The debate about the restructuring of the Nigeria has generated a wide range of responses from all sections of the Nigerian society. Former military dictator Ibrahim Babangida is among latter day advocates who have joined the chorus for restructuring of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In short, restructuring is the new fad in town.
Understandably, a number of well meaning Nigerians are wary of this curious coalition of latter day restructuring activists, suspicious of their intentions, and doubtful of their sincerity. We have a history of self-serving opportunity hijacking popular clamour for positive change, seizing control of the movement and taking it in entirely new directions to satisfy their own agenda. In response to this legitimate concern, a number of commentators- who should know better- have cynically adopted a derisive tone on the campaign for restructuring of the federation, suggesting in one example that it is a ruse employed by desperate persons jostling for political power.
This unfortunate sidetalk distracts and detracts from what is in fact a fundamental issue of viability and function of the nation state. The Nigerian nation state as it is presently constituted simply cannot work. For the past few decades it appeared to be surviving due to two main factors: oil receipts, and the inherent resilience of the people. Even so, it has always tethered on the precipice. In recent years, with the drastic fall and fluctuation on the price of crude oils, and collective resilience of the people reaching its elastic limit, we have hit the wall. Nay, we are right on the edge of the cliff. Nowhere to hide, not anymore. So you have a situation where groups that are usually opposed to one another- Arewa Youths, Biafra agitators and Yoruba nationalists- have come to agree on one thing: this house cannot stand. Either it collapses on us, or we forestall the imminent disaster by undertaking controlled demolition and rebuilding. This is an auspicious opportunity, not the time for idle cynicism and impertinent naysaying.
You do not need a coalition of political saints or ideological purists to achieve a goal that is all important for the continued survival of the collective entity called Nigeria. Or, at any rate, the collective survival of the constituent nationalities and peoples of the geographical expression called Nigeria. Louis 16 -who later became known as Louis 16 the unfortunate- was an important and strategic supporter of the American revolution. Even Karl Marx literally survived on the support of a capitalist’s heir. What is important is to engage our critical intelligence on clarifying the principle as well as the specific goals of restructuring. And lets not get into a muddle: restructuring of the mind and restructuring of the nation are mutually reinforcing, not mutually exclusive, goals.