By Wale Ajao
Two eminent Nigerians who are eminently qualified to chart the way forward for our polity have been at loggerheads for quite some time over which way should the polity go so as to resolve the lingering issue of political disunity among the political class in particular and the electorate in general.
It is significant to say that both Asiwaju and Pa Adebanjo were in the same political camp for a very long time . Both of them advocated restructuring and proper federalism. And both of them belief in the the imperative of the rule of law in a representative democracy Also both of them were neck deep in the struggle for democracy when the late General Sanni Abacha wanted to impose himself on our country as the life president reminiscent of late kamuzu Banda of Malawi.
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was so committed to restructuring to the extent that he was among those responsible for the setting up of a committee by the ruling APC to formulate a policy on restructuring . That committee was headed by Kaduna state Governor El Rufai.
Unfortunately up till date the final recommendations of that committee was not given sufficient publicity till date.
But President Buhari later said that restructuring is really not the problem of Nigeria rather it is the politicians that need to learn to respect the law.
Thereafter it became clear that politicians from the northern part of the country do not want restructuring and they do not see anything wrong with our federalism.
At that point Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu began to soften his views on the struggle for restructuring. And he had Chief Bisi Akande and Chief Segun Osoba sharing his approach to the torny issue of restructuring and how to go about it.
In the opinion of this writer for Asiwaju moderating his views on restructuring is a mandatory political strategy if he must carry along with him his political associates from the North who have made it clear they do not want restructuring of the polity.
And from that point onward Pa Adebanjo and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu became opponents in terms where they stand on the crucial issue of restructuring and proper federalism.
It got to a point that the two leaders and their supporters engaged in oral and written debates which sometimes degenerated into abuses which of course is unfortunate.
Chief Osoba and chief Akande who hitherto were in the same boat with Pa Adebanjo on the issue of restructuring adjusted their views to fall in line with Asiwaju Tinubu and as time went on the disagreement became a festering sore that refuse to heal.
And Pa Adebanjo at an event in Eko hotel said let Segun Osoba tell us his own position on restructuring because that is the main thing we disagree on.
In the light of the background information above it is clear that the differences between Pa Adebanjo on the one hand and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Chief Bisi Akande and Chief Segun Osoba on the other hand is the modality of pursuing the worthy cause given the open rejection of restructuring by politicians from the Northern part of the country.
In this sense it will appear to me that there is really no need for either side to throw epilets at one another. And it will seem to me as unnecesdary the statement by Chief Segun Osoba that Pa Adebanjo has never held any political office and he is therefore not as popular as chief Osoba who we all know had been Governor of Ogun state.
In a representative democracy chief Osoba knows that those who have not held any political post are equally important as those who have held elective post. In the political history of this country the contribution of Pa Adebanjo is already recorded despite the fact that he has not held any elective post.
Really Chief Osoba and Pa Adebanjo are great leaders and it is unfortunate that the division between them is traceable to how to respond to the anti restructuring posture of politicians from the Northern part of the country.
Asiwaju Tinubu believes in mellowing down a little on this restructuring issue so as to carry politicians from Northern Nigeria along as he pursues his ambition of becoming President in 2023.
On the other hand Pa Adebanjo beleives the issue of restructuring and proper federalism should not be traded for any other thing and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu should keep hammering on it even in spite of the blatant rejection of the idea by the political elites from Northern Nigeria.
And when Pa Fasoranti handed over the leadership of Afenifere to Pa Adebanjo the division on what to do about restructuring continued. Going forward in his own approach Pa Adebanjo teamed up with other political leaders of the south to continue to press for restructuring and proper federalism .
The various meetings of the political leaders of the entire Southern Nigeria subsequebtly resolved in favour of restructuring and proper federalism and the need for the next President to come from the south.
And this is the second point of disagreement between Pa Adebanjo and Chief Osoba and Asiwaju Tibubu While chief Osoba Chief Bisi Akande and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu believes the Yoruba and the Igbo should fight for the slot Pa Adebanjo believes the Yoruba should step down to allow the Igbo to have the slot.
The whole drama of still referring to ourselves in terms North and South or in terns of region is still happening because we are yet to become a nation in the true sense of that word.
We are still existing in our ethnic identity which unfortunately colonialism failed to recognise or respect . The colonialist started the politics of divide and rule by lumping all the ethnic groups together without allowing them to negotiate among themselves how to stay together in peace.
Geographical location was used as the basis of the constitution, and the Richard Constitution of 1947 started it all by dividing Nigeria into three regions.
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The North was made a single region while the south was made two regions and from then attempts to achieve balance between North and south keeps surfacing.
We have gone from a time of proper federalism under the 1963 constitution, which was suspended by the military in 1966, to the unitary military regime of Ironsi and through the civil war to the second round of military rule, all in an attempt to forge national unity.
We have created states but our political class has not stopped referring to themselves as representatives of regions, which is no longer in our constitution .
Late Dr Bala Usman of the department of history Ahmadu Bello university said that state is the unit of Nigerian federalism. This means that it is no longer appropriate for our politicians to still continue to see themseves as north south east or west.
What we should be talking about is which state has produced the president and which state has not . We should be talking about the type of constitution that will allow each state to control resources in its own environment and contribute a certain per centage to the federal purse.
By now if our political class really know their onions they should have grown beyond regional struggle for power . Rather individuals with meritorious service ought to be able to contest for office without being seen as representing a region or an ethnic group so that the idea that it is the turn of the east or west or north or Igbo or yoruba ought to have become a thing of the past by now.
And this is why restructuring and proper federalism will keep coming up as long as we want Nigeria to remain as one. With the present level of agitation for self determination and the dangerous level of insecurity restructuring , proper federalism and referendum will become inevitable if we want Nigeria to survive.
Otherwise, the next president after 2023 will become a blood-sucking tyrant who will be killing youths who are already fighting for a redefinition of their future in a nation still unable to achieve national unity, growth, stability, and peace over six decades after independence.