RESCUING NIGERIA FROM HER GODFATHERS AND THE CORPORATOCRACY
The overwhelming verdict of people that participated in and observed the Nigerian national assembly election of April, 9, 2011 was that it was generally fair, transparent and credible. Nigerians voted for candidates of their choice. While some of those choices may not have been based on any enlightened understanding of the legislative agendas of the candidates, they nevertheless, reflected the wishes of the people, at least to an appreciated extent. The intent of my essay is not to praise the organizers and supervisors of the election; neither is it to extol the conduct of Nigerians; there is a time for that. Rather, my essay is to alert the entire nation and those legislators-elect on the enormous task ahead. If Nigeria survives the battle ahead, the black race shall be liberated. I have captured much of this in my latest book, From My Heart—The Black Race: Myths, Realities and Complexes (www.sbpra.com/leonardkarshimashilgba.com ).
John Perkins, in his book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, spoke about the activities of, what he termed, the Corporatocracy—the “multi-national” corporations, banks, and western governments, to control resource-rich countries such as Nigeria and bring them under their global empire. If Nigeria shall survive, the next legislature must perform consciously, even at the risk of their personal lives, to dismantle the strongholds that have been surreptitiously erected by the western Corporatocracy to keep down the nation, while propping up a few Nigerians that prosper in isolation of the nation (these become their fanatical apologists at home). It requires great insight to discern targets that must be engaged by the legislature. It does not depend so much on the president as on a resolved national legislature. One resolved president of Nigeria may be taken out by the jackals like Murtala Mohammed was, but it will take quite some efforts to take out more than 400 Nigerian legislators.
The Petroleum Industry Bill:
One of the first engagements of the next legislature must be the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), with provisions that vest the ownership of the crude oil resource in the people. The present expropriation of this resource by both the western Corporatocracy and political godfathers in Nigeria must cease for enduring peace to be enjoyed by Nigeria.
Funding of public projects:
Greek gift-like foreign aids, assistance, and funding of public projects must be examined by the next legislature. If we must be truly independent, we must resist clandestine efforts to tie a yoke to our future citizens.
Privatizations, technical assistance, and foreign investments:
If foreign investors hardly complain of business terms for investment in Nigeria, would it not be suspicious? If foreign direct investments in Nigeria do not translate to expanded internal technical-skill base, but rather result in an influx of expatriate workers into our economy, we are not benefitting. The Nigerian legislature must address this iniquity. Replication of the recently- passed Local Content Act in the oil industry should be done in other germane sectors of the economy such as telecommunications, education, construction, etc. A deliberate policy of Nigerianization must be embarked upon, where a maximum number of years, for instance, 4 years, must be allowed for companies to train Nigerians to take over a certain minimum number of skilled positions; and that is if there are no qualified Nigerians around that can be hired after public advertisement of the positions. An audit of all private-sector employments in Nigeria should be instigated by the national assembly through a relevant law to ensure that jobs that should go to available skilled Nigerians are not being given to foreigners.
Imports control and de-liberalization:
There are intellectuals who argue as though global practices are cast in stone and as such cannot be changed unilaterally. All human affairs are fluid; national interests alone must guide Nigeria’s policies, foreign or domestic. Orange juice producers cannot be allowed to continue importing orange concentrates while Nigerian States such as Benue continue to lose hundreds of thousands of metric tonnes of oranges every year. To encourage internal production, besides providing the needed infrastructure, domestic and international markets for the products must be consciously created. That remains an urgent task of the Nigerian legislature. If we cannot get foreign markets for our products, at least we should protect domestic markets for our own products.
Public projects oversight:
The legislature is the main watchdog for the Nigerian people. If budgets continually under-perform, blame the legislature. If public projects are continually abandoned without any punitive actions, blame the legislature. If the Ajaokuta steel plant remains moribund, blame the legislature. If federal roads are yet in bad shape in spite of hundreds of billions of naira provided for their construction or repairs since 1999, and yet no contractor or public official has been punished and made to refund such monies, blame the legislature. With the multi-coloured legislature that Nigerians have fashioned out with their votes on April, 9, 2011, I wish to hope that self-defeatist compromises would be reduced significantly in public conduct, and Nigerians shall soon start seeing budgets performing.
I would like to see the next legislature legislate on the expenditure of the debt savings by the Obasanjo government. The import of the debt-forgiveness of 2005/2006 was the investment of the about three billion-dollar annual savings in sectors such as education and health. For more than four years, Nigerians cannot point to such investments.
Finally, I would say, “Good morning Nigeria.” But in all the initial euphoria, we must be vigilant. We must not readily accept the readings of the international community. We are too enlightened today to accept whatever the IMF, World Bank, USA, EU, and any member of the Corporatocracy says. Of what use is our education if we do not trust our reasoning and arguments, but hold external positions as sacrosanct? The next legislature must ensure that quality services are delivered to Nigerians by service providers operating in Nigeria. We cannot afford the compromises of the past.
Leonard Karshima Shilgba is an Associate Professor of Mathematics with the American University of Nigeria and President of the Nigeria Rally Movement. TEL: +234 (0) 8055024356. EMAIL: [email protected]