The convener of Join The Restructuring Campaign (JTRC), Mr Izuoma Ibe, has reiterated the call for the restructuring of Nigeria against the staggering intents of constituting RUGA is Nigeria.
In this interview with Grace Amadi, he explained the nature of restructuring demanded by Nigerians in comparison with the US.
Sir, the federal government announced the suspension of the idea of constructing Ruga settlements in some states. Do you see that as a good development?
I read that in the news. Earlier, the presidency had assured the public that constructing RUGA settlements will stop roaming of cattle herders with the attendant clashes with farmers. But from what was seen or observed, Nigerians didn’t and won’t buy the idea.
Do you think that building settlements for the herders will put a stop to the herders/farmers conflicts witnessed in many states?
Permit me to ask these questions which I consider pertinent. Who are these herders and who are the farmers? Are the herders’ safety and wellbeing a priority than that of the farmers’? While looking into these issues, we have to be cautious so we don’t make wrong decisions for future Nigerians. In my own view, the construction of settlements for some set of people should not be the priority of the federal government lead by president Buhari. I think that the major focus should be on restructuring the country since such demand has been reoccurring in almost all the national discourses called by Nigeria.
Are you saying that restructuring the country will address clashes between the herdsmen and the farmers?
If you ask me that question, then I will ask you if these people tagged herders are clashing with farmers alone. Are they? The attention of the federal government should go beyond farmers and herders mirage but focus on Nigerians, not some Fulani herders. If you read the United Kingdom-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s (CSW) report, you will find that Fulani militias (herders) killed 1,061 people in about 106 attacks on communities in central Nigeria in the first quarter of 2018. It went further to state that 11 other attacks on communities in the southern parts of the country by the militia claimed a further 21 lives. The presidency of president Buhari should seek lasting solutions to the loss of lives in Nigeria which has been the major issue in his presidency next to corruption and nepotism. I’m not overstating it. The United States Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) says it has documented at least 19,890 deaths in Nigeria since June 2015, just after President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015. These are the lives of citizens of Nigeria been taken without proper investigation conducted and culprits brought to book. I think restructuring deserves more attention than RUGA.
This call for restructuring has gained momentum since the eve of the 2019 presidential election. Don’t you think if Its a way to go, the past administration should have implemented it before leaving?
Well, it depends on what you mean by the call for restructuring gaining momentum recently. There have been conferences with regards to this restructuring. The Conferences centred on the debate for restructuring or reforms in Nigeria in the following areas: political, economic, internal security, resource control, Women and Youth involvement in the politics of Nigeria, politics of devolution and or sharing of power, agriculture and food security, human security in Nigeria, religion and politics in Nigeria, inter-ethnic co-existence, Nigeria’s external relations, the theoretical framework of restructuring, among others. Restructuring has been a continuous process in Nigeria. Wasn’t it the implementation of restructuring that FEDECO metamorphosed to INEC, how about Nigeria emerging from parliamentary system to presidential system? The central focus should be what aspect of restructuring Nigerians are asking to be implemented at this time. Prior to or within the Jonathan presidency, the issue of resource control dominated the discourse. We saw how that was attended to. As an advocate of restructuring, I will boldly say that we need a truly federal Nigeria. A federation where states, not regions, control their effects and commit to the federal government constitutionally. We need a federation that will have the federal government committed to international affair more than attending to healthcare issues in my kindred or community. States should be constitutionally empowered to police their communities but that does not strip the federal government of the upper hand on security but that should be national security.
How about the abuse of the police by the state governors?
Then I ask you also about the abuse of the same police by the federal government? How many federations in the world confer the responsibility of the police on the federal government. The federal government should hands off state and local policing. Let’s take America for example. I am picking the US because we have their constitution as the template of ours. There are basically three types of law enforcement agencies in the US. They have local, state, and federal. Local law enforcement agencies include police and sheriff departments. State agencies include the state or highway patrol. Federal agencies include the FBI and the U.S. Secret Service. Do we say the same for Nigeria?
Do you see the restructuring you and your organization seek happening in Nigeria anytime soon?
The right things should be done in Nigeria. Issues that deserve most priorities should be accorded more attention.
Do you think president Buhari is championing the war against corruption?
He is doing to the best of his ability. The result is evident. Fighting corruption is like charity which should begin at home. If it is a fight within the presidency, then he is at its best. But the fact is until unemployment and poor education is handled in Nigeria, the fight against corruption is just a pancake.
Do you subscribe to the saying in some quarters that the current national assembly will be submissive to the presidency?
How about we leave that for another time? Yes, this is because the 9th national assembly is still evolving. We are yet to see it’s true posture. But I will advise every politically aware Nigerian not to speculate on this national assembly, especially the Senate. The hunter may later be the hunted.
Thank you for your time, sir.
Thank you for having me.