By Jerome-Mario Utomi
From observations, there is no doubt that our leaders are experts in listening without being attentive to the masses; an attribute that has, in turn, made their relationship with the people civil but cold. A situation occasioned by our handler’s inability to learn that ‘success is a lousy teacher which makes a winner feels that he cannot lose’. Accordingly, these cold silences have become ‘a word made flesh and now dwell among us’ in the form of the Fulani herdsmen mindless and continual use of the innocent Nigerian’s blood to irrigate our arid political space.
This climate of opinion surrounding leadership in Nigeria has again made the recently well-chiseled speech of president Muhammadu Buhari as delivered in a nationwide broadcast on Monday 1st, January 2018 unacceptable by the critical minds. A Particular reference to that speech that has received several knocks is the president’s hanging and the asymmetrical statement about the nation’s restructuring where he among other things stated that ‘no human law or edifice is perfect. Whatever structure we develop must periodically be perfected according to the changing circumstances and the country’s socio-economic developments’. With appropriate humility, the above statement made by the president was correct and commendable but his silence on how this imperfect structure/edifice should be corrected is condemnable
In like manner, identifying that imperfection exist in the first instance in my views makes the call for the nation’s restructuring inevitable and eminently desirable. Catalyzing the process of reforming this changing circumstance as muted by the president should be the preoccupation of the FG .and also acts as the propeller to having our federal framework reworked.
The above is imperative as the current posturing has made the government at the centre become the dispenser of goodness by proxy while leaving the federating states idle and lazy which is against the spirit of the federal system of government and the expectation of the masses.
What the masses are saying and wanting in my understanding is that the padding of the second schedule of the exclusive legislative list, of our 1999 constitution with sixty-eight (68) items has made Abuja suffer ‘political obesity’ and need to shed some weight via power devolution. What the people are saying is that the over blotted exclusive list has made our nation to currently stand in an inverted pyramid shape with more power concentrated at the top and the base not formidable enough making collapse inevitable if urgent and fundamental steps are not taken.
What the proponents of restructuring are saying is that majority of the items are too trivial for the Federal Government to handle and should serve the greater good of the people if left in the hands of both the state and the local government. This is the hub of the masses expectation. Items such as; Police and some government security services, mines and minerals; including oil fields, oil mining geological surveys, control of parks, stamp duties, public holidays, taxation of incomes, profits and capital gains, and insurance among others to my mind should find their ways back to the states and the local councils.
To illustrate the effectiveness of the above, If we had had state police in Nigeria, chances are that these gruesome killings that is ongoing in some sections of the country would have been better managed.
However, it will not be out of place if the states and local councils are allowed to handle all these and made to pay taxes when necessary to the federal government coffers. By so doing, the federal government will be freed from handling the tiny details which prevent them from looking at the bigger national issues. In the same vein, it will empower states/regions and local councils that have been technically rendered redundant. This, in my views, is the synoptic baggage of what Nigerians are asking for and achieving it is a simple assignment. .To get started will require Mr. President presenting an executive bill demanding for the nation’s restructuring before the National Assembly as waiting for the lawmakers to initiate such bill may translate to waiting till eternity.
The president needs to do this as that may be the only major effort he needs to convince the masses that he can take the nation out of these political and socio-economic impasses. But in making this call, I am well aware that there is nothing more ‘difficult to handle, more doubtful of success, and more dangerous to carry through than initiating such changes as the innovator will make more enemies of all those who prospered under old other’. But any leaders that do, come out powerful, secured, respected and happy. This is an opportunity that Mr. President must not miss.
Therefore, this is the time for my President to prime and position for this major national transformation. This time is auspicious for Mr. President to make his vision sharp and his goal clear to all. And this is the time in history for President Muhammadu Buhari to demonstrate that the credibility of his leadership is built not in words but action.
Another key point on the part of the masses is that for us to achieve this, we must rise above our divides by undressing ourselves of the garment of tribal loyalties which in many cases has proved to be stronger than a common sense of nationhood. Let us at this critical moment of our existence remember that we cannot solve our political and socio-economic challenges with the same thinking we used when we created it. Let’s make no mistake about it, for us to build the Nigeria of our dreams, we most graduate our ‘thought system and loyalty to a level of being united rather than sectional. Our loyalty must transcend our race, our tribe, our class and we must develop a world perspective on the affairs of our nations’.
Jerome-Mario writes via [email protected]