Restructuring, el-Rufai and the rest of us

1310 views | Hassan Gimba | May 24, 2021

There are a number of issues on the public burner. I could have gone on with Part 2 of my write-up on General T.Y. Danjuma and what Nigeria could take out of him. But that should wait. There is also Sambisa Forest, Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram and the Islamic State of West Africa (ISWAP). And then, of course, the brouhaha about the ban on open grazing in the south. The death of General Attahiru Ibrahim, the Chief of Army Staff, is the freshest.

Sambisa needs to be talked about because it is like the spiritual base of Boko Haram and Abubakar Shekau’s headquarters. It is where our military claimed several times that they had captured. At a time they told us they would turn it into a tourist centre, at another time a stadium and at another time their base.

Sambisa is where the Nigerian military tells us that their jets had bombed Boko Haram’s “Command Centres”, or Boko Haram chiefs at “Planning Conferences”. It has always been these or some plausible “achievements”.

However, mid last week we got the news that the Islamic State of West Africa had invaded Sambisa and, seeing no way out, the overpowered Shekau had taken his life along with those of some ISWAP commanders via suicide bombing, a case of he who lives by the bomb dies by it.

It is an excellent question for one to ask: is it the same Shekau whom our military claimed to have killed again and again, and could not defeat, that some ISWAP fighters took out so easily when they wanted? Then ISWAP must be a deadlier alternative to the erratic Shekau.

The ban on open grazing should be applauded, though. It is high time the north also banned it. I do not want to talk about the death of General Attahiru Ibrahim yet. The wound is too fresh. Suffice it to say that had he been from another part of the country, the “ever-wise” would have concluded that someone from the “other part” of the country killed him.

But sometimes it pays to have a suspicious brain. We must stop accepting things at their face value. What is wrong with our military planes and what caused the ill-fated crash that led to the COAS’ death? We hope the enquiry will be conclusive and the findings not cloaked in official lies and secrecy.

Anyway, today is about restructuring. According to Wikipedia, restructuring is the corporate management term for the act of reorganizing the legal, ownership, operational, or other structures of a company to make it more profitable or better organised for its present needs. Similarly, the Cambridge dictionary defined it as the act of organising a company, business, or system freshly to make it operate more effectively.

Restructuring is a term used by corporate bodies and synonymous with a reorganisation, regrouping, realignment, shifting, transformation, etc. It has, however, taken a political meaning in Nigeria.

While some proponents of restructuring see it as a constitution review strategy aimed at bringing government as close as possible to the people at the grassroots, others see it as simply a call for the restoration of federalism. The belief is that Nigeria would function better with fundamental changes in the charter of citizenship rights, on the structure of the military, the police system, the judicial system and even the political system.

However, most of the people who cry “restructuring” do so because it is the vogue and not because they understand it or are ready for it. Many of them think restructuring is akin to the removal of the so-called ‘born-to-rule’ people from being their ‘taskmasters’.

They cannot realize that their governors are not from another world, but elected from among them. They are blind to the fact that all their houses of assembly members, commissioners, local government chairpersons and councillors, members of their state and national legislature and all political appointees and public servants from their areas are their people.

No one from another part sits on their grants. They get their monthly allocations and all other statutory grants just like all other states and local governments of the federation.

Instead of the people calling those directly superintending over them to account for their mis-governance, they mischievously prefer to lampoon imaginary rainbows that “drink up their waters”. Thus they found a bogeyman for ethnic bashing, regional bashing and religious bashing.

Because the people have been led by the nose by pedagogues, their leaders have jumped in front of the bandwagon and are shouting more loudly just so they would remain relevant.

If not that, how can one situate the recent call for restructuring by the southern governors? Do they care for restructuring as they want the herd they want to continue leading by the nose to believe?

They would have since given their houses of assembly, judiciary and local governments the financial autonomy due to them as approved by none other than President Muhammadu Buhari. Nigeria would have been able to save some strikes out of many, at least.

How Right Is el-Rufai?

Malam Nasir el-Rufai, a political gadfly, is a man who elicits extreme emotions. You are either fanatically for him or extremely against him. To each group, he neither acknowledges your admiration nor gives a hoot about your disdain. He does whatever his mind tells him.

Since becoming governor, the small-sized but courageous Kaduna State governor has dismissed no fewer than 30,000,000 workers as the last count. Labour estimates 50,000. His reasons are that his government will now use the salaries they gulp for the good of the other segments of the state’s population. According to him, over 90 percent of the state’s allocation goes to civil servants who are less than a percent of the state’s nine million people. And this he cannot take.

What many people cannot understand is that most states in Nigeria are described as “civil service” states because the only viable industry – the largest employer of labour – is government. Just observe socio-economic activities around the time salaries are paid and you would understand the economics of it all.

When salaries get delayed, even the okada people have no job, markets become empty. The tomato seller, tailor, and retail shops suffer as much. Private schools know so because school fees get delayed, hence teachers’ salaries.

In some advanced countries, governments give allowances to the jobless so that the economy would not grind to a halt, and to ward off a rise in crime. It is, therefore, wrong to dismiss a worker, who probably left home that day promising his family unable to feed that morning that he will return with food, only to return with a sack letter. And he will not even get his entitlements that the state has been deducting from his salaries since his first pay, or his severance benefits.

A government with vision will have a timeframe within which to train people to be self-dependent before disengaging them from public service. A self-dependent person can even engage other jobless citizens, thus contributing positively to the development of the state.

Dismissing thousands who have nothing to fall back on has serious security implications to the nation. After all, insurgents, separatists, bandits, militants, etc, all target such frustrated class in their recruitment drives.

But come to think of it, has el-Rufai reduced the number of his many aides, many of whom have no schedules? He collects salaries and allowances, yet the Kaduna State government feeds him and caters for his family. Is there no anomaly here? Will it not be wise for him to release the millions budgeted for his upkeep, and all those many allowances he collects? After all, all those he dismissed cater for themselves and their dependents from their meagre salaries. Is it not time we held a conversation about the expensive upkeep of the president, governors and other political office holders and top public servants?

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