When it launches its “Contract to Save and Transform Nigeria” tomorrow in Abuja, the Save Nigeria Group (SNG), will be asking Nigerians to rise up, and summon the courage to save themselves and their country.
The Charter, an advance copy of which SaharaReporters has seen, features a painstaking analysis of Nigeria’s history and the challenges before her in the effort to move forward. SNG will be addressing Nigerians directly and urging the citizens to be prepared to make the sacrifices to take back their country.
The Group’s objective, it asserts, is EMPOWERMENT, and it will be working to make the Fundamental Objectives and directive Principles of State Policy in the 1999 Constitution justifiable.
The document, which the SNG describes as the “MANIFESTO FOR LIBERTY, SECURITY, AND PROSPERITY NIGERIANS MUST INSIST ON,” is meticulously and exhaustively written. “The tragedy of Nigeria is a pervasive pathology,” it argues. “Its leadership selection process excludes its best while celebrating mediocrity. The incremental influence of that pathology has created a failing state that is unable to do much more than uphold the conclave of looters that hold the country hostage. In many ways, every election process turns out to be much worse than the preceding cycle.”
Lamenting the nation’s serial failures in economic and social services over the years, the document draws attention to the impact of graft on national life. “The consequence of high-level political and bureaucratic corruption can be seen on the faces of most Nigerians who live in abject poverty,” it says. “Over 70% of Nigeria’s 150 million people live below poverty line, with close to 80% of Nigerians earning less than 300 naira a day. The country’s health service, once considered one of the best in Africa in the early 1960s, has now collapsed to the point that its leaders travel to Europe and even neighbouring African countries for medical treatment.”
The document is loaded with specific and sectoral recommendations and action plans targeted at individual Nigerians to help them make contributions to the process of taking Nigerian back from its predators, and pushing her forward.
Such recommendations include the following:
Join SNG or similar organizations to protect your vote, save and transform Nigeria; participate in activities towards electoral reforms; review your party affiliation in view of the position of your party in relation to saving and transforming Nigeria; join SNG to resist business-as-usual politicians and political parties that see rhetoric, deception, and corruption as the end of politics; and enrol in political movements that believe in the power of the individual to make a difference in a politically friendly environment of liberty, security, and prosperity for all Nigerians.
A CONTRACT TO SAVE AND TRANSFORM NIGERIA (MANIFESTO FOR LIBERTY, SECURITY, AND PROSPERITY NIGERIANS MUST INSIST ON.)
NIGERIA IS NOT WORKING
At independence in 1960, Nigeria was celebrated for its potential: the magnitude and vitality of its peoples, the enormity of its landmass and the sheer abundance of its natural resources. Fifty years on, the talk about Nigeria is still about its potential, simply because it has failed to realise its promise. In that interval, many countries that were her peers in underdevelopment have made accelerated transitions to development within a generation, replicating in decades progressive attainments that took centuries in the West. This speedy leapfrog was accomplished by leadership that successfully built state and governance structures that were conducive to economic and human development. The success of the Asian Tigers elevates humanity, and it is a ringing indictment of those that have mismanaged Nigeria because their excuses have been repudiated.
Nigeria’s has been a tale of arrested development and regression, punctuated by episodes of progress. On every major index of human and economic development, Nigeria is a failure, a tragedy for most of its people who have had their life chances hobbled by a system that has benefitted a tiny few. Its citizens daily confront a state that is violent but ineffectual; grasping but unaccountable and thus far incapable of guaranteeing security of life and property or fostering conditions that enable the fruitful pursuit of happiness.
Almost 11 per cent of babies born in Nigeria die before their first birthdays. Of those who survive, many cannot expect to live beyond 48 years, most of which they will spend with little or no access to electric power, safe water or good healthcare. People below 25 years constitute the majority of Nigeria’s population, but most of these youths have been educated in poorly equipped and ill-staffed schools, leaving them without the skills to function effectively in the 21st Century. Mass failures in examinations, poor facilities and the deficit of accountability at all levels of learning ensure that the average youth, raised in a deformed society, is also socialised to view the distortions that have scarred his or her mind as the norm. Nigeria’s legions of demoralized youths have to contend with high unemployment as the economy is losing jobs daily. Industrial output is in decline, as is capacity utilisation.
Evidence of some economic growth is visible. But the quadrupling of GDP to $173 billion in 2007 from $46 billion in 2000 has not been accompanied by a similar expansion in jobs.
Nigeria is just not working:
Index 1999 (%) 2009(%)
Life Expectancy 55 years (f)
53 years (m) 47.76 years (f)
46.16 years (m)
Infant Mortality 3.5 9.4
Unemployment - 60
Poverty (less than $1/day) 45 76
Failure in WAEC/NECO 76.63 98
The tragedy of Nigeria is a pervasive pathology. Its leadership selection process excludes its best while celebrating mediocrity. The incremental influence of that pathology has created a failing state that is unable to do much more than uphold the conclave of looters that hold the country hostage. In many ways, every election process turns out to be much worse than the preceding cycle.
Upon taking power after stolen polls, the new leadership often proceeds to enthrone a ruling ethos that is defined by a searing contempt for the people. That is why, despite the billions of dollars that the Nigerian state has earned over five decades, Nigeria remains at the bottom of the human development league. It is a fate that Nigerians must reject because a better life is possible.
Fifty years into Nigeria’s attainment of nationhood, it still has the status of what domestic and international observers call a failed state, failing state, or failed asset. Nigeria’s failure to belong to the comity of successful and functional states that obtained the status of independent nationhood within the same decade is not attributable to the lack of material and human resources. On the contrary, the country’s economic, social, and political failure has resulted from the non-adherence to the practice of true federalism and the consequent mismanagement of the nation’s resources by most of its political managers since independence. Such managers have ranged from military dictators to civilian presidents and governors imposed on the electorate through rigged elections.
Nigeria today is ranked as one of the twenty poorest nations of the world, despite the fact that it is the world’s seventh largest producer of petroleum and gas. It has one of the highest rates of male and female illiteracy in the world even though it was among the first set of countries in the world to introduce free education over half a century ago. The country’s maternal and infant mortality is one of the highest in Africa. It is common knowledge that Nigeria has more hours of power outage on a daily basis than any other country in the modern world. According to international financial observers like the World Bank, Nigeria had more money removed illegally from its treasury than any other country in Africa between 1970 and 2008. As of today, $89 billion of Nigeria’s funds has been stolen by the country’s political managers and carted out of the country for safe keeping. For the past twenty years, Nigeria has acquired and sustained the reputation of being one of the most corrupt countries on earth.
The consequence of high-level political and bureaucratic corruption can be seen on the faces of most Nigerians who live in abject poverty. Over 70% of Nigeria’s 150 million people live below poverty line, with close to 80% of Nigerians earning less than 300 naira a day. The country’s health service, once considered one of the best in Africa in the early 1960s, has now collapsed to the point that its leaders travel to Europe and even neighbouring African countries for medical treatment. Even leaders that are sick and have to be brought back to Nigeria are kept in special ambulances, as there are no hospitals in the country to take care of their special medical needs. Nigeria’s educational system, once considered one of the most enviable on the continent up to the 1970s, has declined to the point that up to 75% of students that sat for secondary school exit examinations failed in the last three years.
In a country with over 70% of its population under the age of 35 years, the rate of unemployment is over 60%, thus leaving the country’s youths in the category of wasted generations. Nigeria is one of few countries in the region that fail to provide employment for those it proudly refers to as leaders of tomorrow. In addition, Nigeria’s women remain one of the most marginalized and neglected female populations in the modern world. In politics, governance, and even corporate governance, women’s presence and contribution remains negligible. For example, women account for less than 40 of over 400 members of the National Assembly. In addition, because of the failure of political managers to provide electricity and potable water, manufacturers that came from other countries in the 1960s and those that grew from within the Nigeria have migrated their factories to neighbouring African countries in increasing numbers in the last few years.
Those who live in Nigeria are likely to find the points being raised in this preamble boring because they are too obvious. What is direly needed now is how to get Nigeria out of the hole of underdevelopment, corruption, and mismanagement. Now is the time for truly patriotic Nigerians to join the movement to save Nigeria from its current state of failure by joining forces with the Save Nigeria Group (SNG). Now is the time to liberate Nigeria from the grips of its predators. SNG believes that Nigeria’s failure is avoidable; that Nigeria can be saved. But to stop the politics of self-imposed failure, a new crop of leaders with a patriotic outlook and a transformational vision from those of its predatory leaders must move to the centre of the country’s political space to re-engineer it away from chronic failure and chart a new course in the direction of success. The SNG is blazing the trail of change and transformation in Nigeria. The following manifesto, designed to bring liberty, security, and prosperity to all Nigerians, is being made available to all Nigerians, who are urged to demand that its provisions represent the minimum acceptable standards from political parties and their governments.
The overall goal of this political manifesto is EMPOWERMENT: of citizens (regardless of age, gender and economic status), communities, states, and the nation, as well as the transformation of Nigeria into a nation with an ethos of strong centre, strong states, strong local governments, and strong citizens to create wealth and make contributions to modern global civilization. SNG believes strongly that the purpose of government is to use the common wealth of the nation to improve the standard of living of the citizenry. It is an abiding commitment of SNG to make the Fundamental Objectives and directive Principles of State Policy in the 1999 Constitution justifiable. In addition, the following objectives in bullet form are designed to accelerate the process of returning Nigeria to the tradition of government in the service of the citizens.
2. POLITICAL AGENDA
POLITICAL STRUCTURE AND GOVERNANCE
For about fifty years, Nigeria has had one form of politics of exclusion or the other: military dictatorship, civilians came to power through fraudulent electoral systems, polarization of the country into North/South, Muslim/Christian, Settler/Indigene dichotomies, to name a few. What Nigeria did not have through the colonial period and until now is genuine electoral democracy capable of spawning the politics of inclusion. Fifty years after independence, Nigeria still does not have a political structure that can promote unity and national development while also promoting the nation’s cultural diversity.
A lot of energy has been spent in the last fifteen years on how to obtain a political structure that can fuel growth and development at the centre and in the states. To this end, several ethnic nationality organisations and individual Nigerians have called for restructuring through a sovereign national conference or through constitutional amendments. One of such groups is the Niger Delta community that consistently asks for true federalism, self-determination, and resource control. The activities of Niger Delta militants in the last few years have been a source of political, economic, and social tension. The current amnesty scheme is the latest response to the threat to Nigeria’s economy and unity from the Niger Delta. It is time to do more than pardoning militants by addressing the root cause of militancy.
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. 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:
• Increasing the list of responsibilities on the concurrent list for states and local governments through devolution of power to the states and local governments from the centre.
• Strengthening the Federal investigation institution and delegating day-to-day law enforcement to community police systems in the states.
• Transforming the existing Federal Road Safety Commission into a Federal Highway Police (FHP) to secure all federal highways and protect life and property on such roads.
• 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 nation’s security personnel.
• Accelerating total privatization of generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity.
• Removing railway transportation from the exclusive list and putting it in the concurrent list, and encouraging private participation in this sector.
• Entering into immediate negotiation with Niger Delta communities to find permanent solutions to the crisis of social injustice in revenue allocation.
• 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. The reasons are not too complex to grasp. Corruption is a major factor in the failure of leaders to govern properly. 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 has 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. More specifically, we must:
• 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.
• Support legislation to reduce the qualifications to contest election into the House of Representatives to 25 years and the Senate at 30.
• Use the recommendations in the UWAIS report on electoral reform to produce a new law on elections across the three tiers of government.
• Encourage a constitutional amendment that will reduce the number of House of Representatives to six per state while reducing the number of senators from states to two per state.
• 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. 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:
• Strengthen existing anti-corruption institutions by providing special support for speedy investigation and prosecution.
• 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.
• Establish special courts to handle cases of corruption.
• Prevent individuals with dubious character and questionable integrity from qualifying to run for offices in any party in the three tiers of government.
• 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, frauds, assassinations, ritual killings, cult activities, banditry, kidnapping, bunkering, embezzling, thuggery, 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 support strengthening the states and local governments to provide community policing for their jurisdictions while also strengthening the country’s federal investigation system. More specifically, the following steps should be acceptable:
• 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.
• Establish a National Security Commission with members drawn from all states to coordinate the nation’s security.
• 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.
• Promote a clear distinction between executive power and police administration at the federal and community levels by enhancing the autonomy of law enforcement agencies.
• Organise a stakeholders’ 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 nation’s security sector.
• Pursue judicial reforms to cut delays in courts and ensure timely completion of the hearing and adjudication of cases.
• Put members of the judiciary on similar remuneration and benefits with ministers. Ensure that promotion on the bench is based on merit only.
• Separate the office of Attorney General from that of Minister of Justice.
• Implement the UN recommendation of 1 police to 400 citizens.
• Introduce a minimum of an Ordinary National Diploma (OND) to qualify for entry into the police force.
• Increase salary and improve welfare benefits and conditions of service for police personnel.
• Ensure that police training meets international standard.
• Complete overhaul of the prison system to restore a sense of dignity to inmates.
• 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 stabilize 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 stabilization 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 re-engineering the country’s development process in the direction of prosperity for all citizens.
Nigeria’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 Nigeria’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 Nigeria’s political and bureaucratic corruption. The country has spent over $800 million between 1999 and 2003 alone for Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) of the nation’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 country’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:
• Reducing deficit budgeting.
• Reviewing lending rates in line with other economies in the region, to ensure viability of large, medium, and small-scale businesses.
• Reviewing existing tax administration at the three tiers of government to reduce tax evasion.
• Taking advantage of external resources for the purpose of rebuilding the country’s grossly substandard infrastructure.
• Providing incentives to foreign investors willing to invest in renewing the country’s infrastructure through public-private partnership schemes.
• Privatizing the downstream sector of the petroleum industry to stop wasting public resources on government refineries that are unable to add value.
• Deregulating the Nigerian National Petroleum Company in consonance with best practices in the industry, such as Saudi’s ARAMCO, Malaysia’s PETRONAS, Italy’s ENI, Brazil’s PETROBAS, and Norway’s STATOIL.
• 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.
• Ensure completion of privatization of generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity in the country, thus encouraging investors to embark on multiple sources of energy: wind, solar, bio-fuel, gas, hydro, and nuclear.
• Concession the maintenance of all existing federal roads and adapt to a level the model of concessioning to construct new federal roads.
• Use the model of build, operate, and maintain (BOM) for construction and renovation of rail transportation system.
• Adopt the model of private-public partnership for management of all ports
• Provide incentives for private investors to invest in production of potable water under public-private partnership schemes.
5. AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SECURITY
It is important to note that agriculture provides employment for about 70% of the population in Nigeria and it is a major source of industrial development and economic prosperity. It is a generally accepted position that agriculture is not only meant to be the spine or pillar of the economies in Africa, it is also reckoned to be a security issue. Nigeria, regrettably, is not deploying adequate resources to ensure food security for its citizens.
The global attention that the agricultural sector commands in recent times, particularly with the recent world food scarcity threat, underscores the importance of self-sustenance with respect to food security. There is an urgent need for special intervention in the agricultural sector. The reason for this special effort is to create opportunities for the teeming army of unemployed youths in the country to be engaged productively. This back-to-land programme, apart from being conceived to reduce poverty, should also serve as a re-orientation to those youths whose years of unending joblessness and prolonged despondence have pushed into negative, delinquent and sometimes even criminal activities.
A strong and efficient agricultural sector has the potential to enable a country feed its growing population, generate employment, earn foreign exchange and provide raw materials for industries. The vibrancy of the sector has a multiplier effect on every nation’s socio-economic and industrial drive, because of its multifunctional nature.
It is on record that in Nigeria, agriculture contributes more than 30 percent of the total annual GDP, accounting for over 70 percent of the non-oil exports, besides providing over 75 percent of the food needs of the country. But this does not amount to food security in the true definition of the concept. Food security, as defined by the Food and Agricultural Organisation, exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preference for an active and healthy lifestyle.
To address the problems facing agriculture, a system must be initiated to bring public and private sectors together for active interaction in the agricultural sector. A cue could be taken from the Food Corporation of India, which has played a significant role in transforming the Indian food economy. It operates through a countrywide network of institutions and infrastructures at the zonal, regional and district level. Nigerians should consider only those leaders who pay special attention to the following aspects of agricultural development:
• Application of modern and Indigenous Technologies: One way to reduce agricultural losses is to apply modern and indigenous technologies to food storage through research on the special needs of local food items and to provide support to research institutions on the use of biotechnology and indigenous techniques to increase and improve food storage.
• Price Assurance for Farm Produce: The issue of price assurance must be addressed so farmers can increase production to levels that will ensure stability of supplies to meet both normal and emergency requirements.
• Special Incentives for Private Sector Involvement: Provide incentives to compensate for the opportunity cost of capital tied down to agricultural production by the private sector.
• Local Government Involvement: The local government is the closest tier of government to the farmer and should therefore be in the forefront of ensuring food security by participating in the processes of food storage and preservation. Federal and state governments shall strengthen local governments to perform their role in providing food security by supporting farm settlements for planting and storage of local food items at the community level.
• Construction of Feeder Roads: Pursue integration of rural and urban centres by providing special support for states and local governments to link the farming communities with centres of consumption of farm produce in towns and cities.
Development of Crop Sub-Sector: Provide support for state and local governments through Federal Grants on Food Security Enhancement to commit resources to the provision of services that will encourage the development of the following sub-sectors in agriculture:
• Arable Crops Development: Governments must devote resources to sustaining the production and distribution of early-maturing, high-yielding and disease-resistant seeds of maize, cowpeas, soybeans, cassava, and yam cuttings to farmers across the country at well-subsidized prices.
• Tree Crops and Horticulture Development: Like the arable crops, high-yielding and disease-resistant seedlings of oil palm, rubber, kola, cashew and cocoa must be distributed at subsidized rates to farmers annually to expand and improve their holdings.
• Farm Settlement Scheme: The farm settlement scheme has been identified as a viable Integrated Rural Development Programme. Consequently, states and local governments must be supported by the Federal Government to embark on restoration and improvement of the farm settlement scheme, which will reverse the trend of rural-urban migration.
• Produce Inspection and Grading: State and local governments are encouraged to perform the function of inspecting and grading of export crops like cocoa, palm kernel, coffee, rubber and cashew nuts, and fruits, to ensure that the quality of the produce exported conforms to the required international standard.
Development of Fisheries Sub-Sector: Expansion of fish farming in all states of the federation must be encouraged.
Development of the Livestock Sub-Sector: Special attention must be given to accelerated development of livestock farming by promoting the production of various classes of livestock, beef and dairy cattle, poultry, particularly chicken, turkey, and guinea fowl, by encouraging each state to benefit from its comparative advantage. Special support must be given to traditional and modern cattle farming.
Development in the Forestry Sub-Sector: The Federal Government should support state and local governments to ensure that forest resources in the country are preserved, protected and well-managed to bridge the gap between forest exploitation and regeneration in compliance with standards of environmentally sustainable agriculture.
Development of Storage Sub-Sector: There is an urgent need for special intervention in the sector of food storage and preservation. Each state should be encouraged to provide storage facilities for crops that it produces.
Development of Irrigation: Provision must be made of federal matching funds for irrigation in all regions of the country to increase food production throughout the year.
Development of Credit Facility for Farmers: Provision must be made of low-interest agricultural loans to large-scale and medium-scale farmers and collateral-free loans to small-scale farmers with verifiable investment in farming.
6. JOB CREATION
To stem the growing unemployment rate that is now over 60% in the general population and worse among the youths, the following should be embarked upon:
• Include training modules in business and entrepreneurship in School Curriculums.
• Provide special incentives for youths to participate in agricultural settlement schemes through credit facilities and land allocation.
• Establish agricultural extension in each local government.
• Provide special funding for organic and green farming through the application of relevant technologies.
• Collaborate with the private sector to initiate massive housing projects that use local materials for low and middle-income citizens and thus create employment opportunities for citizens in the housing sector.
• Set aside a percentage of new jobs in government and parastatals for citizens between 20 and 30 years of age as a way of providing a professional and leadership head start for youths.
7. SOCIAL AGENDA
EDUCATION AND SKILL
Nigerians are aware of the decay in the educational and skill sectors of the country at all levels. The decay is now evident in the results of WAEC/NECO students, as well as in the poor quality of work done by artisans and technicians on a daily basis. Less than 10% of students pass these two exams. Many of our school leavers are unable to meet the standards of the modern workplace because of an inefficient education system. It is impossible to expect that private schools that mushroom across the country today can provide adequate knowledge and skill needed for national transformation and development. Over 60% of Nigeria’s population is under 35 years of age. This demographic situation requires the attention of all tiers of government to equip young Nigerians with the knowledge and skill they need to empower themselves and contribute to the development of the country. In the education and skill sector, there is the overwhelming need to:
• Modernize and upgrade the public school system.
• Make quality public school education available to every citizen.
• Transform in the short-run one existing primary/secondary public school in each local government into a model school that meets international public school standards.
• Provide lifelong learning opportunities to serving teachers.
• Increase access of school and university students to online learning resources
• Support e-learning initiatives in each local government.
• Establish national programmes in academic quality assurance in public and private primary and secondary schools through efficient education inspectorate schemes to be staffed by professionals and retired teachers.
• Fund public universities at the level that meets international standards to enable them provide teaching and research that can fuel national development.
• Provide special incentives for applied research in universities to generate local solutions to developmental problems.
• Provide funds for collaborative research between Nigerian and overseas universities.
• Encourage states and local governments to establish skill development programmes that can provide a modern workforce for the country’s formal and informal sectors.
• Make it mandatory for each state to access its own share of the Universal Basic Education funds and sanction states that fail to do so or account for funds allocated to them.
8. HEALTH AND SOCIAL SECURITY
Since Nigeria’s independence, the health of the people which is universally acceptable as the yardstick for measuring wealth and development has steadily declined in geometrical proportion. The health sector situation can now only be described as appalling due to several factors, some of which are as follows:
• A hurriedly packaged ineffective health policy.
• Corrupt governance and under funding of the health sector.
• Prevalence of obsolete healthcare tools and inadequate healthcare infrastructure.
• Poorly motivated, over-stretched, and stressed healthcare personnel.
• Poorly coordinated health programmes and failure of benefits to reach target beneficiaries.
• Frustrated healthcare providers and patient unfriendliness giving rise to a disconnect in giver-patient relationships.
• Unsatisfactory formal health delivery services leading to the seeking of other dangerous healthcare alternatives by patients.
• Fake and adulterated drugs.
• Neglect of training and re-training of human resources and the consequent degeneration of human capacity in the health sector.
• Underdevelopment of other resources in the sector.
The recurrent failed promises by successive federal and state governments to improve the health sector in the areas enumerated above moved Nigeria up on the World Health Organisation’s list of countries with the worst mortality and morbidity indices in the world.
The SNG is poised to encourage Nigerians to demand a comprehensive health policy that heralds improved health of the people through the provision of easily accessible and highly qualitative holistic care to ensure the growth and development of Nigerians in a manner commensurate with what obtains in other parts of the world.
Nigerians should be committed to the following:
• Improvement of health infrastructure at all levels, i.e. primary, secondary, and tertiary care.
• Transfer of the health sector from the current social sector category with meagre budgetary allocations to the public-private partnership category that is capable of extending quality and affordable health care to all citizens.
9. HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
To ensure that cutting-edge technologies and medical knowledge are deployed in providing efficient and effective health care for citizens, the following are essential:
• Adequate budgetary allocations for capacity building in all cadres of health personnel.
• Adequate support for lifelong skill enrichment for serving medical and paramedical staff.
• Adequate funding for training and re-training of personnel in the application of modern technologies to healthcare delivery.
• Establishment of national medical commissions to regulate and monitor the quality of core and special medical services.
Primary health care is the most essential health service that should be the easiest to access and nearest to reach by the citizens, preparatory to receiving further care, if necessary, at the secondary or tertiary level.
• This level of care should be available at an affordable cost in each ward of each local government area of the country.
• In accord with the belief that health is indispensably vital to the growth of the people and the economy, there should be adequate incentives for medical personnel by ensuring that healthcare personnel are given proper remuneration, to reduce the brain drain of our well trained health personnel that look for greener pastures overseas.
• There must be the establishment and growth of modern and effective healthcare service delivery in all states while paying attention to the peculiar needs of different areas.
• Adequate funding must be provided for maternal and child health care as well as for adolescent and geriatric care in all states.
Universal Health Insurance Scheme
To ensure that the citizens are able to access health care services in all parts of the country and to ensure that they are not prevented from doing so because of lack of money at the point of the need for such health care, a universal health insurance scheme for all citizens should be established. In addition:
• Mandatory health insurance subscriptions for all citizens.
• Provide subsidies on health insurance premiums for citizens that are certified as poor.
• Expand the existing Environmental Protection Agency to include a special division for controlling environmental health hazards.
• Provide support for a clean environment that goes beyond nominal attention to solid waste and that includes the control of environmental pollution created by emissions from automobiles and generators, as well as control noise pollution.
• Provide infrastructure for proper emission control in all states.
DRUGS AND PHARMACEUTICAL AGENTS AND CONTROL
Pursuant to the universally acceptable goal of health promotion, the safe and rational use and control of pharmaceutical agents must be given priority, so also the equitable and sustainable access to relevant medicines, particularly for the poor and the disadvantaged must be ensured.
• States must be supported to create facilities for control of drugs and pharmaceutical agents and to de-programme and rehabilitate citizens with a history of drug abuse.
• The establishment of drug rehabilitation facilities must be supported in each state.
MODERN MEDICAL SUB-SPECIALTIES AND RESEARCH
The Federal government should provide funds in designated national medical institutions for medical research by doing the following:
• Giving special attention to malaria control and setting up regional centres for sickle cell research and management.
• Providing support for stem-cell research, nuclear and space medicine and for common causes of ill health and their management so as to reduce mortality and morbidity rates in the nation.
TRADITIONAL AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE
The positive impact on improvement of citizens’ health is already being felt in countries that have enforced the World Health Organisation’s guidelines on traditional medicine. China and India have provided convincing examples that using trado-medical knowledge to complement Western orthodox medicine can be advantageous for disease control and treatment. Thus,
• Provision of support for the implementation of the nation’s traditional medicine policy in conformity with the World Health Organisation’s guidelines.
• The provision of subsidies and facilities for trado-medical practitioners’ research projects and promotion of the commercialization of products of such research must be encouraged.
• Each state to develop a system of unemployment insurance for employees, to create some cushion for employees that lose their jobs to retrenchment.
• Food items stored for emergencies should be replaced every eighteen months and sold to citizens in the lower-income level with nursing mothers and children below 18 years of age.
• By 2015, provision of milk and cereals at subsidized rates to families living below the official poverty line should be made.
• By 2015, provision should be made of one meal a day for children in all public primary schools, to ensure nutrition for this important segment of the population.
10. CULTURAL AGENDA
Culture is an indispensable aspect of political and economic development. In federal multiethnic and multi-religious societies, governments at federal, state, and local levels must have a cultural policy that is capable of enhancing the unity of people of diverse cultures while respecting the autonomy of each culture. Examples of government sensitivity to cultural diversity abound in Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Ethiopia, and in today’s largest federal multiethnic system: the European Union.
Government should develop policies that will remove inter-ethnic fear and suspicion and replace this with inter-ethnic appreciation and cooperation. In addition to increasing literacy in the nation’s official language, it is important to support the development of indigenous languages, in order to enable citizens take advantage of the country’s cultural diversity. While adopting the UN’s charter on minority rights, the following programmes should be acceptable to Nigeria’s leaders:
• Strengthening the national language commission to support development of all indigenous languages, apart from the existing national languages (Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba) by providing matching funds for states to provide leadership in the promotion of their indigenous languages.
• Supporting the establishment of National Heritage Sites in each state. Each state must have at least one of such sites to serve as cultural areas to attract national and international tourists and to enhance national unity.
• Creating multiethnic museums in each state to provide accessible reference points on the country’s cultural diversity.
• Enforcing through the constitution the secularity of the Nigerian State, as a means of freeing the nation from inter-religious tension while promoting its diverse religious heritage.
• Establishing through legislation and law enforcement zero tolerance for all forms of ethnic or religious terrorism and violence.
APPEAL TO CITIZENS
Fifty years after independence, successive governments have failed to make Nigerians free, failed to make Nigerians rich despite human and mineral endowment of oil and gas and other natural resources, and also failed to make Nigerians safe because exclusion promotes tension that breeds insecurity for most citizens. SNG has provided you with the foregoing analysis of the sources of our country’s underdevelopment, despite the abundance of material and human resources in the country. As scary and dispiriting as the problems described in this document might be, the intention of SNG is not to scare citizens into despondency.
The intention is to share the challenges of the nation’s economic, social, and political problems with you, in order for you as a responsible citizen to summon courage along with SNG to save the country from its predators and transform it into a prosperous and just country for all.
The solution to the myriad problems identified above does not lie in voter apathy or political nonchalance. On the contrary, it lies in your resolve as a voter to take your destiny in your own hands by doing the following:
• Join SNG or similar organizations to protect your vote, save and transform Nigeria.
• Participate in activities towards electoral reforms.
• Review your party affiliation in view of the position of your party in relation to saving and transforming Nigeria.
• Join SNG to resist business-as-usual politicians and political parties that see rhetoric, deception, and corruption as the end of politics
• Join SNG and others in creating a new political ethic in Nigeria, the ethic of service and justice to all.
• Align with a political movement that is truly committed to unity through diversity and the strengthening of all the three tiers of government.
• Enrol in political movements that believe in the power of the individual to make a difference in a politically friendly environment of liberty, security, and prosperity for all Nigerians.
• Subscribe to SNG’s vision of a new Nigeria and participate in its mission to save and transform Nigeria.