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2015 Election And The Need To Engage The Candidates.

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As we earnestly start the preparation for 2015 elections, we need to assess the journey so far and also look at ways of moving the country forward. The challenges of Nation Building are enormous and pain staking. It is not an event but a process. The so called advance countries and democracies are still in the process of national building but the difference is that their institutions have grown and developed the capacity to take charge and hold the basic institutional building blocks. Ours needs to grow.

That said does not provided a reason why we are backward and seems to be regressing in some aspect of our national life. In as much as we blame the leadership, the followers are also not immune to the numerous problems and set-backs affecting our dear country Nigeria. We all need to do the needful and pull the necessary resources, personal and institutional support to begin to address and change some of the issues affecting our country. Not minding that we all have a stake on the way the nation is governed.  Nigeria is the only country we can all call ours. If we run away from engaging the system every outcome from the process affects us.

As we prepare for the change of government or continuation of the present government in 2015, let us begin to fashion out our medium of engagement with the upcoming campaign period. Our focus should be on a robust programme and policies capable of changing the direction of the state. This will be geared towards a comprehensive development model that looks at human development, infrastructural development, institutional development and continuity in some of the already existing programmes in the country.

These three broad areas should form the critical areas of engagement to those seeking office in the coming election. Although they have been some level of improvement in the three aforementioned areas but the level of development is not moving at a rate that will pull us out of the wood. For us to move at the rate that would show significant improvement and development, we need to increase and consolidate on the achievement so far.  These three broad areas constitute the basic framework needed to show improvement in the life of the citizenry of this country and the country at large.

On human development, we should channel our efforts towards the improvement and reorientation of our educational system from the subject based to a more practical and skill based outcome in tune to the requirement of the country and the 21 st century.   This human development is also applicable to the re-education of the teaming group of the unemployed and employed in some relevant skills that would ensure their survival and contribution to the nation's economy. Of equal importance is the consolidation of the teaching of t entrepreneurial education that would contribute to the reduction of unemployment and the general improvement to the well -being of the population and increased resources to the country. It would enhance the improvement of the productivity of the country. Part of this human development is the establishment of a robust health care plan especially the basic health care in all the community of the country and the strengthening of both the secondary and tertiary health care. The electorate, the civil society organisation and other stakeholders should team up to engage the politicians and those aspiring for elective office to show the electorate a workable programme and policies that would help for a sustained and a major leap in the human development. This is important. This should form the most essential aspect of the engagement because the importance of this subsector especially as it relates to human development has   direct effect on the electorate. A practical and robust programme on this will improve the health care delivery, impact on the economy, reduce unemployment and curtail other social vices in the society.  Not negating other areas of engagement within this sector like improved food security and other forms of sustainable development.

Added to the human development which is primary is also another sector that the electorate have over time used as a means of judging the effectiveness of any government -which is infrastructural development. We are used to judging our leaders based on the new roads and other tangible projects that we can quantify.  This is still a god yardstick but we should also look at other areas of our national life. It is time we engage our leaders on not only the number of roads constructed but the quality of the roads. In addition, we need to seek their commitments in other aspect of infrastructural development like the provision of a comprehensive transport plan like the railways and water ways. Another essential aspect of the infrastructural development that we should concentration on is the provision of affordable housing with its huge economic effect. Added to this is a workable and robust plan in the power sector to drive our industries. Some of these are essential areas that would improve the economic outlook of the country. Although some of these critical areas fall within the different list in our constitution, we should hold those seeking elective position in the different areas on the list that is peculiar to them. If possible the civil societies and the professional bodies and experts in the different sectors of the economy should team up to engage the aspirants in a robust way for them to exhibit their competence and workability of the different programmes in each of the sector. AS this forms an important area of not only to liberate our economy and country from economic backwardness but also in helping the citizenry to enjoy the basic things of life. It is time we insist that serious minded and progressive leaders emerge through issue based campaigns and not based on sentiments.

In addition to the earlier mentioned issues is also an essential aspect that would ensure the sustenance of the above mentioned areas is to elect leaders that believe in institutional building. Strong and viable Institutions ensures quick and lasting development .Africa and Nigeria in particular have been lacking in effective and strong institutions. A strong institution will enhance governance and the rule of law. Allowing institutions to function well with its checks and balances would go a long way in curtailing and enthroning a just and egalitarian society. These institutions will help curtail corruption and improve orderliness in the system. It would also ensure that people follow the right procedures in carrying out state functions and the system is able to take care of people that contravene or disobey the law. If our institutions are given the liberty to apply the best fit practices in the conduct of the affairs, we would witness a better society. We should select leaders with strong character that would not intervene in the running of affairs of these institutions but would empower the institutions to take responsibility. That would also encourage mechanisms that would help the growth of these institutions.  The only thing needed is leadership. Over time we know the antecedents of people angling to rule the country. All the same, we would also extend the same to other ties of government.

Another essential requirement that we need from the leadership of the country at the national level is a leader that would ensure continuity in some of the policies and programmes of the previous  administration. A good point to note is that had the former President before the current occupant continued with the Independent Power project the electricity situation in the country would have improved. So also is the monorail project in Lagos. There are so many projects that have suffered similar fate because of the change of government. We need continuity to ensure the benefits of some of these programmes. We need to ensure that the incoming President will agree to take a critical look at the outcome of the last national ideologue and implement 90% of their recommendations. It is essential as the outcome of the dialogue would go a long way in addressing some of the huge challenges we are experiencing in our quest for a prosperous and egalitarian nation.

What is needed at this crucial period of our nation history are leaders that would help put Nigeria in the world map and ensure that the citizenry and the country elects people who think of the masses .And not elites that look at their own selfish and group interest. We can only achieve this by bringing out a sound and robust engagement with those seeking for leadership positions in the country. The following groups should serve as agents of change to the country: the trade unions, civil society organisations, activist, organised progressive private sector, professional bodies and the academia. As a group of non- partisan individuals that cater for the interest of the masses who think of the country, we all should realise that this is the only country we can call ours .And waiting for any supernatural being or any other country to help us build the country is wishful thinking.

Paul .O. Ogwu
Public affairs analyst.
[email protected]
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