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Humane New Year resolution for the President Muhammadu Buhari Administration

Put Nigerians first and make Nigeria truly work for Nigerians
By Adekunle Theophilius
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The glaring socio- economic and political fault lines in Nigeria has made it expedient for once for the Federal Government to unambiguously identify with the average Nigerian by striving sincerely to formulate new tools and innovative solutions that can stimulate positive social change at every level and working tenaciously for the accomplishment of the three levels of quality of life : basic human needs, foundations of wellbeing and opportunity that are very important to their collective progress. This might sound extraordinary given the fact that successive governments have always pursued goals that are totally at variance with national and citizenry interests, but with the right attitude, orientation and determination it is attainable even if it isn’t going to be neither a tea party nor stroll in the park. Nigeria direly requires critical evaluation and readjustment of its present unsustainable socio-economic and political contexts and urgent implementation of far reaching structural changes to safeguard our future. Poverty, unemployment, ethnic hegemony, political disenfranchisement, democratic atrophy, religious intolerance and leadership shortcomings that dominate Nigeria’s uneven landscape are all policy choices that have been allowed by commission or omission to decimate and weaken the Nigerian state and society by successive civilian and military governments

Standing with Nigerians means that the Federal government should take very concrete steps to prioritize actions to accelerate the maximal welfare, progress and wellbeing of Nigerians. It means reconfiguring Nigeria’s unequal and deep rooted social economic and political infrastructural and structural architecture and putting an end to harmful anti people practices and policies and replacing them with systems that add value to our lives and align with building our humanity. These connote a sweeping transformational agenda to address the widespread economic and policy marginalization and exclusion in order to rightly position Nigerians at the core of governance and lift Nigeria from its current socio- economic lethargy. Restoring Nigerian means the Federal government should take very drastic steps to make parliament at all levels part-time, slash the out of the world allowances and humongous budget allocated to the national and state assemblies , modify the nature of the national annual budgeting exercise, remove perks and perquisites associated with public office in Nigeria to make it only attractive for people who genuinely want to serve and challenge the dominance of special and sectional interests in national policy and context.

Millions of economically disenfranchised Nigerians and hundreds of thousands of small businesses bore the devastating brunt of the post pandemic economic tsunami without succor from any quarters. What Nigerians need from the Federal Government are concrete and actionable COVID-19 relief framework measures and programs that can put the economy back on track, meet the scale of the crisis, directly address the pandemic’s destructive impacts on vulnerable Nigerians from various walks of life and give them a real lifeline to enable them get back on their feet, back to work and provide real benefits to live healthy, balanced, meaningful and productive lives. The popular quote by French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau that man was born free, but everywhere he is in chains seems very apt for African nations most especially Nigeria. For the chains of poverty, oppression, squalor, injustice, underdevelopment, mismanagement , bad governance etc that have permanently crippled and invalidated Nigeria and Nigerians to be broken, the focus and object of governance must shift from Aso Rock to the common Nigerian in Karim Lamido, Ajowa, Guzamala, Ugwueke, Gamasarka and Ogulagha etc who have been totally left out and left behind. This is what Nigerians desperately require and are earnestly looking forward to.

Nigeria’s political culture is an aberration to global best practices and norms. The democratic system is heavily rigged against the masses. Key areas that need serious remedial action includes making the electoral umpire and institutions more independent, ensuring successful prosecution of electoral malfeasances regardless of the offenses and status of the offender and reining in the widespread influence of money bags in the electoral processes. There is the need to develop alternative ways to govern Nigeria based on real participatory inclusive and democracy that will allow every Nigerian regardless of social standing, political beliefs, ethnic background or religious orientation to on an equal footing participate effectively in determining the shape of the nation’s future and effect positive changes that can enhance their prospects. To develop the prerequisite socio-political and economic order that can guarantee real social progress, human development and national growth in Nigeria, the three tiers and arms of government must be made more accountable to Nigerians, the judiciary should free from interference from political actors and corporate hawks and judicial processes should be more transparency and independence. The current system where justice can be bought and sold on the stock market to the highest bidder and the appointment and elevation of judges on the bench is subject to the fancies of political war lords does augur well for neither democracy nor development.

Naturally, a just, productive and democratic society depends on the presence of a skilled, healthy and unrestricted labour force. No nation can attain the prerequisite progress without adequately utilizing its manpower productively. Employment is a key determinant of national, organizational, individual and family prosperity. Because work is a key determinant of living conditions and well-being, enhancing work through asserting basic rights that uphold human welfare and dignity, foster cordial labour-management interactions and cooperation, encourage productive utilization of resources, and facilitate industrial development and high productivity with a view to ensuring social and economic growth is essential. Governments that are genuinely concerned about the overall well-being of their constituents enact laws that maintain basic labour and human rights that prevent the safety, health and wellbeing of their citizens from being sacrificed at the altar of reduced labor costs, higher profits and higher turnover such as freedom of association, the right to organize, the right to bargain collectively, the right to job safety and environment, conditions of work /tools, prevention of occupational injuries and illnesses, compensation in cases of occupational injuries and illnesses, access to administrative and judicial forums for workers whose rights are violated

The Nigerian work system is inhumane, immoral, and has helped to further pauperize Nigerians. Nigerians are less prosperous, healthy, happy and stable than before. Disappearing Middle class, Struggling working class, Occupational accidents, Austerity measures , unfair labour practices, under/unemployment, Dirty, Degrading and Debilitating jobs, lack of job security, poverty, hunger, inadequate wages, abysmal conditions of work, old age deprivations etc are indicators that prove the magnitude of indignities that Nigerians are facing at work. Nigerian and Foreign Firms routinely declare profits worth billions of naira procured on the backs of hapless, poorly paid and badly treated Nigerian workers. In congruence with labor rights comes the necessity to repudiate employer greed, free the levers of power at the three arms and tiers of government from the grip of corporate interests and loosen the stronghold of employers on the Nigerian world of work. Poverty is when people who retire after 35years of working in a Federal Government Ministry, Department and or Agency do not have decent roofs over their heads and additionally can neither pay their medical bills nor maintain an appreciable post work lifestyle

Governance is the responsibility to provide and deliver socio economic and political public goods and services to citizens. From this perspective, a landmark seismic governance mentality and focus shift for Nigeria is inevitable and inescapable. I want to affirm with a truly aching heart that the present government owes all Nigerians the creation of a just, sustainable and thriving future by working towards transforming its suboptimal structures and mitigating the scale of human anguish and existential threats posed by the unraveling of the economy and the array of socio-political quagmires blitzing Nigeria.

Tinuoye Adekunle Theophilius is a Manpower development personnel at Michael Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies, Ilorin, Nigeria, and also an external faculty associate at the Global Labour Research Centre, York University, Ontario, Canada.

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Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of Adekunle Theophilius and do not necessarily reflect those of The Nigerian Voice. The Nigerian Voice will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."