What’s restructuring, and why is there a persistent and acrimonious demand for it in Nigeria right now? Said merely, restructuring, which has gained progressively highly effective forex within the nation since 1999, is a requirement for constitutional or political reform to result in modifications within the nation’s federal system the higher for it to function a mechanism for democratically managing the nation’s ethnic variety. However to state what restructuring means so merely is to boost extra basic questions on it: “restructuring for what, and for whom?” The query, thus, goes into the center of the nation’s traditionally long-simmering drawback of the nation-building and state-building processes within the nation’s begun lengthy earlier than independence in 1960.
Put in a different way, restructuring, within the context of the nation’s present political conjunctures, has reopened the previous debate concerning the inadequacies of the federal answer as an ethno-federal answer within the vital 25-year interval that led to the nation’s independence in 1960.
For restructuring has now introduced out extra poignantly than ever earlier than, inadequacies in ethno-federalism as an answer to the nation’s citizenship query. That is so, whether or not it’s formulated as a requirement for a) true federalism; b) fiscal federalism; c) creation of extra state; d) parity within the variety of states between the Northern and Southern geopolitical zones and between and amongst majority and minority ethnic teams within the nation; e) devolution of energy from the federal to the unit stage, which is in truth wrongly phrased, since energy shouldn’t be devolved however de-concentrated in a federal system, by way of the recalibration of the legislative lists, on the premise of subsidiarity, to provide fewer energy to the federal stage and extra to the unit stage of presidency within the federation, by decreasing the variety of gadgets on the unique and concurrent record, which is in actuality a federal unique record, by transferring gadgets, by implication, to a residuary record, which is in impact an un-enumerated unique unit stage record; g) return to regionalism; h) native authorities autonomy, making it a 3rd stage or tier of presidency; i) return to parliamentarianism and unicameralism; j) state police; and ok) confederation, which is a code phrase for the dissolution of the federation.
Ethno-regionalism was the result of a negotiated consensus among the many mainstream management of the nation’s inheritance political elite, superintended and brokered by Nice Britain within the vital interval between 1945 and 1960. It has had two vital lasting, amongst different, penalties: It laid the foundations for a) the transformation of regionalism into ethno-regionalism as a midway station in direction of fully-fledged ethno-federalism within the nation in 1960; doing so, b) the emergence of ethno-regional versus nationwide political events. The error of the 25-year interval was that it gave a half-hearted and insufficient reply to the citizenship query, “To whom does the state belong” on the central administration/federal and regional/unit ranges of presidency posed by the nation’s intertwined nation-building and state-building processes in an ethnically divided society, with the upcoming dismantling of colonial rule within the nation.
Restructuring is now a modern-day reformulation of this citizenship query and it signifies a weakening or break-down within the fragile elite consensus that has sustained the Nigerian federation since independence. Due to this fact, to supply a context for the demand, you will need to beam the searchlight on the social forces and processes that introduced concerning the negotiated ethno-federal consensus. In the course of the vital 15-year interval throughout which the consensus was negotiated and compacted, significantly after the introduction of the Richards Structure in 1947, three salient options which have continued to outline, body, and construction the contours of democracy and federalism within the nation took form: a) the event of ethnic-based political events, as clones of ethnic associations; and, as a consequence, the political mobilization of ethnicity by the nation’s emergent political the events; b) the definition and conversion of regionalism, from administrative regionalism to political regionalism or political devolution beneath the Richards Structure, 1947; and c) the transformation of political regionalism into ethno-regionalism, main progressively into ethno-federalism, by way of constitutional reform beneath the nation’s 1951, 1954 and 1960 Independence Constitutions.
It’s instructive, due to this fact, to situate the present demand for restructuring throughout the materials and historic context of the event of federalism and aggressive electoral politics within the nation. Beaming the searchlight on the context will shed a penumbra of sunshine to light up vital however sometimes uncared for defining moments and vital “missed alternatives” in Nigeria’s constitutional and political historical past that aggravated the governance issues that restructuring is now formulated as the reply. It is going to counsel that restructuring in its present reformulation, as demand for constitutional and political reform, misdiagnoses the governance issues for which it’s proposed as an answer. My argument is that the issues are traditionally deep-rooted and are primarily not solely ones of constitutional reform or evaluation, vital as constitutional reform is. They’re inherent within the nation’s political financial system, the fabric and mainstream political tradition that gives the setting inside which aggressive celebration and electoral politics and federalism intersect in a symbiotic however problematic method. In truth, it isn’t farfetched to invest that the present demand for restructuring in a few of its varieties displays deep cracks within the elite consensus attributable to disgruntled ethnic fractions of the nation’s political management, who’ve misplaced out within the energy battle on the federal stage and are searching for extra beneficial reentry doorways into the recesses of federal energy
The self-seeking demand of those fractions of the management for restructuring has, nonetheless, acquired a wider viewers and a bigger area of supporters, rising to a excessive crescendo. It’s given pressure and legitimacy by unhealthy and anti-people governance, strengthened by unconscionable impunity that desecrates the constitutional guardrails of ethno-federalism and democracy, and rising insecurity at each the federal and state ranges. Because of this, the demand has assumed the standing of a self-fulfilling prophecy and is now canvassed as, maybe, the one cure-all prescription and answer for the nation’s quickly deepening political and socio-economic disaster of democracy and growth.
The extra speedy context for the modern demand for restructuring is the euphoria over the return to democratic rule in Nigeria in 1999 that was progressively and significantly diminished, giving technique to a deep sense of despair concerning the “unfulfilled potentialities” of democracy and federalism within the nation. The despair reached such a low level that vital fractions of the nation’s political management started to contemplate whether or not the exit possibility was not an applicable one due to the notion amongst some ethnic teams of the development in direction of the inequitable distribution of the worth of ethno-federalism among the many nation’s ethnic teams.
The demand for restructuring has one other context: the nation’s lengthy and seemingly intractable f flawed historical past of democratic political succession on the federal stage, and with it the issue of accountability and legitimacy continues to boost. The politics of federal political succession is the silent however highly effective unseen hand directing latest calls for for restructuring, as certainly it was for earlier calls for for constitutional reform after the nation’s 1964-1965 electoral disaster. The reform, coming in 1979 beneath the 1979 Structure, 13 years after the disaster, included entrenched consociational provisions, such because the federal character clauses for power-sharing and the unfold requirement for the election of the nation’s president and state governors. It additionally included celebration reform in 1979 and later in 1989 proscribing ethnic-based political events.
The provisions have been designed to mute or circumvent the sturdy and protracted mutual concern of domination among the many nation’s ethnic teams.
The failure of the power-sharing clauses and the proscription of ethnic-based political events to douse the mutual concern of domination is revealing. It reveals, to some extent, the boundaries of reform, though it issues, and might make a distinction. What it reveals is also that constitutional reform shouldn’t be the one drawback or answer; and that past and along with it, searchlight also needs to be beamed on materials and cultural processes, such because the nation’s political financial system and celebration system, and the social forces driving and contending over public coverage institutional processes that equally pose severe issues for democracy and ethno-federalism. On this respect, as an example, what advocates of an idyllic or legendary true federalism or the recalibration of the legislative record or a return to parliamentarianism as panacea fail to contemplate are the massive imperfections within the nation’s 1947, 1951, 1954, 1960, and 1963 constitutions, notably the unresolved minority query and the function of the celebration system in aggravating fairly than rising above, the mutual concern of domination among the many management of the nation’s ethnic teams, sowing mistrust amongst them, and diminishing the prospects for build up the social capital, so very important for turning the nation’s nation-building right into a state-formation course of. It was the imbalances and injustices of the regionalist and later the federal answer between 1947 and 1963 and the constitutional and violent constitutional disaster and violent political electoral battle the federalization of the ethno-regionalized celebration system exacerbated between 1951 and 1965, that finally unraveled the First Republic.
It is very important emphasize this level, to counter the disingenuously unhistorical declare about “true” federalism that when existed in Nigeria however which is now passé, and to which, together with parliamentarism, the nation ought to now return. The truth, the historic reality doesn’t bear out the rhetoric of true federalism, or unproblematic parliamentarism both beneath the 1960 or the 1963 structure. Then, as of now, the imbalances and injustices triggered threats of secession both as strategic bargaining and blackmail ploys or an exit possibility. What’s disturbing about some formulations of the present rhetoric of restructuring, couched in hate speech is their unseemly and strident adversarial tone. It blurs the realities that give the restructuring demand a few of its efficiency, casting “us” and “them” as enemies, emphasizing what divides completely into ethnic phrases, whereas ignoring ties of solidarity that bind throughout a number of identities, and on which the federal ideology of “unity in variety” of the Nigerian state needs to be firmly anchored. Thus, the nationality query is diverted from what it needs to be: a human growth and human safety query, as articulated beneath Chapter of the Structure of Nigeria.
This leads me to a different argument, framed across the following. The nation should not unwarily fall sufferer to the fetishism or magic of legal-constitutional design or restructuring. Relatively, it should start to embrace the broader Aristotelian view of the structure as an ethical structure, not merely or a strictly authorized doc. This Aristotelian idea of the structure was endorsed by Nigeria’s 1976 Structure Drafting Committee (CDC) when it noticed in its report that the failure of earlier constitutions within the nation was as a result of they muted or disregarded this ethical notion of the structure, what Rousseau, following Aristotle postulated because the Spirit of the Regulation: “Such is the preoccupation with energy and its materials advantages that political concepts about how society might be organized and dominated to the very best benefit of all hardly enter into the calculation. Maybe, the structure is partly in charge for this. Our 1963 Structure like its predecessors spoke solely when it comes to energy and of rights however by no means of duties…A structure ought to by no means be merely a code of legally enforceable guidelines and rules. It’s a constitution of presidency” for cultivating and nurturing a democratic tradition, which binds and restraints all, and which is anchored as a lot on the spirit as on the letter of the regulation. That is the message of the epigraph, quoted from Ladipo Adamolekun and John Kincaid, at the start of this Lecture of their statement that earlier debate on federalism in Nigeria had characteristically “centered not a lot on the virtues of federalism versus unitarism however on the shape and character of federalism.”
Adele Jinadu, Senior Fellow Centre for Democracy and Improvement, Abuja, Nigeria delivered this lecture on the Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan School of Arts & Social Sciences, Igbinedion College, Okada, Edo State, Nigeria on Wednesday, June 16, 2021,