Nigeria and its citizens have become so sharply divided with emotions running high on the call for federal restructuring. For many ethnic nationalities, the solution to the country’s multifarious problems is restructuring. Their campaign for true federalism did not begin today. But the campaign keeps reoccurring and became more rampant under the President Buhari led-administration.
Firstly, most agitations for restructuring today are designed to spite the north, to make them look like they are finished without the Niger Delta oil. The resistance from the north is also fuelled by the fear that they are finished without the oil (this is changing, though).
Yet, the indisputable fact is that we are all parasites on this oil. Not too long ago, the downturn in oil prices, coupled with militant activities, brought the nation’s economy to a standstill. We were all in soup. If oil prices had not recovered and militancy had continued, Nigeria would be paralyzed by now. We must however liberate our minds to see the possibilities that exist for everyone.
Another very disturbing fact is that we seem to concentrate so much on Abuja that we don’t even know what is going on in our states. We complain about “budget padding” in the National Assembly but hardly look at “budget padding” in the state houses of assembly. We protest about federal roads being in bad shape but ignore the state of the local roads. We shout all the time about federal universities and ignore the state of schools that are not under the federal government. We grumble about nepotism in Aso Rock and forget about the one in our backyard. We are so Abujacentric that our governors are getting away with murder.
The federal government takes 56% of the federation revenue while the 36 states of the federation take 24% and the 774 councils take 20%. Apparently, we have to restructure this vertical sharing formula urgently. Abuja will continue to insist on keeping 56% because of the responsibilities it is saddled with, but we can also relieve them of these responsibilities.
No one government or administration can provide all the answers to the myriad of problems and challenges confronting us as a country; no matter how determined, resolute, committed and motivated such a government is at the centre.
The citizens have their roles to play, and their obligations to fulfill in order to motivate the government in achieving its stated goals and objectives. Governance is a function of the leadership and the followership. It is a two-way traffic that demands certain responsibilities from those involved and Democracy, anywhere in the world, is a work in progress; and one that is subject to constant evolution and debate. The drums of war are easy to beat, but their rhythms are difficult to dance.