Restructuring: Buhari Resists As Poor Man’s Son Joins Agitation

He has experienced what the worst form of poverty is like in Nigeria, a top oil exporter in Africa, which has helped to create wealth related to crude sales that account for more than half of government revenue. Yet, over 83 million of its citizens are wallowing in abject poverty.

Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) is the latest prominent figure with a unique background to join the growing army of the Nigerian people clamouring for restructuring of their drifting country.

Cambridge English Dictionary however, defines ‘’clamour’’ as making a loud complaint or demand. Adeboye has loudly advised the Buhari administration to restructure the country in order to stop agitation for secession and its economic challenges.

The respected cleric who was born in 1942 into a humble family in the village of Ifewara, Osun State, Western Nigeria, was ordained a pastor of the church in 1977. He became its General Overseer in 1981. Often, he humorously states that his family was so poor that even the poor people called them poor.

As a matter of fact, he unashamedly tells his congregation that he never owned shoes until he was 18 years of age.

In 1956 he was admitted into Ilesha Grammar School, Ilesha, Osun State, and as a youth he discovered a passion for books, and an aptitude for science and in particular the field of mathematics. This led to an academic journey in the field against incredible odds including but not limited to finances, the Nigerian Civil War and academic politics.

By the time he was done, he had obtained not only a Bachelors (BSc.) degree in mathematics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1967, but also a Masters (MSc.) Degree in Hydrodynamics and a Doctorate Degree (PhD) in Applied Mathematics, both from the University of Lagos, in 1969 and 1975 respectively.

One of the motivations for these academic achievements was Adeboye’s passionate desire to become the youngest Vice Chancellor of any of the frontline universities in Nigeria. It did seem that his academic ambition would be realised as his academic career flourished. However, this was not to be as a greater career awaited him in the service of God.

In 1967 Adeboye got married to his wife, Foluke Adenike Adeboye (nee Adeyokunnu).

In a statement that went viral on the social media while speaking at the 60th Independence Day Celebration Symposium organised by RCCG and the Nehemiah Leadership Institute, he harped on the need for restructuring.

According to him, the President Muhammadu Buhari administration must carry out the restructuring of the country “as soon as possible” to avoid a breakup of the various social-ethnic components.

The 78-year-old man of God suggested the adoption of a merger of the British and American systems of government.

“Why can’t we have a system of government that will create what I will call the United States of Nigeria? Let me explain. We all know that we must restructure. It is either we restructure or we break, you don’t have to be a prophet to know that one. That is certain – restructure or we break up.

“Now, we don’t want to break up, God forbid. In restructuring, why don’t we have a Nigerian kind of democracy? At the federal level, why don’t we have a President and a Prime Minister?

“If we have a President and a Prime Minister and we share responsibilities between these two so that one is not an appendage to the other. For examples, if the President controls the Army and the Prime Minister controls the Police. If the President controls resources like oil and mining and the Prime Minister controls finance and inland revenue, taxes, customs etc. You just divide responsibilities between the two.

“At the state level, you have the governor and the premier, and the same way, you distribute responsibilities to these people in such a manner that one cannot really go without the other. Maybe we might begin to tackle the problems.

“If we are going to adopt the model, then we need to urgently restore the House of Chiefs. I have a feeling that one of our major problems is that we have pushed the traditional rulers to the background and I believe that is a grave error.

“Without any doubt, we must restructure and do it as soon as possible. A United States of Nigeria is likely to survive than our present structure”, Adeboye said.

Apparently piqued, the Buhari administration on Sunday warned that it will not succumb to threat and undue pressure by some people clamouring for break-up of Nigeria.

President Buhari’s Spokesman, Garba Shehu, in a statement said the Presidency responded to the recurring threats to the corporate existence of the country with factions giving specific timelines for the President to do one thing or another or else, in their language, “the nation will break up.”

“This is to warn that such unpatriotic outbursts are both unhelpful and unwarranted as this government will not succumb to threats and take any decision out of pressure at a time when the nation’s full attention is needed to deal with the security challenges facing it at a time of the COVID-19 health crisis.

“Repeat: this administration will not take any decision against the interests of 200 million Nigerians, who are the President’s first responsibility under the constitution, out of fear or threats especially in this hour of health crisis”, Shehu said.

According to the Presidency, Buhari, as an elected leader under this constitution will continue to work with patriotic Nigerians, through and in line with the Parliamentary processes to finding solutions to structural and other impediments to the growth and wellbeing of the nation and its people.

But, in a report about poverty and inequality from September 2018 to October 2019, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), said 40 percent of people in Africa’s most populous country lived below its poverty line of N137,430 ($381.75) a year. It said that represents 82.9 million people.

Obviously, failure to diversify the economy and build much-needed transport and power infrastructure has stymied growth and the spread of wealth beyond the rich elite.

Rapid population growth outstrips economic growth, which stands at about two percent. The United Nations estimates that Nigeria will have a population of 400 million by 2050.

Nigeria was already struggling to shake off the effect of a 2016 recession before the advent of the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic hit economies worldwide.

“In Nigeria, 40.1 percent of the total population is classified as poor. In other words, on average four out of 10 individuals in Nigeria has real per capita expenditures below N137,430 per year”, it said.

The statistics office said it did not include Borno, the state worst hit by the decade-long Boko Haram armed uprising, because many areas there were not safe to reach. A total of around 10 million people need humanitarian assistance across Borno and two neighbouring states affected by the attacks, according to the UN.

The statistics office said 52 percent of people in rural areas live in poverty, compared with 18 percent in urban parts of the country.

It said the highest poverty levels were in the North-West state of Sokoto, where 87.7 percent of people live under the poverty line compared with 4.5 percent in commercial hub Lagos state, which had the lowest rate.

In the mean time, pro-restructuring activist, Jafar Usman, says after x-raying Nigeria’s configurations, ‘’I discovered that the major hindrance to our collective existence and particularly why the vast mineral resources are left untapped is the faulty foundation we dubiously and selfishly accepted and implemented (Unitary System of Government).

‘’Since the discovery of oil in large quantity in the year 1956 in a part of the old River State now in Bayelsa State, Nigeria has remained blind. Nigeria has remained unproductive.

‘’In school, we were told oil was discovered in Nigeria in the year 1956. Even though we know oil exploration in Nigeria started 50 years back before 1956. What prompted the official discovery or announcement was the call for the nation independent. This is a topic for another day.

‘’Since then, most Nigerians particularly the rural dwellers, have been made to believe that the only mineral resources Nigeria has is crude oil which represents about 90% to 95% (I stand to be corrected) of our total exports earnings. There are hundreds of mineral resources deposited and scattered across the length and breathe of this country.’’

Continuing, Usman said, ‘’Nigeria is blessed with so many natural and solid mineral resources enough to make it one of the best country in the world if properly tapped and managed. With resources in abundant, Nigeria could look like Dubai or the city of California or New York, with state of the art infrastructure and a higher standard of living.

‘’There is hardly any state in Nigeria you will not find one or more mineral resources. Why are we killing ourselves over oil deposit in the Niger Delta, whereas we have other wealth hanging around our neck in all the various communities in Nigeria? We have what it takes to survive as a nation, yet we cannot see beyond our nose, and as a result, Nigeria remains one of the poorest countries in the world. It is a shame on all of us.

‘’The Nigeria government must rise up to the occasion to catapult Nigerians from poverty to riches and wealth. We have no reason to be poor. If the government had been willing and competent enough to diversify the economy by extracting and using or exporting these other resources aside crude oil, the country’s economy wouldn’t have to be in this mess we found ourselves.’’

According to him, ‘’Nigeria must first be restructured to reflect true fiscal federalism, devolution of power where economic power rest more among the federating units or regions, as the case may be. Each state or region will develop at its own pace and pay tax to the government at the centre.

‘’Secondly, let’s put our leaders on their toes by ensuring they use the instrumentality of government to transform our resources from their raw state to finished and consumable products. All tiers of government or even as individuals, there should be a paradigm shift in our approach, behavioural pattern or thinking to accommodate these free gift of nature in our developmental plans for the betterment of the citizens rather than rest solely on oil.

‘’Here are our huge mineral resources and the state where they found.

Abia: Gold, lead/zinc, salt, limestone, and crude oil. Adamawa: Koalin, magnesite, bentonite, and gypsium. Akwa Ibom: Limestone, uranium, lead/zinc, clay, salt, lignite, oil and gas. Anambra: Lead/zinc, clay, salt, glass-sand, limestone, gypsium, iron-ore, lignite, phosphate, and crude oil. Bauchi: Lead/zinc, clay, iron-ore, coal, limestone, columbite, gold, cassiterite, and gypsium.

Bayelsa: Crude oil, manganese, limestone, lignite, clay, gypsium, uranium, lead, and zinc. Benue: Lead/zinc, limestone, marble, clay, berytes, gemstone, salt, iron-ore, coal, and gypsium. Borno: Diatomite, hydro-carbon, kaolin, gypsium, clay, limestone, bentonite. Cross River: Lignite, lead/zinc, salt, limestone, uranium, manganese, and crude oil. Delta: Crude oil, marble, iron-ore, glass-sand, gypsium, lignite, and kaolin. Ebonyi: Salt, lead, gold shocked. Edo: Marble, gypsium, gold, dolomite phosphate, bitumen, glass-sand, lignite, clay, limestone, iron-ore, and crude oil.

Ekiti: Granite, kaolin, feldsper, tatium, and syenite. Enugu: Lead/zinc, coal, and limestone. Gombe: Gemstone, and gypsium. Imo: Phosphate, marcasite, lignite, gypsium, lead/zinc, limestone, salt, and crude oil. Jigawa: Butytes. Kaduna: Sapphire, kaolin, gold, clay, flosper, asbestos, amethyst, kyanite, silhite, mica, aqua marine, surpentinite, rock crystal, topaz, graphite, ruby, tourmaline, gemstone, and tentalite. Kano: Prochinre, cassiterite, gemstone, lead/zinc, copper, glass-sand, and tentalite. Katsina: Kaolin, salt, and marble.

Kebbi: Gold. Kogi: Coal, marble, dolomite, iron-ore, kaolin, gypsium, feldsper, talc, and tantalite. Kwara: Gold, marble, tantalite, iron-ore, cassiterite, columbite, feldspar, and mica. Lagos: Glass-sand, clay, bitumen, and crude oil. Nasarawa: Beryl, asquamirine, dolomite/marble, cassiterite, tantalite, columbite, sapphire, tourmaline, quartz, barytes, mica, zireon, limenite, galena, iron-ore, talc, clay, salt, and chalcopyrite. Niger: Gold, lead/zinc, and talc.

Ogun: Kaolin, limestone, germstone, phosphate, clay, feldsper, and bitumen. Ondo: Bitumen, feldsper, granite, kaolin, limestone, gemstone, gypsium, clay, glass-sand, coal, and crude oil. Osun: Gold, granite, talc, tourmaline, and columbite. Oyo: Kaolin, marble, cassiterite, aqua marine, clay, dolomite, gemstone, silimonite, talc, gold, and tantalite. Plateau: Emerald, tin, marble, coal, cassiterite, phrochlore, tantalite/columbit, lead/zinc, granite, belonite, iron-ore, kaolin, clay, barytes, molybdenite, wolfam, salt, fluoride, gemstone, and bauxite.

Rivers: Glass-sand, crude oil, clay, marble, and lignite. Sokoto: Kaolin, limestone, laterrite, potash, flakes, granite, phosphate, gypsium, silica-sand, clay, gold, and salt. Taraba: Kaolin, and lead/zinc. Yobe: Tintomite, and soda ash. Zamfara: Coal, cotton, and gold. Federal Capital Territory: Tantalite, cassiterite, dolomite, gold, marble, clay, and lead/zinc.

Usman then queries: ‘’How do we put these mineral resources into proper use?’’

While the question is begging for an answer, former Military Administrator of Akwa Ibom State, Chairman of Ibom Airline, and National Chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) retired Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, in an interview with Vanguard last May said, ‘’we have to restructure our economy; we have to start looking for ways of not being a beggarly nation. Part of the reason we have serious problems in Nigeria today economically is because we are a borrowing nation. We have been borrowing, so the money that is in our budget now, trillions have been voted to service debts.

‘’That is part of the bigger issue we have in this country today. This is the time we can turn things around. We cannot finish with this virus crisis and still remain a debtor nation as we were. Over the years, we have been carrying a lot of debts. In 2005, we asked for debt forgiveness from the World Bank, IMF and the rest of them and that was given.

‘’That time Obasanjo was the president and (Dr. Ngozi) Okonjo-Iweala was a Finance Minister. We have piled up that debt again. And the major issue now is that in our budget, a lot of the money is going into servicing of that debt. Of course, when you are owing, you have to keep paying the interest on it. It is the interest that is killing us and killing African nations today.

‘’Already, they are talking about debt standstill (whichever word they are using) the issue is maybe about two years you don’t have to pay interest, just to help us get out of this Coronavirus crisis. However, with Nigeria seeking to get loan from China to help us with the Coronavirus, it is going to compound things.

‘’So, I think they should continue to talk on the issue of debt forgiveness because if our economy does not grow, the chances of us paying the debt are not there. And the main money you borrowed, you must pay. During the post-COVID-19 era, the economy of the world is going to change. A lot of nations are positioning themselves now so that they can be in control just like America did after the Second World War. They came out strongest and were in control of the economy of the world, which kept them as World leader till today.

‘’Now, the devastation that this coronavirus has brought everywhere in the World, we can now start looking at how to diversify our economy. We must start looking at how to restructure our economy so that we don’t come out as a debtor, beggarly nation again. Unfortunately, you cannot just restructure the economy without restructuring the country. This is the truth. We have to take a bold step and say for Nigeria to remain as a nation, let us restructure it so that we will be relevant after the crisis. Otherwise, we will continue borrowing and begging.’’

Similarly, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Kingsley Moghalu, has been advising Nigeria to begin an extensive restructuring and repositioning of its economy.

He said the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and the crash in oil prices has created a perfect storm for Nigeria’s already fragile economy.

Moghalu in a statement said “Nigeria’s COVID-19, oil price crash and fiscal crisis calls for a more fundamental response. I make this suggestion based on my strong view that our 100 million countrymen and women who live in extreme poverty, giving us the title of “poverty capital of the world” are not poor because we lack intelligent economists.

“Nigerians are impoverished by their country’s politics, politicians, and by its unworkable constitutional structure which creates perverse incentives that ensure the country is locked into the resource curse of oil”.

He referred to the federal government borrowing from the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the African Development Bank without structural economic and constitutional reforms as ” postponing the evil day.”

“The fundamental problem is: our extreme reliance on oil for revenues, no fiscal savings, and unwillingness to cut the bloated costs of governance and restructure Nigeria constitutionally to make it’s economy more productive, cannot be solved by borrowing for the balance of payments.

“We need more than $7 billion to solve the balance of payments challenge, but that is not the point. If, as is likely, oil prices remain low for some time, this is just band aid”.

He said the loans will only improve the country’s reserve temporarily and create an artificial strength for the naira. This he said does not mean the country has overcome its economic problems.

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