These issues are beyond what only government could handle. Where are the parents? Where are the leaders of our socio-cultural organizations? Where are our royal fathers? Where are our community leaders? I think we must be more serious with our campaign for the restoration of values that would make us proud. We must tell those who go out to misbehave that they will never have our sympathy.
This compilation is the consequence of reflections on recent events, particularly the problem of insecurity, social and criminal vices and the blanket denigration of Nigerians, on account of sordid acts perpetrated by bad eggs amongst us. Upon reflection, two issues arise: We, Nigerians have on our hands a serious issue, particularly with regard to the strife in the North-eastern part of Nigeria where something akin to a full-blown war is taking place. In other places, kidnapping for ransom, rape, rituals and other heinous crimes as they occur are very frightening. In the second instance, there is the question of values that is gradually being eroded.
As for the question of insurgency, the whole world must listen to us because a problem in Nigeria is a predicament for ECOWAS and also Africa. God forbid, if things go wrong with this nation in terms of insurgency prevailing (God forbid) in this great country of 200 million people, the whole world will suffer the consequences. I say so because unconfirmed utilization of drones by these rag-tag forces show that there is cause for bother, and there might be stronger background assistance for these insurgents than we imagine. President Buhari had cause to sound a note of caution on threats to security very recently.when he said ”Nigeria is facing a new form of Boko Haram terrorists’ threat and other security challenges, which the Federal Government is looking into” I believe that we must pray and come together for the sake of our nation.
OUR VALUES: I am writing with the best and honest intentions as my my loyalty must first be to God. Next is country – Nigeria. No partisan political inclination or undertone. The task ahead in constructing the Nigeria of our dream is huge, but not unattainable. It involves all of us, particularly the elite and political classes. Without any doubt, we must reason and engage in more discourse, with intent to be collectively committed to the evolution of a new Nigeria. Given the very sordid criminal offences that have apparently heightened over the past few decades, it is time for all citizens to contribute to the quest for just and equitable solutions to our common problems. But it is important to note that though these problems of moral deficiency, criminal and social vices and abandonment of values and virtues passed on to our generation by our progenitors need to be passed to our younger ones. Failure to uphold these very high standards forms the major problem retarding development.
SELF RELIANCE & ECONOMIC RECOVERY: 59 years after independence, we are still searching for self-reliance and economic recovery as cornerstones for our economic recovery. This is in spite of the fact that we have the resources – human and material — sufficient to throw Nigeria into greatness. If this must happen, we Nigerians require patriotism, reorientation and imbibing the culture of hard work in this critical stage in a difficult and challenging world. Apart from the need to reinforce bonds of friendship, we require the right dosage of patriotism, sacrifice, dedication and indomitable and can-do spirit true spirit that is needed to propel Nigeria to the forefront.
THE BACK TO BASICS PLEA BY MALLAM ADAMU FIKA: I have read the piece with the foregoing caption no fewer than seven times, just as I have read Emeritus Prof. Akin Mabogunje’s works on good governance voluptuously. These are the second generation technocrats and bureaucrats whose postulations may not be easily faulted. This piece is not directed at placing faults on any door except those of the privileged elite class. And I am one of them because we all are responsible for the task of building a healthy nation. The Wazirin Fika, Mallam Adamu Fika in the piece under reference asserted that: ‘’ It is indeed distressing to see supposedly educated and experienced public officers behave and conduct themselves as if matters have no precedent; and they go on to regard and treat the past with so much condescending levity. If we are to progress as a nation, we must learn to pay due respect to the past and learn from it and treasure the legacy bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers and their immediate worthy successors—the pioneer public officers in both mufti and khaki—who toiled to make Nigeria what it is today. This unfortunate disrespect for the past and what it represented and the disdain for the memory of the great personalities who led our country were the result of a series of disastrous events, beginning with the dumping of the people’s Constitution in 1979’’
THE PEOPLES” CONSTITUTION: Mallam Fika went further: The Constitution that was drawn up after many years of extensive consultations from the grassroots upwards and after keenly-attended General and several Constitutional Conferences by the representatives of the federating regions was unceremoniously discarded in favour of one enacted after only a few months of discussion by a few of the elite under the direction and supervision of the military. The imposed Constitution completely changed the tone and character of governance by stipulating that Nigeria should have a presidential system of government; and it went on to foist the presidential system on our country without any justification other than military dictate.
ECONOMIC CONSTRAINTS: State governments are currently in difficulty largely as a result of economic issues. Their predicament would only improve if they look inwards for internally generated revenue. But that might take some time. According to Prof. Sam Aluko, in a paper delivered in May, 2001, ‘’The foreign debt overhang in Nigeria increased from zero in 1960, to $1 billion in 1979, $11.5 billion in 1986, $33.2 billion in 1990, and $35 billion in 2000—about $18 billion of which was the current accumulated interest. In actual fact, Nigeria borrowed about $17.5 billion between 1979 and today, (2001) repaid about $33 billion during the period, and was still, as at 2001, owing US$35 billion. Nigeria’s debt, was as at then estimated at about 82% of its Gross Domestic Product. The IMF/World Bank, the Paris Club, and the London Club of Creditors (the Paris Club is the same creditor countries when they act as governments, as the London Club countries when they act as bank lenders), have involved Nigeria, like other African debtor countries, in debt-rescheduling, debt conversion, debt-buyback and deferred payments; all of which had exacerbated the debt burden, rather than debt relief or debt cancellation which the Nigerian governments hoped would be granted, if they continued to follow the prescriptions and the economic dictates of the creditors.
DEBT REPRIEVE: Aluko continued: ‘’As Nigeria became poorer and poorer, its leaders became more and more criminalized; lost more and more confidence in themselves and in the economy; and increased the keeping of their wealth, much of which was stolen or taken from the economy, in the banks, or invested it in the economies of the West, with the active encouragement or connivance of the West’’ (Executive Intelligence Review) We eventually got a debt reprieve at great costs.
WHAT IS WRONG? – WE NEED TO TELL SOME OF THESE STORIES: Most of these problems precede the current Administration. We started placing the wrong foot first shortly after independence. Singapore got its independence in 1965; and has progressively moved from the Third to the First World category. I was in Singapore a few years back and saw one of us — Nigerians intercepted at the country’s border post; arrested for concealing hard drugs in the Holy Bible! Why would a normal human being walk into the valley of death in an attempt to be rich? This issue is beyond what only government could handle. Then you call on government to intervene in that type of wilful violation of a law that attracts capital punishment.
THE STAKEHOLDERS: We cannot hold government alone accountable for social and criminal vices in the society. Where are the parents? Where are leaders of our socio-cultural organizations? Where are our royal fathers? Where are our community leaders? Are parents taking care of their children as they should do? Is government responsible for funding useless trips to Italy and similar countries for prostitution? Government never sent people trafficking in hard drugs.
WARNING TO YOUTHS: A man of great divine wisdom, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, two years ago stated that: ‘’If you learn from the mistakes of others, you will not fall where they fall, and you will not perish where they perished; but if you fail to learn, you too will soon become a signpost that tells other not to follow the path you followed. How ironic it is for someone who was aware of the pitfalls that consumed others to end up in the same pit. This is what happens to those who never take warnings seriously. Are you like that? Do you say “it doesn’t matter “Yes, it does!’’ (Open Heavens) This applies to all those young Nigerians who daily attempt to travel out of Nigeria illegally. Government has shouted and warned severally for young people to desist from these nefarious activities that are portraying Nigeria in bad light.The issue is that we must arrest these occurrences before they emerge.
THE PROBLEM OF INEQUALITY: I think we must be more serious with our campaign for the restoration of values that would make us proud. We must tell those who go out to misbehave that they will never have our sympathy.We need to get the whole world to see the exact picture of our debt burden and how we borrowed US$17 Billion from the West to pay US$80 billion;at a period when Illicit Transfers out of Africa have peaked at US$ 80, billion annually, according to the Thabo Mbeki Report. How can development occur with all these clogs put in place by multilateral agencies? Fortunately, people like President Bill Clinton have openly pointed out that inequality is a dangerous phenomenon that the global community should address. Those pills from the borrowers are too bitter for us to swallow.
PEACE & JUSTICE: For a long time, all of us Nigerians have been guilty directly or indirectly for the retarded growth of our nation. We cannot situate the blames at the doorsteps of the current Administration alone as the decay witnessed is that of decades from succeeding regimes. I say all of us, because the elites are very selfish, the peasant who sells his or her votes and cares less about democracy, while opinion leaders who prefer to ‘’sit on the fence’’, and the institutions that drive reforms and democracy have paved the way for the numerous social ills that stare our country in the face. There are so many issues in contention. Countries of the Far East such as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and China, which had the same GNP as Nigeria in 1960, have since multiplied theirs’ several times, and are now first or second-world countries. What is the problem, and how best could all Nigerians join hands together to lift the nation to greater heights? The cause is that we have not been able to conduct ourselves truthfully and with the fear of God. In the words of Rigoberta Menchu: ‘’Peace cannot exist without justice, justice cannot exist without fairness, fairness cannot exist without development, development cannot exist without democracy; democracy cannot exist without respect for the identity and worth of cultures and peoples. ”Yet, if can invest in a different vision of peaceful coexistence, I think we can change the world, because every problem has a nonviolent answer.’’ Rigoberta Menchu is only 60 years old and has since 1996 enjoyed the status of a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. She is also a Nobel Laureate for Peace.
THE LEADERSHIP QUESTION: Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa and Obafemi Awolowo were never principalities. We have the same quantum of brains. The difference is that they developed theirs while we prefer to wine and dine. They excelled because they were committed. Obafemi Awolowo submitted most unequivocally, in his book: ‘Thoughts on the Nigerian Constitution’ that, “What we lack very much is a sufficient number of powerful leaders with calibre, character and qualities, requisite for uniting and keeping happily together, the diverse elements in our nation” And without cooperation from all operators and citizens, however good our plans might be, achievement of targets will be impossible. We must put the past behind and support government to achieve its salient objectives for the common good. Let us all resolve to live harmoniously with one another.
DECLARATIONS MUST BE IMPLEMENTED: Pronouncements of chief executives at the three tiers are directives that must be implemented. There must be measurable goals. DIALOGUE: 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. Evidently, we require total commitment and dedication as united Nigerians at home and abroad to support governments at the three tiers for positive developments .
THE IMPORTANCE OF UNITY: nd for this to happen, we require huge sensitization. Who fought for the creation of additional states and local governments? We the elites of course; even when we knew they were not viable. Some of the reactions of the elites have been driven by personal and selfish interests. How many states in Nigeria today are economically viable apart from Lagos State? Rigoberta Menchu, quoted above asserts that: I think that nonviolence is one way of saying that there are other ways to solve problems, not only through weapons and war. Nonviolence also means the recognition that the person on one side; and the person on the other side of the trench are both human beings, with the same faculties. At some point they have to begin to understand one another.
REFORMS AGENDA & PLEA FOR REUNIFICATION: Former United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan argued that ‘’good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development (UN 1998). I believe that it is not yet past midnight for Nigeria if we can come together again. The initiative has to come from whoever God could use for the common good. I thought about the possibility of all of us coming together for the common good. It doesn’t matter who does it. What is important is for Nigeria to be great again. The present and future of Nigeria are what are in contention and not personalities. In summary, we should not fight one another.
It is evidently as a result of the foregoing that greater attention and emphasis must be accorded periodic reforms, especially institutional, fiscal, economic, political and legal reforms, that are believed to be capable of promoting good governance. We could consult the following periodically. s & National Orientation. WRANGLING OR CONTENTION: It is important we do bear in mind that as much as we may abhor crises, it is impossible to cohabit without disagreements. What we require is the strengthening of positive attitudes and core elements of consensus building, and mutual respect. It should be expected that people would agree to disagree without necessarily allowing developments to hamper societal development.
May the Good Lord bless Nigeria!