[Discourse]: The Cacophony of Restructuring

By Jacob Akya

Of recent, Nigerians wake up every day to the cacophony of restructuring. Everywhere you turn you are bound to be confronted with the subject of restructuring. The issue of restructuring has been elevated to the front burner of national discourse. Everywhere you go, you are bound to be welcomed by a litany of woes that might have generated the ongoing debate on restructuring across the length and breadth of the country.

To many who engage in the debate, they truly do not have the full grasp of all there is to the very delicate matter at stake.

There is a school of thought that holds firmly to the physical dismantling of the country with some even promoting secessionist tendencies like the Independent People of Biafra Movement which wants a Biafra Republic pulled out of Nigeria, a movement championed by one Nnamdi Kanu. This situation has sharply divided the Ibo, the major ethnic group in South Eastern Nigeria to which Kanu belongs.

There are other ethnic nationalities, like some minority ethnic groups in the Niger Delta region and in parts of Ondo which the Kanu led IPOB would want to coerce into the agitation but who do not reason along that line. The IPOB had even gone as far as aspiring to annex part of Idomaland in Ado Local Government Area of Benue state into the dream Biafra land but the indigenes had stood vehemently against it and drew the attention of the authorities who then caused the removal of the Biafra flag which the IPOB activists had erected on their land and the area was fully secured by the security agents.

A question that readily comes to mind is that, could it be by coercion that the agitation for the dream Biafra of Nnamdi Kanu would be pursued to fruition? From the look of things, it is against the will of many who are being cajoled into joining an agitation that seems untopian

It appears the physical restructuring from the angle of secession might not be feasible under the prevailing circumstances if the underlying circumstances are steeped in marginalization because of the prevalence of both inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic strife all over.

What many see as being a better approach to physical restructuring is the creation of more states and local government areas which could in a way draw down the level of marginalization and enthrone a fuller sense of belonging to the marginalized and widen opportunities of equal participation and attainment of potential.

Given the prevailing social and economic challenges that the country is grappling with, especially insurgency and the global Corona Virus Disease Pandemic, one would reason that the best approach to addressing issues of restructuring would be from the economic perspective which would depend on how well government could review the resource derivation and allocation formula towards embracing more equity as I have always advocated. Apart from the review of the current revenue allocation formula which leaves the Federal Government with so much because of its enormous responsibilities, it could also be apt at this point to review the local resource derivation sharing formula to ensure that the areas of derivation have a fuller sense of hosting the resources that generate the overall wealth that comes to be shared by the larger whole.

A wrong approach in the debate has always been that the oil wealth that the resources of other regions sponsored to be explored and exploited should not be equitably utilized for the overall benefit of Nigerians. This is indeed not a right approach to an issue as germane  as this if at all the proponents of this argument have any sense of the history of the country. If they have, they would remember that before the discovery of oil on June 8, 1956, the groundnuts pyramids of Kano, the Hides and Skins of Sokoto and Maiduguri, the Cocoa of the Western Region, the Rubber of the Midwest Region, the Oil Palm from the South East and the numerous nutritious agricultural produce from the Middle Belt Region sustained the national economy.

It should be acknowledged that it was in the sense of sustenance of the unity in diversity which fate had brought on the hundreds of diverse ethnic nationalities under one national roof that had explained the willingness of the various people from the various regions to contribute their valuable resources through the agency of government to the sponsorship of the exploration and exploitation of the oil and gas resources of the nation.

It is quite disheartening that remarkable denial stares you in the face in those areas where these oil and gas resources are derivable which had always informed the restiveness in those parts. Even as the authorities concerned had made attempts at ameliorating the plight of the indigenous people of the Niger Delta where most of the oil and gas resources of the country are housed, through the establishment of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), the appalling performance of the NDDC leaves a sour taste in the mouth, thus necessitating more attention towards ameliorating the plight of the people.

Now that the economic diversification is easing off pressure on oil and gas as sustainers of the national economy, it behoves government to ensure that those areas of focus in mining and agriculture that are gradually warming their way back to the heart of the economy are not allowed to suffer the fate which the indigenous people of the oil and gas producing areas had suffered all along since becoming the major sustainers of the nation.

Those who play host to the wealth of the nation should be made to feel a measure of real development, which is an assurance of basic well-being.



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