Atiku Abubakar Policy Review Summit Welcome Address By The DG Atiku Campaign Organisation, Prof. Babalola Borishade,CFR
I want to welcome and thank all of you for finding the time to participate in this summit. Your attendance is an eloquent testimony of your commitment to work to make this nation get better.
The major problem of our nation today is the persistence of a chronic deficit of honest and effective governance. As Nigerians, we should all be worried about the future of this nation.
I wish to acknowledge that most of you who have been invited as resource persons may not be card carrying members of any political party. In this context, your contribution in this summit is to be seen as a call to avail our nation the benefit of your wide range of experience and expertise.
The Nigerian tag of 'Giant of Africa' is not just a contrived notion of perceived national greatness; rather it is an assertion of the strategic importance and socio-economic relevance of our nation to the rest of this continent.
Distinguished guests, the Economist magazine recently likened Nigeria to a heavyweight boxer who is punch drunk. One minute it acts like a champion by virtue of its sheer size and past victories, the next minute it could be flat on its back, groaning in anguish. Sadly this sums up the current state of the Nigerian nation. We were once revered around the world for our prowess in peace keeping but we are now being subdued by a ragtag army of rascals.
There is an unmistakable feeling that we are being subdued on all fronts by crippling economic conditions, high unemployment rates, collapsing infrastructures, pipe-line vandalism, kidnapping and Boko-Haram insurgency. It is clear that our country is in dire need of a re-evaluation of her political and socio-economic status.
Nigeria is a one resource economy. The substantial portion of the national revenue is controlled by the Federal government. When this privilege is exercised within a complex patronage system characterized by nepotism, corruption and utter disregard for due process, the nation's social, political and economic capital cannot be as strong as we are made to believe.
Often, we are told by the economic and financial managers in this administration that the Nigerian economy is the largest in Africa, closely followed by that of South Africa. According to the 'good' news released towards the end of the first quarter of this year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) put the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 2013 at $503bn (£307bn) , a figure that was nearly twice its previous estimates, and more than that of South Africa.
It is also constantly claimed that the economy has consistently grown at a rate of between five and seven percent annually for the past five or more years. And by the newly “re-based” or recalculated GDP, Nigeria has moved up the ladder from being 31 st largest economy in the world to 12 th , putting it in the same prosperity bracket as Belgium and Poland.
Good news indeed! But what does the break down reveal? Regrettably, the new buoyant economic tabulation does not match the indices on the ground. One report immediately cast doubt about the impact of the new encouraging figures by stating that it “won't change poverty and infrastructure woes” in the country.
Meanwhile, the government has invested more than 15 billion USD into improving the power sector, privatized the sector, but still there is a 6000 MW gap in the power supply system, implying that more generators will be required to power our homes, offices and factories.
Also, recently the government came out with a statement that it has created more than 1.5 million jobs, and that it has reduced poverty in the country by half. I am not making up these figures. According to the NBS, of the employment figure, 628,845 jobs or 54 per cent were created in the informal sector while the figures for formal and public sectors were 423,720 or 36.3percent and 105,497 or 9.04percent jobs respectively. As to how to determine the veracity of these figures, you or your neighbors are in a better position to know whether or not people are being hired. However, according to Doreo Partners, a reputable Impact Investment Firm, the unemployment rate in Nigeria grows at 16 percent per year while the general unemployment rate is put at 23.9 percent. Youth unemployment alone is a staggering 54 percent.
On the issue of poverty reduction by half, most Nigerians will give contrary statistics. They would painfully tell you that poverty has not been 'down-sized' at all. Actually, a recent study states that more than 50 per cent of Nigerians live below the poverty level. The report says that more than 33 percent of those who reside in urban areas live below the same line, and that more than 66 per cent of these city dwellers cannot meet their household needs such as food, housing and transportation.
The decay in the critical education sector is more ravaging. The study shows that 40 percent of Nigerian children aged 6-11 do not attend school at all. Also, the school system lacks resources with teacher-student ratio of 1-100; a rowdy picture indeed.
Just a few more facts and I will close the chapter on this sickening statistics. The road infrastructure development does not fare better in spite of billions of Naira voted for it every year. According to the figures, Nigeria has 195, 200km of road network with only 15.3 per cent or about 30,000km of it adequately tarred and motorable. Out of this, only 67 percent or 20,000km are in good or fair condition in comparison to other resource rich nations in Africa
Security of life and property of citizens is the first universally acknowledged function of any government. Today Nigeria is in the grip of murderous insurgents who daily commit heinous crimes against innocent people in many parts of Nigeria, especially in the North Eastern part. Boko Haram has captured enclaves of land, hoisted their flags and imposed a reign of terror on citizens of this country. Bombings, abductions, kidnappings, robberies and rapes are on the increase as general insecurity pervades the land.
Could this state of anomie be attributed to poor governance? According to the highly-regarded 2014 Ibrahim Index of African Governance Report, Nigeria was ranked one of the worst governed countries in the continent. This is how the Punch Newspaper editorialized this report on October 6, 2014: “President Goodluck Jonathan's chest-thumping as he marked our 54th independence anniversary was deflated by yet another damning International rating on Monday. Nigeria was ranked 37th among 52 African countries surveyed on public governance practices, scoring low on the selected critical categories that propel human development.
Ladies and Gentlemen, a deductive observer will not fail to notice that the nation has been gravitating from the Presidential system of governance stipulated in our constitution to Presidentialism. This means the systematic concentration of political power in the hands of one individual or a cabal. As a result, effective accountability and representation through popular democratic participation is giving way to personal rule and single party dictatorships rooted on politics of Clientelism.
“Clientelism” refers to the awarding of personal favours among patrimonial cronies. These favours take the form of public sector jobs, appointments, distribution of resources through licences, contracts and tax waivers. In return, the cronies mobilize political support and loyalty for their patrons. “The TAN Spectacle”
For the voters, the ballot becomes a token exchange in a highly personal relationship of dependency on hand-outs, the so called “Stomach infrastructure”. Those who stay out of this network do not only remain excluded from the decision making process but also from allocated benefits of democracy, hence the prevalence of people who surrender principles so that they can be integrated into the network.
Corruption, nepotism and official impunity have brought our country down to the bottom 3% in the world in terms of Political Stability.
In essence, what we have now in Nigeria is a form of Patrimonial Democracy. This is posing serious threats to the durability of democracy. Not only because it erodes civil liberties of citizens, thus creating a culture of political apathy and disenchantment among them, it also severely limits the extent to which Government can be pressed to be responsive and accountable towards the citizens.
Thus, for both of those who are inside and outside the network, the future is bleak.
Nigerians need democracy of substance that will respond to their socio-economic demands and bring about improvements in their living conditions. The yearn for a democracy that has dividends.
Elections should therefore no longer be just about the right to vote but must also provide opportunities to choose between candidates who compete not on primordial sentiments, but on what they will do for Nigerians.
It is within this context that this Draft Policy Document is prepared.
The document you hold in your hands marks the beginning of a journey for Change.
The main thrust is the explicit bid to modify the way the machinery of Federal Government works by:
Providing the necessary political Will and accountable leadership that consistently balances power and authority with service and accountability
Clarifying and streamlining MDAs remits and responsibilities, removing overlaps and operational redundancies to reduce the cost of governance
Systematically devolving and delegating operational responsibilities and resources to states and local governments on a consensus based Administrative Federalism
Creating conducive environments for private sector organisations that demonstrate corporate responsibility in their operations (commercial and charitable)
Addressing habits and practices that currently compromise policy implementation such as Poor Budget Projections, Cumbersome Bureaucracies and Lack of Transparency
Entrenching good governance with attributes of transparency, accountability and efficient service delivery
Ensuring that plans and projects can be and are implemented, monitored and evaluated with timelines.
Uphold the Rule of Law, shun impunity and guarantee the freedom of Expression
The Key Policy Areas are:
Employment Generation & Wealth Creation
Infrastructure & Power
Education & Skills Acquisition
Citizenship and Governance
Agriculture & Food Security
Niger Delta & Desert and Insurgency Ravaged States.
Anti-corruption and Accountability
Effects on the Economy
Image of Nigeria
The future of the Nation
I believe that change will only come if those aspiring for public office learn to listen to those who entrust them with the responsibility to lead.
This summit is part of the process to concretise a contract, a new deal that Atiku Abubakar is making with Nigerians.
The Draft Policy which you are now invited to review is premised on the manifesto of the All Progressive Congress (APC). It is a product of wide consultations across various demographies in Nigeria. It is also informed by in-depth comparative analysis of the experience and novel approaches adopted in other lands which had had success stories. We have taken inputs from various Youth Groups and everyday Nigerian in respect of their pains, needs and wants as they struggle to make ends meet and provide for their families.
We included inputs from Young Entrepreneurs and global players in business.
We also took careful consideration of their expectations and desires, their worries and sceptism and their hopes for a better future.
As experts in your various fields, you are invited to fine-tune our implementation strategies and action plans.
We hope the outcome if faithfully implemented will create a Nigeria that Nigerians desire and deserve.
Have a fruitful deliberation.
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