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Quick Take: Saraki told senators to think outside the box, then he stayed inside it

Gov. Yari of Zamfara, Sultan Abubakar, Gov. Masari of Katsina and Senate President Bukola Saraki at the Northern Senators Retreat

Nigerian Identity

Quick Take: Saraki told senators to think outside the box, then he stayed inside it

Senate president Bukola Saraki spoke today at the retreat of the Northern Senators Forum which held in Katsina state. He dedicated several portions of his speech, addressing the matter of restructuring.

Saraki’s preamble hit the right notes – he asked senators to keep open minds on the issue of restructuring, he said senators should not be afraid of reform and he rightly described restructuring as “the front-burner issue in the polity at the present time.”

Unfortunately, the meat of the senate president’s speech did not move the conversation on restructuring forward.

He said the issue of restructuring is not being “framed properly” and then went on to explain his own understanding of the concept. Here is what he said:

My own restructuring is when everyone work towards economic development in every part of the country, so we can all take pride of place in the Nigerian project, and no region is seen as a weak link. 

“My own restructuring is when we oversee the budget process to ensure equitable spread of critical infrastructure in every corner of the country, so that no region is left out of the gains of economic recovery.

“My own restructuring is when we create jobs and enhance food production so our people do not go hungry.

“My own restructuring is when we educate our children so that they can realise their full potential and partake in the promise of the future. My own restructuring is when we place a premium on delivering good governance, fight against corruption, valourise honesty and live to serve the people – without betraying the trust reposed in us.”

The above quotes are the kinds of fanciful cliches tailor-made for Twitter hashtag governance and the exact opposite of thinking outside the box that Saraki advises.

To be clear: Educating our children to realise their potentials is not restructuring! Fighting corruption is not restructuring! Working towards economic development, jobs creation and enhanced food production are not restructuring! Those are simple issues of good governance and service delivery which he and other public officials are sworn to provide.

Restructuring as the dictionary describes it, has to do with effecting a fundamental change in a system. It involves altering the current structure. Nothing Saraki suggested as his own restructuring remotely resembles a fundamental change or a systemic alteration.

Now, if Saraki is saying he is against restructuring – then that is a fair argument to make. Not everyone is agreed on it. However what he tried to do was to co-opt the term while explaining what has to happen irrespective of restructuring. There is nothing novel or outside the box about any of the things the senate president describes as his understanding of restructuring. Because it simply isn’t restructuring.

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