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The Delusion About Restructuring (of Nigeria) – By Oguchi Nkwocha


The most vocal champion of restructuring of Nigeria as a counter to Biafra Referendum are Igbo elite, notable among them being the Igbo political class who hold offices in Nigeria’s political schema, and Igbo social organizations such as OHANEZE and WIC. The former have high stakes in the outcome of Referendum Vs Restructuring because their political careers are threatened, where politics in Nigeria is well understood as a game to obtain public money without earning it—at best; but mostly a means to steal from the public till with unparalleled audacity and unimaginable impunity. The latter—the social clubs—the OHANEZEs and WICs are a clique who are bound by an unspoken oath to preserve their lucrative enmeshment with Nigeria where money, contracts and power are the currency. A Biafra Referendum would of course sever the financial and power pipeline. In the meantime, Nigeria is doing everything it can to reward these Igbo elite financially and or in kind hoping that this might slow down the Biafra Referendum bid while at the same time parading the same Igbo elite on stage to convince the rest of the world that the referendum is not embraced by a majority of Biafrans. In fact, it is: the Biafra Referendum is backed by a huge majority of the masses as well as a large cross-section of Biafra; for the second time in ten years, Biafrans achieved a near-total sit-at-home Biafra civil action exercise when asked to by their legitimate leaders as a show of solidarity and support for Biafra Independence.

For sure, there are other voices from other parts of Nigeria calling for restructuring of Nigeria, but none so organized or so shrill as the Igbo elite. For the most part these are individuals representing their own respective personal opinions. However, they all share one thing in common: an empty call for restructuring, without a plan as to how to go about it or even how far to go. They also fixed the endpoint of their process: one-Nigeria. In so doing, they demonstrate the fundamental lack of understanding that the root problem of Nigeria is “one Nigeria” where people willingly pretend that what was never one and has never really operated as one could actually be forcibly united as one sociopolitical organism. They also refuse to see that all previous “restructuring” “plans” to fix Nigeria were predicated on one-Nigeria outcome and none of those paper-documents resulting from massive human and logistic energy was ever implemented, starting with the Aburi Accord of 1967, to the latest National Conference of 2014 under Jonathan’s administration. This ought to teach the lesson that any time the result of any restructuring effort is pre-assumed to be one-Nigeria, such effort is destined to be fruitless even before it takes off.

What makes the talk of restructuring this time around mere hot air is the failure of Igbo elite to grasp the real political climate in Nigeria— at any time; but especially currently. While acting President Osinbajo reassures Nigerians that his administration is listening and is going to react favorably to strident pleas for restructure of Nigeria, his attention and priority are focused on his own personal political battles which themselves are the result of the same fundamental one-Nigeria problem. This problem now manifests itself again in the repeat of a region-based cabal taking over the governance of Nigeria when the Nigerian President of Northern extraction is too ill to function in that capacity, thereby denying the Vice President from Southern Nigeria the constitutional right of ascendancy to the Presidency. Ordinarily, the constitution is clear on succession in this type of cases. But because, contrary to words, denials and pretenses to the contrary, Nigerians always have primary (and often sole) loyalty to their regions and ethnicities, the Northerners are not willing to follow the constitution and allow Osinbajo to become President of Nigeria. The last time that happened with late Yar’Adua, the Northern cabal that governed Nigeria until their admission of Yar’Adua’s death was never taken to court and indicted. Such brazenness. This time around, the opposition to Osinbajo’s Presidency goes all the way through and to the top NASS Northern leadership; it is fierce. There are rumors that if it comes to it, there could be a military coup to toss out Osinbajo. One is compelled to ask oneself: If Nigeria were really one, why this ethnic / region-based resistance and fight about succession? Yet, the same ones, including Osinbajo himself, will parrot “the Nigeria is indivisible” nonsense, or that “the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable.” (There is in fact a sense in which one is in agreement: if you don’t have something, you can of course declare what you don’t have as non-negotiable—there is nothing to negotiate, nothing to negotiate about. Everyone understands that there is no unity in Nigeria; that Nigeria can never be one).  Given this bruising atmosphere, it is doubtful that this administration, whatever it is becoming, will be paying serious attention to another restructuring talk being pushed by the Igbo elite.

The meaning of this to Igbo elite one-Nigeria “restructurists” should be clear: there is no room and perhaps no appetite to seriously take up restructuring in Nigeria at this time; there are more pressing issues which are being viciously decided (even as we speak), based on regionality and ethnicity by the same players who will tell you that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. And, as long as the goal is one Nigeria, there will not be any restructuring, let alone meaningful restructuring.

To the Igbo elite, the advice is: Get over it!

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