Nigerians have very short memory. A leader will just wake up one morning with a specific goal of pulling wool over the eyes of his people in the name of political reengineering or restructuring, and many people will fall to it. They will be manipulated, kept busily engaged, while the leader perfects his programme.
Next time, another leader will wake up and do the same, and the people will still fall prey. On and on, the beat continues and the people will still be deceived.
There is no Nigerian in recent memory who had so perfectly mastered this art and played it very well than a former military President, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida. In 1986, Babangida decided to set up a Twenty-member Political Bureau, and charged it to chart a new political agenda for the country and told Nigerians to make their views known to the bureau. For one whole year, the people were kept busy debating what should be the best political option for the country. It made them to forget the harsh economic realities that starred them in the face as they fell on top of each other debating the political future of the country.
At the end of the exercise, the political bureau recommended socialism as the appropriate political system suited for the country, but Babangida and his group rejected it, insisting that socialism should evolve rather than imposed. And Nigerians swallowed their pride. That was the end of that journey.
Still, to keep Nigerians busy, Babangida came up with the issue of creation of states. He created two states in 1987, and six states in 1991, and on each of these occasions, the time table for the political handover to civilians, was shifted. He also created two political parties, banned and unbanned political actors. That was how Babangida managed to hang on to power for eight years, from 1985 to 1993, when he was finally forced to “step aside”.
Former President Goodluck Jonathan equally learnt this strategy. He woke up in 2014, a year before the general elections, to convoke a national conference. He got Nigerians talking. They thought that there was going to be a miraculous turn around in the country’s political arrangement.
They forgot that whatever would be the product or outcome of the national conference, must be subjected to rigorous debates and approval of the National Assembly, which then had less than one year to stay. And so, when both Jonathan and the National Assembly vacated office after the 2015 elections, the report of the 2014 national conference, died a natural death.
Now, the APC led federal government, after being pressurized by Nigerians to embrace the clamour for restructuring by various sections of the country, claiming that it did not know what restructuring was all about, suddenly decided to set up the Mallam Nasir El rufai led committee to advise it on restructuring.
For long nothing was heard about the committee, but following the recent letter by former President Olusegun Obasanjo asking President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC to forget the 2019 election, El rufai and his team suddenly came back to life. They hurriedly dusted up the report of their committee and submitted it to the APC national chairman, John Oyegun, indicating that the party was now ready for restructuring. And Nigerians begin to clap!
Now, what are the people going to make out of this hogwash? Nothing practically, except that the El rufai report will become a distraction. Nigerians will begin to engage in talk shops, whether or not they are agreeable to the various recommendations embedded in the report, and it will simply end there.
Having accepted the report, the APC as a political party that set up the committee will begin to study its content, make inputs, before passing them on to President Muhammadu Buhari, who had earlier told us that he was usually never in a hurry to take any action or make decision.
The President after studying the report and putting in his own ideas, will then forward the report as executive bill to the National Assembly. There, the report will die a natural death, that is, if it will ever get there.
Don’t forget that the President is never in charge of the National Assembly. If you doubt it, find out how Saraki, Dogara, Ekweremadu and other principal officers of the National Assembly got to their present positions. Similarly, why is it that Ibrahim Magu has remained the acting chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), having failed Senate screening three times?
Meanwhile, what the APC and El rufai’s Abracadabra will achieve is that it will engage Nigerians in talk shop. They will forget Obasanjo’s letter to Buhari. They will forget the economic difficulties they are currently facing. They will begin to argue among themselves about items embodied in El rufai’s committee report, such as devolution of power. resource control, removal of local government as third tier of government, state police, etc.
The APC will begin to use El rufai’s committee report as campaign issue. They will promise Nigerians that once reelected in 2019, they will implement the recommendations of the report. Some little minds will be hoodwinked and believe them. How can the President, who a few weeks ago, in his New Year broadcast, said that he did not believe in restructuring, and that Nigeria’s problem was mere “processes”, suddenly wake up to embark on restructuring? That will be difficult to believe.