Sunday, September 18, 2016


There has been a lot of talk lately about the restructuring of the country, and the devolution of powers. And with increased agitation from various groups, the call for a remodeling of the process of governance has only gotten louder.
One of the most vocal proponents of the restructuring talk has been the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar. Though a Northerner, Atiku seems to understand that allowing Nigeria proceed as is, would only lead to doom ahead.
Now, though many people understand the urgency of the matter, it seems like there is no willpower to proceed in that direction; and this is largely due to the fears of one part of the country- the North!
In terms of restructuring, a major issue of contention which has led to great trepidation from the North, is ‘oil’ from the South-South. Crude oil is (still) the main-stay of the nation’s economy, and the major commodity whose sale pays the bills of all states of the federation. The North has no crude oil in its territory…but for all intents and purposes, it is in charge of almost all apparatus of Government within Nigeria…so as long as it continues to wield the stick of control at the center, it may not have the oil, but it certainly has a say over the proceeds of the oil. So to retain control, it remains vehemently opposed to any idea of restructuring! This cannot be allowed to continue!
Nigeria is called a federation; but realistically speaking, this is a wrong description. A true federation does not have weakened parts. In a true federation, there would be greater autonomy for State Governments, so they decide on important issues of policy, resources, taxation, etc. In a true federation, states do not find themselves at the mercy of the center, waiting helplessly for ‘allocations’ each month. In a true federation, states are in charge of their own economic system and survival, and they pay tax to the center.
The fear of the opponents of true federalism is that it would lead to a weakened center; but by no means is this true. The Federal Government will always have the final say on key issues concerning the collective whole.
It seems like the North is getting quite jittery lately. Twice now, the President has ordered NNPC to search for oil in the North. Someone said the day oil is discovered in the North, is the day the country will be restructured! But if we look at things intelligently and non-sentimentally, is there really a worthy reason for this fear? The answer is NO.
Each state has something of importance it brings to the table; and in my own opinion, true federalism and a restructuring of the system of governance, would cause all ‘parts’ to return to their individual drawing boards, and truly evaluate their prospects for economic survival.
For instance, Kano State does not have oil- at least not yet- but it does have a large population, which translates to a viable profitable market for entrepreneurs, which in turn translates into greater sources of taxation for the State Government.
Ekiti State does not have oil, but it has a large community of intellectuals- home and abroad- which translates into educational manpower. If the state can channel its focus into developing the educational sector to world class standards, it can thrive on educational tourism, and witness an influx of learners, which translates into ‘payers’.
Ebonyi State has a lot of red sand, no oil, but Rice…which tends to be quite soggy…but if resources are channeled into scientific research to discover ways of achieving a higher quality of this Rice, it can become an export commodity within and outside Nigeria.
The bottom line is that each state has something to offer…whether its oil, manpower, agricultural produce, other mineral resources, or even a large population…there is enough to increase the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the component parts of the nation, in order to reduce their reliance on the center.
Finally my brethren *channeling my inner Paul the Apostle* there is no denying that restructuring and true federalism is needed in Nigeria. The inevitable can only be delayed, but not for too long. Like a seasoned scholar- Chief Akintola- recently said, “The North has only gotten away with delaying the process, because of the disunity of the South (paraphrase, mine)”. But if things continue as they are, there will come a day when the OPC man will come together with the Niger-Delta militant and Biafran agitator…and when that day comes, the center would no longer hold. But it does not have to get to that point…we can do the needful, and do it quick…there really is no need for the fear!


ISIS has recently suffered heavy defeats on the battlefield. When the group first gained prominence in 2014, it prided itself as being a caliphate with “headquarters” in Raqqa, Syria, and also firmly implanted in Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul. Through an extremely brutal rule, the sect commanded great fear amongst the local populace- as they still do- and also made the international community very wary.
With control over large territories and access to funds via taxes imposed on Government officials, ransom monies from kidnappings and funds from oil sales etc., ISIS quickly became the richest terrorist organization anywhere in the world. A haven for young, confused souls, fighters flocked to Iraq and Syria in droves from all around the world.
ISIS has thrived largely on spreading fear and propaganda; but in the last couple of months, the momentum seems to be shifting- at least on the battlefield.
Earlier this year, the Syrian Army, backed by superior Russian intelligence, took back control of the historic city of Palmyra. The retake of Palmyra was seen as a symbolic, political and strategic victory for the Assad regime.
Symbolic because Palmyra houses some very revered historical artifacts, even though most of them were destroyed when ISIS overran the town. On the political front, the retake of Palmyra gave Bashir al-Assad some measure of a firmer hold on power and greater negotiating leverage at international peace talks. And on the strategic front, Palmyra sits in-between the Syrian-Iraqi border; and its recapture drove ISIS further into the desert.
The 2nd major front of attack against ISIS on the battlefield is the Iraqi Army advance towards Mosul. Backed by US advance and assist provisions, the Iraqi troops have cleared ISIS out from the towns South of Mosul, as they prepare to take the city. An onslaught is expected to be staged sometime soon, and it would surely deal a huge blow to the terror group.
In addition to increased airstrikes from coalition forces and also the Russian-Iranian alliance, ISIS has also faced increased onslaught from the fierce Kurdish militia, the Peshmerga, on the Turkish-Syrian border.
With each military advance, the sect loses power and sees its battlefield positions weakened.
But then, what does this mean in the wider narrative? Does a defeat on the battlefield translate into a global halt of ISIS’s movement? I don’t think so.
Terror attacks around Europe and even in the USA remind us of the lone-Wolf…the unknown gunman who is fuelled by a wicked ideology, to inflict maximum pain on an unsuspecting population…the ones who usually operate below the radar, planning away from the spotlight, and stepping in at an opportune moment to kill innocent lives. These are the offshoots of ISIS that the world must now worry about.
It would take more than a military operation- though highly essential- to subdue an ideology. It would take more than weeks, months and even a few years, to reduce to the barest minimum- if that’s even possible- the seeds of terrorism, which this deadly group has planted all over the world.
After battlefield successes, world powers would now have to depend on major intelligence to nip terrorist threats in the bud, before they occur. But security officials cannot do it alone. Citizens themselves would have to be on alert, and do their part in offering up information about suspicious behavior/activity. The Muslim community would also need to step to the fore, and do its part in quelling the harsh rhetoric from senior Imams which steer up animosity and violence and instill hatred for other cultures/groups/religions in the minds of young Muslims.
The decimation of ISIS on the battlefield is by no means the end, but it does take away the narrative of a so-called ‘caliphate’, which the group thrives on. It also helps in a large way, to dismantle the operational hierarchy and network of the terror organization. But after all that is done, the work shifts to all of us, members of the larger global society. It would not be an easy task, but it can be done.