THE CHANGE OF GEAR BUHARI NEED IN APC CHANGE CRUSADE - PART 2
problem at hand, which is unsolved, is an accumulated burden. Tomorrow is always unknown. But when tomorrow comes and another problem emerged and again unsolved, you will then have additional problem on your hands. As time goes on and you did nothing to solve the accumulated problems, together they will sooner overwhelm you. Over the years, successive Governments glossed over the problems of the country at hand, partially solved or totally neglected. Hence the today magnitude problems of the country. Are the problems being fully solved now in order not to add them to the unknown tomorrow's problems?
In 2015, Nigerians elected All Progressive Congress (APC) Federal Government with Buhari as the President of the country, with very high hope. It was the first democratically elected progressive Federal Government since independence on October 1960. Two years into President Buhari Government, although much has been achieved within the short period than the sixteen years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governments yet many of the year by year unsolved rollover problems are still there, to be fully solved or reduced to ineffectiveness. Some of these which are Buhari's task for the remaining two years of his office are as follow.
Restructuring of the country resonate today more than any other issues. Such restructuring is purely an Executive responsibility. But President Buhari is abdicating the responsibility and he is shifting it to the National Assembly. The National Assembly is a mere legislative body. Executive duty is not within its remit despite the Legislature has over the years being unlawfully getting specially allocated fund to executing purported constituency projects, which is either the duty of the Federal, State or Local Governments' executive body. Whether the National Assembly has the responsibility or not, the Legislature cannot carry any meaningful restructuring of the country even if given ten years term of Government to do it.
By assigning restructuring of the country to the National Assembly, President Buhari like his North is invariably telling us that he is averse to restructuring. But President Buhari ab initio has no any desire to carrying out any restructuring otherwise the details would have been in his 2015 election manifesto. Therefore, nobody should expect any restructure in the current Buhari Government, even from the delegated National Assembly. Nevertheless, restructuring is a political issue which is often accorded in the manifesto of a political party or its Presidential candidate. Upon elected on the manifesto, the President would implement the scheme.
On Federal Character principle; the Federal Government is not following due process diligently, sincerely and equitably. The Government is simply favouring the North in the main and strategic allocations of office and appointments, and asking the rest of the country to settle for crumbs. Northerners in position of power in general do not obey the laws of the country. They only do things that accord with their consciences and region's interests and ask the laws to conform with what they do. They cannot continue to pick and choose which Nigeria law to obey or ignore and continue to give reasons to justify their actions. Buhari cannot continue to play the ostrich on these.
Nigeria is first and foremost comprised of two regions; North and South. In this context, today's State and Local Governments' areas are only secondary. It is in recognition of the marked differences and to maintain harmony between the two originating regions of North and South Federal Character principle was enshrined in the Constitution. As some of the positions, offices or departments take precedence; they are either officially or unofficially ranked according to their importance. If the most important position, A, goes to any of the areas (States) in the South; the next most important position, B, should go to any of the areas (States) in the North, vice versa. Positions C, D, E, etc. in their order of ranking would continue to alternate between North and South until equilibrium is maintained at each stage for all the States of the federation.
The most serious problem of the country is insecurity. The crimes of kidnapping, armed robbery, killing of human beings for ritual, Islamic terrorism of Boko Haram, etc. are not abating but increasing exponentially. These cannot be tackled effectively by only the substantive Minister in the related Federal Ministry of Interior without Ministers of State (assistant Ministers) for its three main departments of the Police, Custom & Immigration and Prisons. There should be a Minister of State for each of these departments to assist the substantive Minister, Retired General Abdulrahman Dambazzau.
President Buhari should ensure that the Nigeria Police Force, which is on ground and fundamental to security in the country, is adequate. The Force should be decentralised. There should be several Independent Police Commands. For example, Senatorial Districts in the country could form the basis for feasible Independent Police Commands. This means we could have about 109 Independent Police Commands. Independent Police Command is where every head of each Command is in charge, accountable only in his area and only responsible to the President. We are not here talking about State or Regional Police forces. The number of Police personnel should be increased by at least half of the present number. The rest of the forces; Military, State Security Services and Customs personnel should be increased by at least one quarter of their present numbers. The personalisation and privatisation of our Police and Military should stop. They should no longer be assigned to some private individuals as their domestic servants and bodyguards.
The Federal Ministries of Works and Housing which should have been decentralised by now should be decentralised to the Local Governments. Works and Housing are local issues that vary according to the need of each area. Ex-Governor Babatunde Fashola the current Minister of three Ministries of Energy, Works and Housing would have the capacity to concentrate effectively only on Ministry of Energy to provide adequate electricity. The Federal Ministry of Transport only should be responsible for the construction and maintenance of the roads in the country. What the Ministry cannot do directly can be delegated or assigned to the State, Local Governments or private contractors.
The Federal Government should take the Generation and Transmission aspects of Electricity back into public ownership. The private sector of Nigeria is not yet ready to take on heavy and key industries in the country. This is evidenced by very poor and non-productive ways the private sector operators have be running this aspect of Electricity industry since the PDP Governments' fraudulent privatisation of the industry. It is only the Distribution aspect of Electricity that should be in private hands. The Cable aspect of landline telephone should similarly be taken back into public ownership. The Distribution aspect should be left in private ownership. If the Government knows what to do, it will not borrow a kobo to establish and finance these industries at full capacity requirement of the country. Without adequate electricity and landline telephone which new technology depend, the economy and other things of the country that depend on these are going nowhere.
The Federal Government should minimise privatisation and eliminate semi privatisation in the form of concessionary in the country. Today's unnecessary privatisation create more problems and unemployment in the country. Our Education and Health systems are today in shambles because of unnecessary privatisation and wrong Government policies in the sectors. In the colonial days and from independence on October 1960 to 1984, the standard of our Education and Health were generally good. During this period, there were virtually no visible private Education and Health in the country. Traveling out of the country for education or health was a matter of choice and not necessarily for lack of quality and adequacy at home. Buhari should appoint three Ministers of Stare each for the Ministries of Education and Health to help the substantive Ministers to put the systems on at least pre-nineteen eighty-four standards.
Purported efficient management, which is today behind the drive for wholesale privatisation, is not the monopoly of the private sector but the choice of the right people to manage and the establishment of adequate systems of control. An example is France. Today many of the strategic and heavy industries in France are in public ownership. The French public establishments are well managed, efficient and successful. Today, the public establishments snatch up privatised major companies in other countries, such as those in the United Kingdom.
Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme is capitalists' predisposition for thwarting efforts of the Government; thereafter they move in; force the Government's hands to lean on them; using public fund as capital in disguise of partnership and enriching themselves at public expense. At the end of the day the issue is about efficient management rather than fund requirement, which the capitalists have no monopoly. Buhari Government must not drag the country into PPP for any reason. The labour force and the people that can deliver efficient management are abound in the country. All that we need are adequate systems of control, supervision, less political interference and regional bias for the incompetent
The Federal Ministry of Environment and other related Federal Ministries exist. There is no need for the Ministry of Niger Delta. What the Federal Ministry of Environment and the State Governments of Niger Delta area cannot do, the Niger Delta Development Corporation (NDDC) is there to perform. The Federal Ministry of Niger Delta should be scrapped. The creation of the Ministry by the PDP Government was a waste of public money. You cannot just be sentimental and uneconomically submit and pleasing segmental agitators or militants.
All the other top vacant positions such as those of chairmen and other members of boards of directors of Federal Government departments and agencies that have being left vacant for the past two years should be filled. The people with which to fill these posts and money to paying them are there in the country. If there is money to be bailing out the prodigal State Governors, giving waivers to billionaires, etc. there should be money to be paying those who are to fill the top Federal positions; who in their duties of management, control and supervision would increase productivity and generate more fund for the country.
President Buhari should establish a National Charity Commission in the country. For example; the Commission would be on hand to checking the menace of many Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) and religious bodies in the country. The northern Emirs should not be allowed to double as traditional rulers and Islamic religious heads in their domains. The Islamic Religious Clerics should be allowed to choose their leader among themselves and individually be the religious head in their districts, and to be accountable in the circumstances where their Islamic religion is being misused.
Islamic religion should not be mixed with Government and official matters in the North and any other part of the country. The dual laws practice by all the State Governments of the North should be stopped. Their Islamic police should be disbanded. We cannot have parallel and religious laws and police force in the country. Any reference to any Islamic courts, laws and practices in our constitution should be expunged. These are part and parcel of the political tension and insecurity problems in the country today.
The Naira should be restored as a convertible currency at the foreign exchanges. Its auction should stop. The Government is here free to set the economic and realistic foreign exchange rate of the currency. The system should be a manage float with parameters within which the currency can float freely up and down. The Government should abolish the domiciliary bank accounts system in the country. In as much as the commercial banks can hold some of their funds in foreign currencies for some cash transaction, individuals and non-banking enterprises have not the actual need of holding bank accounts in foreign currencies nor conduct domestic transactions in foreign currencies. In addition to the foreign exchange round tripping abuses with these accounts; domiciliary bank accounts are the conduit through which the holders who may be corrupt keep their corruptly acquired fund and take the money in the same foreign currency out of the country outside the banking system.
Measures should be in place to reduce minimum lending interest rate from the current 14% to below 5%. The CBN does not need high minimum lending interest rate to curtail bank lending and maintain low inflation. The commercial banks do not need high minimum lending interest rate to making sustainable profit. Normally, the commercial banks and loan companies do not and are not expected to set their actual lending interest rates uncontrolled and above the higher of 5% rate or 25% of central bank minimum lending interest rate. If we are able to peg the minimum lending interest rate at 5%, the commercial banks should not be allowed to set their lending interest rates above 6.25% (5% +25%).
The abnormal high minimum lending interest rate of 14% in our country today has nothing to do with the decision to improving our economy. The abnormal interest rate is there to serve some interest group in the country. There are the Federal Government and banks who trade their funds with each other in the Naira auction market. Many of the key and influential people in the country have huge fund of which much is in deposit bank accounts. These people do not want to invest in businesses nor engage in any businesses. The only way for their money to be yielding sustainable returns for them is through high interest rate. They are always able to dictate to those in power and in positions of authority to do their bid to serve their interests. There is not always consideration for the economy of the country.
Non-payment of salary is today a very serious problem in the country. Many public and private establishments owe their small-scale contractors and staff many months if not many years' salary. Yet there is excess liquidity in our banks. The Federal Government should make it unlawful and a criminal offence for any employer, public and private sectors, who does not pay its small-scale contractors and staff salary monthly or regularly. The commercial banks are there and should be there for any employer to take loan or overdraft to pay salary and small-scale contractors, in times of cashflow problem. We need to embrace the economics of timely and regular salary payment in the country. For example, it will enhance purchasing power of the ordinary and increase economy.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) should be strengthened and enlarged. The Commission should absorb the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences 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 operate and participate through the normal law and order in the exercise of preventing and policing corruption and other financial crimes. The EFCC must be fully independent. That is the Commission must not in any form be under the control of the office of the Attorney General of the Federation. The Commission must have the power of direct prosecution without recourse to any other body. However, when such changes take place, a credible serving Army General should be appointed to head the Commission with Federal Character due process.
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is an unnecessary military Government regime's scheme. The scheme is an exploitative and a cheap labour. It draws the young peoples' career backwards. 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.
In 2015, the President of the country was not supposed to come from the North. But when it was obvious that there was no alternative to APC Federal Government, the then conspiracy within zoned the party's Presidential office to North instead of South South and South East. Today, you do not need anyone to tell you. President Buhari will not seek re-election for a second term. As it was in the 2015 general election; in the 2019 general election; there will not be any alternative to APC Federal Government and APC President of South South or South East extraction for the next ten years from the election. Nigerians should, therefore, confidently expect the desired salvation and restructuring of the country to manifest from 2019. The North shall next provide the President or Prime Minister of the country in 2039.
Briefly; most of these problems of the country do not need money or foreign exchange to solve but by simple and sincere political will. If they are solved once and for all, any new future problems will be easier and less expensive to solve. A balanced structure of the country will enable a firm new constitution; will create new order; would bring sense of belonging; it will enable things to be done equitably; would reduce political tension; eliminate dominance by any section of society; minimise discontent in each segment of society; reduce fragmented leadership in the country; would reduce waste and cost of Government, etc.
If the trend of criminality, militancy, insurgency, neglect, dysfunctionality and imbalance structure continue unsolved sooner, we may not have Nigeria even in her component parts as different countries. As we cannot limp on for long in the present state of things hence the economic, social and political exigency to restructuring the country.
To know more about this author; read his forty pages Presidential manifesto for the 2015 general election from his website; (apiainternational.co.uk) and his previous articles that were published here on this column. He did not release the manifesto before the election nor participate in the election for certain reasons.