The Nigerian structure: Fish bone in the neck

June 26, 2017 Africa , Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

Reuters photo



Prince Charles Dickson


Before going to bed, I had to eat something. I opened d fridge yes, all the food had turned to block; the light practically never goes off, so sometimes you just have to switch it off.

I finished eating went to bed. I woke up very early in the morning to the sound of classical music. I casually strolled into the bathroom. Oh! The cold is too much this morning; I turned on the hot-water tap. Now shower is no longer just a bucket and a bowl…It really is a shower with water running the taps.

While toweling myself dry, I turned on the radio and heard the presenter speaking of how the new Nigerian president yesterday declared his assets and all he had to boast of was N20million and a bungalow in his village. I finished dressing up and took a lazy breakfast. Minimal traffic, I am going to the office via the train this morning anyways.

It’s a break at the office. I took a walk, saw a few policemen patrolling and greeted them. I stopped to chat to them a few minutes after which I walked on laughing.

Later in the evening, I went out to play in the neighborhood and saw Adamu Obinna discussing the recent trend in d country, of how Mallam Danjuma is now governor of Rivers state, Mazi Eze Nnenna is deputy governor in Borno state, Dr. Olu is now the governor of Ebonyi state.

Then I had a mosquito bite on my nose as I slapped my face. I woke up and took a large dose of cough syrup.

Was that Nigeria restructured, was it regionalized, was it a Christian or Muslim state, was it Biafra, Arewa, or Rondel Republic?

Okay, I am from Plateau state, and the real issue aside from many little squabbles in the last General Election was that we were not going to allow the Berom ethnic nation to continue the domination; eight years earlier it was the Musheres from Bokkos. We argued and debated that there was a power sharing formula…bla bla bla; we restructured, brought the same dudes who were there one way or the other. Today it’s “one-chance”.

In Benue, it is the Tiv versus the Idomas vs others, in Kogi it is the Igbiras versus Igalas, in some cases it has even degenerated to “denominational and sect wars”.

None of these debates have brought the much-needed development for a nation that is so structurally divided, and again what we all know is that those that can and also be; are afraid to Sit and Talk!

Because we are structurally deformed we check how many SE, SW, SS (which by the way is an anomaly), NE, NW, NE are on a list before we check whether they are qualified. We still suffer an Ebola-like disease called Federal Character in a characterless state, still plagued by terms such as catchment area, educationally disadvantaged (by who abeg).

We pride ourselves by our state of Origin, yet are minorities in many cases in the so-called state. We debate which region is poorest, and which feeds the other. A nation of an elite and intellectual class that lacks critical thinking.

We keep amending our constitutions and reviewing them since forever, and having conference after conference.

The debate again is that the elite won’t allow for the restructuring, maybe because we do not have the benefit of war and we have experienced on countless occasions the futility of talk, we stay on our high horses and cry restructure like in that one pill is the local Yoruba “agbo” that cures all ailments.

We need a referendum so that restructuring can take place, or just a referendum, but when a nation cannot get its elections right, how can it conduct a sincere referendum?

I am still crying wolf despite the best of explanations, I cannot understand why all those people there are Muslims and the ones that are here are Christians, I cannot understand why there are Muslims who are allowed to wear a Hijab, and Christians cannot wear Choir apparels to school. Would restructuring solve all these problems?

Will restructuring Nigeria make Rochas deal with the erosion that litters that road to his palatial country home in Imo state? Or if Mr. Buhari completes two terms of four years each will it make Katsina the hub of technology in the north?

In sincerity have we really allowed the Federal structure to work, with bogus census figures and criminal politicians, is it about systems, structures or those that work it? If today we have a feeding bottle federal fiscal structure, do we expect much difference or will it be a Seven-up case when we restructure?

The last talk-shop, went as far as recommending 50 plus states, all in the name of marginalization, who really is not marginalized, from the cruel mother-in-law that wont let her daughter-in-law be, to the woman that terrorizes her husband, to the lecturer that teaches better with his third leg…we are all victims of our current structure, albeit do we want to think or we just want a quick-fix, an ambulance solution?

Let me end with this little narrative, a young man chooses to change his name for reasons best suited and known by himself alone. For small money he walks into the High Court, swears to an affidavit, that reads, “I, Zakka Davou Dangwang, Nigerian citizen, Adult residing at XYZ, deponent to the oath, and by virtue of positions (that I know his not conversant with), changes the said name to Zakka Azi Nyam, all documents/credentials bearing old names remains valid.” He even adds a newspaper change of name publication.

What has changed? The young dude is still who he is…in reality all those calling for restructuring are the same elites, that have refused to restructure the structure, especially when they had the opportunity, the way we jump onto a matter when it is trending often reveals our inability to think critically in resolving issues that plague the Nigerian state.

A man was working when his boss started shouting at him. It made him feel weak and useless. The man went home and immediately shouted at his wife accusing her of spending too much money. It made her feel small and helpless. So the wife shouted at their son for breaking a plate. It made the child feel clumsy and stupid.

So the child shouted at the dog and kicked it, the dog held hurt and threatened. So the dog ran out and bit a woman on the street. The woman was shocked and in pain. She went to the hospital to treat the bite and shouted at the doctor because the treatment hurt. The doctor felt frustrated and unappreciated.

So the doctor went home and shouted at his mother for not having dinner ready.

The mother stayed calm, she stroked his hair and said, “Tomorrow I cook your favorite meal, you work so hard and you’re very tired, I’ll go put fresh sheets on your bed, so you can have a good night’s sleep, you’ll feel better in the morning.”

She kissed on the cheek and left him alone to rest, and so the circle of anger was broken, patience, forgiveness and love.

Nigeria, Nigerians are not yet sure what they want, to restructure, or to structure the restructuring, or to make structures work, there is a circle of anger that needs to be broken or at least drastically reduced, are we ready or will we allow the fish bone to cause havoc—Only time will tell.






Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.


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