Apocalypse of an ill-planned restructuring in Nigeria

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restructuring in Nigeria

An accountant relocated to another state in response to the company’s decision to transfer him to a new branch. As he was walking down his new street on his first day to work, he saw everybody running in different directions. Instinctively, he joined the race in his own direction without ascertaining the purpose for the race. Soon, the runners were squatting in different corners plugging their phones to the electric-power that just came on after two weeks. The different calls for restructuring Nigeria without understanding the purpose/implication is like running because other people are running.


There has been different calls for restructuring Nigeria from different quarters of the country. While some people believe that the country must be restructured,[1] the others insist on status quo.[2] The main call for restructuring bothers on the control of lands and mineral resources federally, regionally, state-based, communally or individually. From the focus on lands and resources comes the focus on the mode of social organization for people to collaborate for peace and progress. However, the question about the purpose for controlling these resources is often overshadowed by the struggle itself.

Why do people control mineral resources?

The purpose for controlling mineral resources is either to utilize them for production, or to exchange them for money, goods or services. In Nigeria, the purpose of controlling mineral resources seems limited mainly to exchanging them for money, goods and services.[3] The control of mineral resources in Nigeria, thus, guarantees access to foreign exchange for the controller of the resources. Whoever controls this access, can also influence the supply of funds and internal politics of the different parts of the country.


We shall only discuss the implications of restructuring based on resource-control in Nigeria.



Presently, Nigeria has a unitary social structure in which the mineral resources of all the different individuals, ethnic nationalities and communities are held under a central government.[4] The central government reserves the right to auction, utilize or dispose the different communities’ mineral resources.[5][6][7] In return, the central government creates different states, as channels through which it shares proceeds of the auctioned mineral resources.[8] The central government also determines or greatly influences the organization of security and service of the different ethnic nationalities and communities.


The present system of government is basically known for sharing mineral resource proceeds to states. This system has been seriously criticised as wasteful, ineffective and stagnant. Hence, many scholars, advocates and political activists have insisted on the need for restructuring Nigeria.[9] Restructuring a country is like changing a football team management that eventually changes the game formation from 4-4-2 to 5-4-1, 3-6-1, etc.


The aims of a society (country) are social justice, harmony, development and productivity; the owners are the individuals, ethnic communities and nationalities who have agreed to work together as a country; the managing crew is the system of government they choose for organizing the affairs of the country; the players are the citizens who have been trained to collaborate for justice, productivity and peace in the society.



Nigeria was formed by Europeans for economic exploitation through a central government that confiscates access to the people’s mineral resources.[10] Africa’s nation states were formed by foreigners, lines drawn by Europeans on maps of places they had often never been to. They carved out territories, cut up kingdoms and societies of which they had little idea.[11] “Nigerians have never agreed – or been given the chance to agree – what Nigeria is.”[12] Various nationalities inhabiting Nigeria have not been wielded into a nation in which all of them would have a stake.[13] Hence, it is like a cage of incompatible beasts, who may never collaborate for productivity because of their mutual suspicions.[14]



There are several hundred ethnic communities and nationalities in Nigeria, who managed their societies differently before the colonial invasion. These ethnic communities have always been the natural custodians of the people’s customs, traditions, and even welfare. However, the colonialists forcefully imposed a federalism to hijack decision-making roles of the ethnic communities about their people and resources.[15] The present political-structure was built on force instead of consent of the people and thus, lacks legitimacy to solely decide on the social-structure. Hence, the ethnic communities are to discuss and agree on a proper mode of partnership for peace and progress.


Several structures have been suggested as alternative structures to the present form of rancorous and unproductive unitary government. They include:


Regionalism – resources control under regional government

This is a proposal that the different ethnic communities be merged under five, six or more regions. There are two options under the regionalism alternative.


In the first option, each regional government automatically takes control of the resources within the region, develop their region and contribute an agreed percentage to the central government.


A second option will be for different ethnic communities and individuals to manage their resources, develop their environment and contribute an agreed percentage to the region that eventually contribute to the central.


Under the second option, the regional government dialogue with individual/ethnic resource owners about desirable modes of collaboration.


The first option does not properly recognize the rights of the people on their mineral resources. Hence, it may lead to another degree of marginalization, rancour and crisis.


State control 

Presently, the right to all lands in Nigeria are militarily vested in the government of the different states. The Land Use Act was used” to vest all land comprised in the territory of each state solely in the Governor of the State, who would be responsible for allocation of land in all urban areas to individuals resident in the state and to organization for residential, agricultural, commercial and other purposes”[16]


The state-control alternative for restructuring is meant to also vest all mineral resources for the different ethnic communities in the Governor of the state. By this, a state governor automatically takes control of the mineral resources in all the ethnic communities. The governor manages the resources, develops the state according to his discretion and contributes some percentage to the central government.


In a liberal form of state-control, the individuals and ethnic communities manage their resources and contribute an agreed percentage to the state government, who eventually contribute to the central government. By this, the social development is also shared between the ethnic communities and the state government.


The automatic rights of governors to control both lands and resources may result in a localized tyranny. A governor, managing the general resources of different ethnic communities may focus the development on his preferred side of the state.




Choosing any structure of social arrangement is in itself a decision to work for its attainment of social justice, harmony and productivity. The aim of every true society is to collaborate and utilize their resources for producing what they need. Whichever structure is preferred in the end can only be sustained if it has come from the people’s resolve to collaborate for it to work. It does not have to be a product of some politicians’ calculations.


The worst thing that will happen to Nigeria after restructuring is still calling on foreigners to extract, process and distribute their crude resources. The aim of restructuring is to get a structure that allows Nigerians to use their mineral resources for producing what they need.


[1] https://lagosstate.gov.ng/blog/2017/10/23/southern-governors-unite-on-true-federalism-devolution-of-powers/

[2] Vanguard News, Obasanjo rejects call for restructuring, https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/08/obasnjo-rejects-calls-restructuring/

[3] OPEC, Nigeria Facts and Figures http://www.opec.org/opec_web/en/about_us/167.htm

[4] Ladipo Adamolekun, Tackling unitary features of Nigeria’s federal system https://www.vanguardngr.com/2017/05/tackling-unitary-features-nigerias-federal-system/ retrieved 30/10/2017

[5] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 2

[6] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 2, paragraph 1

[7] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 3

[8] Allocation of Revenue Act http://www.lawnigeria.com/LawsoftheFederation/ALLOCATION-OF-REVENUE-(FEDERATION-ACCOUNT,-ETC.)-ACT.html

[9] https://lagosstate.gov.ng/blog/2017/10/23/southern-governors-unite-on-true-federalism-devolution-of-powers/

[10] Nigerian minerals and mining act 2007 act no. 20, chapter 1, Part 1, Section 1, paragraph 2

[11] Richard Dowden, op. Cit. p3

[12] cf. Richard Dowden, Africa altered states, ordinary miracles. (New York: Public Affairs, 2010). p.445

[13] Hassan A. Saliu and J.O. Durojaiye, Issues in contemporary political economy of Nigeria (Ilorin: T.A.Olayeri printers, 1999), p.1

[14] Chukwunwike Enekwechi, Nigerians are not DNA corrupt. http://restartnaija.com/2017/06/01/nigerians-are-not-dna-corrupt/ retrieved on 28/09/2017

[15] S. O. Oyedele, “Federalism in Nigeria” in Issues contemporary political economy of Nigeria (edited) Hassan A. Saliu, op.cit, p.57

[16] 29th March 1978, Land use act. P7