Wednesday, 28 October 2020

BY Lawal Ogienagbon: The restructuring rumble

Posted On Sunday, 11 October 2020 18:03 Written by Lawal Ogienagbon/
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BY Lawal Ogienagbon: The restructuring rumble

JUST five years ago, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) was an advocate of restructuring. It campaigned with the issue, promising the electorate that restructuring was a done deal under its government. Five years after, the party has yet to fulfil its promise. Is restructuring still on the party’s agenda? It is hard to say considering how the government now views the idea. Whether or not it restructures the country as it promised in 2015, the truth is restructuring cannot be wished away.

The idea keeps popping up at every turn, evoking comments from politicians, pastors and patricians. You can understand when politicians talk about restructuring. You may say that they are playing politics with it. But when those who are not partisan veer into the matter, it sends a message across immediately that it is time for government to act. And when one of such people is the revered Pastor E.A. Adeboye, it clearly shows that it is really a serious matter.

Adeboye, General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), hardly comments on national issues. For him, politics is a no go area. He keeps to himself and his calling, but encourages his spiritual children to participate in politics and even vie for elective office. He played a key role in the emergence of Prof Yemi Osinbajo as vice president. Adeboye may not talk when people expect him to, and when he does, he speaks in parables, leaving people wondering about what he means. He calls to the deep and only the deep can understand the message of Daddy GO, as he is fondly called by Redeemers and non-Redeemers.

When he implores the language of the Spirit, his comments are subjected to various interpretations. He has since learnt to keep quiet because of some of the wild interpretations given to his comments. By doing so, he was probably avoiding a clash with those in authority, who will not take kindly to any criticism of the government. The GO may have changed tactics lately.

He has been coming out forcefully with his position on some burning issues. At the monthly thanksgiving service of the RCCG in September, he declared that the government had enough money to provide palliative for every citizen, but noted that it could not do so because of corruption and lack of accountability. “To say there is not enough money to give juicy palliative to Nigerians is an understatement because Nigeria has the money. But the problem known to everyone is corruption and lack of accountability”. He was unsparing of the government on the fuel price hike, asking it to reconsider introducing such policy at a time people were getting relief from the scourge of COVID-19.

Is this the making of a new Adeboye? Those who know him describe him as someone who always speaks his mind, explaining that his priestly office has stopped him from doing that in the past few years. No matter, the public is excited with this new Adeboye, who says it as it is, no matter whose ox is gored. Adeboye is loved by many in and out of government for his fatherly and mature disposition to issues. He is not one of those flippant priests who love to make noise for the fun of it. The GO talks when it is necessary and not to impress anybody. When he spoke on restructuring last Saturday, the nation paid attention. Not a few wished he had spoken earlier.

Aso Rock was stunned. It did not expect the GO to come out with such a bang on restructuring. Interestingly, Adeboye, the Northern Elders Forum and others are not saying anything new. They are merely echoing what the ruling APC said in 2015 when it was campaigning for power. At a 60th Independence Day Celebration Symposium jointly organised by RCCG and the Nehemiah Institute of Leadership, with the theme: Where will Nigeria be in 2060? the GO said: “Why can’t we have a system of government that will create what I will call the United States of Nigeria? Let me explain. We all know that we must restructure. It is either we restructure or we break up; you don’t have to be a prophet to know that. That is certain – restructure or we break up.

“Now, we don’t want to break up. God forbid. In restructuring, why don’t we have a Nigerian kind of democracy? At the federal level, why don’t we have a president and a prime minister? At the state level, you have the governor and the premier… Without any doubt, we must restructure and do it as soon as possible. A United States of Nigeria is likely to survive than our present structure”.

The government’s reaction was swift. It said President Muhammadu Buhari would not succumb to threats on restructuring. Can the clamour for restructuring be described as threats by any stretch of imagination? The answer is no. If those calls are threats then the APC-led government is also guilty because it campaigned with the issue. The party also raised the Governor Nasir El-Rufai panel on restructuring to finetune the idea for execution. What has happened to the panel’s report? Should it be taken that the party has abandoned its restructuring promise? It is unthinkable that APC, which styles itself as a progressive party, will campaign on an issue and subsequently turn round not to live up to its word.

Is that how to be a progressive? Progressives are known to stand by their words come rain come shine. They do not make promises and break them when it is politically convenient to do so. They do not play the progressive card to win election and become something else when they assume office. Ultimately, the final decision rests with the people, who will determine what and who they want with their votes, in future elections.

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