Nigeria Needs True Restructuring Now – Akinola | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Nigeria Needs True Restructuring Now – Akinola

Posted: Jun 28, 2016 at 3:54 am   /   by   /   comments (1)


Samson Akinola is Associate Professor of Urban and Regional Planning, Osun State University (UNIOSUN). In this interview with GBENGA FATUROTI, he speaks on the agitation for restructuring of Nigeria, adding that certain fundamental requirements must be in place before actual restructuring can take place. Excerpts:

Is restructuring solution to the mirage of challenges facing the country at present?

Before I attempt answer to this important question, I will like to throw some light on the word ‘restructuring’, especially on people’s perspective on restructuring and what that perspective will not provide for Nigeria as a nation.

From what I have been hearing and reading over the media, what people have in mind is regionalism, which is a far cry from the ‘restructuring’ in the real sense of Nigerian realities. Our challenges and problems are predicated upon the problems of disconnect and ‘parallelism’ that engender institutional crisis. Even if we adopt regionalism, these problems of disconnect, ‘parallelism’ and institutional crisis will still persist and consequently, mass poverty and human misery will be heightened.

If we adopt regionalism or even if we embrace ‘stateism’, ‘townism’, etc, these critical issues – disconnect, ‘parallelism’ and institutional crisis that were (are) demonstrated by the actions of the elite (about 30% of our population) who were (are) deciding for the rest of the society will still constitute impediments to peace, progress and prosperity of each new formations emerging from regionalism. In essence, regionalism is not the way out of the present crises that are rocking the country.

In defining the word ‘restructuring’, it is important to define the word ‘politics’ and in this sense, I will like to refer to the definition of politics by William Riker (1986) and Vincent Ostrom (2000) as being practiced globally as “structuring the world so you can win and making other people like it.” Though this is the global definition of politics, we have to redefine it in Africa in the light of conducts and behaviours of leadership vis-a-vis that of the grassroots in Nigeria. Therefore, politics should be redefined as restructuring the public sphere and political economy, domesticating democracy through polycentric planning. Then restructuring can be defined as the process of setting up error correcting institutional mechanisms for true democratisation, where democratization is a colossal restructuring of the mentality of those in leadership position and the led (people).

So, what measures can we put in place if we need to restructure Nigeria?

In order to restructure, we need to learn some lessons from the experience of the United States of America where scholars and intellectuals got involved in deliberation. For example, and relevant to the Nigeria’s context was an approach taken by the authors of The Federalist (Hamilton, Jay and Madison [1788] 1961) and the participants in the Philadelphia Convention where they presumed an essential connection between ideas and deeds – theory/knowledge and actions/realities (V. Ostrom 2000:9). In the opening paragraph of The Federalist Papers, Hamilton, Jay and Madison ([1788] 1961:33) posed the fundamental puzzle in human societies, “whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.” If we understand society as a system of human cooperation, this Hamiltonian puzzle can be formulated as two questions: Are human beings capable of cooperating with one another to organize a free, peaceful, and prosperous society? If the answer is affirmative, under what conditions can they cooperate to achieve such a goal?

In relation to Nigeria, the Hamiltonian puzzle can be formulated as four questions: Are Nigerians capable of cooperating with one another to domesticating democracy for ensuring freedom, peace and prosperity? Are there some roles Nigerian citizens should play in the process of domesticating democracy for building peace and prosperous society? What are these roles? How can people-oriented developmental programmes be planned to allow citizens at community level to be involved in decision making, rule-monitoring and enforcement of sanction on rule infraction?

Answers to these questions are contained in the application of some problem-solving models and strategies such as: African Polycentric Democracy Domestication Model (APDDM) for domesticating democracy in Nigeria by adapting features of federalism to Nigerian/African realities through appropriate institutional arrangements that are self-organising and self-governing within rule-ruler-ruled configuration. African Public Sphere Restructuring Model (APSRM) for restructuring the public sphere in order to resolve political crisis, and then linking this to how people can work together, from community level, to address diverse challenges. African Polycentric Information Networking (APIN) for creating networks between the leaders and the people for effective information sharing and communication. African Electoral Reform and Democratisation (AERD) for inclusive democratisation. African Politician Performance Assessment Model (APPAM) for assessing the performance of politicians at the constituency level. African Development Institutional Mechanism (ADIM) for connecting all the stakeholders in development at various levels of decision making. African Local Economic Development Strategy (ALEDS) for enhancing economic growth through local industrialisation. African Polycentric Privatization Model (APPM) for distributing the benefits of economic growth among the citizenry.  African Food Security Model (AFSM) for securing food for the citizens.  African Employment Generation Model (AGEM) for generating employment opportunities. African Retirement and Economic Empowerment Model (AREEM) for synergizing the efforts of retirees such that their retirement benefits are pooled as seed money for investment in their locality. Niger Delta Women Empowerment and Mainstreaming Model (NDWEMM) for according women their rightful position, empowering, integrating and mainstreaming them into formal decision making, where they can demonstrate their full potentials towards developmental activities and governance of community affairs.  African Polycentric Youth Mainstreaming and Empowerment Model (APYMEM) for mainstreaming youth’s needs and legitimate aspirations into socio-economic and techno-political decisions, thereby empowering them and preparing them for effective and true leadership position in the nearest future. African Polycentric Informal/Endogenous Engagement and Nation-Building Model (APIEENBM) for making informal/endogenous sector as agent of change in socio-economic and techno-political dimensions by harnessing the potentials of the sector towards nation-building and national development.

Using the experiences of institutional design from Bloomington school of the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) and polycentric planning mechanism, it is obvious that the type of restructuring that Nigeria needs is not regionalism but restructuring that will enable us confront and address our complex, complicated and hydra-headed challenges and problems that are bedevilling our country. Restructuring and domesticating democracy require the application of polycentric planning and federalism as a problem-solving strategy; rather than as only a form of government. This requires proper understanding of American federalism, and defining our own federalism that will reflect collegiality through associational life and power of collectivity that exist among Nigerians within associational and democratic spaces.

What kind of restructuring do we need now in Nigeria?

The type of restructuring that Nigeria needs now should involve: Domesticating democracy, restructuring the public sphere and political economy through Polycentric Planning; Domesticating democracy is by adapting features and elements of federalism/democratisation to Nigerian realities through appropriate institutional arrangements that are self-organising and self-governing within rule-ruler-ruled configuration; Restructuring the public sphere in order to resolve political crisis, and then linking this to how people can work together, from community level, to address diverse challenges.

Also, it should involve restructuring political economy through polycentric planning and error correcting potentials and institutional mechanisms for equitable distribution of resources; restructuring that can produce four fundamental imperatives of collective action – collegiality, mutual trust, reciprocity and shared community of understanding. Then it will be possible for leadership and the people at community, local, state, regional and federal levels to cooperate on electoral matters, especially when they (the people) perceive that the outcome of the interactions will be beneficial to them all.

In addition, it should be true restructuring that will produce “a shared community of understanding,” as the bedrock of democracy, and this will help in resolving grievances, marginalisation, exclusion, etc of the past and every Nigerian will feel belonged.

Again, Nigeria needs true restructuring, which is a deliberate construction by molding different ethnic groups into a nation with emphasis on inclusion that practically emphasises aspirations and yearning of the citizenry: food, employment, security, health, education, industrialisation, peace, etc, at the community, ward and local levels

Comments (1)

  • Jun 28, 2016 at 6:18 am AlphonsusDicksona


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