Femi Falana, senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says those who say Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable are wrong.
Speaking on the calls for restructuring, he noted that it should be tailored according to the country’s peculiarities, but said that alone cannot address youth unemployment and other challenges encountered by Nigerians.
Stakeholders have been calling for restructuring of the country in order to save it from disintegration.
In a lecture delivered at the 20th convocation of the Ekiti State University, on Wednesday, Falana said some “opportunistic politicians” only join the campaign for restructuring when they are out of power, but resist the movement when they are in government.
“Restructuring alone will not automatically answer the menacing question of rising youth joblessness and hopelessness plaguing the Nigerian society,” Falana said.
“To reframe the question, some myths should be exploded. First, stripped of all obfuscation, restructuring is basically about making the Nigerian federation work better for the purpose of governance and development. That should be the objective of restructuring rather the elusive pursuit of “true federalism.
“There is nothing like a true federalism. Every federation is structured for the specific purpose of each country. That is why the Indian federation is not identical to that of Australia or America. The Swiss federation is operated differently from that of Canada or Brazil.
“The German federation is working not because it’s ‘true’, but because it meets the specific historical need of the Germans. So we should stop mystifying the debate by calling for a ‘true federalism’ instead of asking for a workable federation of Nigeria. As a matter of fact, making a federation to work, building a nation or promoting national integration is never a finished business.
“After all, what’s federalism if not a system of continuous negotiations and compromises. That’s why it’s a gross misnomer when some people pronounce arrogantly that ‘Nigeria’s unity not negotiable.’ That’s wrong.
“The idea of restructuring as a fad should be questioned. Opportunistic politicians join the campaigns for restructuring when they are out of power. Whereas when they are in power they muster all their strength to resist the moves to restructure even when they have restructuring in the manifestoes of their political parties. Politicians treat the topic of restructuring as a veritable tool for ethnic and regional mobilisation and nothing more.”