power, pretense that all is well, slowly metamorphoses to hatred of the truth.
The bitter and unwelcome truth that all is not well with our land.
The truth irritates us. We have so much gotten used to living the lie that we seem to find the irrevocable truth uncomfortable, even offensive.
A psychological hangover from the era of military regimes threw up a false narrative and unhelpful culture that Naija is better managed the way we unwittingly shaped her and that inspiring for greatness could mean be overreaching.
That correcting our past errors, is “risky” and unimportant.
That we should continue to crawl and creep and drag on all fours.
And by and by, somehow we will transform into a great nation.
This state of mind, perpetuated by our leaders for much too long, have regrettably held us down, postponed the inevitable and necessary awakening and led to unhelpful procrastination of rebuilding our land along the lines of the needful trajectory towards true greatness.
By lying to ourselves consistently that nothing is wrong with our structure, the fallouts from the retrogressive unitary structure, only got worse with time.
Forty million idle able bodied young folks, backlog of pension and gratuities and even regular salaries owed citizens of several states by indolent state governments solely dependent on monthly federal allocations to function. Overburdened central government overloaded with duties it evidently cannot efficiently and effectively handle. Uncontrolled sleaze as a result of an unwieldy centralized structure. Mis-governance, nepotism, dichotomy, marginalisation, sectarianism, ethnic and religious bigotry, sectionalism, exclusion and failure of leadership, as a result of mediocrity and prebendalism.
Economic melt down and crises of all sorts. The list is endless.
The fallouts from the weak unhelpful unitary structure grew in folds and included but not limited to, very corrupt and hopelessly manipulated electoral process, lack of interest amongst citizens, loss of faith in the system, discontent, bitterness, and agitations of all kinds.
Insurgency, banditry, secessionist agitation and emergence of armed militias.
All the troubles tied to one thing: the inadequacies of the unitary structure bequeathed the country by the military.
From the Aburi Accord in Ghana in January 1967, to the General Abacha constitutional conference of 1995, to the President Obasanjo’s National Conference of 2005, and the President Jonathan’s Confab of 2014, the reality of agreeing on an all inclusive basis of nationhood remain undebatable.
The reality of the great need to collectively agree on a fair, just structure anchored on devolution of powers and true federalism, remain unassailable.
Since NADECO boldly demanded more than twenty five years ago, for a consensual reconstruction of the polity to enthrone equity and fairness, carrying every section along, the troubles afflicting the land, has only gotten worse.
Blindly jostling for political power under same crippling unitary system where all our fault lines are bleeding, while pretending that all is well, is pretension and hatred of the truth of an unfair kind.
Pretending that piecemeal constitutional amendments will serve same purpose restructuring of the country would, is plain self deceit of a disturbing streak.
Labelling those calling for the right thing to be done as trouble makers, while applauding those resisting the restructuring of the country, as great patriotic heroes, is pathetic and regrettable.
Single mindedly pursuing political power through 2023 elections, without worrying about the self-evident structural defects troubling the land and how to effect necessary adjustments needed to heal the land, is like dancing for entertainment whilst one’s home is burning.
Nigeria should be peacefully and consensually restructured before the elections eleven months away. Pretense that all is well with the country, is only inspired by an unhealthy greed for power and hatred of the truth.
Restructuring Nigeria is the most urgent and pressing need.
Ugochukwu-Uko is the Founder: Igbo Youth Movement (IYM) and Secretary: Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA)