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E O EkeFriday, October 3, 2014
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RESPONSE TO APC POLICIES (PART 1)

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tate police, free education, jobs and a solid anti-corruption battle.

These – and many others – formed the major highlights of the 10-Point Road map unveiled in Abuja by the All Progressives Congress (APC), which is planning to win power at the centre in 2015.

The party said it would give independence to Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other agencies.

Besides state police, there will be a Serious Crime Squad to curtail insurgency.

EE., State police is one of the polices that can have unintended consequences on the unity of Nigeria. Therefore, serious consideration should be given to it before its implementation. It would seem to me, an idea whose time has not come, but which is advocated by those who have contempt for due process and accountability and would like to gain control of the police to enforce their will. If not, why would a governor want to control the police, if he believes in accountability? Democratic minded governors would be interested in an independent police that is able to enforce the law and not a police they can control.

It would therefore seem to me that what Nigeria needs, is a reform of its criminal justice system in a way that would give further degree of autonomy to the judiciary, and the police to make them independent of politicians, more accountable and better resourced. Giving control of the police to state governors would not look like progress under the circumstance and may most likely strengthen autocracy.

To move from one central command to 36, would be herculean. I would rather that Nigeria start with regional police and see how they perform before giving Nigerian governors power to control police in their states. If past experience is anything to go by, the governors would more likely use the police the way they are using the various paramilitary groups they have set up to intimidate the people and their opponents. Many of the current governors should not be in charge of the police in the way APC plans and Nigerians should oppose state police, otherwise, Nigerian states may become small Zimbabwe.

Highlights of the roadmap presented at the party’s Inaugural National Summit in Abuja are: jobs; anti-corruption fight; free; relevant quality education; agriculture; housing plan; and healthcare plan for children and adults.

APC plans a social welfare scheme for the less advantaged and build roads and power plants. It will manage better our natural resources, the party said, adding that it will strengthen peace, security and foreign policy.

EE. This will require more detailed to enable a more objective evaluation. For instance, how does APC hope to better manger out natural resources? How would APC solve the problem of oil bunkering? Will APC abolish oil allocation and introduce open bidding for right to explore oil in Nigeria by well-known and established oil companies, which has the technology and capital for oil exploration? What would be the position of those who pay the blood price of oil exploration by way of devastated environment and endangered life by pollution of their environment? How will APC address historical injustices in this area? Without a clear and detailed plan of how the party would do this, this would seem like hot air. Now that America is buying less and less of our oil, how will APC find new customers for our oil and diversify the economy? Every sincere political party with the country at heart would have an economic blue print. Where is APC economic blur print for Nigeria?

The Road map reads in part: “Roughly, one in four Nigerians, and half of young job seekers are unable to find work. The number of people whose jobs do not cover the cost of food and housing is even greater. “In addition, major industries that pay higher wages account for just over five per cent of the economy.

“The lack of jobs is the most critical challenge facing Nigeria today, hurting every community and preventing us from being the truly vibrant and prosperous nation we deserve. Building a diverse economy that allows every Nigerian to earn a living and better care for his or her family is our number one priority.

“APC road map for jobs includes: Create 20,000 jobs per state immediately for those with a minimum qualification of secondary school leaving certificate and who participate in technology and vocational training.

“Encourage state governments to focus on employment creation by matching every one job created by the State Government through funding with two jobs created by the Federal Government in the same state.

EE. There are brilliant ideas about job creation, diversification of economy and increasing participation, which the party can borrow from, if it is sincere. For instance, going ahead with a National Health Service and criminal justice reform alone will create millions of jobs for many different professionals form the lowest to the most highly skilled.

The Nigerian energy sector is the most corrupt and underdeveloped. The Nigerian oil industry needs to be developed first to meet the domestic demand. The need for this has become more acute with the falling demand for our oil.

It is criminal to be flaring Nigerian natural gas, when the government can pipe it to homes for domestic uses and end the burning of kerosene, coal and wood. This lone will create an internal energy market that can power the Nigerian economy and create millions of jobs for the people. Just imagine the number of jobs that will be created in the oil and energy sector in Nigeria, if the Nigerian internal energy market is developed.

The attempt to export Nigerian gas as liquefied natural gas, instead of first developing an internal market for it in Nigeria and within the West African sub region and then the rest of Africa, is another example of the ignorance, lack of imagination and strategic thinking that has bedevilled the Nigerian leadership since independence. Developing a country is not rocket science; it simply requires common sense, patriotism and honesty of purpose. APC can do this, if it is sincere about the development of Nigeria. Sadly, many APC leaders are people who ran away from PDP because they were not satisfied with their share of the loot. Nigerians will need to know the details of how APC will create jobs and grow the economy to trust it with power.

Two jobs for every one created by state governments is very interesting. It will be nice to know how APC will do this job doubling. Again, details are important, if people will not regard this as just gimmick. I know a thing or two on how to create jobs and would like to know how APC plans to create two jobs each time state government creates one.

“Direct conditional monthly cash transfers of N5, 000 to the 25million poorest and most vulnerable citizens upon demonstration of children’s enrolment in school and immunisation to help promote job empowerment.

EE. My questions

  1. Has APC costed this policy and what would be the conditions the beneficiaries would meet?

  2. How many people in this group are in the north, south, East and west?

  3. How did APC arrive at this figure?

  4. Where will the money come from?

  5. How will it be sustained?

  6. What would be APC’s long term plan for such people?

  7. How will APC stop the money from ending up in the private accounts of ministers, special advisers and party chiefs?

A serious government will have an idea of how it would fund and sustain its programs and I suppose, it would not be out of the ordinary to expect APC to demonstrate how it intends to fulfil what it is promising to the people.

“Establish technology/Industrial Estates fully equipped with ICT, power and other support across the country to attract and encourage small-scale technology businesses and other entrepreneurs.

“Provide allowances to discharged but unemployed Youth Corps members for 12 months while they seek jobs or acquire training and skills for job placement or entrepreneurship.

EE. Again I differ from APC on this. I have no doubt that in my mind that the time has come to modernise or phase out the NYSC because it is one of the greatest contributors to youth and undergraduate unemployment in Nigeria. Many schools and companies depend on NYSC and they therefore have refused to employ. The NYSC is currently being exploited as a yearly source of cheap labour and should now end. In the place of NYSC, the government should introduce a compulsory two years military service with training in weapon handling and combat. This will then enable the government to modernise and reduce the army and at the same time, have sufficient pool of reserve to fall on in time of war. In particular, not having new graduates in the market for two years will enable existing graduates to be absorbed into employments, thereby reducing unemployment. I will not be charging APC for this idea, should they be minded to copy it.

“Establish plants for the assembly and ultimately the manufacture of phones, tablets, computers and other devices.

“Pay a guaranteed indexed-linked price to farmers to ensure that there is always a ready market for their produce, which will create more jobs, agricultural related employment and sustain existing jobs.”

On corruption, the APC said it was worried that “corruption is crippling Nigeria”.

It assured Nigerians that it would “create a vibrant economy where jobs and opportunities are more readily available.” “Every individual, civil servant, business and government leader must play by the same rules, obey the law and reject the temptation of bribery and corruption.”

The party was specific on its anti-corruption agenda. It plans to: “show zero tolerance for official and/or private sector corruption. Place the burden of proving innocence in corruption cases on persons with inexplicable wealth.

“Pursue legislation expanding forfeiture and seizure of assets; laws and procedure with respect to inexplicable wealth, regardless of whether there is a conviction for criminal conduct or not.

“Strengthen legal provisions to prevent stay of proceedings and other delays in corruption trials.

“Guarantee the independence of anti-corruption and financial crimes agencies by legislation, charging their budgets directly to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

“Stop corruption in our elections, in part by making the Independent National and State Electoral Commissions truly independent and free from political interference.

“Improve the ability of citizens to keep an eye on their government, with more open access to government data, greater disclosure of government contracts prior to awards and during implementation, and ensuring the people’s business is done in an open and transparent way.”

EE: I hope that in addition to the above that APC will pursue institutional reforms as a means of fighting corruption. I also hop that APC, if it gains power, will reform the civil service to enable it serve the nation instead of the government and help to hold politicians to account.

I am very surprised that APC, had nothing to say on tax and various ways it would boast earning from tax. As at today, inspite of earning millions from the treasury, Nigerian politicians do not pay reasonable tax on their income. This is one area that can improve government income and generate fund for social investment.

Regarding security challenges facing the nation, the APC said it would allow states to own local police forces.

EE: I have said that this would seem like an idea whose time has not come.

To be continued.

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