Will restructuring heal the wounds?


At the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) town hall meeting held at Hamdala Hotel in Kaduna on 4th November 2017, organized by the SOKAPU’s committee on restructuring, the theme was tagged: ‘The future of Nigeria’, “Restructuring and Southern Kaduna”! I was fortunate to meet with one of the executives of the union during the event, Mr Reuben Buhari, who is their public relations officer (PRO) and former spokesman to the late governor of Kaduna state Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa. It was not the first time of our meeting one on one. We briefly discussed about the political trends in Kaduna. I also had a fruitful discussion about the state of the nation; and the topic that convened us in the venue with one of the youth leaders in Southern Kaduna, Jerry D. Ishaya. The basic premise of my argument about the issue of the restructuring, it was my discussion with Jerry D. Ishaya!

I told him that I do not see the need for restructuring Nigeria because it would not heal the existing wound, and it’s a hard bargain which may be difficult in yielding a positive result but would rather would generate more acrimony in the country. However, I quietly agreed with some of his narratives and submission, which also educated and enlightened me about some of the political imbalances in the country, which came to my notice that day.

Mr Ishaya gave me an example like this: a small local government like Kaura in Kaduna state, but has one member representing them in the House of Representatives, while big local governments like Zangon Kataf and Jaba that are bigger than the former has one member representing both in the House of Representatives.

He also said, in a small state like Beyalsa, you only need to win less than five local governments to emerge as a senator while in a big state with large population like Kano, one needs to win fifteen local governments before emerging as a senator. But, they have equal representation in the “Senate” with equal dividend; which would come via their representatives in the Senate, regardless of the large population and landmark. So, there is need for readjustment, in the setting-up the political composition and sharing the wealth of the nation.

He didn’t see equity on the present “Federal System” of government, whereby, a small state like Bayelsa or Akwa Ibom are receiving higher dividend and allocation from the federal government, which, for example, outnumber the ones in Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri, and Katsina are receiving, despite being larger in population and landmark.

Even at that Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom are among the states which produce the nation’s umbilical cord, that’s oil. Mr Ishaya was strongly advocating that the states with large population should be given precedence or superior treatment! That’s why he is absolutely in support of restructuring.

Notwithstanding, he might be right to some extent, although it was an opinion which everyone has right to air even though, I have many reservations concerning his opinion. For me, I don’t see any problem with the system of government which we are practicing now!

But, it’s our inability to operate it effectively and with decency that’s why it’s giving us problem. And no matter how good the system is, if we fail to comply with its core principles, then expecting a positive result is as simple as keeping ourselves under delusion.

At any time, whenever I remember our discussion with Mr Jerry Ishaya at SOKAPU’s town hall meeting, where he was advocating restructuring, because of what he perceives as political imbalance, I imagine how it is going to work peacefully, without any animosity and threat to Nigeria’s peace and unity!

Moreover, let me set another example here. If the restructuring comes into effect; and making it in the way that the three senators representing Bayelsa in the National Assembly would be reduced to one person or two, how would the people of that state react?

Do you think they would accept these changes without any uproar and outrageous acts? This is more so, considering that the state is among the oil producing states, that’s producing the nation’s life sustenance.

Let me not be too partial on the topic of the discussion, capitalizing on the South-south states because, I doubt if even some small states in the North, like Yobe, Jigawa, and Zamfara, will accept downsizing of their senators. But they may want to have equal dividend with the oil producing states, and in turn the oil producing states will always see it as encroachment to their economic dividend.

On a final note, we should all bear it in mind, that Nigeria is our unifying factor that always gives us a chance to practice our legitimate political, religious, social, and economic rights. The love of Nigeria must come first before anything else.

Usman writes from Kaduna South, Kaduna

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