President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osibanjo are two different people with two different backgrounds. They are two different classes of people with two different levels of understanding.
Specifically, while Muhammadu Buhari was a professional soldier who rose through the ranks and later dabbled into politics, Yemi Osibanjo is a lawyer and an academic who went into politics. As a result, the two men view or appreciate reality differently.
Thus, while President Muhammadu Buhari is not interested and does not know the meaning of restructuring, which most Nigerians currently clamour for, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo knows its meaning, and believes that without restructuring, Nigeria would not survive as a nation.
Speaking to some Nigerians living in France at the end of the recent Paris Peace Forum, President Buhari said: “There are too many people talking lazily about restructuring in Nigeria. Unfortunately, people are not asking them individually what they mean by restructuring. What form do they want restructuring to take?
“Do they want us to have something like the three regions we used to have? And now we have 36 states and FCT. What form do they want?
“They are just talking loosely about restructuring. They are just saying that they want restructuring and they don’t have the clue of what form the restructuring should be.
“So anybody who talks to you about restructuring in Nigeria, ask him what he means and the form he wants it to take”.
For us, we are not impressed with our President’s position. If by now President Buhari does not know the meaning of restructuring, or feigns ignorance of it, it then means that the APC, which he is the leader, does not have restructuring in its agenda if it happens to wins next year’s election. It equally means that the party has all along been deceiving us when it set up a committee last year on restructuring which was headed by Kaduna State Governor, Mallam El Rufai.
However, Vice President Yemi Osibanjo does not seem to be in the same boat with his boss, as he almost immediately stepped out to educate Buhari on the meaning of restructuring.
Speaking at a public lecture in Lagos, Osibanjo explained that the kind of restructuring Nigeria needs was the one which would make the states stronger, rather than the one that advocates for the creation of more states or a fusion of states.
According to him, the restructuring Nigeria needs is one in which each state is able to produce its own wealth by leveraging its resources to generate revenue.
“This would entail devolution of more powers to the states to enable them control more of their administrative decisions such as the creation of councils and community police, special courts or tribunals, etc. The point I am making is that the states must have more powers and more rights.
“The states, as they are presently constituted, now with better educated and more people working, do not generate enough tax for the economy to survive. So, when we talk about restructuring, we must ask ourselves, what type of restructuring? Today, everybody depends on oil, every month state governments gather in Abuja to share revenue.”
Osibanjo maintained that it was by restructuring that Nigeria could generate enough revenue to survive.
These two leaders are sounding discordant tunes, one administration, two different voices! For the President, there is nothing like restructuring. For the Vice President, restructuring is imperative. That’s interesting.
While we appreciate Vice President Osibanjo’s position that Nigeria needs restructuring to survive, we however observe that the man was merely engaged in academic exercise. How does he hope to see his proposal sail through when his boss is entirely opposed to the system?
President Buhari does not want restructuring. He wants the status quo to remain. He wants continued centralization of administration. He wants all the states to be completely dependent on federal revenue, on receiving handouts every month from the federal government. He does not want independent sourcing of resources
For us, that system stifles individual initiative, creativity, enterprise, breeds corruption, and makes everybody lazy.