‘The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things’ -Ronald Reagan

It is in the light of the above powerful words of one of America’s greatest leaders, Ronald Reagan that I am persuaded to join good people who would like to encourage our leader, President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) to make history by getting good people around him to do one of the greatest things – restructuring – to make history. 

Behold, the thing is how to renew his mind, rally his governing party and citizens behind him to restructure Nigeria without dividing it. This is possible only with a sincerity of purpose as the driving force. This is what drives me to think that at the moment, PMB needs encouragement more than condemnation from any quarters: He is surrounded at the State House, Abuja by only his kinsmen most of whom would not like to tell him what he could do to leave Nigeria better than he met it. 

Specifically, in the beginning, the kinsmen who helped him to make his cabinet did not assist him in making a great cabinet. It is quite obvious that the president was not told by those who helped him shape the presidential bureaucracy and the cabinet in 2015 that no leader can do well in office with a mediocre presidential bureaucracy and cabinet. After about six months of assuring the people that he was head hunting good and reliable thinkers and tinkers, what he came up with was quite disappointing, after all. 

No insult is meant here, please. This is without prejudice to the few good ones who have been unequally yoked with mediocrities (not mediocres, please) that abound in the place. We are just discussing simple points in nation building within the context of the new world that social and digital technologies daily disrupt. Yes, only leaders who surround themselves with very smart managers can make history in the new world of business and politics. 

Besides, our president has obviously compressed his own agenda to fighting corruption and insecurity. But there are no indications yet that the taciturn leader, PMB can make history with fighting corruption and insecurity, especially in the North East Zone where the evil ones are now resident. His reputation managers may not agree but truth matters. 

What is worse, the military establishment that we used to be proud of appears to have lost its mojo. Even the presidency doesn’t believe in operational efficiency of the police force anymore. We see the spirit of errors everywhere, especially in the northeast where the Air Force once erroneously bombed an IDP camp. How reliable is an Army that would declare an open association with a terrorist organisation and proscribe it in a democracy? That is what happens when the illiterate of the 21st century are allowed to take charge as major state actors. That is the view of a writer on leadership and management, Alvin Toffler, who always muses on “rethinking the future”. According to him, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”. This is why most modern leaders always strengthen their governments with strong men and women, who can learn, relearn and unlearn even in office. 

Let’s look at the machinery for fighting corruption. There are three agencies comprising the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). The arrowhead here has always been the EFCC. But the President’s ruling party has been so disorganised that the EFCC acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, nominated since November 2015, has not been confirmed by the Senate dominated by the president’s party. How else does one understand the politics in the presidency where the secret service CEO twice wrote to the Senate that Magu should not be confirmed? Now Magu is somehow stranded and even the influential Attorney General and Minister of Justice appears to be at war with him. 

How can the president make history through his war against corruption when Magu too has been quoted as saying that he is losing the war? Even the ICPC chairmanship was somewhat in a hibernation mode: a board member once acted as Chairman from July 2017 when the tenure of the Chairman expired till December 2018. Acting Chairman of EFCC since 2015, There was once an Acting SGF since May 2015; There have been so many ‘actors’ in office…

How can the president make history with this kind of executive inertia and ad-hocism? Can there be history making in fighting official graft without reforming the NNPC, the focal point of corruption? That is why I feel we should begin to encourage the President to pay due attention to the Committee his party, the APC set up to prepare a blueprint on the hurricane called ‘restructuring’. There is some sense in that critical national assignment. 

Despite the fact that some president’s men may not like Malam Nasir el-Rufai’s face and politics, the Kaduna State Governor and chairman of the APC Panel definitely has enough cognitive resources to handle the critical assignment. He is very bright. He can learn, relearn and unlearn. He gave the party and the president a good document. Even the resourceful Governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje, a member of the Committee, is a pan-Nigerian governor and very educated political leader in whom there is no guile. He holds a doctorate degree from the University of Ibadan. He is a quiet and wise operator who can also help the president and the party to make history from restructuring. 

The only trouble with the APC Committee may be a vicious cabal around the president who might have been obsessed at that defining moment about politics of a second term without thinking about the implications of absence of major achievements in the first term.

But the president should note that if he continues to adopt I-don’t- care attitude to clamour for restructuring of the federation as most hawks around may advise, the 2019 elections outcome could be too ticklish for him… 

And so, the President should just renew his mind and begin to talk to his allies in other parts of the country about what the people feel about this town talk called ‘restructuring’. 

Yes, you don’t have to link genuine restructuring to dismantling of the federation. It can be done to strengthen the federation itself. It is running away from it that can dismantle the beautiful federation, after all. Verily, verily I believe that the President can make history if he can restructure Nigeria to run as a federation where the present states can leverage on the endowments in their areas to create wealth. PMB should listen to Dolly Parton who once noted that, “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are an excellent leader”. 

Mr. President, be of good courage! Support restructuring after 59 years of unitary nonsense! You are on the verge of becoming a significant history maker. Do it. yes, you can!

(Note: This article first appeared on The Guardian on Sunday September 24, 2017. It was then titled: Restructuring: ‘How PMB can make history’.


On July 10, this year, a veteran journalist and former governor of Ogun state, Aremo Olusegun Osoba, not noted for frivolities disclosed to the nation that Nigeria’s leader generally believed to be foot-dragging on restructuring had at last, endorsed the report on restructuring Nigeria, presented to him by the Governor Nasir el-Rufai-led All Progressives Congress, APC, committee.

Aremo Osoba, a chieftain of the ruling APC, who disclosed the development to State House correspondents after meeting behind closed doors with the President at the Presidential Villa, on that Wednesday July 10, enthused that he is an ally of the President. 

He appealed to Nigerians, especially statesmen and other activists agitating for restructuring of the country, to be patient with the President and the APC, saying that steps would be taken to get the National Assembly start work on legalising the relevant aspects of the report. Chief Osoba, one time Managing Director of ‘Daily Times’ said he was at the State House to present his book – ‘Battle lines: Adventures in Journalism and Politics’ – to Buhari, who featured in it prominently. He said that the ruling APC even had restructuring and devolution of powers from the Federal Government to States, enshrined in its manifesto. According to him: “I am part of the presidency because the President is our President. I can tell you, all this noise about restructuring, we APC put devolution of power, true federalism in our manifesto and we have moved far from there to where a committee was set up, headed by the governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufai. “That committee has submitted its report, that report has been presented to us in the caucus and the President was there. The president endorsed the outcome. I want Nigerians to please, give us time. I hope and pray that at the right time, the government or the party would send that report to National Assembly for debate….”

In the same vein, most of the deliverables and media content from the celebration of the 59thindependence anniversary early this month centred on the expediency of restructuring the convoluted federation. There is but one mind in all discussants and writers, all bent against the unitary system that has held the nation down since 1966 when ‘soldiers of fortune’ pulled down the then power of federalism. 

Sadly, two years after the article recreated above and more than three months after Aremo Osoba’s optimism on the point at issue, federalism, the body language of the president has not indicated any enthusiasm that he is ready to make history, in this regard.

That is why I would like to remind the president what the oracle noted in 2017: that he (PMB) might not go far in fighting corruption and insecurity, after all. Our president should therefore conquer himself, renew his mind about restructuring of the federation, meet with the national assembly leaders now and lobby them to fast track an executive bill on federalism. That is the only ‘weapon of mass disruption’ of the lie that we call our constitution. That is the only way President Buhari can make history. And failing to do that sooner than later will confine him to the dark corners of history of those who under-developed Nigeria, after all. 

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