In preparation for the 2011 general election, what are the many issues and challenges confronting our dear country? How can we make our political system work better for us?

What are the political, economic or social objectives of our nation? Does our leadership has a clear and focused understanding of these objectives and are willing to carry us along?
Are our compatriots tolerant and have the best interest of each other at heart?
Can we make our country a beautiful, attractive, functional and inviting place to be proud of and guide jealously?

These questions and many more have bogged my mind throughout my adult life.

*China is making progress because their system, crude as it may seem to the west, is working near perfectly for them. Those caught, for example, and convicted of corruption are shot or sent away for life.

*Othman Turkey is a modern and progressive country today because Kamal Ataturk, the post Othman Turkish leader made all the corrupt people masquerading as religious leaders disappears.

*Our neighbor Ghana is now making progress because of what Jerry Rawlings did to those thieving bastards. See Ghana now. Progress!

Which way Nigeria?

Until a leader with vision comes along and clear out these few powerful loud mouths and insatiable bellies, I'm afraid, we are not going to make any progress. Leave God out of this, we've been abundantly blessed by God.
You only need to go to other countries, even Arab ones, to see the challenges they face. Be it weather-wise, land, people, natural disasters, etc, and how some of their leaders with vision are pushing, directing and motivating them to scale these challenges to make their societies better for them and visitors alike. Even some greedy conservative rulers, seeing the massive economic and political progress in places like Dubai, UAE and Qatar, are now making changes to propel their societies forward.

Here in Nigeria, many of our so called leaders are thieving agberos, not making any effort to even disguise their loot. And because of the system in place people who can deliver are shielded out of governance, leaving charlatans on the saddle of leadership, that is why what is in place is "monkey see monkey do", banana republic sort of leadership system.

By the way, if we want to make any progress in standards and services in our public schools and hospitals, I will suggest that, all aspiring and substantive politicians for public office, from Local Council counselor to State Executive Council members and their Governors up to Federal legislators and the Federal Executive Council members to the President must be banned from going abroad for medical checkup/treatment or sending their children to schools abroad. Wishful thinking you may say.

How else can development of social facilities and services improve, if not by completely restricting them from this estacode induced trips, which has led them to totally ignore these decrepit facilities to ordinary Nigerians they pledged to serve. Why can't they build first class facilities that will outlive them instead of going to other climes to enjoy these same facilities?   Don't they feel any shame going to other countries to enjoy beautiful and functional facilities like hospitals, schools, steady electricity, etc, or sending their children to private schools abroad with our collective resources?

The measures advocated above of barring political leaders from enjoying other countries facilities and services while benefiting from public funds, if adopted, will force them to improve the standard of services at home. We know examples abound in many countries.

IS OUR FEDERAL SYSTEM (glorified unitary system) WORKING?
 
The bane of the corruption morass in Nigeria, I think, is because of the total lack of accountability, stemming from the fact that local administrations not performing or stealing our collective wealth, easily point to the central government where major actions take place. The power and intrigues at the epicenter leaves little room to hold local and state administrators to account. Allowing people to spend money they did not work for is tantamount to encouraging nepotism, favoritism and corruption.

For example, the agitation for state creation will never end. Why? because it is an avenue to collect money from the federal government without accountability. It is an avenue to feed a few powerful individual from such creations. In other words, the federal government doles out money and resources to people who do not work in any way to create wealth. It only feeds more corruption and falsifications through over invoicing, most of the times, for jobs not done or done shabbily. Why do I say that? We are told that revenue allocation to states is based on several factors and formulas, chief amongst these are population and landmass. On that basis, how would you encourage people from some areas to give true figures of their population, knowing that true population figures that are less can only get so much from the central government? There are enough incentives to inflate those figures to get more funds. In fact, why not even control this tap (Federal Government/Presidency by whatever means possible: fraudulent elections, coup d'état, even murder) that doles out the money. That has always been the idea behind "Do or die" politics.

Another area of constant conflict in this skewed federal system we operate where nobody bakes the cake, is the "indigene" and "non-indigene" syndrome. The thinking of the indigenes is why they would allow non indigenes to share in their allocation or be more successful economically than they are, or worse, vie for political leadership in their domain. Tension will always arise if a non-indigene dare run or show intent to occupy any political office, no matter how long he/she have lived there.

TRUE FEDERAL SYSTEM

Let's look at the flip side of the coin. What if it is the sates that should contribute to the federal coffers with the same principles in receiving, like the ones above? A couple of scenarios could happen:

1)    Nigerians will know their true population. There will be no need for falsification of population figures. States will come up with more accurate population figures thereby enabling better projections and planning.
2)    States will do more to tap their resources and develop their states.
3)    Non indigene syndrome with slowly die out as local/state governments will encourage and tap from the best talent available to develop their resources, not minding where who delivers the best solutions comes from. States will gladly adopt a problem solver and wealth creator(s) regardless of their place of birth or religion.
4)    There will be healthy competition to attract investment and talent amongst the states.
5)    States will build unique facilities and create functional environment to stand out from the pack.
6)    States will be run like businesses, meaning adequate planning and execution of projects to maximum utilization of available resources.
7)    The clamor for more states will not be there when considered against economic viability and of course fund contributions to the central government.
8)    States will check impunity and corruption, and ensure accountability because of the closeness of government and the governed.
9)    States will build infrastructures and utilities that can support their needs. Why can't states be allowed to generate their power requirements now? What about major roads in their domain? What about ports? What about security infrastructures?
10)    Desperate schemes to occupy the presidency will not be there since the central government will rely mostly on the contributions from the states.

I'm afraid, agitation for states creation will never end if the system we operate now continues. Secondly we will never get our population figures right neither will we be able to conduct credible elections, because our system of governance and the motivation for office is flawed and encourages corruption. We will only be poorer.

2011 Election and AP Jonathan.

My opinion is that he shouldn't contest. Why not, you may ask? The point is whatever zoning agreement either verbal or written agreed to by his party, and he freely subscribed to and benefited from in the past, must be accepted in good faith and not circumvented for immediate personal gains, no matter how convenient it has become. My main point however is, the 2011 election will give the acting President an historical opportunity to carve his name in gold and place him on a very high moral pedestal that could do him a world of good in the future. As the days draw closer to the party convention/election it will increasingly become humanly impossible to think clearly in the middle of the many cacophony of voices and supposed well-wishers plodding him to vie for the presidency. This is when I believe, he should choose the right part and listen to that small voice within him urging him not to join the fray but rather be the judge.

Choosing the right part not to contest will give him the moral weight to shape things for the long term benefit of Nigeria. Besides helping to conduct a credible election as a neutral person, he could also propose and push through the National Assembly a few very important and vital issues that can point and propel Nigeria in the right economic and political direction, for example, proper workable fiscal federal system. A lack of which, I think, is THE cause of so many intractable challenges in our country. A few of which I have mentioned earlier in this article.

What I think should be tackled immediately before the end of this administration, in order of priority is:

1.    Fiscal Federalism
2.    Electoral reform
3.    Remove PHCN from the exclusive legislative list. Allow states to generate their own electricity, and sell to others, if they generate surplus.
4.    Allow states to build their own infrastructures, including all roads within a state. Federal government can build interstate connecting roads only.
5.    State police. It is part of a true federal system.

Please push through the National Assembly just this one (Fiscal Federalism) and I think almost all the other issues will fall in place!  This measure can be done within the remaining time of this administration.

Ebinyo Wilson O.
Economic migrant in Dubai, UAE

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