“Restructuring”! The new word in Nigerian lexicon making the waves. Ask a Yoruba man, an Igbo or Hausa man what it means to them! Go to a church ask a congregant! Ask a Muslim faithful! Ask the rich!
Ask the poor! Ask yourself!
I suppose there are as many meanings of the word “restructuring” as there are people, politicians and their followers who daily peddle the word. Restructuring is the in-thing, the political vogue but the side it turns to you is not the same your neighbour sees. And your neighbour can rapidly become your enemy if you flaunt your definition in group Whatsapp chats or in a beer parlour.
Many look at “restructuring” as the Father Christmas of all time. The provider of only good things. The answer to many months of fasting and years of prayers. “Restructuring” will bring solution to individual problems! The power of the word lies in individual connectedness to its magic. For some, “restructuring” will put food on their table, for some others it means some form of vendetta against their enemies, for the powerful ones, it represents a key to the national till and for many others, it is the paracetamol that will cure all their economic diseases from malaria to cancer. Mr. Abubakar Atiku, the PDP presidential candidate is at this end of the spectrum. He is waving about a little flag of “restructuring” that will solve all Nigeria’s problems overnight. He is promising to make “restructuring” his priority and to make it happen by his fiat. He, like many Nigerian pastors is telling his followers “Just believe in the miracle of the word and live good afterwards.”
And the antagonists of “restructuring” see this word as their Armageddon. To them, it looks like textualized 666 riding blind and fiercely with a flaming sword in hand (like southern jihad) from the South-East through Benue, Plateau and Adamawa towards Aso Rock. It bears the optics of the end of their being and the acoustics of the antithesis of their existence.
Akin to the “restructuring” ayes, this big word means different things to the nays. But common to the nays is that “restructuring” means the end of something that they have been taking for granted. It signifies the beginning of a political and socio-economic process in the guise of a chemical reaction that will turn the supposed birth-right advantage in their hands into vapor – straight from solid state into uncatchable vapor. Sublimation! At this end of spectrum stands Mr. Muhammadu Buhari, who doesn’t want to hear or see “restructuring” dead or alive. “Restructuring” has transmogrified into a physical and psychological monster for Mr. Buhari and his followers – a daily existential torture. His case is understandable, he had fought “restructuring” before in a war and won. Now “restructuring” has come back as a ghost to haunt him. Maybe there is never an absolute victory. To the President, it looks like those years spent in the trenches that could have been better spent in the comfort of the other room are wasted years. But that is Mr. Buhari’s understanding of this tormenting “restructuring”. His followers have as many understandings as they number.
Mr Buhari also has a flag. He has been flying a big flag with “Change” written in ever diminishing and fading font. At the beginning when he just got the flag, he also made us believe in the magic of the word “Change”. Just say “change” they said, and stone would change into bread, water would turn into wine, electricity supply would be stable, hospitals would function, all children would be in school and corrupt politicians and bureaucrats would move residence into the nearest jail. Now, after more than three years, to many, “Change” on their flag now looks like a tired Times New Roman font 4, barely visible at close quarters and inexistent from a long distance. The best judges of the state of “Change” are APC members and many recently jumped ship when they felt the wind had abandoned the sail of “Change”. It appears only Mr. Buhari and his close circle can see his political mission of “Change” on his flag.
In the euphoria of the victory of the present administration in 2015, I wrote an open letter to Mr. Buhari to tell him what change meant to me and to many others like me. See (“Change” is Governance by Results – An open Letter to President Muhammadu Buhari). He did not acknowledge. I understood that we both had different meanings of “Change” in mind like millions of Nigerians. There were 180 million meanings of “Change” just like there is about the same number of meanings of “restructuring”. Any text can be added before or after these mono words by anyone to drive an agenda as we saw with the Fulani herdsmen.
These words mean nothing and are dangerous for as long as they leave their true intention to anyone’s imagination. Our politicians should learn from the US, our democracy reference. Bill Clinton adopted “It’s the economy, stupid!” as his slogan for the 1992 presidential campaign against sitting president George H. W. Bush. He won! Even far from the shores of United States, people all over the world understood his intentions. Obama’s “Yes! We can!” still resonates with people around the world as a motivator for facing individual or national challenges. And Trump’s campaign of “Make America Great Again” does not need anyone to interpret it.
But not in our case! Our politicians thrive in ambiguity, throwing up dangerous and meaningless words to confuse and confound Nigerians. Words to which you cannot hold them accountable.
The word, “Restructuring” will die, just as “Change” died before it could happen. They are just mere words that catch the temporary fire of passion in the fuel of general discontentment with the lack of political vision and leadership. The slogans will die because the flagbearers and their followers do not have the same interpretation of what their flag says. And they will be left high and dry when the jamboree is over, and everyone will start looking for a new catch-word.