It is important to place this matter in a very clear perspective. For me as an individual, the issue of restructuring may not really be the main issue we are contending with. It will be good if those saddled with the responsibility of driving the process are prepared to ensure its actualisation.
It is possible for restructuring to take place before 2019. All that is required is the political will and sincerity of purpose on the part of critical stakeholders. Initially, the government of the All Progressives Congress never saw anything good in the proposal for restructuring put forward by the Peoples Democratic Party (after the 2014 National Conference). So, if they are now using restructuring to campaign, people should begin to find out whether there is more to it than meets the eye. People should try to find out if it is an attempt to score cheap political points because Nigerians no longer believe this government is sincere. This administration came to power on the mantra of change and we have seen the way they are changing. It has gone from where we were to where we actually do not want to be. This administration came in and to a large extent; it has squandered the goodwill and public trust they initially enjoyed. If they are now coming with a proposal for restructuring that they have not properly defined, the same way they came with the slogan of “change”, people might not really want to buy in and this could slow down the implementation process. To that extent, people would say restructuring is not feasible. However, if this administration is sincere, it is possible to restructure now because the ruling party has the numbers in both chambers of the National Assembly. However, because of the way this administration has managed the change mantra, one can say that Nigerians do not believe in the capacity of this government to give them the kind of restructuring required to move Nigeria forward. •Mr. Gidado Alakawa (Secretary, Peoples Democratic Party, Kwara State)
The APC has done its own part on the issue of restructuring. You will realise that the National Headquarters of the party set up the Governor Nasir El-Rufai-led committee on True Federalism which went round the whole country from where they collated views and submitted their findings and recommendations to the National Secretariat of our party.
From the report, it is glaring the APC alone cannot implement it. This is where the National Assembly will have to come in because the executive arm of the government must work with the National Assembly in other to pass the necessary legislation to make restructuring possible.
As it is today, the National Assembly is not dominated by lawmakers from the APC alone. The lawmakers have to play their role to ensure this is achieved. The APC made its position known to the whole world that as a party, it believes in restructuring.
But restructuring the country before the 2019 general election depends on the National Assembly. It depends on the way they do their jobs that is what will determine if it is possible before then or not. The National Assembly has the capacity to ensure that the country is restructured before 2019 but that is if they want to do it. They must put the interest of Nigerians first; they must see it as a collective thing. •Mr. Ade Adetimehin (Chairman, All Progressives Congress, Ondo State)
Restructuring is not possible before 2019. The reason is obvious; politicians spend only two of their four year-term on governance while the remaining two years are spent on electioneering. When you consider developments in the nation- especially, politicking, you will see that attention has shifted towards the general elections. Politicians are now busy thinking on how to consolidate their hold on power or to install their stooges. When you gauge the mood of the public, you will see that many issues been thrown up these days centre on how to instigate the public against the government of the day. Many of the issues have lingered for a long time because successive governments have not paid attention to them. One of them is this issue of restructuring. When the Peoples Democratic Party was in power, the opposition All Progressives Congress was the one clamouring for restructuring. Now that reverse is the case, it is the PDP that is now crying for restructuring. You can see that politicians are not sincere about it. The body language of those at the helm does not suggest that of a person who has an immediate plan to restructure. •Mr. Odunlade Akinyemi (An Ekiti-based public affairs analyst/activist)
Restructuring the country before 2019 is possible because we are talking about one year from now. We are not saying that all the processes will start and end within a year. There are certain processes or components of restructuring that can start; there are issues that can be dealt with while other processes are ongoing.
It is possible to set up the mechanism for state police. What we need to do is to look at our laws and how it is being implemented. We can also look at areas requiring an amendment to the constitution which can be handled by the National and State Assemblies. What is certain is that, there are some components of restructuring that can start. We can also consider local government autonomy. If you look at what the local governments are doing today, you will agree with me that the local governments have completely lost the reason for which they were created. They were created to bring governance to the grass roots, but now, it appears they are now a department of state governments, which is not supposed to be so. This can be corrected before the 2019 elections.
Allowing the state governments across the country to handle all roads is part of what can also be done before the 2019 elections. The truth is that, it is not correct for people to think that we cannot begin the process of restructuring the country now and achieve something before the elections next year. If we want to wait until all of us will sit down and begin to make a list of what we need to change, we cannot make any headway. •Legborsi Pyagbara (President, Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People)
The possibility of having genuine restructuring within what is left of the lifespan of the present administration is not certain.
Only a serious and people-oriented government can achieve that under a genuine democratic process.
The process is beyond the Mallam Nasir El-Rufai-led All Progressives Congress propelled restructuring agenda.
Restructuring in the holistic context involves people having round-table talks to dissect the various challenges confronting us as a nation.
It is obvious that the APC accepted the idea of restructuring very late and might not necessary see it as a way out of the current political quagmire. However, the report must be further publicised for public discourse. The President should forward the bills component to the National Assembly.
Nigerians can then wait for a response from the National Assembly. I don’t see this happening with the situation we have on ground now.
The 2018 Appropriation bill has not been given serious attention, confirmation of several nominations is still pending and there is division among key state actors and institutions.
So, I don’t see any restructuring happening before 2019.
I would rather suggest the 2014 Confab report which in my view, represents the overall view of all sections of the country, should be looked into. The political situation in the country and lack of unity within the ruling party will remain retrogressive to the nation’s development. •Olayinka Folarin (The Chairman, Committee for the Defence of Human Rights, Ogun State chapter)
It is now obvious that the All Progressives Congress wants to take Nigerians for a ride. They promised restructuring and even included it in their manifesto when they were looking for power. As soon as they got in, they did not consider it a priority for almost three years; they keep playing politics with the issue but because elections are by the corner, the issue is now becoming an issue because they want to use it for campaigns. I don’t believe the party in power is sincere. Is it something that they failed to achieve for the three years they have so far spent in power that they want to achieve in less than one year? I don’t see it happening before 2019, I will challenge them to surprise me by making it happen before then. •Abdullahi Jalo (An Abuja-based legal practitioner)
Compiled by: Success Nwogu, Chukwudi Akasike, Femi Makinde, Samuel Awoyinfa and Kamarudeen Ogundele