NIGERIA, THE ALTERNATIVE MANIFESTO
...FIRST 20 POINT AGENDA AND INTELLIGENT SOLUTIONS TO SAVE NIGERIA
nly a completely delusional or rational person in denial will believe that the current APC hype holds any good future for Nigeria. With PDP struggling with a terminal illness and the political vultures circling around its mutant APC, the evidence would suggest that for Nigeria, the worst is yet to come. It gives no hope that nothing the likes of Buhari, Tinubu, Obasanjo, Atiku etc., have said or done, gives the impression that they represent a future for Nigeria different from what they have given her in the past. Their recent resurgence and the Politics of selfish interest have set the stage for the worst period in Nigerian history. The utterances of Buhari, especially in Hausa programs condemning the Nigerian army and silence on the atrocities of Boko Haram, leaves no doubt about where his sympathy lies in this conflict. I do not share the belief that APC or PDP or any combination of the party would bring any change or hope to Nigeria. Nigeria is a country that has been completely destroyed by greed, corruption, religious extremism, toxic ethnic nationalism and ignorance, and only a complete attempt to rebuild the nation on new principles and civil values based on, justice as fairness, equality, tolerance, rule of law and due process would suffice. This attempt to patch an old cloth with a piece of old cloth is a waste of time and loss of another opportunity to save the country. As they say, no one can solve a problem with the same mind-set that created it in the first place.
Therefore, there is need for those who are claiming to hold the future for Nigeria to publish details of their plan and how they intend to fund their manifestoes with the current economic reality of Nigeria. In this way the debate would return to the viability of the solutions and not on the personalities, religion and ethnicity of the leaders. We have seen personality and sectarian politics since independence and all evidence would seem to confirm that it is not the right direction for Nigeria. If there is one thing we know about Nigeria, it is that it does not need another strong and delusional leader, who pays no attention to the law and responds only to his religious beliefs. Nigeria needs strong institutions which can hold leaders to account no matter how strong or wealthy. This is why in this article; I would like to outline clearly the steps that those who would succeed in saving and changing Nigeria, must take to give her a future.
- Nigeria does not need the current national conference. It is a calculated attempt to distract from the complicity of the present government in the endemicity of corruption destroying the country. It is complete waste of time and resources. It is an opportunity for the government to bribe the delegates to work for its interest in 2015. The money being spent on the conference should be better invested in addressing the high rate of unemployment in the country. We already know what the problems are. What the government needs to do is to devolve power from the centre to the regions and this does not need a national conference, but the sending of a bill to that effect to the national assembly and galvanising to support of the people to tell the national assembly that that is what they want. All the government needs to do is to divide the country into six regions and offer the states the incentive to collapse into these six religions at their own time by making the advantages very clear. This is how a country makes lasting change. The savings from thirty six state houses of assembly to three regional assemblies and from thirty six governors to six regional governors, will release enough resources to begin to address the social problems bedevilling the regions. This is the right and intelligent solution. Those who think that they have a better solution should publish it, so that we have a debate. We cannot continue to govern Nigeria in the interest of politicians. The current arrangement only benefits the politicians.
- The military spending must be reduced by at least 15% and the money diverted to a national social security fund to be invested in further education and skill accusation and training programs for unemployed Nigerian youths.
- The communities and people at risk of attack by Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen should be trained and armed to defend themselves and their community against terror before it is too late, and the army will be an additional support. The current plan and attitude is allowing ethnic cleansing, which would benefit the aggressors. Without this, these communities and individuals will invariably arm themselves and the stage would be set for intractable conflict in Nigeria, similar to what obtains in Iraq at the moment.
- The government should establish as a matter of urgency the payment of unemployment assistance allowance to all unemployed Nigerians on the condition that they take up some form of training to either acquire some skills, learn a trade to enable them become gainfully or self-employed. This can be implemented through existing organisation like road transport union, MASSOB, etc., and gradually these organisations can be sanitised.
- These social intervention and nation stabilisation programs should be funded by a 50% cut in the remuneration of the politicians and 50% cut in the current governors security votes and 50% cut in the senators community project allowances, which are some of the current legal avenues the politicians are stealing from the country and widening inequality and worsening insecurity and crimes. To succeed, only honest and serious measures will suffice. The current deceptive and cosmetic attempt by the government to bribe interest group and ethnic organisation will only worsen the sectarian divide and hasten the demise of Nigeria.
- The country should reorganise the police into three regional polices forces with headquarters in Kaduna. Ibadan and Enugu and convert EFCC and other similar organisation into a federal police force fashioned along the line of FBI, with responsibilities for organised crimes, serious murders, election malpractices, political corruption etc. All political corruption should be brought under its jurisdiction, and it should be given the option to intervene when it believes that the regional police have been compromised.
- Establish an independent police complaint commission with power to sanction police for breaches. We need to move away from the rule of men to the rule of law.
- State economic viability program. The government would encourage states to focus on becoming economically viable by applying the best economic formula in the management of its affairs and exploiting its economic potentials. States would also be encouraged to join together and states which join together would receive extra 2% of their annual allocation to invest in education and extra ½ percent for another state that joins them up to a maximum of six states. This is to encourage states to see that it is in their best interest to pull their resources together and the saving from having one house of assembly and governors etc., protected and invested in health, housing for the people and education.
- The criminal justice system would be reorganised by making the judiciary more independent of the executive and accountable to the law. The administration of justice would be made to work in the interest of justice and not in the interest of lawyers and criminals. In the Nigerian legal system evidence would become compelling and Courts would not be allowed to reinterpret evidence to reflect what the Judges believe about the evidence, but what the evidence suggests to the objective mind. Judges who give judgement that are overturned on appeal would be required to defend their judgement and learn from their mistakes so that they do not repeat the same mistakes in the future and time limit would set on how long a trial should last and a maximum time and number of adjournment in cases would be set. In addition, the dismissal of cases on technicalities of law would be abolished. Instead, those who make the mistake would be fined and allowed to correct the mistake and the trial would continue. In this way, Nigeria would be having a very good, fair, accountable and effective criminal justice system that works in the best interest of the victims of crimes.
- Any politician, who is indicted for corruption while in office, would be suspended until he clears his name. If he clears his name he should return to his position.
- Transparency in all government transactions would be implemented and all government contracts will awarded through closed tendering and an independent organisation responsible for monitoring the implementation of awarded contracts set up with the power indict those who awarded the contract and the contractors, if the contract are not well executed or they have reasons to suspect that there has been corruption in the award of the contract.
- The powers of the code of conduct bureau would be reviewed with the view to enabling them to force any public office holder or public servant to declare their assets and or account for their wealth or life style at any time during their term.
- It would be made easier and more effective for the government to collect revenues by modernising the Inland Revenue to ensure that every Nigerian pay a fair tax and the money end in government coffers and not in the private accounts of revenue collectors and their bosses as is the case at the moment.
- To make sure that every driver in Nigeria takes a driving test by revoking all existing driving licence. The first thing the government would do will be to revoke all driving licences in Nigeria and give all divers six months to retrain as drivers and pass a driving test. This is the most effective and radical way to start to make Nigerian roads safe. The road safety will be integrated with transport police and specific fines for breaches of road safety regulations and how they should be paid for outlined. This will make it more difficult for traffic police to collect bribes. There would be a law allowing people to record their entire encounter with the police, civil servants and custom officials. This measure in particular will create employment for many people who would become driving instructors. In addition, the punishment for driving offences in Nigeria would include being banned for driving and those who break this particular law will go to prison.
- Take religion out of schools and make lessons in morality and ethnic compulsory. Also stop government involvement in religious matters like pilgrimages. Nigeria is a secular state that guarantees freedom of worship. This will be maintained.
- End the membership of past presidents and head of state of the national executive council. The elected government will have the responsibility to govern. Those who have served should give way as they do in other developed democracies.
- Give the Central Bank more power to police national income and monitor organisations like NNPC, the execution of the budget and government borrowing. In this way, the government is not allowed opportunity to practice financial recklessness, which is currently the order of the day.
- A limit will be set on the amount parties can charge candidates it puts forward for election and the electoral commission would be required to ensure that candidates presented for offices by political parties have been elected by the party members in a free and fair election
- Declare universal education for primary and secondary school and the government loans and grants for university students. This will ensure that no Nigerian child will ever again group up without good education because his or her parents cannot afford it.
- The government will promote responsible parenting to endure that people are able to give birth to children they have the resources to look after. There will attempt to educate the people on the advantages of limiting the number of children and ensuring that people cut their coat according to their cloth and not size. This is because we know that criminals come from large families.
This is my first 20 point agenda for saving Nigeria. Details of other policies will follow in due course. I challenge PDP and APC to produce their own 20 point agenda to address the problems I have addressed in this 20 point agenda. I am sure as a party; it would not be a difficult thing to do. This is important so that Nigerians can know what they are voting for in 2015. Those who have better ideas should publish them. Let us join hands to save Nigeria. It is in the best interest of all ethnic groups to save Nigeria but not in its present form. Criminals do not build countries. Therefore we cannot afford to leave Nigeria in the hands of those who brought it to her present state.
E O Eke is qualified in medicine. At various times he has been a General medical practitioner, Medical missionary, Medical Director and senior medical officer of health in Nigeria. He specializes in child, Adolescent and adult psychiatry and lives in England with his family. His interest is in health, religion philosophy and politics. He cares for body and mind.