REFLECTIONS — REVISITING THE 2001 KURU DECLARATION – AN AGENDA FOR DEVELOPMENT
This piece is published as a reflection. Most times, it is necessary to visit the past for the purpose of shaping the future. One or two things done well in the past could influence our tomorrow. More importantly, broadening our horizon periodically has a salutary effect on our development plans and makes us avoid where others failed or succeeded in the past. The 2001 ‘KURU DECLARATION’’ embodies the vision of the Nigerian Government as: ‘’Building a truly great African democratic country, politically united, integrated and stable, economically prosperous, socially organized, with equal opportunities for all, and responsibility from all, to become the catalyst of (African) Renaissance, and making adequate all-embracing contributions sub-regionally, regionally and globally”. Furthermore, government is working strenuously to “create a Nigeria that Nigerians will be proud to belong to and grateful to inhabit; a Nigeria that rewards hard work, protects its people and their property and offer its children better prospects than those they may be tempted to seek in Europe or the United-States. All citizens, regardless of gender, race, religion or politics, should feel that they have a stake in Nigeria’s future and that their loyalty and diligence will be rewarded.’’
The KURU DECLARATION evolved from the fourth retreat for Ministers and Permanent Secretaries at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, Jos, Plateau State, between February 23 and 25, 2001; and was coordinated from the ‘’Power House’’ (my own personal description of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. At that very memorable event, the participants comprising well-grounded technocrats and bureaucrats, including serving Hon. Ministers of the Federal Republic, Permanent Secretaries, a few diplomats and resource persons in the category of our esteemed and invaluable Prof. Akin Mabogunje converged on Kuru to brainstorm on the way forward for Nigeria in terms of policy directives and implementation. A New National Ideology tagged: ‘KURU DECLARATION’ was adopted as an agenda for development. This recall is merely for the purpose of refreshing our minds. The participants who gathered at the event agreed that:
- We subscribe to the New National Ideology, which is, to build a truly great African democratic country, politically united, integrated and stable, economically prosperous, socially organised, with equal opportunity for all, and responsibility from all, to become the catalyst of Black Renaissance, and making adequate all-embracing contributions, sub-regionally, regionally, and globally.
- We adopt the New Orientation as an agenda for: dealing with immediate and future issues of governance of Nigeria; Removing impediments to efficiency and effective implementation and execution of programmes initiated by the Federal Government; and Expeditious actualisation of Government objectives and vision of national renewal and re-construction.
- We rededicate ourselves and those who serve under us to the values of patriotism, honesty, hardwork and diligence, merit and excellence, trustworthiness, personal discipline, tolerance and mutual respect, justice and fairness, love, care and compassion.
- We pledge to eschew corruption, slothfulness, nepotism, indiscipline, bitterness, prejudice and other manifestoes of ant-social behaviour.
- We shall undertake a critical review of practices and procedures in every Department of Government, so as to rapidly increase their productivity and service delivery to the public;
- We shall foster a culture of efficiency in the management of funds and other resources; maintaining high standards of resource management; and reducing waste at all times.
- We shall efficiently supervise all Government Departments and Agencies, ensuring timely returns and reports, and undertaking regular spot-checks;
- We shall abide by the terms of the Code of Conduct which we all have signed, as expression of our commitment to the crusade against corruption, and working closely with all relevant agencies such as the Independent Corruption Practices and other Related Offences Commission, the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Public Complaints Commission;
- We undertake to strengthen the partnership in working with the private sector, since this partnership translates to a better appreciation of the wealth-creating capacity of this sector, and the need for Government, through its various ministries and legislative processes, to create an enabling environment for the sector to function efficiently as the major driver of the economy.
- We shall strive to strengthen and inculcate the culture of working closely and in consultation with the leadership of labour and civil society organisations.
- We shall mobilise, involve and promote the interest of all stakeholders, namely, the society in general; since, in the ultimate, all decisions and actions of government are aimed at the promotion of public welfare, there is also the need for a new attitude that has that welfare permanently in focus, as the only goal, and the economic well-being of all citizens, under unfettered freedom, is of cardinal importance; and we shall design strategies and techniques of implementation for the New Orientation so as to ensure that the values being inculcated permeate all levels of management and staff”.
NIGERIA CAN BE GREAT: Nigeria is a potential world power and will get there before too long if we manage our resources well and there are attitudinal changes on the part of all of us at home and in the Diaspora. Nigeria’s contributions to the socio-economic and political development of the world cannot be dismissed. Nigeria has a brilliant record with regard to nationalist struggles and support for the emancipation and liberation of colonies in Africa; not minding xenophobia in some nations that benefited from Nigeria’s huge intervention. Nigeria occupies the sensitive and delicate position of undisputed leadership on the African continent. It has never failed to act decisively in matters concerning political developments of neighbouring African states, as well as when their security is threatened. Very fresh in memory is the pragmatic and brilliant diplomatic manoeuvres of the Murtala/Obasanjo regime from 1976-1979, which helped a great deal in the liberation struggles of the frontline States.
AS A BIG BROTHER IN AFRICA: Our diplomatic efforts, sheer size and potentials easily make Nigeria a force to be reckoned with in international circles. Nigeria, the most populous black nation in Africa has a great role to play in leading the African continent to political and socio-economic advancement. Nigeria must therefore continue to propel other African nations to move from the back row to the front by recording greater and impressive socio-economic developments. Nigeria’s leadership role has certainly not been an easy one, considering the fact that huge resources, financial and material, are required to get us out of our political and economic distress. But that is not to say that the situation is hopeless. Again, it is important to highlight the fact that there are thousands of Nigerian specialists in different fields in Diaspora, contributing their quota to the development of other countries of the world.
LEADING AFRICA OUT OF THE QUAGMIRE: Nigeria has the brains, the resources and the capability to lead Africa to greatness. Whatever affects Nigeria has the attendant possible effect of spreading to other parts of Africa. It must also be realized that if Africa is not at peace, other parts of the world cannot afford to sleep with their two eyes closed. Africans live in a world of pervasive extreme poverty whose economic lopsidedness could be politically dangerous, at a period when Western nations warehouse huge funds siphoned out of Africa illegally through complicity of foreign interests. The Thabo Mbeki High Level panel says about US $80 Billion is illegally siphoned out of Africa annually and kept in vaults of advanced nations to the detriment of Africa. Perhaps these nations would release funds meant for development of Africa, if the African Diaspora mobilizes to influence public opinion for peacefully and swift remedies. Advanced countries should feel for African nations and, therefore, hasten the processes of returning funds meant for the development of Africa.
AFRICA NEEDS TO DEVELOP: The matter, if delayed, might look like wilful contribution to the economic adversity of people experiencing the pangs of hunger. The pains inflicted on Africa through the slave trade 400 years ago this year, are yet to be redressed. Talks about REPARATIONS, championed by patriots including late MKO Abiola; that have now subsided. Western nations would do well to pay accrued interests on Africa’s financial resources kept to run their economies for decades, while Africa remains stunted in economic growth. They should consider the fact that out of the estimated 1.2 billion people living in abject poverty all over the world, Africa is host to about 300 million, which is grossly scary. The gap between the rich and the poor countries continues to widen. Therefore, Africa’s leaders must be allowed to chart a new course for development. It is not about insurrection. It is about a strong appeal to redress conducts of nations that are prosperous, at a period when the international community is talking about GLOBALIZATION and the United Nations’ Post-2015 Development Agenda.
IMPEDIMENTS: If only we could patriotically apply the correct solutions and utilize the massive human and material resources available to develop Nigeria, the nation will become a power to be reckoned with before too long. I hate to speak ill-advisedly about my dear country. But the truth is that we need to remove what I call the ‘’AUTONOV 1’’ formula. AUTONOV 1 is the name of a vehicle invented by that genius and first class mechanical engineer, late Prof. Ayodele Awojobi a few decades ago. The vehicle had steering wheels and controls at the rear and the back. So, while some people are driving the vehicle in the right direction in the front cabin, some others are at the same time occupying the rear seat to drive the vehicle backwards. So what do you have in a situation where physicists quote Newton’s Law of Motion? Simple: ‘’Action and Reaction are always equal and opposite’’.
WE CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN: Let it, for instance, be impossible for people to import generators so that electricity supply would collapse, vandalize infrastructure for diverse reason or circumvent some other processes to the detriment of the general masses. Let it be that our universities will develop to an extent that it would be most unattractive for anybody to come over to stage Education Fairs to recruit our young ones for foreign universities and use our resources to run their tertiary education. There are tertiary institutions in Nigeria that could rub shoulders with their counterparts in developed economies. Let it be that alternative medicine will be developed alongside other measures that will make it unnecessary to travel abroad for medical care. Let it be that there will be attitudinal changes to make us consume largely Made in Nigeria products and services to give us a healthier economy. What is it that people rush to pick in Dubai that was a desert 20 years ago? Let it be that we will spend our vacations in tourist attractions in Nigeria instead of travelling abroad. Let us have our own ‘’Camp David’’ like the United States. Let it be that our public utilities would work perfectly and nobody will vandalize them or do the AUTONOV agenda. Let us adopt home-grown solutions instead of the bitter pills of multilateral financial institutions. We have first class economists who can do it.
Finally, the recipe might be found in more political and economic reforms and the willingness of all of us Nigerians at home and abroad to support our leaders to build a country of our dream.
May the Good Lord Bless Nigeria!
Nigeria’s Dry Bones Must Rise Again!!