June 12 declaration: A precursor to restructuring?

Surprise is one of the principles of war. It is the incidental introduction of the expected, but it wasn’t applied to mislead and mystify Nigerians. The element of surprise was to right the wrong, forge national unity and breakdown the barriers of disharmony in the country. So on June 6, 2018 the unexpected suddenly happened in the nation’s political arena. This time, politics surprised the great people of Nigeria as it resurrected June 12.

Most Nigerians and indeed the international community were flabbergasted when President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) declared June 12 as a democracy day. Nigerians never expected that the spirit of participatory democracy muffled up in the June 12, 1993 struggle would be resurrected twenty five years after its annulment. Annulling an election regarded by most Nigerians as “free and fair” was a tragedy in the country’s political history.

MKO Abiola of blessed memory, under the banner of the Social Democratic Party was adjudged winner of the election. Election results were unacceptable to powers and principalities at that time. The struggle by Nigerians to have a democratically elected government after several years of military tyranny was not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, and powers of evil in the political realm. So the military junta annulled the election.

Facts are sacred, they say. Facts don’t lie, people do; and after twenty five years of dalliance with falsehood by powers-that-be, a former military general has institutionalized June 12. The day was declared national public holiday while the winner of the June 12 election, MKO Abiola and a few others, were glorified. PMB also surprised many Nigerians when he rendered an apology for the June 12 atrocities. But what the federal government has not done, and may likely not do, is to officially release the results of the 1993 elections.

Is the June 12 declaration for the South West alone? No! It’s for Nigeria and Nigerians. The political maneuver created by PMB in his declaration, and Nigerians’ subsequent pleasure from such a proclamation is gradually whittling down. The ricocheting effect of the June 12 declaration is seen gravitating towards the call for restructuring of the federation by Nigerians. It’s so because Nigerians have learnt their lessons that there is need to separate politics from the main issue. The main issue at the heart of June 12 is nothing but restructuring, some say.

Once again, Nigerians have raised their voices in harmony to support restructuring despite efforts to frustrate and dampen the decibel of their vocal sound. If Nigeria was restructured, it would allow federating units and states to develop at their own pace. Restructuring will reduce the enormous power at the centre and Nigeria will be a better country for it. Nigeria deserves political restructuring so that the country can progress.

PMB promised political restructuring in 2015. Members of the All Peoples Congress (APC) have come up with recommendations on restructuring. Irrespective of the economic hardship and insecurity pervading the country, PMB should lubricate relevant agencies of the government to commence the process of political restructuring.  Political restructuring starts with constitutional amendment. But will those who have constituted themselves into powers and principalities allow political restructuring? It’s doubtful. These are men and women of insatiable and romantic quest for power who have constituted themselves into a cabal. They are entrenched forces who benefit immensely from inequity, injustice and imbalance in the polity. These forces hate true federalism. They prefer the unitary system to enable them reap from where they did not sow. They prefer the “command and control” structure where the federal government has the sole ownership of the feeding-bottle to feed all 36 states and the federal capital territory.

When Nigerians sang the song of “change” with politicians in 2015, they had something in mind. They wanted a change in leadership motivated by choice and desire for a prosperous and egalitarian society. Nigerians have not forgotten the melody to the song of “change”. A continuation in office beyond 2019 by any politician for that matter will not be forced on the people but earned through strategic, bold and well-thought out vision for the future. The choice for a change or continuity of political leadership belongs to the people, not the government nor the military.

Democracy confers the power on the people to choose leaders of their choice. Whatever the choice made through the ballot box, leaders must surely emerge in accordance to the will of the people. PMB and his colleagues running the show in the APC-led government are hereby reminded that: “Man has three ways of acting wisely. First, on meditation; that is the noblest. Secondly, on imitation; that is the easiest. Thirdly, on experience; that is the bitterest,” according to Confucius. The experience of citizens in the past nineteen years of democratic governance due to poverty, hunger, insecurity and unemployment in the midst of plenty is bittersweet. Nigerians are willing to deploy their bittersweet experience to determine which direction the pendulum of voting will swing in the next elections.

This writer salutes the courage, boldness and political wisdom of PMB in reconciling Nigerians to Nigeria. But the issue at stake is beyond political fanfare. PMB needs to take a step further by ensuring that the process of true federalism is initiated. He should summon the courage, exhibit patriotism, ignore all unpatriotic individuals, and groups that are against restructuring and true federal system of government. Patriotic Nigerians pray fervently that the God of creation should direct PMB’s noble cause. While we beseech the Creator to guide our leaders’ right especially in the sea of confusion they’ve plunged the nation.

As politicians of all political hues and parentages prepare for elective offices, our supplication to the Creator is to help them to know the enormity of responsibilities attached to offices they aspire to occupy. We pray for love and honesty to grow, and the ability to live a just and true life worthy of emulation amongst Nigerians. Restructuring is the way forward in order to attain great and lofty heights in nation building, where peace and justice shall reign.

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