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  Tasks For Next President Of Nigeria

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It must be obvious to every honest and patriotic Nigerian that all is not well with the ways that affairs of this country are being managed. It would be wrong to think that there are no capable persons in the country who can put things right, without victimising or granting licence to any section in the process. Neither is it necessary that such capable persons would have to be “mad” in order to correct recalcitrant situations. Astuteness in governance demands a thorough and clear understanding of the sectors that need drastic changes and then having the political will to effect them urgently.
For the next President of Nigeria, such tasks would and must include the following: Drastic cut down on the official and extra-official remunerations of political office holder. We cannot pretend not to know who, political office holdes are, in the three tiers of governance, neither can we pretend not to know that there are extra-official remunerations. Gifts for favours done and “lobbies” to influence and induce favours, including “stomach infrastructure” to influence nomination, are gross abuses which perpetuate corruption in governance. Nigeria’s wage bills for elected officials are the highest on earth, deliberately put in place by departing military regime.
Next President of Nigeria should set up a probe into the mafia system of governance called the Presidency or cabal, made up of faceless official and extra-official pressure groups, often acting arbitrarily, in the name of the President. Again, we cannot pretend that no such mafia system, cabal or parallel government exists in Nigeria’s Presidential system of democratic governance. Democratic governance cannot operate that way. A third task for the next President of Nigeria is to reshuffle, restructure and reorganise the nation’s security and intelligence architecture and institutions, to make them truly nationalistic and patriotic. Again, no honest Nigerian would pretend to be ignorant of the fact that these agencies deserve some serious search-light. From Professor Omo Omoruyi, to retired General T. Y. Danjuma, Nigerians have been told times without number that these agencies are compromised and seen to be serving sectional interests. Add these allegations to the absorption of repentant Boko Haram insurgents into the nation’s armed forces!
Nigerians would want details and conditions of Nigeria’s membership of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) made public, in order to remove any misgiving in the minds of the public. It was during retired General Ibrahim Babangida’s leadership of Nigeria that the country joined the Islamic Brotherhood. Not only is Nigeria a secular state, but the impression must not be created that one religion has an advantage over others. Add this to the increasing fanaticism of public lynching of “those who disrespect the name of the Prophet!” Similarly, Nigerians would want the next President to publish names and details of known sponsors of insurgencies in Nigeria. The case of Kaduna State is of significant importance, especially with kidnappers who hold travellers hostage and demanding for ransom, telling us that the Government of Nigeria knows what they are demanding. Groups of insurgents in the South are asking for referendum and resource control where other bandits and marauders in the North have not told Nigerians what their demands are. Must Nigeria go the Afghanistan Way or be held to ransom by local and foreign insurgents?
The sixth task of Nigeria’s next President, whoever he may be, is to revisit or review the country’s foreign policy and all international agreements, to ensure that there are no hidden agenda or booby traps anywhere. We are often told by experienced diplomats that the international community is a shark-infested environment, where fair can be foul and foul fair. From the construction of a gas pipeline from Nigeria to Morocco, to international trades and movements or taking of foreign loans, there is a need to place the interests of this nation first, now and in the future. Military and security pacts may be shrouded in secrecies but they should be reviewed, to ensure internal stability. The issue of reduction of the number of political parties in Nigeria is a vital task which the next President of Nigeria should address, without sweeping it under the carpet. Like rapid increase and growth of universities in Nigeria, the number of political parties in the country is obviously too much. Political parties are supposed to articulate and represent ideological leanings, orientations and relevance for a nation and its aspirations. Global ideologies and worldviews cannot be as numerous as the number of political parties in Nigeria, unless we want to promote frivolities in the name of ideologies. Nigeria does not need more than three or four political parties.
To address and resolve issues of census or the nation’s population, is and should be an urgent task for Nigeria’s next President. We cannot pretend to be unaware of the truth that census issue was one of the causal factors of the first military intervention in Nigeria’s polity. Even though serious allegations and objections were swept under the carpet and denied, no honest Nigerian can say that census figures are flawless. Neither can any honest Nigerian deny the fact that revenue sharing formula in Nigeria uses population figures as vital instruments, coupled with land mass. A situation where resource generation and control are over taken by population and land mass, is it not possible to distort census figures for political and economic advantages? Obviously Nigeria’s political economy is skewed towards parasitism and the encouragement of duplicity, all of which give rise to national instability. A part of the challenges which the next president should address is census controversy. To say that Nigeria’s economy is in a precarious state is an issue that the nation’s leadership must address with serious diligence. Ranging from unemployment, job losses and under employment, to the gross diminution of the value of the naira, the state of Nigeria’s economy deserves to be addressed immediately. Arising from the state of the nation’s economy is also the challenge of food security, which is further undermined by clashes between farmers and herders in various communities. Engagement in food production activity demands that farmers should not be the targets of attacks.
The tenth task for the next President of Nigeria is the issue of drastic reduction of family size. It is no longer a pride for couples to boast of having as many as nine children, no matter how wealthy the family may be. There should be a policy to limit the number of children which a woman should have, to three, so that family size be placed under control. As much as possible, vasectomy should be encouraged among men and women also educated properly on family planning, with provision of facilities to terminate unwanted pregnancies. The masses are marginalized in money politics oligopoly.

By: Bright Amirize

Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

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Opinion

Understanding Luciferian Antics

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It is obvious to keen observers of events in Nigeria that the country is standing at a cross-road, neither should we remain blind to the fact that forces of light and darkness are contending for supremacy. Storms and dark smokes began gathering about 1965, such that the intervention of the military in the nation’s politics in 1966, was not a surprise to keen observers of the trends building up in the country. While blaming colonial administration for laying the foundation would not be a realistic solution, it would be pertinent to say that reluctance to address structural deficiencies is a factor in the Nigerian situation.
Some of the fundamental differences include educational imbalances and cultural diversities and orientations. Western and Islamic education went side by side in the colonial era, and, the fact that the civil service was dominated by personnel with Western education, was not a surprise. The fact that by 1960 there were imbalances, man-power wise, obviously gave rise to some fear of domination in some quarters. Reactions to the imbalances included the strategy of holding on to political power by the section of the country that did not have controlling power in the civil service.
No matter how we may deny the truth, the military coup of 1966 was seen as “a slap and an affront” in some quarters, and consequently, a battle line was drawn. It is necessary to add that some external forces and interests were instrumental in making the situations worse than they actually were locally. Some foreign interest groups provided details of oil and gas deposits in some parts of Nigeria, introducing “new approach”.
Thus, the genesis of Nigeria’s intractable challenges and apparent inability to address the fundamental issues, can be traced to external influences. Those who knew what happened between 1966 and 1970 would say that the Nigerian Civil War was not an exclusively Nigerian affair. Some foreign advisers, strategists and consultants were actually engaged in some quarters, to work out the “way forward”. Would it be a “hate speech” if one reveals that one of the ways forward prescribed by strategists was to “make the country ungovernable for any southern leader”? Obviously this would be denied!
Without digressing too far from the theme of this article, the above preambles are meant to point out one of the antics of forces of darkness, as being the use of duplicity. This strategy involves going to a negotiation table with multiple and hidden agenda, which may be described as “cloak and dagger” strategy. Luciferian antics include preying on points of strength and weakness, by dethroning the strong and using promises of strengthening the weak as snares and baits for destruction. The use of equivocation, intellectual sophistry, chicanery, blusters and terror are ready antics of dark forces that want to pull as many people down as possible.
In the case of Nigeria as a country, anyone who has read a unique book: From The Heart of Africa, would agree that this country is a vital flash-point in a new and emerging scheme of consciousness. Seeing possibility of such awakening from far before now, forces of darkness would obviously place Nigeria as a target of attack. The purpose is definitely to place obstacles and create fears, confusions, animosities, etc, to destroy a transformation.
The battle for supremacy goes beyond what average persons would know or figure out easily, whose basic accoutrement include the use of religion and politics as instruments of blusters and camouflage. The real intention is to divert attention away from key failures and misdirections, using various antics for that purpose. The use of religion as a cover in the pursuit of base ends has been an old strategy, especially because of the awe which religion evokes in the minds of many people. The worst atrocities on earth had been carried out under the invocation of the name of the Deity.
We cannot deny the fact that darkness does not want to see the light wherever there is the prospect of serious awakening and radical change of consciousness. Rather, through fanaticism and bigotry, fears and animosity are created so as to keep as many people in darkness as possible. For individuals who become stubborn and unable to bow to threats, various antics are used to break their will and continued resistance. A study of the history of the Inquisition would confirm that severe tortures were used to break the will of those who refused to bow to the agents of darkness.
Where severe tortures, dehumanisation and aggression fail to break the will of stubborn people, then “doping antics” become alternative means to break the will of strong challengers of dark forces. Doping antics consist in the use of narcotic drugs and other psychothropic substances to alter the consciousness of individuals. This is usually administered without the victim knowing when or how it is done. Thus a human can be turned into a zombie.
Acts of illegal abuse and alteration of the human will and consciousness are often committed here and there by agents and tools of darkness, and often with impunity. Apart from breaking the will and resistance of stubborn persons, doping antics are meant to narcotise the consciousness of individuals or destroy the feeling of shame. Victims of such therapy, whether forced or self-induced, become helpless and bestial in action and thinking. There is also another way of using blood transfusion to alter the behaviour and consciousness of victims of such illegalities. Blood poisoning is common!
The purpose of bringing many people under the control or influence of the doping antics is to have a large army of accomplices in the service of dark forces. It is unfortunate that leaders in various walks of life, religious, political, security, etc, often rely on the doping antics as means of having a large workforce to serve their purposes. From bandits and terrorists, to suicide bombers, many people who engage in such missions are rarely themselves, but acting under some influences. Rev. Jim Jones of Guyana used indoctrination rather than doping antics to enslave the minds of his followers.
The battle between light and darkness in Nigeria is an issue rare for many people to comprehend but it is an issue of concern. Unfortunately some of the accomplices in the warfare are leaders in spheres and walks of life that should serve the light rather than darkness. The lure for money and power drive some into the arms of dark forces. Every Nigerian needs to be cautious and vigilant.

By: Bright Amirize

Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

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Opinion

 Plague Of Micro Corruption

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In 2009, late President Umar Yar ‘Adua launched the rebranding campaign project for Nigeria. The project called us to move beyond the hitherto giant of Africa slogan to a brand that codifies our aspirations of ”good people, great nation”.  The branding was not about where we were as a people, but about where we could be, if only we could embrace the vision and allow it to consume us on a national scale. Sadly, this laudable vision is only alive in the realms of aspiration. Since independence, we have not had the good fortune of being led by completely honest leaders. We are not unique in this regard as corruption is a global phenomenon. However, almost 62 years after our independence, instead of building stronger institutions and providing basic public service, we have allowed corruption to become a way of life. In fact, it is estimated that between 1960 and 1999, as much as $400 billion has been lost to corruption in Nigeria; and with the current crop of politicians since our return to democracy, the amount is unimaginable.
In the past three years, Nigeria has been dropping points in the global corruption perception index (CPI) published by Transparency International (TI). According to their 2022 report, Nigeria scored only 24 points out of 100 points – ranking 154 out of 180 countries. In 2019 Nigeria scored 26 points, but dropped down to 25 in 2021, implying that corruption is on the increase in the country. According to TI, corruption is defined “as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain”. It further notes that corruption can take many forms, including the demand for money or favours by public servants in order to render services, and misuse of public money by politicians among other things. From the view of TI, we can therefore infer that there are two strands of corruption in the public sphere, namely: corruption by politicians and corruption by administrators or civil servants; as evidenced in bribery, nepotism, favouritism, over-invoicing, various forms of indiscipline, and abuse of office.
The corruption by politicians is always grand in scale, whereas the corruption by civil servants is petty, or at the micro-level. While the thievery of political big wigs denied us needed infrastructure, the leeching tendencies of public operators in government agencies, in consonance with various kinds of middlemen places a heavy burden on the citizenry.
In 2014, businessman, Arthur Eze, described Nigerian politicians as morally bankrupt and selfish. In his words, “our politicians don’t care, they are criminals and they are greedy.” It is really sad that even those we might otherwise view as saints and call honourable, are also morally bankrupt and undistinguished when observed at close quarters. These men and women, aside from using their privileged position to enrich themselves, they also steal public property.
During an interview conducted by Zakaria M.B and Button M. in 2021, a senior official of the Code of Conduct Bureau, who was a respondent,  painted a picture that aptly describes the state of corruption in Nigeria. He said, “ We are now in a situation whereby  corruption is pervasive, humongous, institutionalised to the extent that corruption is rewarded where as in many circumstances,  one is even required to be corrupt; one will not get his licence to do anything if done through the normal process. It is more difficult than if one just bribes, which means it is required. If one needs to get electric meter, it is easier if one bribes than if the normal process is followed, which means it is required. Therefore, corruption is rewarded and even required in many instances of public functions”. A while ago, someone correctly noted that “if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill us”. The prevalence of a culture of corruption affects everybody, including generations unborn. And the blending of corruption into our cultural fabric has sentenced us to a vicious cycle, such that there is scarcely any one who can be trusted so long as he or she is one of us. We are already at Golgotha The pervasiveness of micro corruption in Nigeria is only second to the air that we breathe; and it is one of the major drivers of unemployment, which is now around 33 per cent.  MSMEs are dying because of the activities of staff, and prospective entrepreneurs are apprehensive due to the reportage on employee theft and sabotage. The level of dishonesty and underhanded activities associated with staff at small businesses across the country is mind bugling. They shortchange customers, driving them away; this, in turn, leads to declining revenue and eventual collapse.
We are really in trouble because even domestic staff is even involved, according to a story I heard from a laundry business owner. According to him, the domestic staff of a particular customer moved his job to another laundry because he refused to connive with them to inflate the invoice of their boss. It was a rude awakening to me to know that this plague is alive in our houses. The World Economic Forum estimates that as much as 25 per cent of the cost of procurement is lost to corruption. But as Nigerians, we are aware that the figure might be as much as 100 per cent in so many cases. In fact, that is the singular reason for the elephant project phenomenon; and the result is poor or dilapidated infrastructure. But at a micro-level, it is one of the major reasons why almost every activity that supports life in Nigerians is becoming almost unaffordable.
The widespread and insidious nature of corruption is already killing Nigerians in their millions. We are the poverty capital of the world, and there is no crystal ball to see when our fortunes would change, considering the fact that the foundations of this current quagmire have long been laid. The former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, once commented that “the money stolen  through corruption every year is able to feed the world’s hungry 80 times, it denies them the right to food, and in some cases, their right to life. Corruption kills, especially when it undermines our ability to live a normal life.
Corruption is the biggest challenge we have in Nigeria, and if we do not untangle, and extricate ourselves from its deadly claws we might not survive. We can start by changing our perception of the disease. We must remember that no one accepts a disease because his neighbour has it. In the same manner, we must view corruption in the same light; we should face it with the same abhorrence we had for the COVID-19 pandemic. We could also start by asking the simple question  – what would my son say if he sees me taking or giving this bribe.
Our future is bright even now, but if we continue to allow corruption to thrive, our first-world aspirations would remain only a reflection from a distant land.

By: Raphael Pepple

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Opinion

Nigeria Will Unite If… 

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The phrase; unity of Nigeria, has almost become a cliché in Nigeria. Most leaders in the country at any suitable opportunity pontificate on national unity even when their commitment to its ideals remains in doubt. Our leaders claim that the unity of the nation cannot be negotiated even as their actions and inactions negate national cohesion.
During his nationwide broadcast to mark the nation’s 61st Independence Anniversary recently, President Muhammadu Buhari, for the umpteenth time, emphasised that the unity of the country is not negotiable. Many other political leaders have often also toed that path. When they want to claim to be patriotic, mostly for their own selfish gain, they call up the introductory statement of the Nigerian Constitution which reads; “We the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria: having firmly and solemnly resolved to live in unity and harmony as one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation …”.
On the contrary, they hardly highlight the fact that being a federation, there are certain elements which must be seen in the country. Chiefly among them is that there must be devolution of power. Power should be shared proportionately between the various levels of government or the component units. There must be some measures of independence and autonomy for the component units. Do we have all these features in Nigeria’s federation? The answer is no!. In our country, the devolution of power is disproportionate. We have a situation where the government at the centre has overwhelming power in comparison with the states and the local governments. The federal government has control over the natural resources in any part of the country. This has given rise to the age-long agitation for resource control ,particularly by the oil-producing areas that bear the brunt of oil exploration, from whose backyards oil, the main source of Nigeria’s economy, is derived, yet they live in squalor.
Ours is a country where a state that cannot generate enough money to cater for its needs has nothing to fear because at the end of the month, finance commissioners will converge in Abuja to share the allocation for the month. We are aware of the ongoing legal tussle between the Government of Rivers State and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) over Value-Added Tax (VAT) collection. Some states are given back the total sum of money generated from VAT, while other states are given a minute fraction of what was generated from their domain. While we wait to see how the issue pans out at the supreme court, we cannot help but wonder how there can be true autonomy and development of the various states in this manner? There is also the issue of a centralised police force where, though there are police commissioners in the various states, they take orders from the Inspector-General of Police in Abuja. The governors are called chief security officers but they are not in charge of security of their domains in the real sense of it. We have seen instances where some governors cried out that, though they are called the chief security officers of their states, they are almost helpless in the face of serious security challenges in their domains because the police commissioners do not obey them when they give orders concerning the situation; hence, the unending call for state police which will engender effective policing of the states and reduce insecurity in the country
Similarly, Section 14 (3)and(4) of the 1999 Nigeria’s constitution as amended, provides for federal character, a principle that was introduced to engender a feeling of inclusiveness, such that all the people that make up the country will have the feeling that they are part of the country. It states: “The composition of the government of the federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies.”
Incidentally, today, we see the opposite of this constitutional provision playing out in the country. People from certain ethnic groups are seen at the helm of affairs of government agencies, parastatals and all that. All the key security, intelligence and defence officers and all the three arms of government in this country, are headed by citizens of northern extraction who are also of the same religion. (with the recent resignation of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, a southerner now occupies the position in acting capacity) Some ethnic groups continue to be in power while other groups, particularly the minority groups, are hardly considered. Despite regular complaints from leaders of other regions in the complex diversity, the president has failed to defuse tension arising from the negative perception that our leader is overtly promoting sectionalism. I recall the coordinator of the Southern and Middle Belt Forum (SMBF) and immediate past President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, expressing shock and disappointment at President Buhari’s exclusion of Igbos in the appointment of the current Service Chiefs.
Some other minority ethnic groups have equally complained of being swallowed up by the three major ethnic groups in the country – Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba in many affairs of the nation. With the exception of former President Goodluck Jonathan through an act of fate, the position for the president of the country had rotated among the three major groups, they claim. As the 2023 general elections draw near, all manner of arguments are being put up by people from the northern part of the country, a region which who has been in power in the past seven years in defence of another northern president come 2023. So, in as much as one agrees that there are enormous benefits in Nigeria remaining as a united entity, it goes without saying that in view of the challenges and some structural problems associated with our federation, some of which have been highlighted, which is responsible for the endless calls for devolution of power, restructuring, resource control, state police, division of the country and many others, it is imperative that people from various parts of the country should come together and negotiate how to stay and move on together as one country.
We can remain a united and one indivisible nation but there is an urgent need to renegotiate the terms of the unity, so as to make every group feel more secure in the union. Renegotiating the terms of existence will bring more development to the country and solidify its unity. Many other countries like the United Kingdom, the former Soviet Union and others toed and continue to toe that path and there is no doubt that Nigeria will be better if we emulate these countries.
It is high time our leaders, both at the federal, state and local government levels worked their talk. The problem with the unity of Nigeria does not lie with the citizens because several instances are there to prove that the citizens love themselves. A typical example is an accident scene, when it happens, People keep all tribal or religious sentiment aside in order to save lives. The major impediment to the nation’s unity is the leaders who due to their selfish gains do not want the country to move forward. The nation cannot forge ahead with growing complaints of marginalisation, suppression, intimidation, distrust among various ethnic groups.
The truth is that Nigeria stands to benefit a lot from a negotiated term of existence as an entity which hopefully will make room for the much-canvassed restructuring of the country and devolution of power, and a practical federal structure where all tiers of government will work as they ought to. Real autonomy of the states will definitely engender growth and competition among the states. The president and other leaders of the country should therefore, prove that their constant preaching of Nigeria’s unity is not a mere lip service by ensuring that the negotiation is not further delayed.
Presidential and governorship flag-bearers of various political parties in the forthcoming general elections should also consider the nation’s unity in picking their running mates. Muslim/Muslim or Christian/Christian tickets will certainly not bring the much-needed unity and peace in the country.

By: Calista Ezeaku

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