The Nigerian Spring: How It Should Happen By Amene Ter'Hemen

By Amene Ter'Hemen

At first, I was against the idea of a Nigerian Spring. Then I believed our leaders would be able to see clearly the unpleasant effect of a such an action by the citizens on them and therefore work NOW for the good of the nation to avoid even a thought of a spring showing up in people's minds, but how wrong I was! I believed the thing that should not be believed; that our leaders are capable of a positive change in attitude and style of leadership. From the look of things, this government and the ones after it may never willingly work for a better life for the citizenry. It is for this reason that I believe a Nigerian Spring (or whatever name it may be called) is our only chance to rise from this sorry state of affairs to an enviable and esteemed place of pride among the nations of the world.

Much has been said regarding the Nigerian Spring, Nigerian Uprising or some other names given to it. Many agree it is desirable and even long over due; some think it can never happen, at least not in this generation; others are ready for it and are asking; 'How should we do it?'

To the first group, we are there; at the tipping point, where the molecules are already sufficiently heated, any additional energy and they will break out from the surface into vapour; to those who say it can't happen, keep on hallucinating; and to those who ask how, let's brainstorm.

I wish to state at this point that a Spring need not necessarily be about a change of leadership. We can have a Spring that keeps the leadership but which COMPELS the said leadership to initiate genuine reforms, and to respect the wishes of the electorate, the masses, the citizenry, or be expelled. If we see the president or governor or chairman is deliberately sabotaging efforts aimed at genuine reforms, we can match on the national assembly (for the president) or state assembly or local government legislature as the case may be and lock them in until the offending executive is impeached. However, for a start let us not be keen on regime change but for major and genuine reforms that would allow for a new face of governance in our country.

In my estimation as a Nigerian who has lived almost all of his life so far within Nigeria, I know the sufferings we face; but I also have seen and heard stories of what a nation that cares for and values its people does for them. I will share my thoughts, my desires, needs and aspirations with you; if they fit into what we want as a nation, then my prescription will do us some good; if not throw away the prescription but please, remember to keep me.

Need Number One:
We need a nation with zero tolerance for corruption. There is no nation devoid of corrupt elements; but a nation that pays lip service to the fight against corruption and which shields high profile corrupt individuals not only breeds and pampers corruption but also promotes it. Such a nation will NEVER progress no matter the amount of resources she is blessed with.

My Prescription:
Much of what happens as regards corruption in Nigeria is executed by the Civil Service; Who costs contracts? Civil Servants! Who inspects and certifies them as fit for commissioning even when they are not? Civil servants! Who pays contractors for job not done? Civil Sevants! Who helps the politicians cover their tracks? Civil Servants! Corruption in Nigeria and else where is like the mumps; you cannot treat it, you only give medications to ameliorate the symptoms and let the body fight the disease until a state of normalcy is achieved; where even though the organism may still be there, the body does not feel its presence.  The politician that initiates the corrupt practices is the causative organism, the Civil Sevants executing the corrupt practices the sickness, while we the Nigerian citizens form the body, the ones feeling the symptoms. It is the body that fights mumps and overcomes, not the drugs administered. To overcome corruption, we the citizens who feel the impact most, must wake from slumber. We must first strive to deal with the execution of corruption (in the civil service) and then the initiation will become useless; as good planning without execution yields no results.

But how is that to be done? This should be the first demand of the Spring: Every civil servant above the rank of Deputy Director must be summarily suspended from office in the first instance. Each and everyone of them must be thoroughly investigated on all levels: asset declaration (failure to declare all assets), living above known and legitimate income, etc. These found to have ran foul to the law must be given the right penalty.  Those found clean (if any) would be re-instated and rewarded to let others know honesty too has its rewards.

Unless the civil service is cleaned up, the fight against corruption will at best continue to be a fight against the wind!

From here our attention must focus on the executives, the legislature and the judiciary. Here, every executive that has issue(s) of un-investigated corruption hanging against them, the ones that cannot be touched, the above the law ones, etc must without delay step aside to pave way for speedy and proper investigation and if found wanting punished; all judges that have ever presided over corruption cases that resulted in laughable sentences must vacate their offices immediately, be investigated and prosecuted if need be. The legislature has its own share and members with shady deals around them must also vacate their seats, be investigated and sentenced accordingly.

Need Number Two:
We want a society that rewards hardwork, patriotism and is result oriented and driven; and not the one that rewards only opportunity and connections. There is too much disparity in the earnings of career civil servants (the hardworking patriot) and appointed or elected public servants (the opportunists and the connected). Why should a politician earn more than a career civil servant? The career civil servant has only the civil service as his means of livelihood, it is his profession! Politicians on the other hand come in to serve for a while a then go back (or should go back) to wherever they came from. Among these two who should earn more? The ones who serve as a profession, of course, should earn more. The usual argument that the high pay is meant to keep them away from corrupt tendencies is no longer tenable as it has become clear that the amounts misappropriated is proportionate to the earning power; the higher the earnings the higher the amount misappropriated and vice versa, with some exceptions though.

My Prescription:
The salaries and allowances of all public servants (civil and political) must be harmonised with those of the civil service. We don't want to know what is obtainable in US, Germany, France, Italy, Iraq or Niger; this is Nigeria and we must have our own standards based on our own perculiar environment. This will dissuade many who go into politics to make money, and in addition lead to a drastic reduction in the cost of governance.

These to me are two critical demands that if addressed, our Spring would have yielded results that will put us again on a sound path to glory.

All said, one critical question is; how will these demands be communicated? It is obvious from previous actions of this government and those before it that a letter signed by even 150 million Nigerians will not move them to act. To have these demand passed to the leadership of the nation and have them immediately set to work, we must pour out into the streets, and make the government houses, legislative houses, Aso Rock and other similar places our habitation until these demands are met. Call it occupy movement, call it any other name, but the focus is to have them hear us. If this wouldn't do, all secretariates, ministries, departments and agencies will be locked and occupied. With this, civil service, the engine room of government and of corruption would be grounded and would remain so until we are heard.

With this successfully accomplished, the next face of the Spring will be in 2015 - the election time:
1.  All politically exposed individuals (either elected, selected or appointed) from 1960 to the time of election in 2015 must be summarily banned from direct or indirect participation in politics (they are all similarly corrupt, the difference is in the degree of involvement). Let other people take over and lead and move the nation forward.

2.  All INEC commissioners must be changed, and the electoral laws amended especially as regards the order of elections. Elections should start from down (the local government) up to the presidency and not the other way round. The top to bottom order allows planting of stooges.

This is my humble submission. It appears simple, but in the face of complex solution-defying challenges, simple solutions are most times the best and usually the most effective (apologies to Bishop Walter of the movie Fringe).

Thank you for staying with me to the end.

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Fela ( Sorrow, Tear and Blood)

@ Toldyou, You are right. I really have doubts if any black nations could mount a meaningful resistance. Part of the reason was what Fela explained in the music (( Sorrow, Tear and Blood)..Loving life too much.
But life itself is but a walking shadow - Shakespear

No Nigerian Spring Only Rawlings Type Cleansing Will Work in 9ja

Bro Amene Ter'Hemen. Thank you for your optimistic recommendations to resolving nigeria’s chronic & endemic corruption. You wrote “From here our attention must focus on the executives, the legislature & the judiciary.” You forgot to mention Independent Electoral Commission that is out to frustrate nigerians but protect PDP & Jonathan’s interest – their paymaster. This is the Body that refused to allow Buhari to verify voters’ thumbprints against voters’ register knowing fully well that the move will expose their fraud.

You wrote severally: “everyone of them must be thoroughly investigated & prosecuted” ...mmmm … my brother! The million dollar question is - who will do the investigating? Recall the contradictory Police & SSS investigation of the brutal murder of Olaitan Oyerinde, governor Oshiomhole’s Principal Private Secretary in Benin on May 4, 2012? Nigeria does not need any Spring. All that we needs is Rawlings type cleansing!

This is a good suggestion and

This is a good suggestion and I commend the writer for doing this. It does not take a rocket scientist to note what the writer expressed here. That is what we need. A living wage for civil servants and all workers in Nigeria. It is a pity, instead of the bastard members of assembly and Labor Union member to brainstorm on these they are all fighting for their pockets.
At Deri, If we dont want the presidency go to Buhari, do you want to compare his regime with Jonathan? Where Jonathan was thinking of buying 30 more jets, buying handphone sets for the farmers,Incresing the suffering of the massas by adding to fuel srcharge while allocating 4 billion for his wife,Forcing a corrupt country to have 5 thousand naira note. Can a normal president be caught with those things. It is better the presidency go to the north than what we are experiencing.I also support anybody that has been in politic be cpmpletely banned.

Buhari sacked over one million civil servants-d result nko?

Some 9jas have become so unpatriotic that they hardlly ever try to find a way of getting rid of the callous spirit tormenting their miserable lives-Where was these writer when Buhari celebrated his one year in office with d sack of over one million civil servants in 9ja? The civil service use to be a place for security of work! No more since the IMF and World Bank introduced retrenchment exercise 2 OBJ b4 he handed over to Shagari! When thief El Rufai came he also sold off all the houses built by government for civil servants-Now they pay through the nose to get an accomodation over their heads in abuja-The civil service is not the problem-we 9jas are! Nothing is organized in 9ja. No clear sense ofd direction-the Fulani North-says its their turn to rule d oil wells!-The East says 2015 4 us-Wld Arab spring in 9ja, be led by Ibos, Yorubas or Fulanis? Look at d result of it in egypt, syria and libya-animals


If the Spring must happen there should be no shielding of any institution. All must go through the Spring weather. You seem to have exclusions and that is a non-starter. When wind blows, it is hard to pin point its direction. Lets get started we have talked enough! I have my doubts though that a nation of people truely black people can mount any meaningful resistance. We love life too much. It helps to have a little bit of light skin to do this. Just take a look around the world.