Tuesday, 11 July 2017

10 Things to Know about 'Restructuring'

Map of Nigeria
By Israel Usulor 
Currently, there is a raging debate about the need to ‘restructure’ Nigeria so as to reduce ethnic tension, reduce power from the centre and pave way fiscal federalism. While many like Former Head of State Ibrahim Babangida and Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar agree that it is the solution to Nigeria’s problem, others vehemently oppose the idea. In the meantime, jonalistsblog.blogspot.com brings you some vital facts you need to know about the touchy issue.  
1.    The Word Web Dictionary defines ‘restructuring’ as ‘constructing or forming anew or to provide with a new structure’. Politically it means “re-organisation” of a political entity such as a country. This ‘re-organisation’ may be far-reaching such that the political structures, constitution, institutions, economy, boundaries and historical landmarks of the affected country may be altered to pave way for something new.
2.    Specifically, when politicians talk of ‘restructuring’ in Nigeria they mean a situation where Nigeria would be broken into regions as was the case during the First Republic when the country practiced Parliamentary System of government. The argument is always that there is too much concentration of power at the federal level with the present American-styled presidential system of government which Nigeria adopted in 1979.
3.    ‘Devolution of power’ and ‘fiscal federalism’ are two terms that closely follow anytime the touchy issue of restructuring is mentioned in Nigeria. Restructuring, devolution of power and fiscal federalism mean different things but they are closely related. Devolution of power means allocating more powers to the federating units (regions or states) so that there would be less concentration of power at the centre. Devolution gives greater responsibilities to the federating units leaving the centre to take charge of foreign affairs, defense, currency, aviation and police. Fiscal federalism on the other hand means giving the federating units the power to explore the economic resources in their respective domains and only pay a token to the centre.
4.    As it stands now, Nigeria is not politically devolved neither is it practicing fiscal federalism. The federal government wields enormous power while the states and local governments trail behind. The revenue sharing formula is tilted against the states and local governments. Currently, the Federal Government takes 56% of revenue, states 24% while the local governments go home with 29%.
5.    Those who favour restructuring argue that reverting to regional system would pave the way for devolution of powers and fiscal federalism which will in turn put the regions on their toes and engender industrialization and development in atmosphere of healthy competition as was the case in the First Republic.
6.    The proponents of restructuring also argue that it will calm all the ethnic nerves frayed over the years. In their opinion, regionalism or fiscal federalism kill such economic agitations from the Niger Delta and also calm secessionist nerves in the South-East since the regions would no longer depend on the federal government but would develop at their own pace.
7.    It is also argued that it would encourage development; since the states or regions would no longer run to Abuja for monthly allocation, they would be forced to look inward for viable alternatives.
8.    Prominent Nigerians recently joined the growing call for Nigerians to sit down and have a conversation that will eventually produce a restructured Nigeria. Such personalities include former Head of State Ibrahim Babangida and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
9.    Recently, political leaders from the South-East Geo-political Zone met in Enugu and unanimously threw their weight behind restructuring. The meeting was necessitated by the growing tension around the country especially as it relates to the secessionist movement of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB led by Nnamdi Kanu and the recent quit notice issued to Igbos living in the North by a coalition of Northern youths.
10.                       It should be noted however that restructuring would require far-reaching constitutional amendments which also consumes a lot of time given that Nigeria operates a rigid constitution which requires extensive work by the National Assembly and the 36 States Houses of Assembly before it could be altered.

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