25th May, 2010
There should be a commitment to reforming the structure of government in the federation by ensuring that the country has a strong centre, strong states, and strong local governments. There should also be a commitment to the promotion of functional federalism that allows the three tiers of government to be effective.Â To be sure that all the three tiers of government are empowered to provide good governance, the government must encourage constitutional amendments and executive actions that devolve power from the centre to the states and local governments by doing the following:
â€¢Increasing the list of responsibilities on the concurrent list for states and local government through devolution of power to the states and local governments from the centre
â€¢Strengthening the Federal investigation institution and delegating day-to-day law enforcement community police systems in the states
â€¢Transforming the existing Federal Road Safety Commission into a Federal highway police, (FHIP) to secure all federal highways and protect life and property on such roads
â€¢Changing the funding formula for federal law-enforcement and all security agencies into direct allocation from the federation account, to enhance the autonomy of the nationâ€™s security personnel
â€¢Accelerating total privatization of generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity
â€¢Removing railway transportation from the exclusive list and putting it in the concurrent list, and encouraging private participation in this sector
â€¢Entering into immediate negotiation with Niger Delta communities to find permanent solution to the crisis of social injustice in revenue allocation
â€¢Providing executive and legislative leadership for the convocation of a national conference to draft a constitution for approval by a majority of Nigerians in a referendum
Good governance in the country has been a problem for almost fifty years.Â The reasons areÂ not too complex to grasp. Corruption is a major factor in the failure of leaders to govern properly.Â Poor leadership skills are another factor in the failure of governance. Any polity that is unable to freely choose its leaders is bound to be short-changed by the leaders that are imposed on it either through the barrel of the gun or through stolen ballots. In addition, a political structure that concentrates all powers at the centre at the expense of other tiers that can more readily demand accountability from their political leaders is more likely than not to encourage mismanagement, as had happened in Nigeria in the last four decades.
The marginalisation of women and youths in the polity also denies the country of benefits of contribution from over 80% of its population. We must give special attention to ensuring through legislation that Nigeria returns to a federal system that promotes a strong centre, strong states, and strong local governments and ensure through electoral reforms that only people elected by the citizens occupy executive and legislative positions in the three tiers of government.Â More specifically, we must:
â€¢Enforce all legislations that support a politics of inclusion that reserves a minimum of 30% of members of executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government for women
â€¢Support legislation to reduce the qualifications to contest election into the House of Representatives to 25 years and the Senate at 30
â€¢Use the recommendations in the UWAIS report on electoral reform to produce a new law on elections across the three tiers of government
â€¢Encourage a constitutional amendment that will reduce members of House of Representatives to six per state while reducing the number of senators from states to two per state
â€¢Encourage a constitutional amendment that will allow states to have individual constitutions that respond to their specific needs in a federal republic
Nigeria is known at home and abroad as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.Â Nigeria is also known as one country that has failed, not for lack of resources, adequate manpower, and required demographic dividends, but for its culture of corruption that has arisen from the lack of good leadership in public office, both executive and legislative. There should be a commitment to transforming the political culture of the country and growing a new crop of leaders with above-average public and personal morality. To this end, the government must:
â€¢Strengthen existing anti-corruption institutions by providing special support for speedy investigation and prosecution
â€¢Support collaboration between the Federal Department of Investigation and other anti-corruption agencies to participate in anti-corruption activities in all states and local governments
â€¢Establish special courts to handle cases of corruption
â€¢Prevent individuals with dubious character and questionable integrity from qualifying to run for offices in any part in the three tiers of government
â€¢Strengthen electoral laws to ensure free and fair elections in all tiers of government
Security/Law and Order
Today, the dangerous problem of insecurity and social instability in the country has assumed a frightening dimension. The Nigerian Police and other security agencies appear to be doing their best while governments seem to have lost the capacity to manage the menace of lack of security for persons and property across the country.
The society is getting increasingly unsecured and citizens are increasingly under siege at the hands of criminals, who are never tired of exploiting the culture of impunity foisted on the nation by corrupt and irresponsible political managers. More people are going into crime and they are getting more ruthless, desperate and sophisticated. These days, criminals no longer wait for the cover of the night to operate and neither do they even bother to conceal their physical identity.
Drugs, fraud, assassinations, ritual killings, cult activities, banditry, kidnapping, bunkering, embezzling, thuggery,Â prostitution, impersonation and other vices are on the increase daily with renewed vigour, and the real fear is that the rise in criminality and the apparent helplessness of security agencies portend the descent of the country into anarchy or a complete breakdown of law and order.
There must be a commitment to responding creatively to the failure of security in the land. The government must supportÂ strengthening the states and local governments to provide community policing for their jurisdictions while also strengthening the countryâ€™s federal investigation system.Â More specifically, the following steps should be acceptable:
â€¢Induce constitutional changes to allow states and local governments to establish community police for the purpose of crime prevention, detection and prosecution in their jurisdictions
â€¢Establish a National Security Commission with members drawn from all states to coordinate the nationâ€™s security
â€¢Convert existing Federal Road Safety Commission to a Federal Highway Police (FHP) to protect life and property on federal roads, rail lines and at airports
â€¢Promote a clear distinction between executive power and police administration at the federal and community levels by enhancing the autonomy of law enforcement agencies
â€¢Organise a stakeholdersâ€™ summit on security of life and property to include federal, state, and local government leaders, trade unions, and professionals and captains of industry and the business community to make recommendations on needed reforms in the nationâ€™s security sector
â€¢Pursue judicial reforms to cut delays in courts and ensure timely completion of the hearing and adjudication of cases
â€¢Put members of the judiciary on similar remuneration and benefits with ministers. Ensure that promotion on the bench is based on merit only
â€¢Separate the office of Attorney General from that of Minister of Justice
â€¢Implement the UN recommendation of 1 policeman to 400 citizens.
â€¢Introduce a minimum of an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) to qualify for entry into the police force
â€¢Increase salary and improve welfare benefits and conditions of service for police personnel
â€¢Ensure that police training meets international standard
â€¢Complete overhaul of the prison system to restore a sense of dignity to inmates
â€¢Rehabilitation of inmates (skill acquisition and upgrade) to make prison a correctional and re-education centre, not just a site for punishment
3. Economic Agenda
Fiscal Policy for Development
The tools of macroeconomic policy available to a government are fiscal policy, monetary policy and exchange rate policy. These can be used to stabilise an economy during cyclical changes or to promote growth and development.
Traditionally, government expenditure and taxation policies (jointly called fiscal policy) are the tools available to a government to influence the pace and content of development. Thus fiscal policy is normally defined to encompass any decision to change the level, composition or timing of government expenditures or to vary the burden, structure or frequency of tax payments. Government expenditures are normally used as a form of compensatory financing.
In developing Nigeria, the role of fiscal policy goes beyond the stabilisation of the economy to include the use of the government budget to promote economic development. As is very well known, the private sector is still small and heavily constrained by human, institutional and financial factors. As a result, the private sector is usually not in a position (on grounds of profitability) to provide public (or developmental) goods in required amounts and at prices that would ensure their adequate provision. But the government, through the use of its budget (expenditure and revenue), is usually in a better position to do so. Such public goods include basic infrastructure like roads, bridges, health, water and sanitation, education, public security and other public utilities.
The nature of these goods is such that they cannot be provided efficiently by the private sector partly because of their high cost of production. Consequently, the government has to step in by using its capital budget to provide such goods, thereby creating a friendly environment for unleashing private sector initiative. Nigerians must insist that all governments in the country are engaged fully in engineering or reengineering the countryâ€™s development process in the direction of prosperity for all citizens.
Nigeriaâ€™s economy, as mentioned in the preamble, is currently unable to respond to the needs of most Nigerians. Over 90% of the revenue coming to the country still comes from the exportation of oil and gas. Even at this, none of Nigeriaâ€™s refineries works up to 40% capacity, with the result being that today, Nigeria imports close to 90% of its refined products. The oil industry has become the Siamese twin of Nigeriaâ€™s political bureaucratic corruption. The country has spent over $800 million between 1999 and 2003 alone for Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of the nationâ€™s refineries that still largely remain white elephant projects.
Electricity, which has served since the industrial revolution as the battery for modernization of the human world, is currently pathetic in Nigeria fifty years after independence. The dire consequences of the lack of constant energy for the economy and the population are too complex to be enumerated here. But suffice it to say that because there is no reliable electricity, manufacturing cannot take place in Nigeria. Manufacturers have to relocate to Ghana and other countries to produce their goods and then import such goods to Nigeria for consumption.
Consequently, millions of our youth remain unemployed and thus constitute the statistical group that lives on less than 150 naira a day. Hospitals and educational institutions are underdeveloped and thus operate in primitive conditions because of the lack of reliable electricity. Even large-scale commercial agriculture remains underdeveloped because of the countryâ€™s decades-old energy crisis.
In addition, road and rail transportation is perhaps the most primitive in the region. Most major roads are unable to sustain the number of vehicles and passengers that need to travel on them to make a living. Very fragile links exist between the urban and rural areas of the country, thus slowing down the transportation of goods and services and also making their movement more expensive than they are in neighbouring countries. Governments will need to ensure fiscal discipline by:
â€¢Reducing deficit budgeting
â€¢Reviewing lending rates in line with other economies in the region, to ensure viability of large, medium, and small-scale businesses
â€¢Reviewing existing tax administration at the three tiers of government to reduce tax evasion
â€¢Taking advantage of external resources for the purpose of rebuilding the countryâ€™s grossly substandard infrastructure
â€¢Providing incentives to foreign investors willing to invest in renewing the countryâ€™s infrastructure through public/private partnership schemes
â€¢Privatising the downstream sector of the petroleum industry to stop wasting public resources on government refineries that are unable to add value
â€¢Deregulating the Nigerian National Petroleum Company in consonance with best practices in the industry, such as Saudiâ€™s ARAMCO, Malaysiaâ€™s PETRONAS, Italyâ€™s ENI, Brazilâ€™s PETROBAS, and Norwayâ€™s STATOIL
â€¢Floating the new Joint Ventures created from NNPC on the stock market and encouraging Nigerians to buy shares in the company, with a special percentage set aside for the Niger Delta oil producing communities.
â€¢Culled from â€˜Charter for Liberty, Security And Prosperity: The Irreducible Minimum Nigerians Must Insist Onâ€™, a publication of Save Nigeria Group, SNG.