Because of the huge interest that agitations for restructuring of the Nigerian federation recently generated among various stakeholders and the role of the subject in shaping the incumbent administration, it is expected to be a major factor in the campaign process for the next general elections.
With the gradual loss of confidence in the political party system and the difficulties, which the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is facing in moving the county out of its current socio-economic challenges in the last two and half years despite its campaign promises, some stakeholders are of the view that the much anticipated restructuring of the governance system might become the determining factor of who becomes the next president in 2019.
The large turnout of supporters that heralded Buhari’s visit to Kano State last week in a way, gave the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) a step ahead of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), whose new National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, a South-South candidate emerged against the party’s micro zoning arrangement that was to favour the Southwest zone.
While President Buhari was full of confidence that he already has Kano, one of the highest voting states in the country, in his pocket ahead of the 2019 election, the PDP seems to have lost out in the Southwest, which is considered as a critical battlefield in the next general election going by the likely consequence of the outcome of its last convention.
Taking a look at the two developments of last week and the implications the ongoing demand to restructure the country is likely to have on the 2019 elections, former Minority Leader in the Senate, Dr. Olorunimbe Mamora agreed that not many Nigerians hope in the capability of the current political parties to drive the country out of its present challenges but he also doubt if the agitation for restructuring would determine the next ruling party based on certain factors.
While he agreed that the issue ought to be the basis upon which the next election should thrive due to the fact that many Nigerians are tired of the present skewed system and are yawning for change, he said, “Unfortunately it is only the Nigerian elite that have the deep understanding of what restructuring is all about.”
According to him, “Majority of Nigerian voters are not adequately enlightened on critical issues that the country needs to advance. This is a major issue and where those championing the agitation for restructuring have to do more.”
But the Executive Secretary, Nigeria National Summit Group (NNSG), Mr. Tony Uranta emphatically said restructuring would be the major campaign promise whosoever would emerge in 2019 must place forward.
While he did not dispute the skepticisms that Nigeria is not likely to get restructured under the Buhari’s administration as being demanded, Uranta said it is either Buhari refers to the subject with concrete promise and assurance “or he will lose reelection.”
According to him, “Mark my word, restructuring is going to be the central issue around which Nigeria’s next president would be determined whether for or against. Restructuring is going to be the determinant factor to bring about the next president of Nigeria.”
Although, Uranta did not dispute the popularity and the factor of the incumbency in the Nigeria democratic settings, he said those days are over when anybody thinks the vote of the northern region alone is what he needs to win presidential election, saying, whosoever or any political party that failed to include restructuring in its agenda, may find it very difficult to penetrate the entire South.
Meanwhile, the National Chairman, African Democratic Congress (ADC), Chief Ralph Nwosu said since there is no difference between the ruling party and PDP “Nigerians would definitely yawn for something different in 2019, which of course might be restructuring.”
According to him, “Restructuring is critical to Nigeria’s development and success as a country. It will challenge our political leaders and all aspiring political office seekers to prepare for work to create prosperity, security, beauty, and happiness for their constituents.”
Like Momora, Osaghae said those calling for restructuring lack the legal locus to make such demand happen even if it becomes a cardinal point for campaigns in 2019.
He said those calling for it need to do more to create a legal framework to make it realisable saying, “The guys who are calling for restructuring are people who have no locus; no legal locus to drive this process because these are self-appointed leaders of groups. So, it is difficult to tell who the authentic voices are.”
But with the ongoing relationship between the Southern Leaders Forum (SLF) and the Middle Belt region, whoever wants to campaign for presidency in 2019 may not be able to disregard the sentiment of the relationship to penetrate the regions.
This is even as the recent genocide in Adamawa State on December 4 where hundreds of people were massacred allegedly Fulani herdsmen, has even infuriated some leaders of the area who are currently agitating for a redefinition of the Nigerian governance system that would guarantee their security in the country.
All these factors put together may require that whosoever is going to campaign in most of the aggrieved places would have no choice than to reemphasize the issue of restructuring even as some leaders of the Southeast are not keen on swallowing the bait that another term for Buhari in 2019 will guarantee an Igbo presidency in 2023.
In like manner, recent development in the Southwest may also force the region in similar direction as former Chief of Defence Staff; Gen. Alani Akinrinade once said in an interview that the zone agreed to follow Buhari in 2015 on the promise of restructuring the federation.
More importantly, former Vice President and one of the founding fathers of PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar who recently rejoined the party has never ceased to hammer on the need to restructure the country. Definitely this is going to be his focus of campaign if he is going to run.
But taking a different look at the subject, the President, Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF), Alhaji Shettima Yerima said whosoever is coming up with the issue of restructuring as a vehicle to rule Nigeria in 2019 “is not only dishonest but doesn’t mean well for the country.”
He appealed to the Southern region on the need to change its orientation that the north is dominating and manipulating the governance system, which he said was the main factor fueling the demand for restructuring.
Yerima said it is regrettable that the North is more bastardised in terms of poverty, unemployment and worst still insecurity than the South.
The Arewa Youth leader said the South should allow the north to go for the presidency in 2019 and by 2023 “we can now task whosoever that is running for the presidency on the need to restructure the country.”
To him the present administration may not yield to the restructuring demand simply because the unity of Nigeria have been seriously threatened in the last couples of years “to therefore make any attempt to restructure now would send a dangerous signal,” but added that the Arewa youth will not settle for anybody above 50 or 55 years to rule the country after Buhari’s tenure. “The older generation have not only failed but they are also holding down the destiny of Nigeria,” he said.
A former member of the House of Representative from Rivers State, Mr. Bernard Mikko said neither restructuring of party politics are credible factors to use in determining the next leader of Nigeria “but trust and credibility.”