Perceived Dangerous drift of the ship of Nation: A call on Nigerians to Act Now

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By DINO MELAYE

Fifty-one (51) years down the road of independence that I decided once again to address the nation Fellow citizens, it is therefore with bleeding heart and concern for the innocent lives that are being lost daily and our beloved country that seems to be manifesting symptoms of a potentially failed state, through you today.

Our founding fathers at independence in 1960, with all enthusiasm and determination, worked and hoped for a great Nigeria nation that will be a bulwark of Liberty, Freedom and Democracy, not only to her own citizenry but to all Africans and the black race the world over. Today, all they worked and hoped for, with attendant sacrifices and labour seems to be going down the drain. Leadership failure and ineptitude, gross indiscipline in political leadership, outrageous corruption and naked plundering of national resources, politically orchestrated religious and ethnic intolerance are all combining to threaten our corporate existence as a nation, almost rendering our past hapless and our present helpless and our future daily becoming bleaked. What a self inflicted tragedy!

In 1999, when we returned to democracy, our hope for a better order that will lead us to our envisioned manifest destiny of Nigeria was rekindled. The expectations and goodwill from all Nigerians and the international community was very high. Regrettably and painfully, we seems to have bungled the opportunity again. Instead, we are confronted with intolerable national insecurity, outrageous poverty and unemployment particularly among our youths and attendant aggravated anger which is now tearing us apart due largely to promises unfilled, hope constantly repudiated and prospects of glooming future as a result of lost of confidence in the system.

It is in the light of the above and the necessity to ensure that the labour and sacrifices of our past heroes and contemporary martyrs do not go in vain, that I as a responsible, patriotic and God fearing Nigerian wish to remind our government at all levels of authority, particularly the federal government of their social, economic, political and constitutional responsibilities and duties to Nigerians.

The social factors especially, which constitutes the bedrock of political practices, administration and good governance, is visibly a factor of life, of decent living and survival of man in a secured and conducive environment that support sustainable development and human dignity. It is upon these social factors that the politicians run their electoral promises and campaign towards becoming an elected government. Constitutionally, it is the basis of the social contract with the people, thus a yardstick for determination of failure or success and performance of government.

The 1999 Constitution as amended in Chapter 2, Article 14, Sub Section 1 and 2 is unambiguous about this social contract under the caption:

FUNDAMENTAL OBJECTIVES AND DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY” as follows:

1. The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a state based on principles of democracy and social justice

2. It is hereby accordingly declared that:

a. Sovereignty belongs to the people of Nigeria from whom government through this Constitution derives all its power and authority

b. The security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government

Subsequently in Article 15; 1 and 2, it further stated as follows:

1. The motto of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be “Unity and Faith, Peace and

Progress.”

2. Accordingly, national integration shall be actively encouraged, whilst discrimination on the ground of place of origin, sex, religion, status, ethnic or linguistic associations or ties shall be prohibited.

Taking into consideration the above quoted Article of our Constitution, it follows, that any government that demonstrates gross incompetence in handling perceived or actual threats to national security, protection of lives and properties, failure in the provision of infrastructures in quantum that justifies expended national resources, unable to guarantee jobs and food security and decent living, engages in divide and rule antics and corrupt practices, has contravened these established constitutional order and automatically strip itself of its legitimacy and essence of governance. Hence, such government must quickly call itself to order or risk rejection by the people to whom sovereignty lawfully belong. It is based on the aforementioned and perceived dangerous drift of the ship of nation that we decided to address some of these challenges facing our country today.

SECURITY

The sophisticated levels of the prevailing bomb attacks, the frequency of occurrences, the invincibility of the perpetrators, the impunity and audacity at which it is being carried out and the seemed helplessness of our government and the security agents left one with more questions than answers. You may recall that some few years ago, a certain foreign power intelligence report had predicted 2015 as the year that Nigeria will likely disintegrate, we had hoped that with such report in view, our government and the security agencies would have worked proactively to stem such prediction from coming true. Much as we are concerned about the perceived negligence and insensitivity of the government regarding these reports, we are more shocked by the open confession of our own President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan at a Church service in Abuja that the alleged members of the Boko Haram have infiltrated his government and even could be dining with him. The questions therefore will be: how safe is Mr. President as the Chief Security Officer of the nation? Could it be that some fifth columnist in government are fronting for foreign powers to fast-track the prediction of Nigeria’s disintegration? How can we trust some of the foreign power alliances that are promising to help us fight the terror group? Why this level of helplessness on the part of our government, security agencies and intelligence community? Candidly, with the last spate of bombing on Friday 20th of January, 2012 in Kano State and the proficient manner it was carried out, we do not really know whom to trust any longer as we have all become suspects, even government.

In view of these, we strongly advise that the government should look inward critically among the Nigerian security agencies and the intelligence community and take drastic measures that will weed out the compromised and bad eggs among them, as well as overhauling of the security apparatus. Furthermore, we advise that our government should avoid the unnecessary security risk of contracting foreign power security assistance to fight the terror group as this may be counter productive. Lastly, the government should with all sincerity of purpose seek to identify the genuine fronts of the Boko Haram if they still exist and dialogue with them as we are convinced that they are not invisible. They must be sons, and if there are females among them, then daughters of Nigerians who live among us. I condemn in strong terms this dastard acts of unnecessary bloodletting in our dear motherland, just as I, sincerely condole those that lost their loved ones.

GOOD GOVERNANCE

A country is like a corporate enterprise, the citizens are the stakeholders, while the government is the board of directors. The greatest concern and duty of the board is the effective and prudent management of the stakeholders’ share as to produce beneficial result and profits and dividends that will enhance happiness and justify their continuous faith in the establishment and management of the corporate enterprise. In this case, the board will be referred to as successful. Relatively, government will be described as good, when its social, economic and political obligations to the people are adequately met in judicious quantum to available resources. These include jobs and food security, shelter, empowerment through qualitative education that are tailored towards national development needs, provision of roads, electricity, portable drinking water and most importantly, the security of lives and properties. These are the basic measurement of good governance.

Unfortunately for Nigerians, the opposite of these aforementioned is what inept political leadership, official corruption and perennial bad governance has unleashed on the people, resulting to abject poverty, misery, desperation and anger that are beyond containable human experiences, culminating into these various flash point of youth restiveness, arms insurgency and embarrassing national insecurity. That is why the provision of about one (1) trillion Naira in the budget for security vote is absurd and sign-posts unrepentant governmental corruption and attempt to escape probity because money meant for security vote are not traceable. You do not shoot poverty with guns and armored tanks; let us invest that money on capital projects that will have positive impact on our people.

THE ONE LEGGED PETROL–DOLLAR ECONOMY AS OUR UNDOING

Before the discovery of crude oil in Nigeria in commercial quantity, agricultural produce and mining were the major source of funding our budget as government. The discovery of crude oil brought with its untoward attitude of governmental laziness and get-rich-quick which trickled down to our people. The government recklessly abandoned all other economic sectors and refused to develop others. Our governors were thus reduced to almajiris flooding Abuja to share petrol-dollar which are spent in most cases on white elephant projects instead of building factories, industries and investment in agriculture and the real sectors that can generate employment and impact positively on the living standards of people.

Poverty is a despicable destroyer of social fabric of a nation. It distorts one’s thought, impairs creative and innovative ability, inhibit productivity, tears marriages apart, make parents loose control over their children and because society and nation emerge from families, poverty thus destroys a nation through social malice and resultant insecurity, that is unfortunately where Nigeria is at the moment.

Relatively, we strongly advise our government to work harder to increase our Gross National Product (GNP) and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through capital investment that will maximize productivity. Our government at all levels should partner themselves in a conscious effort to re-embrace agriculture as the bedrock of our industrialization strategy. The federal government and the state should work our implementable policy that will engage the states on their respective areas of comparative advantages in produce and products through counterpart funding. The economy should be effectively diversified indeed and not in talk shows. We also advise the Nigerian people to consciously organize themselves to hold their leaders and government accountable at all levels of governance in order to stop plundering of nation’s resources. In an unjust society, silence is a crime.

NIGERIA’S ECONOMY, POVERTY AND UNEMPLOYMENT

When the economy of a nation is surrendered to the wholesome manipulation of multi-national, trans- national, international and pseudo- national corporations, contending for the control of the heart of a nation for self-profiteering and capitalist greed, the political leadership of such a country as in the case of Nigeria becomes willing victims of such manipulations; in most cases, subservient to the corporations. In the day, the President of such a country becomes their Excellency and revered Lord, in the night he is the servant of the corporation. The hallmark of such economy is the declaration of externally induced falsified growth percentage rate that runs contrary to the reality of poverty, unemployment and penury on ground.

The political leadership operating under these described order are usually ruthless, corrupt and insensitive to the yearnings, needs and aspirations of the people. With their outrageous salaries, emolument and allowances as well as expensive and inflated running cost of governance, they impose on the people outrageous and intolerable burden of their special privileges which manifest in poverty, gross unemployment and dearth of infrastructures that can support development.

Many countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, Iran, Venezuela and India to mention but a few were once under this bracket but have today liberated themselves through conscious efforts and determination leading to their current admirable development status. Nigeria must do same and look inward to achieve genuine transformational development.

FUEL SUBSIDY

The truth of the last petrol hike in the name of subsidy removal is that the government unlawfully in absolute corruption, through the NNPC has been feeding some fat cats in the system that eventually are the greatest patrons and fund raiser for government electoral malpractices and manipulation as donors. The government realized that they can no longer finance these fat cats and looked for an alternative way to fund them more dangerously – funding by helpless Nigerian people who are already over burdened with poverty.

We thus affirm our stand that the people should not be made to pay for the sins of government created cabal. We advise that they should build refineries for us, the model type that we can operate and manage by our own expertise. The Republic of Cuba is not an oil producing country, yet it has three refineries that are functional to full capacity for the last fifty (50) years, while Nigeria, the sixth (6) largest world oil producer has four dysfunctional refineries. It is a satanic act of disservice to motherland. To stem the trend of bad governance in Nigeria, the following must be addressed.

CONSTITUTIONAL  AMENDMENT

I call for constitutional amendment that will address such issues as removal of the immunity clause to enable public office holders to face trials on matters relating to criminal betrayal of trust and corruption, granting of financial autonomy to the Local Government Area Councils, empowering the National Wages and Salaries Commission to carry out its duty in such manner that enables it to penalize any institution or public officer that runs excessive allowances and cost beyond the commission’s fixed rate. Lastly, the appointment of heads of institutions such as Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should be by the National Judicial Council (NJC) in line with the recommendations of the Justice Mohammed Uwais Committee.

ELECTORAL UMPIRE AND ELECTIONS

Most of the discontents and dissatisfactions in our system which contributed to prevailing national insecurity, resulted from electoral malpractices and judicial judgments seen largely by Nigerians to be political than serving the purpose of justice. Conscious and patriotic efforts devoid of manipulations and self-preservation must be made to overhaul the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), ensuring that people of absolute proven integrity, with upright moral standing and capacity to defy manipulation are made to occupy various sensitive positions in (INEC). Elections must be conducted in a conspicuously transparent, free, fair and credible manner. The National Assembly should hasten up the Bill on Electoral Offences Commission that will ensure adequate deterrence and punitive measures against electoral offenders. A corrupt and manipulated electoral system will always produce mediocre, inept and corrupt leaders who in turn visit the people with calamity. Victory through balance of terror is not an electoral victory. We must strive to do better. Forensic testing of electoral materials should be embedded in our Electoral Act as fraud proof so that once and for all, we solve the problem of credibility.

JUDICIARY

Some of the practices within the judiciary lately raises more questions than answers and went too far to cast aspersions on the nobility of the noble profession. The judiciary that will guarantee justice and sustainable democracy must be seen by all to be true, judicious and transparently honest to its duty. If the judiciary allows itself to be manipulated by the Executive, it will spell doom and anarchy for the country because people will loose confidence and take laws into their hands. Unfortunately too, that is where we are today.

THE SECURITY AGENT ROLE IN ELECTION

The Nigerian security agents must attune to the tenets of democracy and ensure that their loyalty is to the Nigerian Constitution and not to leadership that personalize governance. They must totally rid themselves of involvement in electoral manipulation and ensure that they confine themselves to their basic role of security. They should see themselves as people’s police and people’s army.

Thank you.

Dino Melaye is the currently Executive Secretary of Abuja-based Anti Corruption League.

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