By Ogbonna Nwuke
Americans may have a country of immigrants, but somehow they have found a rallying point behind what they see as the American dream. That dream, whatever it is, has turned the Americans into a great power and taken them beyond the earth to the moon.
Somewhere in the west coast, there is a surge in homebred nationalism in a land that was once the “Gold Coast”. These people are as proud of the “Black Star” as any one can be.
Today, after years of military rule, the citizens take great pride in being called Ghanians, regardless of their ethnic diversity.
Life hasn’t been easy for the Rwandans either. But since after the Hutu-Tutsi clash which led to the death of so many, it is now taboo to talk in terms of being Tutsi or Hutu. You are either Rwandan or nothing else.
The Iranians have been through all – isolation, trade embargoes, what have you – but they have remained Iranians with a common focus.
What of the North Koreans? They have dared to think outside the box, drawn the angry flak of other nations for daring to disagree, and defied the world on their way to becoming a major power.
No nation is however like Nigeria. It is a nation – state that is in a constant state of flux. Its people are so deeply divided in such a way that its citizens are better known for undermining the corporate existence of their own country. But “9ja” as we say “no dey carry last”
The nation which gave the world a new meaning to the word marginalisation has come forth with a new terminology. This time, restructuring is the latest addition to the Nigerian lexicon.
Overnight, the term has become so magical. So, if you have a problem with how we relate as Nigerians, just mutter the word “restructuring”.
If you are one of those, like I am, who believe in fiscal federalism, you don’t need to look too far to express yourself. Just get hold of the term “restructuring” and you are on.
If Fulani herdsman and farmers clash, the absence of restructuring must indeed be responsible.
If you are also tired of living in a state of your birth, tired as a tribe over what you are getting from the centre, and angry with what you are giving to Nigeria and not what Nigeria can give to you, you don’t have to stray too far. Restructuring is all you need.
Like it or not, restructuring is the new national pastime and every one is talking about it. Nobody wants to be outdone.
Now the political parties have joined the fray too. The APC the other day set up a committee to decide how it would travel along the restructuring route to nationhood.
The PDP in the midst of an election year in 2015 kick started all this, but lacked the political will to push it through before it lost power at the centre.
So, for all that has gone wrong in this country and all that needs to be fixed, only restructuring would do.
In my school days, I was taught change is inevitable. I was taught to draw a line between radical and gradual change and taught what could happen when you travel either of these routes as a nation.
See what has happened to countries like Sudan, Iraq and Libya where radical change was contemplated. Can you see anything? Can you learn any lessons?
Nigeria appears to be once again at the crossroads and it appears that it is as difficult to go forward as it is to go backwards.
Saddled with a lot of challenges which require dealing with, we seem more concerned at the moment with running after a shadow cast by a receding sun.
There was a time in this country when everything we dreamt about was expected to be achieved by the year 2000. The year 2000 has since come and gone and our dreams have remained mere illusions.
Truth is, we have no one to blame for our failings. We have preferred to be Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo rather than becoming Nigerians. We have chosen to coin jaw-breaking terminologies; and preferred to engage in circuitous arguments that lead nowhere instead of thinking outside the box.
We have purposefully stirred ethnic hatred in the name of politics; drummed up support for ethnic suspicion which is tearing us apart; and cast doubts in our capacity to weather storms as a people united under one God.
Despite fighting a civil war, from which reasonable lessons could have been learnt, bringing the roof down on our heads has become more of a better option.
Thus, we are headed in the direction of a dangerous cliff, unable to get off a high speed delivery vehicle which appears to have no brakes.
I hope that restructuring would bring all the answers that are required to solve our numerous problems.
I pray that afterwards, we would resolve to contribute to nation building rather than scanning
dictionaries in search of words that we are forced to give new forms.
As we brace up for the debate on restructuring, make all the noises that we can afford, it would make sense if the government of the day continues to pay heed to efforts to get the country out of recession.
It would make sense if government deals frontally with the security question which continues to endanger national stability as well as the lives and property of ordinary Nigerians.
It would equally make proper sense if the ongoing efforts to diversify the economy, fight corruption and put impunity in its place are intensified.
These, in our opinion, are part of the defining structures or sub structures in the Nigerian setting which require immediate national restructuring.
Besides, restructuring in the sense we are using should first start with the mind. No amount of restructuring will succeed if as Nigerians we do nothing to change our mindset.
Having said these, it would not be totally out of place to suggest that the recommendations drawn up by the Jonathan conference should be forwarded to the National Assembly.
The National Assembly which has direct representatives of the Nigerian people should thereafter work out a gradual and procedural manner for evolving relevant laws. And tinkering with existing sections of the constitution in order to accommodate ideas that are currently behind calls for restructuring captured by the last conference.
Finally, to engage in restructuring in an unstructured pattern would lay the foundation of an implosion that this nation may never recover from.