A NATION IN PERIL: RAISING REDEMPTION LEADERS FOR NIGERIA
It is no more news that Nigeria is sliding quickly towards a hopeless future aided by waste, ignorance, lack of vision, and corruption. The general consensus is that this country lacks the quality leadership which drives national integration, growth, and development. Many public commentators and analysts (including me) have written copiously about our common and present danger and what the Nigerian leadership needs to do. The conclusion I can make is that we do not presently have a leadership which has the political will to implement the far-reaching changes that we have written about. Besides, our governments hold scant regard for public opinion. The obvious question is how we can bring about the emergence of such leadership that ensures social and economic development.
Given Nigeria's past history, the interlocked fate of those who have ruled Nigeria in turns and succession, human propensity against yielding advantage without demand, cult leadership, and the depth of entrenched selfish interests that typify the political leadership of Nigeria, the emergence of the required quality of leadership for national recovery and growth will be torrid and cannot come through the usual devolution of political power in an ideal democracy. The simple reason is that there is no ideal democracy in Nigeria today; for how can there be ideal democracy without the electorate wielding the ultimate ballot power? How can there be ideal democracy when the band of godfathers has formed an impregnable layer between the people and their leaders, thus cutting off any communication between the two within the triangle of socio-political structure?
Can we assume that the beneficiaries of the current political system will be eagerly inclined towards an electoral reform that can overthrow their power cart? We can only answer in the affirmative if we can find abundant evidence of some altruistic public policy they have crafted for the general good of the nation. If we find difficult to identify one such policy then must we quickly discard any lurking confidence in their inclination. It is impossible to serve two masters at the same time. No public official can serve both their base selfish interests and national interests at the same time unless both converge at some point. The task of nation-building is too demanding and engaging to permit a vacuous space of time for contrary interests. Therefore, Nigeria has suffered interminably from an overweight of contrary interests whose repositories are the majority of those who have found themselves willy-nilly at the driving seat in our national voyage. Truly, the journey has been anything but enjoyable.
Nothing but a forced revolution is needed in order for the required quality leadership to emerge. I am not advocating for a military coup without any ideology on which national growth is anchored. I am certainly not asking for a martial music to wake up Nigerians any time soon to the news of some military takeover which will only take us many steps in a direction we shall never wish for ourselves. I am not asking for a bloodshed that will never brighten our hopes for a new Nigeria. I am not asking for a Gideon Orkar's type of jolt-up which lacked a complete national spirit and excluded some parts of Nigeria. What I am appealing for is a deep reflection and an intellectual coalition of efforts by deeply troubled and concerned patriots both in and out of the military. The change I am advocating does not need a purposeless intervention, but a coordinated front rooted on an ideology called PROTECTION. It cannot and must not exclude any Nigerian who wishes for a changed Nigeria which we have tried to describe in several articles and papers heretofore:
P- Protection of our industries, resources, and pride. Global free trade doctrine only came about after the developed world had developed goods and services through improved quality education and research. In order to extend the frontiers of market, this doctrine was developed. Thus, if a huge market like Nigeria (whose population is more than 60 percent of West Africa's) must be opened up through this doctrine, those goods and services can flow in unhindered to the advantage of the developed world but disadvantage of Nigeria. The eyelid is meant to protect the eyeball. Nigeria today lacks an eyelid-the required leadership, which can protect and enhance domestic production. Any move for a change must result in closing our borders to cheap goods and services from the West, India, and China. An emergency must be declared to last until our goods also find markets overseas. For instance, importation of refined petroleum products, automobiles, and generators must be banned within a year after takeover. Furthermore, protection of environment must underpin every development effort. No exploration for and exploitation of oil will be allowed to leave behind a polluted and scared environment.
R- Recovery. The national emergency which will be declared in all sectors of Nigeria's economy will result in a Truth and Recovery Commission (TRC) which will investigate and recover from all persons, who have served in government since 1960, what any of them have stolen or misappropriated. An Asset Forfeiture law will be passed via an Emergency Act Regime (EAR) to recover to the state all wrongly acquired assets both at home and abroad. The TRC members will together with the presiding national president and incumbent government officials be investigated by an independent judicial commission set up by the National Judicial Commission after the completion of their assignment.
O- Organization of state. Nigeria shall be collapsed into six states according to the six geo-political zones of North-West, North-East, North-Central, South-West, South-South, and South-East, with some autonomy which does not weaken the center; both the federating units and the center must be both strong.
T- Taxation with development. Taxation shall be made the most important source of revenue for the nation, and returns must fetch concomitant development for the region of source in order to encourage more productive activities for enhanced tax revenue. For instance, Value Added Tax (VAT) returns must provide high value for the region or state from which they are derived.
E- Education. Through an emergency declared in the education sector, niche education will be implemented. Nigeria's expertise (knowledge) needs shall be audited in all economic and social sectors. For instance, we may discover that Nigeria needs 200,000 medical doctors in various specialties by the year 2020, assuming a population of 200 million by that year, in order to achieve a doctor -patient ratio of 1:1000. Niche education requires that we identify at least 300,000 students from SS 1 upwards who have the intrinsic abilities and interest in medicine. An appropriate test may be designed for this discovery. We shall devise a means of tracking and monitoring their progress in the next 10 years at least. We shall replicate this in IT, auto- and aerospace-engineering, conventional and non-conventional engineering and the sciences, mathematics etc.
An Adult Literacy Act will make provision for adequate learning and instructional facilities and teaching personnel in order that the nation achieves adult literacy level of 100 percent in the next 4 years. Sports shall be integrated with conventional education at all levels.
At least 5 percent of GDP shall be invested annually in education. Allocation shall be targeted at specific projects and programs and measurable targets of achievement.
C- Constitution. The 1963 Republican constitution, which was suspended by the military, shall be reviewed by a sovereign constitution assembly which shall meet for at most one month to examine and discuss past constitutional submissions and proposals by individuals and groups. The second chapter of the 1999 Constitution entitled Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy must be included in any new Constitution with germane tweaks that will suit the core resulting principles. The product must be translated into Nigerian languages and taught at schools and other public assemblies for a period of one year. Thereafter, the National Judicial Commission shall organize and conduct a national constitutional referendum with national and international observers. A simple majority decision shall be final. If the constitution assembly product is rejected, there shall be a state-by-state referendum requiring each state to articulate the minimal conditions for acceptance of the constitution.
Furthermore, an unambiguous penal code shall be put in place during this period which will specify minimum and maximum sentencing for all legal infractions.
T- Total citizenship theory. Citizenship of Nigerians shall be only by state of birth and state of residence (represented by payment of tax on some economic activity for a period not less than 10 years) with all legal rights constitutionally accorded citizens of a state. Punishment for discriminatory conduct by government officials shall be at least 10 years custodian sentence without an option of fine.
I- Internalized foreign policy theory. Nigerian foreign policy shall only reflect our national interest. Yearly secure online evaluation of Nigeria's ambassadors by all Nigerians legally resident in respective foreign countries shall form the basis of their continued service on the post.
O- Organization of public revenue. Derivation principle shall require 50 percent of revenue from natural resources and VAT to be for states and localities of derivation.
N- National service. There shall be compulsory annual national service for all able-bodied Nigerians who are under 30 years. The duration shall be 4 weeks and may include training on the use of light arms, knowledge of the Constitution, and leadership ethics. State-of-the art camps with well-equipped libraries, workshops, laboratories, and single-person room- hostels shall be built in all states for the purpose. Those camps shall also be used as orientation camps for youth corps in the reviewed National Youth Service Corps Scheme Act (The 1973 NYSC Act shall be reviewed accordingly. See my article, “On fuel subsidy: Yar'Adua's time up!”)
We shall commit to building, not a welfare state, but rather a working state with limited welfare that puts people to work through re-training and capital assistance.
Disturbing contemporary events:
Martial court-sentencing of 27 Nigerian soldiers
On April 27, 2009, the Brig.-Gen. Ishaya Bauka-led martial Court sentenced 27 former United Nations peacekeepers to life imprisonment for protesting the non-payment of their peacekeeping allowances. While those non-commissioned officers got this outrageous sentence for protesting injustice they received from the government which is supposed to appreciate and honor gallant service, the commissioned officers who perpetrated this injustice on them simply got a slap on the wrist, as they only got slight rank demotions. What rule of law! All the while the Commander-in-Chief Yar'Adua kept an uncaring silence.
If you are a young military officer reading this, understand that you have no dependable Commander-in-Chief who serves to keep you safe and happy. Our nation is sliding away and needs rescuing.
Genocide in the Niger Delta
Although President Yar' Adua should have prevented the exploitation of the oil and gas resources in the Niger Delta, which has not been to the advantage of the local communities, [See section 17 (2) (d): “In furtherance of the state social order, exploitation of human or natural resources in any form whatsoever for reasons other than the good of the community shall be prevented”] , he has rather chosen to order the mass killing of Nigerian women and children in the Niger Delta and razing down of homes of Nigerians in the Niger Delta, purportedly to “eliminate militants”. If bombing and burning of houses on your streets by government security officers in order to “eliminate armed robbers” is in agreement with your interpretation of the “rule of law” then go on and hail President Yar'Adua. As a scholar and northerner like President Yar'Adua, I find it difficult to place the face of rationality on this heinous crime against humanity. I cannot differentiate between this and the unequal response by the government of Sudan in 2003 when a group of black Sudanese citizens (The Sudan Peoples Liberation Army) attacked government infrastructure, seeking economic inclusion. The government of Sudan through aerial bombings encouraged the Arab militia, the Janjaweed foot soldiers, to attack and attack the black Sudanese “militants” who had provoked government's “holy anger”, resulting in over 6 million people who had been either dislocated or killed in the Darfur region and made refugees within their country.
Ekiti election precursor
Barring some timely intervention, President Yar'Adua will create such a mess in the 2011 national election that will throw this nation into total disarray. This president has demonstrated complete incompetence as a manger of men and resources.
Intelligent and diligent implementation of budgets in every nation determines economic and social growth. To President Yar'Adua, recovery of some unspent monies is an achievement and a yearly ritual. He is a master at the blame game and shifting of responsibility. If you don't realize yet what his infamous seven-point agenda is, know it today:
1. Deception with misleading polemics; 2. Distraction with a dubious "rule of law" slogan; 3. Dissipation through insidious policy reversals; 4. Destruction by replacement; 5. Delay through "probe" tactics; 6. Double-speak and dual-face; and 7. Disingenuous actions and blame game.
A rescue mission is necessary.
I declare that I need nothing from the government for self. I am not seeking any appointments or awards from government; neither is the entire leadership of the Nigeria Rally Movement (www.nigeriarally.org ). We shall in fact, publicly repudiate any when offered. We cannot afford to fall into the trap which people like the late Tai Solarin fell into. New wine must be put only in new wine bottles. Nothing short of a clinical revolution, both of ideas and action can save our nation. Because Nigerians have been deceived for too long by self-acclaimed civil rights members, who only use “agitations for change” to gain popularity and get government's attention, many Nigerians (and rightly so) have become apprehensive and dubious when people like us undertake an assignment such as we have. Such is the damage persistent poor leadership can cause on the confidence and trust barometer of a people, making it to misread. But Nigerians, I must urge you to cautiously watch as events unfold. Together, we shall make that change possible.
Leonard Shilgba is the President of the Nigeria Rally Movement www.nigeriarally.org & Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the American University of Nigeria.
Email: [email protected]