FEATURE ARTICLE

Sunday, May 5, 2019
[email protected]
London, UK
ABSENCE OF RESTRUCTURING CONTINUE TO EXACERBATE NIGERIA PROBLEMS (PART 3)

Continued from Part 2

ederal Ministry of Education: Among the ministerial jobs, that of the Minister of Education is the most familiar simply because the appointed Minister who should have had higher education should be familiar with education process from primary school to university, which he/she went through. The Minister need not be an academic.

The main problems in our Education are poor administration, fund mismanagement, strikes and drawback by the North. For the Minister of Education to be able to perform very well he/she must be one with excellent academic record from secondary school to university; with grade one school certificate and first class first degree. With these such Minister will be able to uphold the high standard and efficiency we need most in our Education system. The substantive Minister should have equally qualified four Ministers of State for Education. One will be in charge of primary schools; the second will be in charge of secondary schools; the third will be in charge of technical/intermediate education at technical schools, colleges of education and polytechnics, and the fourth will be in charge of universities.

To restore our high standard of education, reduce cost and maintain harmony in the sector; the military regime 6-3-3-4 system of education should be scrapped. The 6-5-2-3 system should be reinstated. That is, the Government should ensure that primary school education is strictly six years; secondary school is five years; the former two years HSC course which should now be for only GCE A/L should be re-introduced. In many things we do, the right background or solid foundation matters. Therefore, the Government must pay adequate attention to our secondary school and GCE A/L education. The standard of these determine the quality of our higher education and the educated in society.

University first degree course should strictly be three years. The minimum entry qualification should be three GCE A/Ls. The former one-year preliminary course before first degree course proper should no longer be allowed. This will spread and reduce the number of students that seek admission to universities at a time. It will reduce the number of students that repeat their courses. It will minimise the number of students that dropout. The GCE A/L should be examined by the Nigeria Universities Commission. The Commission should acquire the current Joint Admission Matriculation Board as its subsidiary to examine the GCE A/Ls.

The current OND and HND syllabus should be merged together and to run as a three-year course for only HND. This means OND will be scrapped. The entry qualification for the three years HND course should be school certificate or the appropriate number of GCE O/Ls.

While primary and secondary schools' education should be fully free, which must include free basic or recommended text books and meals during school hours; intermediate education at the college of education and polytechnics, and higher education at the universities should be tuition fees fully free. These should apply only to education at the public sector own educational institutions.

A private education institution ownership in the country from primary school to university should be partnership or partnership in company limited by guarantee and not a limited liability company. The ownerships of each institution should be a minimum of five active partners with majority controlling interests. The minimum five partners should be academics or teachers with at least ten years teaching experience. Non-academics or teachers should not be allowed to establish educational institutions unless they are minority stake holders in the institutions.

To ensure strict term of education is maintained and no single day is lost; strike shall be banned by law in our Education sector. All the unresolved disputes between Education employees and their employer should always be handled by an arbitration, which is jointly established by the employer and union of employees, within certain time limit. There should not be any strike action as the dispute is being resolved or to be resolved.

Federal Ministry of Health: The Federal Government must handle our Health sector and Ministry of Health with the utmost efficiency. We should endeavour to follow the United Kingdom pattern of 'free' Healthcare. It serves the whole people in society equally whether rich or poor. It is a system where you do not have to worry about money in your pocket at the point of delivery. You just walk-in, get treatment and walkout.

The problems in our Healthcare system today are not primarily clinical issues. The problems are poor administration, organisation and management. Therefore, the Minster of Health must not always be a medical doctor. The substantive Minister must always be someone with the ability to administer, organise and supervise. For the substantive Minister to be able to perform, there should be three Ministers of State for Health to assist him/her. One should preferably be an accountant; the second an administrator and the third a medical doctor or pharmacist.

For our public healthcare to be free for all at the point of delivery, it should be financed through general taxation. The services should not be paid for by individuals or by insurance scheme. The Federal Government should be responsible for the capital expenditure and emolument of staff. The State Governments will then be responsible for the consumables such as medicines, meals for patients, etc. at the hospitals in their States. To minimise cost of healthcare, the Government need to promote healthy living, hygiene and clean environment. We have health foods. We have the land to grow variety of foods, fruits and vegetables. They are cheap, good and healthier to eat. The young generation only need to know how to grow/prepare them.

Private medicine in the country should be partnership, as for firms of accountants and law firms. It must not be a limited liability company. A private hospital should be owned and run by a minimum of five active partners who should be specialist medical doctors of many years' experience. Sole partner medical practice should only be allowed only in a consulting clinic only in the medical doctor's area of specialisation. If you are not a specialist, you should not be allowed to set up a clinic or practise medicine on your own. A private hospital must have a minimum of say 100 beds. The hospital should have all the normal inhouse facilities which a proper hospital must possess.

If you are employed in public or teaching hospital you should not be allowed to run your private hospital or clinic in abreast of your employment. Everyone knows what this has so far done to our hospitals. Some of these are delayed work, unnecessary long and postponed appointments, diversion of patients, medicines, materials and equipment to their private hospitals. All the current private hospitals in the country should be asked to conform with the above directive within certain time limit or close down. They should be strictly controlled. They should report and accountable to the Federal Ministry of Health on every patient that dies in their private hospitals. Today, the private laboratories in the country are very poor and below standards. Their establishment must be similarly restricted and controlled as the private hospitals.

To ensure our hospitals perform and no lives are jeopardised; strike shall be banned by law in our Health sector. All the unresolved disputes between Health employees and employer should always be handled by an arbitration, which is jointly established by the employer and union of employees, within certain time limit. There should not be any strike action as the dispute is being resolved or to be resolved.

Other Federal Ministries; The Federal Ministry of Transport should be responsible for Roads, Railways, Sea Ports and Airports/Aviation. The Ministry should have three Ministers of State for Transport. One will be in charge of Roads; the Second will be in charge of Railways and Sea Ports; the third will be in charge of Airports/Aviation. Buhari must not separate Airports/Aviation from Ministry of Transport and its Minister. The Federal Ministry of Transport should be responsible for the construction and maintenance of all the federal roads in the country. Any works the Ministry cannot do inhouse should be assigned to private contractors or where necessary to the appropriate State or Local Government.

Ministries of Agriculture, Works, Housing, Welfare and Social Services are not only works and services orientated, they are better determined at local level according to local needs. The Federal Ministries of Works, Housing and Social Services should be decentralised to the Local Governments. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture should be transferred to the State Governments. They should be responsible for Agriculture in their States. The Federal Government can replace the Federal Ministry of Agriculture with Federal Ministry of Foods.

As there is a Federal Ministry of Environment, the State and Local Governments are in Niger Delta; there is no need for the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta. What the State and Local Governments of the area cannot do, the Federal Ministry of Environment can do it. Therefore, the Federal Ministry of Niger Delta should be scrapped. The creation of the Ministry by the PDP Government was a waste of public money and unnecessary appeasement of insurgency and segmental agitation. There is even no need for Niger Delta Development Corporation either, when you have the State and Local Governments in the area.

With the exception of Minister of Justice/Attorney General of the Federation and to some extent Minister of Finance; ministerial round peg in a round hole does not necessarily means same profession for related professional job but someone with the ability to do the job irrespective of educational discipline. For example, you do not just go and appoint anyone as the Minister of Health because he/she is a medical doctor; all because he/she has political connections or comes from privilege home, when in fact he/she has not administrative, organisational, managerial, control and political supervision ability to do the ministerial job.

When we are talking about strong institutions as they were in the sixties and seventies, we must toady look at what made them to be weak. There is no need for many of the Federal Commissions. They usurp the duties of the Federal Ministries and render them invariably weak or redundant. For example, what is the need for Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) when you have Federal Ministry of Education and its Minister, States' Ministries of Education and Local Governments? The same with many other Ministries where there are needless parallel Commissions. There may only be the need to establish a Commission where you do not as such have a Federal Ministry and a Ministry is not needed in the area. Many of the Federal Commissions need to be scrapped including UBEC. The Nigeria Universities Commission should become National Education Commission and control primary school to University education in the country under one roof, with zonal branches.

Judiciary; Judiciary should be exclusive affairs of the Federal Government. The country should have only one judicial system. It should be one country one law and order. Islamic religion must be banished from our official affairs; courts, laws, policing and finance at any part of the country. The Judiciary should be reorganised. There should be adequate courts in the country. Effective case processing and hearing procedures should be in force in the courts. There should be adequate systems of control in order to minimise corruption in the Judiciary. All the law courts in the country from the lowest to the highest shall be under the Judiciary. The courts should be: 1, Magistrates Court; 2, District Civil Court; 3, Criminal Court; 4, High Court; 5, Appeal Court; 6, Supreme Court.

The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) should be strengthened and enlarged. The Commission should absorb the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC). There is no need to have such two bodies where the smaller ICPC duplicate most if not all the functions of the EFCC. The absorption would give the Police much room to manoeuvre, operate and participate in much law and order process. The EFCC must be fully independent. That is the Commission must not in any form be under the control of any other offices in the country. The Commission must have the power of direct prosecution without recourse to any other body, such as the offices of Director of Public Prosecution and Attorney General of the Federation.

The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is an unnecessary military Government regime scheme. The scheme is exploitative and a cheap labour. It wastes the participants' time and career. It prevents the creation of necessary permanent jobs. It should be scrapped. The abolition would provide avenue for the creation of permanent jobs. It will allow fresh university etc. graduates to be available for immediate permanent employment or for postgraduate studies.

Political Restructure; The current ninety-one political parties in the country are not sustainable. We must reduce the number to two political parties and make allowance for two independent candidates per elective position. This means such independent candidates will have to go through elimination primary election to reduce the number to two candidates per elective position. The two political parties that scored the largest number of votes in the last general election of 2019 which are APC and PDP should be retained as the two political parties in the country. Any prospective election candidates who do not want to contest election on the platform of any of the two political parties may do so as an independent candidate. A two-party state system will reduce election cost, political tension and narrow whatever are our differences which emanate from our pluralistic society. To minimise election rigging, political parties' representatives should work in INEC to examine documents and procedures for the general election from three months before, during election and till after declaration of final results.

Government Restructure; In order to maintain a balance of national legislative power in the country at the National Assembly among the North and South, there should be equal number of Senatorial Districts and Federal Constituencies (50% each) in each of the North and South of the country. The current wasteful thirty-six State Government areas should be scrapped. They should be replaced by ten Regional Government areas. We should have five in the South and five in the North as follow.

From the South; 1 - Lagos Region; 2 - South-West Region; 3 - Mid-West Region; 4 - South-East Region; 5 - South-South Region.

From the North; 1 - Middle Belt West Region; 2 - Middle Belt East Region; 3 - North-East Region; 4 - Mid-North Region; 5 - North-West Region.

The Local Government areas within each of these Regions should be adjusted as follow. The big cities or towns in the country such as Abuja, Kano, Kaduna, Lagos, Ibadan, Enugu, Onitsha, Port Harcourt, Benin City and others, should each become one City Local Government area. Their present Local Government areas should be divided into local administrative district offices to be responsible for their local areas. Those small two or more towns that are currently under one Local Government area should remain under such one Local Government. How many of our towns or cities are more than 10-kilometre radius from their centre? One big town or city should be one Local Government area. Two or more small towns should be under one Local Government area. This will reduce the number of Local Government areas in the country far less than the present 774 areas.

We need to start federal leadership rotation in the country from 2023 general election. We should have four federal leadership rotational zones according to areas of compatibility; two from the South and two from the North as follow;

From the South; 1 - South-West; 2 - South-South-East.

From the North; 1 - North-Central; 2 - Far North.

Each of these proposed zones had and would have provided leaders for the country for disproportionate number of years since independence on 1st October 1960 - May 2023 as in the following: Far North 28.5years; North-Central 17years; South-West 11years; South-South-East 6years; Total 62.5years.

As above, the South-South-East area had least ruled the country since independence. Therefore, in fairness, from 2023 - 2031 official and permanent federal leadership rotation must and should start as follows: South-South-East 2023 - 2031; North-Central 2031 - 2039; South-West 2039 - 2047; Far North 2047 - 2055.

In this type of federal rotational leadership, the President and Vice President or Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister would come from the same zone. This is primarily to ensure; should the substantive leader no longer available before the end of the term of his/her office, the Vice or Deputy would takeover, leadership would remain in the same zone for the remainder part of its rotational term of office without the need for the leadership to unnecessarily move to another zone by default and thereby disrupting the normal rotation pattern. This system would minimise tribal, regional, political rivalry, tension and colluded marginalisation in the country.

The wealth of individuals in society whether big or small always come from public fund. The wealthier an individual the more opportunity and share from public wealth. This is even more so in an extreme capitalist society, through unnecessary tax waiver, concessionary, preferential contract awards, subsidies that do not reflect in lower prices of goods, etc. To ensure fair distribution of public wealth in our society that no few individuals get their unfair share at the expense of the larger society, the Government must curtail capitalism in our country, Nigeria. Individuals who have more than their fair share of society wealth cannot be rich and benevolent enough through their established foundations or charities to replace the Government in welfare dispensation. To minimise private capital using public funds and getting wealthier, the Government must not engage in partnership ventures with any individuals or corporates either in the form of concessionary or public private partnership (PPP). At the end of the day the total originating capital in such venture is always from public fund.

Until the country is restructured, reformed and affirmed in a new Constitution; I doubt whether we shall have a cohesive society in our diversity and have one country. As Nigeria cannot continue to limp on in incohesive society, the 2019-2023 offer the last chance for Nigeria to restructure and put the country on formidable foundation which no any weak, poor performing, autocratic leader, bad Government or a section of society will be able to subvert at the expense of the whole country without been the first casualty.

The areas for reformation and restructuring touched in the three-part article are not exhaustive but as time and space permitted me to discuss. However, their details are in my 44-page 2019 Presidential Manifesto.

Concluded.

Continued from Part 2

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