In an illusional manifesto this piece centers on solutions to the socio-political, economic and collective problems facing Nigeria as a country.
by Adekoya Boladale
Fellow countrymen and women, I write to you at this perilous time in our nation to discuss the future of our great country, Nigeria. Over the years we have been humiliated, bruised and lied to by individuals we entrusted our lives with. Our once glorious and fruitful nation that command respect from all and sundry is now an object of ridicule and a signature for impunity, corruption and poverty. Our elected and appointed leaders have continually failed in bringing to reality the much publicized reform programs but rather in a twist; have been so active in diverting public funds and collective taxes into foreign and offshore accounts. I come to you not to recount the tales of my shoeless years; every Nigerian has had a common share of poverty, hunger and starvation. We all, have at one time or the other tasted the agony of not having anything to eat. Most have had to sleep on streets, locked up shops, under bridges and uncompleted houses. A lot of Nigerian children have been forced into hawking, child labour and begging. These tales are part of the reasons we must demand change.
Fellow Nigerians, I write to you as one who is fed up with the current position of our great country, I write to you as a man who is tired of seeing a great nation with so much natural and human resources take the back seat in the midst of international development. I write to you as one who can no longer watch these politicians play Ping-Pong with our future and that of generations yet unborn. Today I seek your collaboration to help take back our country from the oppressors and bring back the lost glory.
I seek for your cooperation not as a Christian or a Southerner, in fact I make bold to say that if my religion, ethnic or regional constituency will drive you to vote for me then I must say ‘thanks, but no thanks’. The well-being and development of our country lies not in partisanship, ethnicity, religious differences or nepotism but rather in unity, trust, tolerance, love and vision. We are not a nation of Southern and Northern protectorates, we are not a nation of Hausas, Igbos or Yorubas, we are not a nation of Christians and Muslims but a nation of people with common mind, people with a unified dream and vision, set of people though uniquely different but united by a common goal and desire to succeed.
Fellow Nigerians, I come forth before you to table my plans and proposed policies for the uplift and resurrection of our country. To disappoint you I will not be stating water, food, shelter, roads and toilet. These are basic human necessities that should never be debated. It is not a matter for deliberation but rather an essential right that does not require a second thought before provision. Any political aspirants who comes before you tabling these basic human necessities as manifesto is nothing but a cheap liar who has no designed plan to make Nigeria better. The world is long past provision of infrastructure but rather mapping of intellectual policies and ideas to drive and put all these basic amenities to order.
Countrymen and women, it is evident that one of the major problems militating against our country today is unemployment. It is so grave that a lot of our youths have taken to immoral and image tarnishing means to make ends meet. I must frankly state that government cannot provide employment for everyone but rather can create an avenue to promote entrepreneurship and encourage creativity. In this light, I propose that the security votes allocated to state, local and federal governments be diverted to a department domicile with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) named Emergency Innovation Fund (EIF). This fund will be available as grant to every Nigerian who has any innovative idea, skill or design. With this, Nigerians from all works of life including but not limited to the informal sector and individuals who have over the years propounded innovative solutions to our economics and societal problems but lack necessary financial strength, can access this fund. Secondly, to curtail the massive yearly turnout of unemployed graduates we would make it compulsory for all undergraduates in Nigeria to undergo an idea test. This yearly exercise will see youths put their passion and hubby into writing which will go through selective stages and the top ten ideas per institutions will be funded by the government. To ensure transparency, we will create an online portal where Nigerians can easily visit and submit their innovative ideas. Unlike the current YouWin programme where winners are selected base on geopolitical zones and regions, the EIF will be available to Nigerians with productive ideas regardless of geographical place of origin. To create sanity however, individuals will be required to sign legally binding documents to utilise the funds for no other reasons other than the primary project. Funds will be release in batches and business activities monitored by team of business experts under the EIF department. However, we will still continue to extend an olive branch to foreign investors and promote the private sector through periodic incentives.
Fellow Nigerians, we cannot deny the fact that our country is at war, not against any country of the world but against itself. A war inflicted by years of neglect and mistrust, a war built on frustration and lost hope by individuals who are misguided and manipulated. I must say I feel their pains and desire to be heard but there is no reason whatsoever to stand against the only home and country we can call ours. From the Boko Haram terrorists in the North, Kidnappers in the South and the Militants in the Niger Delta our country continue to be held hostage and thousands of Nigerians sent to their early grave. It is time for the government to take actions against these acts. To treat a problem we must recognize its cause; some of the identified causes of insecurity in our country include unemployment, illiteracy and greed. As earlier recommended, unemployment will be curtailed through the EIF scheme and grants given to artisans among others to expand and even start up trades. It is believed that when the people are gainfully engaged; poverty and starvation will be greatly reduced. However, it is also notoriously true that within our society just like every other, some individuals who either by religious sentiment or physiological deficiency will continue to promote anarchy and insecurity. From these individuals government should not sheath its sword; this would mean the immediate arrest of every individual reported to have been promoting or once promoted terrorism or insecurity no matter how highly placed such individual is. Strongly I believe that if the roots of a plant are cut down, with time the plant will wither off. Furthermore, our security agencies will be strengthened through extensive training on use of technology to fight insecurity. Government will also as a matter of urgency begin immediate neighbour-to-neighbour sensitization program on the need to embrace peace and unity and shun unlawful activities.
Dear Patriots, in our midst we have a cancer, one which has defied all solutions and evidently grew from strength to strength. Every antidote concocted to fight against this virus has ended up promoting and enlarging its coast. Corruption is a wolf that has continued to setback developmental efforts by every government ever elected or appointed in Nigeria. It has brought ridicule and shame upon us all and given a bad image to our dear country. Our nation now ranked 8th most corrupt country in the world and 4th most corrupt police in the world, this is unacceptable. Corruption is far beyond giving and taking bribe alone, corruption is evident in a market seller who increases the prices of wares to make three times the profit without considering the end user; corruption is evident in a manager or staff who replaces the name of a candidate to be employed with that of a friend or relative; corruption comes to play when a lecturer or teacher demands incentives to allot scores; corruption takes place when drugs freely allocated to patients are been sold by hospital staff; corruption is when universities favour individuals for admission at the expense of merits; corruption is inviting public office holders to make donations and financial promises beyond their means; corruption is about influencing decisions against natural judgement. To curb corruption every citizen must be involved, it is too severe to be left in the hands of the government alone but rather a collective national beast that requires a national antidote. However, corruption can only be best fought by the government and this can only happen when the government rid itself of corrupt practices, after all he who seeks equity must come with clean hands. Previous government have set up agencies and departments to counter this wolf, this is commendable but there is still much to be done. Firstly, I propose that the public offices be made less juicy. Over the years individuals of questionable and unquestionable characters either by association and self infliction have abused and manipulated the public office for self gain; these unholy activities have been made possible due to the outrageous financial strength of the office they hold, this has brought adverse effect on politics as every individual wishes to have a bite of the national cake. In this light, public office holders either elected or appointed must be paid in accordance with the salary scale of the civil service. All luxurious allowances and bogus allocations would be cut off. Public officers will be responsible for the salaries of stewards and staff he/she wishes to keep. Utilities and mobility bills which include but not limited to vehicle fuelling, light bills, water bills among others will be borne by the public officer.
Secondly, I propose that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) be scrapped. These two agencies have outlived their importance and have become a joke in the face of fighting corruption. The agencies are to pave way for the creation of Anti-corruption Agency (AA). This agency will have amongst others a council or board made up of presidents and chairmen of ten (10) associations and civil societies with unquestionable integrity such as the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Joint Action Front (JAF), Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), Trade Union Congress (TUC) among others. These board members will be given the power to only nominate senior staff and chairman for the agency picked from women and men of unquestionable character in the society for confirmation by the National Assembly. The Anti-corruption Agency will be established throughout the federation with ability to discharge duties independently at state and local government level. It is only by this that we can have a truly independent agency free from intimidation and influence. In its first assignment the agency will begin the immediate investigation of all present and past political office holders with the aim of bringing to justice those who live beyond their means and take what is left of our national cake with them and their families.
Fellow Nigerians, education is an integral part of every development oriented society. No government with the true intent to progress should ever pay lip service to this sector. In this light, I propose that we allocate at least 30% of yearly budget to the educational sector. It is my hope that if corruption is minimally reduced and the people are more engaged, the allocated funds to education will be maximally utilised. Furthermore, education will be made free up to secondary school level while scholarship and loans will be structured for any interested Nigerian who desire to access such. Lecturers and teachers who are interested in research programmes with bias for scientific and technological research will be offered grants.
In other to develop the science and technological sector, I propose that the yearly Junior Engineers, Technicians, and Scientists (JETS) programme be replicated in a more advanced form. This means that government will take up the organisation of a similar programme across the country at least once yearly where every unique invention will be awarded and taken up for development while such inventor will be placed on automatic scholarship and internship programme abroad. In strengthening the telecommunication industry and creating an enabling environment for young Nigerians to develop their ideas, I propose that the NITEL Company be converted to a public broadband corporation. This means that the government will actively invest in developing the broadband industry to ensure that every willing Nigeria home gets access to fast and reliable internet connection at a minimal rate. This broadband will also be sold to private companies at reasonable rate in other to cut down the expenses they incur which will create a cheaper service charge on the people.
Fellow Nigerians, for our economy to develop we must look beyond oil. Our dependency on crude oil in light of other sectors of the economy has continue to set us back and hold our economy to ransom. Therefore, I propose that we decentralise the oil industry and give liberty to every state to control their resources. That each state will be the sole administrator of whatever it produces while a certain percentage of such resources will be given to the federal government. This means that no state will have to come over to the central government or expect any allocation from the federal government but rather will strive to be self sufficient. This move will see more dedication and commitment into reviving the Agricultural sector by states whose major economic resources is farming. The days of the cocoa house in West, the groundnut pyramid in the North and the Yam barn in the East will automatically come back.
For our society to be truly free and fair, the judiciary must be independent. It is nothing but mere deceit that the government appoints Judges and Justices to our various courts and yet get sued to the same court while the people expect free and unbiased judgement. I propose that the Judiciary be set free and given free hand to operate and make appointments. With this, judgements can truly be free and justice served without fear or favour.
Country men and women, there are lots of structural changes that must take place. The Nigeria Police Force requires an urgent reform which will see to the creation of state police and Federal Bureau. The aviation, health, transportation, and sport sectors requires immediate restructuring. Irrelevant ministries and departments will be fused into one; replica agencies will be closed down to pave way for new ones.
I come to you with clean hands untainted, believing that the long years of self inflicted slavery and maladministration must come to an end. Silver or Gold I have none but this dream that we all can walk tall around the world, that we can make bold to say before Kings and Queens that I am a Nigerian. I am ready to make a real change but will you vote for me?
Adekoya Boladale a political scientist and alumnus of Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED) and the Political Leadership Academy (POLA) wrote via firstname.lastname@example.org. Please engage him on twitter @adekoyabee