Restruc­tur­ing: What North Wants

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The seem­ing slow pace at ar­riv­ing at a com­mon po­si­tion on the is­sue of restruc­tur­ing by the north like the other re­gions have done is de­lib­er­ate as north­ern­ers by their cul­ture are pa­tient and not given to show­man­ship

From An­drew Agbese & Haf­sat Mustapha, (Kaduna) Yusha’u A. Ibrahim (Kano)

Gov­er­nor Aminu Waziri Tam­buwal of Sokoto State was in Kaduna on Thurs­day as part of his sched­ule as chair­man of the North­ern Com­mit­tee on Restruc­tur­ing to kick-start the process aimed at ar­riv­ing at a com­mon po­si­tion for the en­tire north­ern re­gion on restruc­tur­ing.

The North is the only re­gion that is yet to take a po­si­tion on the now vexed is­sue of restruc­tur­ing as both the South-east and the South­west have worked out a po­si­tion in that re­gard.

How­ever, the north­ern governors re­cently set up a com­mit­tee headed by the Sokoto gov­er­nor to har­mo­nize the po­si­tions of tra­di­tional rulers, groups and other stake­hold­ers in that re­gard.

Other groups like the Arewa Re­search and Devel­op­ment Project, ARDP, also called for a con­fer­ence on the mat­ter which would in­volve the governors, groups, lead­ers of thought and other in­tel­lec­tu­als to­wards hav­ing a com­mon stand.

The ARDP con­vener, Dr. Us­man Bu­gaje, says the res­o­lu­tion of the con­fer­ence would form part of what the state governors would be work­ing on as the governors are in­volved in every stage of the con­fer­ence.

Though the process is on-go­ing, Tam­buwal gave a hint of what may be the guid­ing prin­ci­ple to­wards tak­ing a com­mon stand as he says the north­ern re­gion re­mains com­mit­ted to the unity of Nige­ria.

He said, “we agreed that a tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee be set up to work on the pre­vi­ous doc­u­ments, con­fer­ences and po­si­tion pa­pers and then come back to us within three weeks.

“There­after, every state will con­duct pub­lic hear­ing and we will be meet­ing on 24th Oc­to­ber 2017 by the grace of God to re­view all that. So by the end of Oc­to­ber, God will­ing, we shall be able to get back to the larger body of the north­ern governors fo­rum and north­ern tra­di­tional lead­ers and Coun­cil.”

He said all the is­sues that are go­ing to be brought up by the tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee that has been con­sti­tuted by the com­mit­tee will be crit­i­cally looked into so that they can be sub­jected to a very ro­bust data­base de­bate across the North and the out­come of that will be pre­sented to north­ern governors and tra­di­tional rulers.

He said, “there is a process go­ing on in the coun­try for en­gage­ment and I am sure the fed­eral govern­ment is will­ing to lis­ten to all these ag­i­ta­tions”.

Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, who was at the meet­ing, also sup­ported the idea of di­a­logue.

“I be­lieve in the con­ver­sa­tion. We have just looked into three main items that stood out clearly. The first is that we have heard our com­mit­ment to the unity of the coun­try and we are go­ing to have a re­gional con­ver­sa­tion to ex­press the press­ing is­sue that have been raised.

“The sec­ond point is that, we have to look into con­sti­tu­tional re­form of the Fed­eral Repub­lic of Nige­ria. This is im­por­tant be­cause it will help us to an­swer ques­tions like what ex­actly is the di­vi­sion of power of state, what ex­actly should be the role of lo­cal govern­ment and whether there should be an op­por­tu­nity for dif­fer­ent states to dis­cuss is­sues around fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity, shar­ing of rev­enue and all that can be dis­cussed. And not just shar­ing of rev­enue but whether en­tire rev­enue of the govern­ment should be used for pay­ment of salaries, con­sti­tu­tion amend­ment on is­sue of na­tional min­i­mum wage”, he said.

As the north moves to­wards adopt­ing a com­mon po­si­tion, some stake­hold­ers bare their minds on the is­sues that should be of para­mount con­cern to the re­gion.

Bu­gaje: North­ern idea of restruc­tur­ing far dif­fer­ent from other re­gions’

Con­vener of the Arewa Re­search and Devel­op­ment Project (ARDP), Dr. Us­man Bu­gaje said the view of the north on restruc­tur­ing of the coun­try would be far dif­fer­ent from what the other re­gions are propos­ing as the north will not ac­cept any sug­ges­tion to re­turn to six re­gions.

He said the ARDP is or­ga­niz­ing a con­fer­ence to har­monise the po­si­tion of north­ern­ers which would in­volve the state governors, tra­di­tional rulers, pub­lic pol­icy groups and other stake­hold­ers.

The con­vener said north­ern­ers also dif­fer from the other re­gions be­cause they view it as wrong for any state to be re­ferred to as oil pro­duc­ing in Nige­ria since all the min­eral re­sources be­long to the Nige­rian State.

Dr. Bu­gaje said the seem­ing slow pace at ar­riv­ing at a com­mon po­si­tion on the is­sue of restruc­tur­ing by the north like the other re­gions have done is de­lib­er­ate as north­ern­ers by their cul­ture are pa­tient and not given to show­man­ship.

He said while the north is also not com­fort­able with the cur­rent struc­ture as there are areas that it would want amended in the Con­sti­tu­tion, they do not tally with the po­si­tion of the other parts of the coun­try.

“Gen­er­ally speak­ing, the fac­tor that drives the quest for restruc­tur­ing is the dis­sat­is­fac­tion with gov­er­nance in Nige­ria. I’m not quite sure of the so­lu­tion the peo­ple are giv­ing, but clearly, the clam­our is driven by our in­abil­ity to de­liver on devel­op­ment,” he said.

Bu­gaje said this is be­cause the fed­er­at­ing units have evolved from the cen­ter and the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the cen­tre and the fed­er­at­ing units has so far been evolv­ing through var­i­ous con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments.

“When we hear groups in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try talk­ing about restruc­tur­ing, they come with de­mands as if they are in a po­si­tion to force oth­ers and I think that might have come from the kind of mil­i­tary regimes that we have seen be­fore that in­flu­enced our psy­che.

“I think as cit­i­zens, if you have a gen­uine con­cern about how things are go­ing and you want of­fer a so­lu­tion, you come to the ta­ble with a so­lu­tion and ar­gu­ments that sup­port that par­tic­u­lar sug­ges­tions so that you can per­suade fel­low cit­i­zens and make them ap­pre­ci­ate it”, he said.

Why it is dif­fi­cult for North to make stand on restruc­tur­ing – Tanko Yaka­sai

A Spe­cial Po­lit­i­cal Ad­viser to the for­mer Pres­i­dent Al­haji Shehu Aliyu Sha­gari, Al­haji Sal­ihu Tanko Yaka­sai, has said that it will be dif­fi­cult for the North to take a stand on the on-go­ing ag­i­ta­tion for restruc­tur­ing of Nige­ria be­cause the ag­i­ta­tors have not given de­tails of what they re­ally mean by restruc­tur­ing. Speak­ing to Daily Trust on

Sun­day, Yaka­sai said, “I think it is im­proper for the North to take a po­si­tion on this mat­ter with­out know­ing what the en­tire ag­i­ta­tion for restruc­tur­ing means. The North must know what the ag­i­ta­tors want be­fore it makes its pro­posal to ei­ther sup­port or counter it.

He stated that the North could make a mis­take by tak­ing any stand on the is­sue with­out know­ing what the ag­i­ta­tors are look­ing for.

Yaka­sai added that he prefers the re­turn of the1963 Con­sti­tu­tion in­stead of sup­port­ing the restruc­tur­ing which he does not know what it ac­tu­ally means.

He said, “what the north­ern­ers have adopted in Ibadan meet­ing with some Yoruba lead­ers gave birth to 1963 con­sti­tu­tion and it con­tains four re­gions; the north, the west, mid-west and the east. But now they are propos­ing six re­gions which con­tra­dicts what was ob­tain­able in the 1963 con­sti­tu­tion. So, if we are go­ing back to 1963 con­sti­tu­tion fine, we should go back to it straight and I have no quar­rel with any­body who wants this change.”

How­ever, he opined that the North and in fact any­body who wants to take a stand on restruc­tur­ing must know what it means.

“It will be sui­ci­dal to de­cide on some­thing that you don’t know be­cause restruc­tur­ing to­day has not been spelt out and mak­ing any com­mit­ment on some­thing that you don’t know, is very dan­ger­ous.

“The governors and tra­di­tional rulers are Nige­ri­ans and they could take what­ever de­ci­sion they con­sider a re­flec­tion of their own feel­ings but that would not be bind­ing on any re­gion. So, to me every com­mon man in north­ern Nige­ria has the right to ac­cept what they pro­posed or to re­ject it.”

On the way for­ward, Yaka­sai said, “there is a pro­posal from the South-west by some Yoruba lead­ers who are ad­vo­cat­ing for us to go back to the 1963 con­sti­tu­tion. I know what 1963 con­sti­tu­tion con­tains and I am okay with it. We stood by this con­sti­tu­tion from 1963 to 1966. Every Nige­rian ac­cepted it and it worked for Nige­ri­ans for three years.”

He, how­ever, said that the ag­i­ta­tors for the cur­rent restruc­tur­ing should bring out their blue­print for Nige­ria, de­tail­ing what they mean by it and how Nige­ria should look.

“I should know what will hap­pen to me, to my chil­dren and my grand­chil­dren when Nige­ria is re­struc­tured be­fore tak­ing a po­si­tion on the is­sue. How Nige­ria is go­ing to look like and how it will be de­mar­cated? What will hap­pen to us and the com­ing gen­er­a­tions af­ter the coun­try is re­struc­tured? These are some of the fun­da­men­tal ques­tions that need an­swers from the ag­i­ta­tors.

“So, I am ad­vis­ing the north­ern peo­ple to have a clear pic­ture of the whole thing be­fore tak­ing any po­si­tion oth­er­wise they may take a wrong one,” he said.

Dr. Us­man Bu­gaje

Al­haji Sal­ihu Tanko Yaka­sai

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