A former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Jega, Thursday said it is necessary to find practical ways of restructuring Nigeria before the 2023 general elections.
He said the country is operating one of the worst models of federal system of government in the world today.
He said there was an urgent need to restructure the country to proactively block irredentist tendencies and facilitate stable socio-economic development in the country.
Jega said the core objective of any federal system is to ensure “non-conflictual management of diversity and sharing of power and resources for stable societal progress and socioeconomic development.”
“Therefore, for its stability, progress and development as a modern nation-state, Nigeria’s federal structure needs refinement and improvement, or some form of what can be called restructuring,” he said.
He stressed the need for “elite consensus” and good democratic governance to nurture and entrench political accommodation of diversity as well as equitable power and resources sharing to bring about restructuring, adding that “the near absence of the two intervening variables has obstructed the attainment of the aforementioned desirable objective of a federal system.”
“The way things are going, Nigerians in general and the elite in particular, need to engage with the issue of restructuring more seriously and purposefully and begin to address it.
“I say ‘begin to address it’ because, regrettably, we have allowed things to be so bad for so long that it would require concerted, systematic effort over a carefully defined time-frame, to be able to successfully, permanently solve the challenges, which bedevil Nigeria, especially those, which have given rise to the intense demands and agitations for restructuring.
“To my mind, there is no doubt that, understood properly, without grandstanding and brinkmanship, restructuring is necessary and the time to begin concretely, is now.
“But there should be no doubt, also, that although restructuring is necessary, it is not a sufficient condition for the stability, progress and socio-economic development in Nigeria,” he said.
Jega also said there must be good democratic governance predicated on justice, equity and equality of opportunity for all citizens.
He said the continuous and vociferous demands for restructuring were largely due to deep-rooted perceptions of marginalisation and inequities in the management of the affairs of the country; bad governance driven by incompetent, inefficient and self-serving leadership; political brinkmanship by some elite, especially politicians and/or ethno-religious war ‘lords’ and failure of governance to satisfy the needs and aspirations of citizens, among others.