His Royal Majesty has not always been of mere ceremonial importance, if not outright joke. The fate of an individual and the kingdom once depended on his disposition or pronouncement. In many cases the king’s word was law. Such was the importance of the monarchy that the royal stool was not permitted to be vacant. In 1272 when the English king Henry III died, so says history, his son and heir-apparent Edward I was away preoccupied with the battle of the Crusades. Nevertheless, the Royal Council proclaimed him king and he reigned in absentia until he heard of his father’s death and returned home.
In France, in those ancient days, a successor to the throne was announced as the demised predecessor was lowered into the royal tomb. The phrase “The king is dead, long live the king” accompanied the interment and the coronation. The kingdom was too important to be vacant, even for half a day, lest some ambitious claimant seize upon the lacuna.
Here, in these modern but troubled times, restructuring has assumed a larger-than-life image, with people like former vice president Atiku Abubakar, in their own words, trumpeting the point that there is hardly any future for Nigeria without restructuring. It doesn’t matter to them that some have smelled 2019 politics in the restructuring crusade. The nobles and commoners alike have been so enamoured of the word that it may not be farfetched to assume that even in the markets where we buy our peppers, tomatoes and native seasonings, restructuring could well have become a staple.
Despite its initial popularity, though, restructuring may have run into very bad weather. The presidency has amply shown that the R-word is not one of its favourites. Not after, it is feared, some have turned it into a campaign weapon, insinuating that the country may break up if not restructured. In fact, presidential spokesman Femi Adesina has lampooned some champions of restructuring who have been in government for decades and have only just woken up to the R-word on the eve of a presidential election.
Some are also starting to ask for the meaning of the word. Northern governors, for instance, recently sought that clarification not because the region is afraid to stand alone, should it come to that, but because they think restructuring means different things to different people. And if there is no consensus, then there is a problem with the word.
Southeast leaders seem to be joining the restructuring campaign late. The reason for this is unclear. Were they simply overwhelmed or distracted by the belligerent posture of the Indigenous People of Biafra or IPOB? Were they waiting to see how the secessionist agitation would pan out? But after the python danced in the region, a gyration few enjoyed, the leaders started pushing for restructuring, trying to knock it into every Igbo head that restructuring is indeed better than secession. It may be belated but it is still a smart move. In fact, if they could turn back the hands of the clock, Igbo leaders would have started early to knock restructuring into the heads of IPOB members, something they tried to do with Nnamdi Kanu, the group’s leader, shortly before the serpent started dancing in Abia. In any event, restructuring is at best an afterthought in the Southeast, not the original thought.
Then, in Ibadan, on October 12, Southwest leaders effectively pronounced the death of restructuring, at least as a word.
“Restructuring is not our language,” declared elder statesman Bisi Akande. “Go and ask those who are advocating restructuring to define it.”
Chief Akande’s point was clear enough. The Southwest will not join the clamour for restructuring. That will be music to the ears of the president. But leaders of the region did not gather at the Oyo State governor’s office just to distance themselves from the R-word. Chief Akande conveyed the aggregate position of the Ibadan meeting and it had restructuring written all over it. They want the federal government to concede some of its powers to the states. They want the states to also control a good part of their revenues so those which prioritise agriculture, for instance, and have the land can go ahead and do so. Those which have concrete plans for education should be able to practicalise those plans. In other words, the Southwest wants a return to the glorious days of the regions when it shone brightly not just with its policies but also its structures, some of which still stand till today, to the envy of other regions. This, as Chief Akande pointed out, was the reason they met back in January.
Of the zones, and as far as restructuring goes, the Southwest appears to be the most coherent, though they want nothing to do with the word itself. If their demands are met, and if they get other states to benefit from the campaign they led, then who cares whether you call it restructuring or anything else. If the Southwest push endures on this steam, then clearly, the word restructuring is on its last legs but its essence is alive nonetheless.
From : Thenation newspaper