Basically, this idea is designed to raise the bar of Public Advocacy/Enlightenment Campaign at this critical point when the whole world faces terrible consequences of Coronavirus, security breaches and youth development.. One of our mandates is to invite attention and encourage policy makers and those implementing decisions to consider what we regard as viable options that could assist our nation to defeat poverty, insecurity and other criminal vices.
NEW INITIATIVES FOR PEACE & DEVELOPMENT
We are aware that there are numerous competent hands at the three tiers of government who are charged with the responsibility of driving policies and programmes. However, we have always been compelled by the public and national interests to put forward our ideas that might be useful. What all Nigerians must be concerned about is how to evolve permanent viable strategies and enduring solutions to the myriad of problems confronting the nation, particularly how to defeat insecurity, inequalities, poverty, youth restiveness, and COVID-19 which is refusing to go away. It is evident that our society requires special and warranted efforts to defend peace in the minds of the populace, highlight efforts at preventing evils of war, hatred, and all forms of inequalities and unfairness. It is also most desirable for the populace to embrace peaceful solutions, rather than bitterness, confrontation and violence.
Evaluations by multilateral organizations including the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund since COVID-19 broke out have been very were. They warned that the world faces the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s. The International Monetary Fund predicted that the global economy will contract by 3% this year as economies of countries around the world shrink at the fastest pace in decades. The Fund added that a prolonged outbreak would test the ability of governments and central banks to control the crisis. The financial institutions warned that several countries could go into recession — that is a slowdown in economic activity. As at today, practically all nations of the world have entered recession.
EVIL EFFECTS OF COVID-19
Every single economy in the world has suffered negative impacts, forcing the leadership of practically all countries to rush back to the drawing table to reconfigure projections and realities about their economies. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres noted in his lecture at the Year 2020 Mandela Day Lecture that: ‘’The world is in turmoil. Economies are in freefall. We have been brought to our knees – by a microscopic virus. The pandemic has demonstrated the fragility of our world. It has laid bare risks we have ignored for decades: inadequate health systems; gaps in social protection; structural inequalities; environmental degradation; the climate crisis. Entire regions that were making progress on eradicating poverty and narrowing inequality have been set back years, in a matter of months. The virus poses the greatest risk to the most vulnerable: those living in poverty, older people, and people with disabilities and pre-existing conditions.’’ The past few days have witnessed upsurge of cases of this pandemic globally and we must all be worried as the rampage continues. In Nigeria, the need to stabilize the economy and adopt fiscal policies and favourable trade regimes have been adopted following the recommendations of the Economic Sustainable Committee chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
UNDERSTANDING THE ADOPTED POLICIES
It is imperative to stress the fact that the understanding and cooperation of all Nigerians are required at this critical period to moderate the shocks that the economy is withstanding, as well as curtailing security breaches. This is the time for all to come together in the national interest and for the common good to ensure that we are not consumed by this terrible development. It will test our patriotism, particularly with regard to looking for solutions to terror and economy. We must embrace local alternatives in order for the economy to absorb the shocks and bounce back within the shortest possible period. This is the secret of the wealth of advanced countries that consume what they produce. I should like to put forward a thought that could at least contain the two most dreaded enemies of humanity at this period – Coronavirus and insecurity. The Executive and Legislative branches at the three tiers could jointly implement a framework on information management, believing that this is one of the most potent ways of containing these dreaded occurrences. It certainly would yield better results than moving to States and Local governments by Abuja, except in situations where Mr. President’s messages are being relayed to very important Nigerians like First Class royal fathers. The usual one day exercise could be improved upon to get the real feedback. Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar has made the right suggestion on dialogue as one of the solutions.
COLLABORATION FOR GROWTH THROUGH PUBLIC ENLIGHTENMENT
One of the recommendations of the UN Secretary-General is that political leaders must raise their ambition, businesses must raise their sights, and people everywhere must raise their voices. There is a better way, and we must take it. All over the world, policies and plans of governments have no good chances of materializing without the cooperation of the citizenry. It is imperative to provide guidance and leadership in implementing these policies nationwide. The segment of the civil society, opinion leaders, the organized private sector and the media that shape opinions must take active part in aiding, sensitizing, as well as moving policy formulators, and those who implement these policies to drive and sustain plans put in place to contain COVID-19, and ensure that Nigeria builds a resilient economy of our dream.
For several decades, the global community has continued to grapple with the problems of insecurity, armed conflicts and violence. It is increasingly assuming a dangerous proportion in spite of concerted efforts by the United Nations and world powers to stem the very dangerous development staring humanity in the face. It is recorded that most of these conflicts have been provoked by avoidable issues. The effects have been terribly catastrophic. Various forms of manifestations of violence and conflicts, including political clashes, ethno-communal and religious disturbances, genocide and other forms of manifestations of crises and conflicts have not only arisen, but have become pronounced.
Accordingly, no serious nation would leave its security to adversaries. Nigeria has been conscious of this fact and has, indeed over the years promoted measures that have ensured that our interests and national security are not subjugated to the interests of other nations. It is for the reason of the foregoing that our policies in this country have greatly tilted towards resolving our differences through rational persuasion and moral exhortation To move Nigeria forward, dialogue is the answer and not confrontation that would not yield any fruit. Great nationalists and heroes of democracy in Nigeria recognized this fact and warned that it was senseless to go to war that could consume this nation on account of racial prejudices and political differences. There is apparently no Nigerian who is not profoundly concerned about how he or she is governed and the delivery of what has come to be known as democracy dividends to the citizenry. As a society, we have no prospect of developing except our common policies, programmes and plans are executed in accordance with modern established principles of governance that emphasizes carrying along the citizenry. Therefore,, we require total commitment and dedication as united Nigerians at home and abroad to support governments at the three tiers for positive developments.
INCREASED INVOLVEMENT OF THE LEGISLATIVE ARMS AT THE THREE TIERS
In his treatise captioned: Issues and Challenges of Governance in Nigeria, eminent scholar, Prof. Akin Mabogunje asserted that: ‘’ It was Alexis de Tocqueville (1980: 54) who noted during his visit to the United States in the 19th century, that the strength of their democracy, indeed, of any democracy, is based on the institution of local governments. According to him: “..local assemblies of citizens constitute the strength of free nations. Town-meetings are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they bring it within the people’s reach, they teach men how to use and how to enjoy it. A nation may establish a system of free government, but without the spirit of municipal institutions, it cannot have the spirit of liberty.”
In representative democracies, it is the responsibility of legislators to represent their constituents who must also hold them accountable for their actions and inactions. Social cohesion and harmony have continued to be threatened by peaceful and harmonious co-existence while terrorism has crept into the system. It contributes to the economic adversity of nations by constituting stumbling blocks to development and has the tendency of driving away both local and foreign investments. From available indications, terrorist attacks impact negatively, quality of life and the enjoyment of some basic rights like right to life, freedom of movement, access to possible employment and educational opportunities. The following constitute very topical items that could be treated by TOWN HALL MEETINGS suggested for implementation by legislative arms of the three tiers of government:
• Peace & Insecurity
• Agriculture and Agribusiness & Food security initiative through promoting the “Grow What We Eat” and “Eat What We Grow” agenda
• Creation of a financial stimulus package for the Nigerian economy
• Reduction of non-essential spending
• Creation of jobs
• The economy and the Made in Nigeria products and policies initiative & Intensification of efforts to grow non-oil exports
• Climate Change — Please conduct a vox-pop and ask people on the streets what Climate Change means. I asked a friend last week and his answer was: ”How do you want people who are hungry to know Climate Change and the Paris 2015 agenda?” Gradually, we will get there
Opinion leaders, youth, students of tertiary institutions, organizations with parental responsibilities, traditional rulers, women organizations, security agencies, with military, and para-military agencies and regional security outfits in attendance. It is important to make adequate provision for security to prevent kidnappings of legislators who may brief their constituents.
VEHICLES FOR TRANSMISSION OF MESSAGES
• States and federal governments may be requested to make their radio and television stations available for the public enlightenment campaign
• Livestream TOWN HALL meetings on Facebook and other social media channels. The audience could be significant if adequate pre-event publicity is made
CHANGE IN VALUES & PREFERENCE FOR OUR LOCAL PRODUCTS & SERVICES
Additionally, it must be pointed out that our values must change and our preferences must be for products and services made in Nigeria. It is possible for this nation to come out even stronger from this global economic malaise through the Nigeria made products and services agenda. There is also the need for moral rejuvenation, more philanthropy and less of celebration of wealth.
UTILIZING LOCAL ASSEMBLIES
Arising from the foregoing, it seems that a viable option at this critical period is for our legislators at Federal, States and Local Governments to go to their constituencies to hold TOWN HALL MEETINGS on issues confronting the nation and how the citizenry must cooperate with Federal and State governments to develop the country. This way, messages would sink deeper and opportunities would arise for eye balls to eye balls interactions by legislators and their constituents. This method might be hugely useful given the advantages of interpersonal communication. An opportunity is also provided for an immediate feedback whose mechanism could be deployed to feed States and Federal governments back on the hopes and aspirations of the citizenry.
May the Good Lord bless Nigeria.