Though the 2023 general elections is far away, what is trending and has become the topic of discussion in the political space among the political ruling elites is “Restructuring”. Mind you, the issue of restructuring does not start now and will not stop in the near future.
The reason is not far-fetched. Since 1960, the year Nigeria got her independence, there were various reforms introduced by governments to suit the tastes of the country and its people.
From parliamentary democracy, military government and the constitutional democracy which the country operated, attempts were made to resolve or address knotty national issues vis-a-vis fiscal federalism, census dispute, state police, secession threats among others.
However, the issue that continues to generate heated debate in public parleys and organized conferences is “fiscal federalism” which centers on revenue generation and sharing.
The revenue sharing formula seemed to have been structured to favor the center, federal government, which cornered 52.68 per cent, states take 26.72 per cent while local governments are left with 20.60 per cent.
This lopsided or skew revenue allocation has put the center on collision course with the subordinate units which calls for further review to bridge the wide disparity.
The revenue allocation formula with its attendant disparity has continued to fuel disagreement or friction between the federal government and federating units. There is also an unresolved issue of revenue generation with many oil producing states advocating or demanding for total resources control.
The debate of resources control was further triggered or brought to the fore by Zamfara State. Zamfara State is blessed with abundant “gold” which is illegally explored by locals, government officials in connivance with some foreigners.
It was learnt that recently the state government has entered into partnership with the CBN in which gold worth N4billion will be supplied to the Apex Bank by the state.
The story did not go down well with the south-south state governors. To them, Zamfara State is indirectly controlling its resources, while their own are being shared. Disturbed by the misinterpretation of the reasons of Zamfara/CBN deal, Governor Bello Matawalle hurriedly clarified the issues.
He said the deal is under the agricultural support program of CBN. Moreover, the state has no absolute control of its resources which is within the purview of the federal government.
Added to the restructuring list is the issue of state police. The rise of insecurity across the country has forced states government to call for the establishment of state police. Recently, in the south-west, a security outfit codenamed, Amotekun, was established to complement federal government’s security officers in the region.
The floating of Amotekun has since created bickering with the federal government vowing not to recognize it.
Unless our defective federalism is critically examined and all factors inhibiting its workability expunged the debate on “restructuring” will never stop. However, some political pundits are of the views that our politicians are using “Restructuring” for political reasons.
The issue become prominent and resurrect ahead of 2023 general elections in order to woe voters or electorate. This assertion is not far from the truth, given the chameleon nature of our politicians. They will tell you something today and change it tomorrow.
The Minister of Works, Babatunde Raji Fashola, has recently stirred the hornets’ nest with his call for his party (APC) to respect its zoning arrangements. Fashola’s appeal came amidst rumours that APC will not zone its presidential candidate to South-West.
The issue of zoning or power rotation has continued to be a thorn in the flesh of many political parties in the country. Mamman Daura, an influential Northern oligarchy, advocated for president based on competence. Daura bared his mind when he granted an interview with BBC Hausa service.
In the said interview which was monitored by DESERT HERALD, he frowned at the zoning arrangement, believing it won’t solve the country’s multi-faceted problems. Governor El-rufai was also among the proponents of merit-based president before he made a sudden U-turn and supported South-west presidency.
Zoning or whichever name you call it, was first entrenched in the PDP, before it was discarded. By refusing to adhere to power rotation principle, PDP the once ruling party suffered heavy defeat in 2015 election.
Whether the APC will learn a lesson or not, only time will tell. But Nigerians should ignore the call for restructuring or zoning. They should look for credible candidate who will fix the country’s numerous problems such as insecurity, unemployment, national unity and worsening economy.
In this regard, DESERT HERALD therefore stands by the provisions of the Nigerian constitution. The constitution did not recognize zoning of political offices as a means of balancing grievances or addressing agitations.
It supports democracy in its true meaning. The majority should always have their way in choosing a leader from any part of the country.
Restricting it to a section of the country base on any sentiment must be resisted. Politicians should have the conviction and courage to face Nigerians with their manifestos and convince them to vote for them.
Political parties too must allow a level playing ground for everybody to participate so that out of many we may produce the President Nigeria has been yearning for all these years.