Nasir Elrufai, Nigeria And 2015
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Reports in the national dailies that Nasir ElRufa'i will contest the 2015 presidential elections have further established the fact that change is inevitable in Nigeria. Although these reports indicated that Honourable ElRufa'i is yet to confirm or deny that
he is contesting for the presidency in 2015, it is increasingly becoming clear that there is a concurrence of opinion among a vast network of Nigerians that ElRufa'i should not only contest the presidency come 2015, but should indeed start preparing for his relocation to Aso rock on 29 th May 2015. Nigerians have concurred that 2015 is the year of change for Nigeria and that golden year could well be the last opportunity for Nigeria to get it right. The year 2015 symbolises the defining moment where we collectively as Nigerians turn the page on the present culture of bad leadership in our body polity. We need a paradigm shift from the 'chop i chop' syndrome which is the present norm in the corridors of power to a new beginning that will usher in the establishment of social justice across all strata of governance. That golden year 2015 marks the point where we launch a genuine drive to fight poverty and establish a SYSTEM which guarantees that ALL NIGERIANS ARE ENTITLED TO LIFE. That system should replace the present one where you need to be a brother or a sister or son or daughter of a politician or a public office holder before you can afford 3 square meals a day or before you can catch a glimse of electric power in you house or before you can go to school. There is no better time to reclaim the 'Nigerian dream' which our founding fathers Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Dr Nnmadi Azikiwe fought for. Who is better to become our next president and lead that charge than Nasir Ahmad Elrufa'i, the stylishly small in stature but ferociously fearless and courageous first class graduate of the iconic Ahmadu bello University Zaria. A consummate quantity surveyor per excellence?, The one man squad who single handedly restored Abuja to its master plan and stood up to all the pot bellies who wanted to make Abuja their personal property? Some of our senators hijacked primary schools in Abuja and turned them into hotels but Elrufa'I would have none of that. He stood to do the right thing no matter whose ox is gored.
I saw this trend coming when in one of my correspondence with Elrufa'i in 2010, I urged him to contest the 2011 presidency, which he never did because the time wasn't ripe (I absolutely agreed with his decision then). With unconfirmed reports making rounds that General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB) has declined to contest the 2015 presidency, the coast seems clear for ElRufa'i to start preparing his inauguration speech come 29 th May 2015. The purported decision by GMB not to contest the 2015 presidency is a highly commendable one because he has stepped aside when the ovation is loudest albeit he will never relent in his struggle for good governance in Nigeria. Although I firmly believe that GMB should take a deserve rest from 'contesting for the presidency', methinks that GMB is a fulfilled man politically in particular and generally in life. This is because despite the fact that he was head of state, governor of Borno state, minister of petroleum resources and chair PTF (the then cash pot of Nigeria), till date no one has been able to allege that GMB has corruptly enriched himself while serving in all these highly lucrative positions. Nobody yet has raised his head to say 'Buhari stole one kobo'. I say GMB is fulfilled because I cannot see any better achievement by a public office holder. All that GMB wants now is to see these programmes that are dear to his heart implemented in this country during his lifetime, to see genuine leadership being delivered to all Nigerians.
Another reason why I am enthusiastic that Elrufa'i could indeed be our next president in 2015 is the fact that Nigerians are sick and tired of the contraption for self enrichment called the PDP. Actually the name PDP is the most detested inscription in Nigeria today and the mention of its name alone leaves well enough chunk of bile in one's mouth. There has never been an unpopular political party in Nigeria like the PDP although they continue to rig themselves to power at every opportunity. Furthemore, president Goodluck Jonathan has demonstrated during the last 2 years as president that he lacks the ideas, courage, resilience and the passion to rule Nigeria. After 2 years as president, GEJ is yet to identify even one single problem that he will prioritise and tackle out of Nigeria's reservoir of problems. At every forum, the president keeps reminding a bewildered nation that his programme is 'transformation'. This rather generic and unspecific programme of GEJ has long been discarded by Nigerians as we all look up for divine intervention. Why can't GEJ tell us specifically what he will do and the details of his programme instead of lumping everything together as 'transformation? The only thing that GEJ has been able to do in 2 years is to remove a part of fuel subsidy and revisit further suffering on already struggling families that have been stretched by endemic poverty beyond their tolerance level. This government is simply inept judging by the massive corruption without borders that we are witnessing today particularly the oil subsidy scandal and pension scam.
To make matters worse, GEJ is playing politics with the Farouk Lawan report which exposed several highly placed Nigerians who collected several billions of Naira in the name of oil subsidy but never supplied even a litre of refined fuel to the NNPC. All these were going on while poverty persists in Nigeria and young girls were dying at child birth because they cannot afford medical treatment. Why can't the government amend the laws to provide for death sentence as penalty for corrupt government officials and their collaborators? GEJ is too weak and indecisive to rule Nigeria and the PDP is not the party to provide the right kind of leadership for Nigeria at the centre. He even thinks that by removing Obasanjo as the chair BOT of the party ,he can change the party for the better (OBJ now knows that he is half smart when he smuggled GEJ through the back door so as to block those 'born to rule northerners' from ruling the country forever!). The truth is that OBJ has destroyed the PDP as far back as 12 year ago (in 2000) and since then, the PDP has metamorphosed from a political party to a garrison assembly and now a full blown cult. What is now left for the PDP is to self destruct. OBJ destroyed the PDP while he was president by first of all, chasing away all its founding fathers and then intimidating and coercing people to join the party by force rather than allowing voters to join by freewill. During OBJ's misrule, if you are a public servant, you either join the PDP or you lose your seat. OBJ completely got it wrong by forcing the south west into the PDP in 2003 and using the weapons of state such as EFCC to hound everybody into PDP. Now he knows that democracy doesn't work like that! All the political structures established by OBJ during his reign of terror have collapsed except the last one, GEJ which will also go in 2015. What he did to the founding members of PDP has also been done to him because he has also been removed as chair BOT by GEJ enroute to being expelled from the party soon. OBJ has no political party or base today in Nigeria.
More worrisome from GEJ's style of governance is the fact that while several innocent Nigerians continue to lose their lives as a result of the barrage of attacks by the Boko haram sect, GEJ is smiling and sitting pretty 'on top of the situation'. GEJ recently made a statement in South Korea that the BOKO Haram problem 'is only in the northern part of Nigeria'. This says all about his understanding of the problem and why he has persistently shied away from dialogue with Boko haram ( Eminent Nigerians and the U.S have advised GEJ to dialogue with Boko haram) . While GEJ orders that the Boko haram sect should be crushed with force, he has voted billions of naira for the Niger Delta militants in the name of socalled amnesty. A glaring case of double standards. The total vote for the Niger Delta militants in the 2012 budget is more than the allocation for education and health! Indeed with their dismal performance so far occasioned by rise in poverty and insecurity, GEJ and his cotravellers in the PDP (Papa Deceive Pikin party) will have a herculean task convincing Nigerians that GEJ should contest in 2015. What has GEJ done in the last 2 years to deserve a second term? Methinks that the right thing for GEJ is not to contemplate contesting for the presidency in 2015.
Much as I am optimistic about the potentials of an Elrufa'i presidency in 2015, I am also not in any way fantasising that getting the PDP out of power at the centre is going to be any easy. Remember that the PDP have vowed to rule for 100 years and possibly till the end of time. Albeit, I see a herculean task ahead in dusting the PDP out of Aso rock in 2015, I am confident that IT IS POSSIBLE. However, there are prerequisites to it. The most important prerequisite to getting the PDP out of Aso rock to pave way for genuine leadership is the formation of a GRAND ALLIANCE between the CPC and the ACN. Such alliance will serve as the umbrella (not PDP's umbrella) of all opposition political parties that will come together and endorse Nasir Elrufa'i as the consensus candidate for the 2015 presidential elections with the performing lagos state governor Babs Fashola as vice president. This is the menu that offers the best promise for dislodging the PDP out of Aso rock once and for all so that all Nigerians can breath unpolluted fresh air and also to rescue Nigeria from imminent collapse as prophesised by the U.S.
The widely anticipated CPC/ACN grand alliance in the 2015 presidential elections will translate into the CPC sweeping through the North like wild fire and delivering the mandatory 25% of the votes in at least 3 geopolitical zones (18 states) while the ACN will deliver at least 25% of the votes in all the 6 states in the south west geopolitical zone. A lot of people believe that in the changing dynamics of politics in Nigeria, the south east geopolitical zone is likely going to turn into the opposition while it is difficult to discern where the south south geopolitical zone will fall in.
This calculation means that the CPC/ACN ticket will garner the required 25% of the votes in at least 24 states of the federation which is enough to produce the president since all that is needed as enshrined in the electoral act 2010 as amended is 25% of the votes in at least 2/3 of the 36 states of the federation and Abuja. The worse case scenario for a CPC/ACN grand alliance in 2015 is a second ballot (a run off) and that makes it even easier as the alliance will give the PDP the 'Senegal treatment. The CPC/ACN alliance will provide the right balance and mix for a total and holistic solution to Nigeria's problems because the manifestoes of both parties are people oriented and share the same objective of freeing Nigerians from economic slavery. The ACN and its leadership particularly Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu have long understood that their clamour for true federalism in Nigeria will continue to be a mirage as long as the PDP is in power at the centre. The first condition for establishing true federalism in Nigeria is to get rid of the PDP and replace it with a grand coalition of the opposition that will establish a genuine structure to pursue our collective aspirations.
Nasir ElRufa'i will deliver the dividends of democracy to all under a CPC/ACN coalition government because the CPC's programmes are geared towards fighting poverty in all its ramifications and instilling discipline in the system while the ACN is a genuine political platform which is committed to building institutions and directly impacting on the lives of all Nigerians. NO NIGERIAN HAS ANY REASON TO BE POOR because this country is too rich to be poor and has enough resources to free all its citizens from economic slavery. However, a few individuals who find themselves in government and in power have hijacked these resources and left every other person high and dry. The present 2012 PDP budget of 76% allocated to recurrent expenditure for maintaining government officials and their families that constitute less than 1% of our population (including the president's N1 billion 'food allowance' while 70% of Nigerians live on less than N100 per day) is anti people and unsustainable. A meagre 24% is allocated to capital expenditure which is to be used to deliver the dividends of democracy to over 160 million people. 1% shares 76% of the budget while 99% share 24%. This is glaringly disproportionate.
Under a CPC/ACN coalition government headed by Nasir Ahmad Elrufa'i, Nigeria will have a brand new constitution that will capture the interest of ALL NIGERIANS and not only those in public offices. The new constitution will ensure that the wealth of this country is spread equally and evenly such that the man in the remotest part of Nigeria will feel the impact of government. The introduction of a comprehensive social security system in the constitution will fight poverty to a standstill because every Nigerian whether employed or not, will have an income. Every Nigerian above the age of 16 will have an income of at least N10,000 paid to him/her every month as benefits. A youth corp. member will continue to enjoy his monthly 'allawi' even after his/her youth service until he/she gets a job. The era of overdependence on the finite oil will be over and other sources of revenue will be created for the economy. Particularly, there will be massive investment in agriculture to spike up an agricultural revolution in Nigeria which will create jobs and promote the setting up and sustenance of small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs). Skilled and semi skilled enterprises will be encouraged so as to avail our teeming youths with jobs and protect them from being susceptible to engaging in violent activities to survive. There will be massive infrastructural development particularly in education and health sectors with a view to drastically reducing the high maternal and infant mortality rates as a result of the deplorable state of our hospitals. Figures release by the WHO and UNICEF indicate that about 144 women and girls die daily in Nigeria from pregnancy and complications at child birth. This is unacceptable! Nigeria contributes about 10% of the total world estimate of maternal deaths and ranks second only to India in maternal mortality. Infant mortality is also at all time high and Nigeria records about 105 child deaths to every 1,000 live births simply because the parents cannot afford a good medical treatment!. This is a country where a permanent secretary in a federal ministry and working in concert with other thieves stole pension funds worth N35 billion and kept about N2 billion CASH in his house as pocket money for his family!
The brand new constitution for Nigeria under an Elrufa'i government will scale down the alarming and unsustainable size of government in all the 3 tiers of government but with particular emphasis on the executive and the legislature. It is simply not sustainable to have 3 senators per state and use over N1 billion per annum to maintain each senator. It is also not sustainable to have 360 membrers of the House of Representatives each going home with about N700 miilion per annum. Ditto for the state legislatures. We also do not an office of the senate president because even the U.S where we copied the presidential system where are operating, does not have a senate president. Why do we need such number of legislators drying away our resources when the people they are supposedly representing are swimming in abject poverty? Why don't we reduce the number of these legislators and invest the savings into the constituencies to reduce poverty? Although it will maintain the existing bicameral legislature for a healthy debate between the upper and lower chambers, the new constitution will make provision for only 1 senator and 2 members of the house of representative per state. On the part of the executive, the new constitution will make provision for 2 ministers and 1 special adviser to the president per geopolitical zone thereby making a total of 12 ministers and 6 special advisers. Ministries and other government agencies will be merged for better service delivery. The drastic reduction in size will make the government trim, sharp and more effective.
2015 is the golden year of change in Nigeria and it is becoming increasingly clear and realistic that the political revolution in 2015 as prophesised by GMB will come to pass. The golden year affords us one golden opportunity to elect the right candidate as president to steer the ship to our dream destination. THERE MAY NOT BE ANOTHER CHANCE because it is difficult to believe that Nigeria will continue to exist after 2015 if the present cascade of direct stealing, corruption, high and increasing level of poverty and alarming state of insecurity should continue. Figures recently released by the national bureau of statistics in Nigeria showed that there is about 70% absolute poverty (the poorest state, Sokoto is 86% poor) in Nigeria. Relative poverty is about 90%. A report on out of school children in Nigeria OOSC show disturbing levels. Out of the 36 million children in Nigeria between ages of 6-14, 10 million (about 35%) are out of school because their parents cannot afford to send them to school. This is unacceptable. About N50 trillion naira is said to have been realised by Nigeria from the sale of its crude oil between 1999-2010. Where has all that money gone to? While our revenue continues to increase, the level of poverty also continues to increase. The revenue that Nigeria realised between 1999 to date is much more than the total revenue realised by the country since independence yet there is such level of poverty and deprivation in the land.
I believe and very strongly that the ElRufa'i/ Babs Fashola ticket in the 2015 presidential elections is the icing on the cake that will catapult Nigeria into restarting our journey to greatness and reclaiming the Nigerian dream. The preparation to achieve this dream has got to start NOW.
By Abubakar Alkali Sokoto