Senator Demola Adeleke, the newest Senator in the hallow chambers seems to have been dancing non-stop since his victory at the polls . Elected to finish the term of his late brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke, I have watched various videos of the new Senator dancing and ‘changing his footsteps’ especially when dancing in his home town, Ede. Given his bulky frame, his gyrations and phallic gestures, he can win an international dance competition. He also displayed a lot of charisma shelling out dollars to a musician in an obviously earlier dance abroad. The lyrics of the various songs suggests he is conquering his enemies and was born, not to work, but to spend money. This may be true as he might have been born into wealth. His father, Comrade R.A. Adeleke, a trade unionist of the defunct Nigeria Workers Council (NWC), was a Senator of the Second Republic.
His electoral campaigns and message seem to have been drowned in the songs and crushed in his dance steps. To me, there is nothing wrong with a Distinguished Senator with songs in the head and nimble feet on the ground. He would be a great complement to my friend, Senator Dino Melaye whose remix of the traditional Yoruba song ‘Aje kun ya” should win him the African Song of the Year. But we have had enough entertainment; the drama has to come to an end and the focus shifted to serious legislative duties.
About the same time, my attention was drawn to another song, ‘Egbema My Home’ by Barrister Smooth in which he lamented the neglect of an ancient kingdom with its towns. His video of the oil-rich kingdom showed flooded towns with thatch roofs and the people living the same way their ancestors lived centuries ago. He sang that the people have no clean drinking water, no roads, no hospitals, no schools, no electricity and certainly, no university. He claimed that the Kingdom has been so abandoned that it has not produced a Local Government Chairman, State House of Assembly Member, Member of the House of Representatives, a Senator, and definitely, no Governor.
For some, this is why they are insisting on the restructuring of the country; that Derivation should be increased. Some even call for ‘Resource Control’ I have no problem with these except I know that increased derivation will not necessarily lead to development or the transformation of areas like Egbema. Restructuring will not take the country out of the disgraceful category of the three countries in the world; Pakistan, Nigeria, and Afghanistan which still have polio cases. How can war torn Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya be polio-free and we still have polio cases?
Restructuring will not necessarily address the waste of $5 billion annually on generators and will not solve the chronic housing shortage in the country. It is unlikely to change the tragic reality that 65 percent of the 74,280 public Primary and Junior Secondary schools in the country, lack electricity. Apart from the hot humidity in the classrooms, how will restructuring give the children technology-based education especially when their homes also lack regular power supply?
The reason for my position is based on the fact that almost all those calling for restructuring, advocate it primarily as a form. This includes the creation of an additional state in the East to bring it at par with the five other political Regions except the North West. Some advocate equal number of states and local governments for all the six political Regions. Yet others talk primarily about superficial constitutional amendments. They completely neglect or reject the content of restructuring. Yet for restructuring to be meaningful, it has to address both form and content. It has to address issues of poverty, inequality, mass unemployment, the privatization of collective wealth and the unfair distribution of resources between the privileged few and the majority in want.
Like Barrister Smooth emphasized, development cannot come by individual wealth such as one man owning an oil bloc; but by collective wealth like the state owning oil blocs. Restructuring should mean making Chapter Two of the constitution justiciable. This amongst other things, mean that all Nigerian children will have a right to education.
Restructuring should be vertical and horizontal; of the overfed and the hungry; the strong and the weak. It should be such that development would be for both the governor and the governed; the Minister and those they minister upon. Restructuring should resolve the contradiction of deepening poverty in a country so richly blessed.
Generally if Nigerians are conscious, they will ask; what does restructure mean? Will it put food on the table, shirt on our backs, roof over the head, notebooks in classrooms and analgesics in the clinics? Make no mistake; I do not reject the idea or need to restructure the country, but it must be one that addresses basic needs and the issue of development which is moving the people to sustainable higher level of living by redistributing wealth in favour of the majority.
The great 19th Century African-American abolitionist, Harriet Tubman aka ‘A Woman called Moses’ was quoted to have lamented: “I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” In similar vein, if the Nigerian masses were to be more reflective, they will ask why those who strongly advocate separateness would for five years now, reject a Bishop of the same ethnic group on the basis of dialectical variation. If only the oppressed and dispossessed are conscious that they are oppressed and dispossessed, they would not join the chant for separation, the noise of expulsion nor the army of ethnic jingoists and religious perverts. Rather, they will unite to change their circumstances.