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Restructuring Nigeria: The South East perspective

It is no longer news that the majority of Nigerians who actually and genuinely believe in the corporate existence of the country have been expressing the desire for this country to be restructured. If the pros and cons of the arguments on both sides are critically and objectively examined and analyzed, there is no doubt that only those who are favoured by the current structure would disapprove of any tampering of the status quo.
However, according to Marcus Gale, “in every political discourse, it is important that two sides of the arguments are aggregated and an objective and popular views so expressed should prevail. That is pure and simple. This is the essence of participatory democracy.”
But according to Michael Hass, “allowing the people to freely express their preferences in any given election is one step towards participatory democracy. And to carry them along on any major policy issue is properly, the other side of the coin.”
Since the National Conference of 2014 when the issue of restructuring took centre stage, more and more eminent Nigerians, various groups and other individuals from different parts of the country have been involved in the clarion call to restructure this country.
Unfortunately, some people particularly few from the Northern part of this country have seen the call as a call to disintegrate the country. No, absolutely no! No matter how strong the argument for non-restructuring may be, the truth remains strong and incontestable that unless there is a wholestic restructuring of this country, both peace and unfettered development would continue to elude us.
In a legal parlance, it is said that one who goes to equity must go with a clean hand. Those who are against restructuring are very naive, parochial and bereft of the fundamentals of the basic Nigerian political history. Therefore, it is imperative to refresh their minds and memories. This is just fruitless effort, because it is clear that those who are not disposed to restructuring are among the northern elites who are both educated and are in the main, advocates of northern hegemonic dominance. But suffice it to say that they do not know. Here are few instructive information.
Before the 1914, there were two territories known as Northern and Southern protectorates under the British Colonial powers. For some obvious political machinations, imperatives and exigencies of administration, the two protectorates were merged in 1914 and called Nigeria.
Admittedly, the British understood the obvious political implications, but they did it believing that it was the best way to help the north to accelerate preparatory to future granting of independence to the country. Many believed that the British were aware of the future political consequences of what they were doing. However, the political dexterity, wisdom and carefulness displayed by front line Nigerian politicians obviated any adverse effects of such an arrangement.
Consequently, several negotiations and conferences between the nationalists and the British officials culminated in the granting of independence in 1960. At that time, there were only three regions; Eastern Region, Northern and Western Regions.
The election of 1959 which foreshowed the independence was perhaps a water shed which could have top eroded the whole arrangement, but the understanding of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Ahmadu Bello and Chief Awolowo were smarter than the British thought.
So, on independence Nigeria had three regions. And following the plebescite in the Mid-West in 1962 which was part of the Independence Constitution, the Mid-West was created.
Thus, when the civil war dawned, Yakubu Gowon splitted the country into 12 States in order to forestall the creation of Biafra. After the civil war, the country was further splitted into 19 States by Murtala Mohammed. It was both Babangida and Abacha who introduced inequality in the number of States against the South thereby creating finally, 36 States with 19 in the North and 17 in the South.
The matter of gross imbalance was introduced by Abacha, when he created 774 Local Governments favouring the North with 419 and South with only 355. Since then, the use of the number of LGAs in the allocation of national resources and other things, the call for the restructuring became louder and louder.
Today, South-East is the only zone that has only 5 States while others have six except North-West with 7. And to make the matter more irritating and offensive, the number of LGAs in the North-West is three times the number of LGAs in the entire South-East. Who in his clear political sensibility will tolerate this obvious cheat and marginalization? The position of the South-East is that this country must be restructured along the lines of the recommendations of the National conference which President Buhari has been reluctant to implement.
Certainly, “a good leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.” This was the opinion of John C. Maxwell, a Political Scientist. This is the hallmark of, “the change begins with me.”

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