Con­sol­i­dat­ing democ­racy, one year af­ter

Daily Trust - - OPINION - By Sule Bello

The 29th of May 2016 has since 1999 been made into a Democ­racy Day, by the Obasanjo ad­min­is­tra­tion, in or­der to cel­e­brate the tran­si­tion from mil­i­tary to civil­ian rule that ush­ered in the Fourth Repub­lic (1999-date).

This par­tic­u­lar cel­e­bra­tion of Democ­racy Day is com­ing ex­actly one year af­ter the Gen­eral Elec­tions of 2015 which made it pos­si­ble for the peo­ple of Nige­ria to vote out a rul­ing party in favour of the op­po­si­tion party. The suc­cess­ful, pa­tri­otic and peace­ful man­ner in which this was achieved had since be­come an im­por­tant ref­er­ence point, and is a credit to all pa­tri­otic Nige­ri­ans and po­lit­i­cal, as well as civil so­ci­ety, or­ga­ni­za­tions. For ex­am­ple the Na­tional Re­sponse Ini­tia­tive (NRI) and Kano Civil So­ci­ety Fo­rum (KCSF) along with many other or­ga­ni­za­tions ex­e­cuted many suc­cess­ful cam­paigns on the need for free, fair, cred­i­ble and peace­ful elec­tions in Nige­ria.

In line with demo­cratic prac­tice, and on the ba­sis of the ap­peal made by Pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Buhari (PMB) for Nige­ri­ans to crit­i­cally eval­u­ate the jour­ney so far, which was car­ried in some of our re­cent dailies, the NRI along with KCSF and many other or­ga­ni­za­tions, convened this con­fer­ence.

The present gov­ern­ment un­der the lead­er­ship of PMB, was elected on the plat­form of All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC) against the can­di­date of the Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP), the then sit­ting pres­i­dent of Nige­ria, Good­luck Ebele Jonathan. PMB’s suc­cess was pred­i­cated on the need to solve the var­i­ous prob­lems of cor­rup­tion, poverty, inse­cu­rity and the near one party dic­ta­tor­ship etc. that be­dev­illed the coun­try un­der the lead­er­ship of the PDP. Ac­cord­ingly the APC, and the gov­ern­ment un­der PMB, fo­cused on three im­por­tant is­sues. These are the fight against cor­rup­tion, inse­cu­rity and un­em­ploy­ment in Nige­ria.

We strongly sug­gest the fol­low­ing for con­sid­er­a­tion by the gov­ern­ment in its ef­forts to­wards ex­pand­ing on the well­be­ing of Nige­ri­ans through the cre­ation of more jobs.

Gov­ern­ments ef­forts to­wards the di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion, or in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion, of the econ­omy con­sti­tute the most im­por­tant sin­gle ba­sis for all-round devel­op­ment of the econ­omy. This is only pos­si­ble through the dogged pur­suit of poli­cies which en­sure lo­cal and indige­nous devel­op­ment of in­dus­trial ca­pa­bil­i­ties and the kind of friendly en­vi­ron­ment that could en­sure that rel­e­vant skills and raw ma­te­rial, as well as costs of re­lated in­dus­trial in­puts and ser­vices such as en­ergy, trans­porta­tion etc., are also both com­pet­i­tive and af­ford­able.

A pro­gramme for the pro­tec­tion, and ex­pan­sion, of lo­cal agri­cul­tural and in­dus­trial pro­duc­tion need to be ar­tic­u­lated and pro­moted as a ba­sis for job cre­ation in the coun­try for all lev­els of pro­duc­ers.

Pro­vi­sion of ba­sic ser­vices and fa­cil­i­ties in the form of health and education, as well as phys­i­cal in­fras­truc­tural fa­cil­i­ties, by the Gov­ern­ment are crit­i­cal to cre­at­ing the con­di­tions that make it pos­si­ble to de­velop busi­nesses that both em­ploy oth­ers, as well as pro­mote self-em­ploy­ment. Trans­porta­tion cost, along with the wide­spread avail­abil­ity of cheap or sub­si­dized sources of en­ergy, is there­fore of great im­por­tance for pro­mot­ing the gen­eral pro­duc­tiv­ity of the econ­omy. In this re­spect it is also im­por­tant that the gov­ern­ment pays greater at­ten­tion the lo­cal gen­er­a­tion of so­lar power, ir­ri­ga­tion fa­cil­i­ties, and the prac­tice of or­ganic agri­cul­ture, in ad­di­tion to the pro­mo­tion of small and medium lo­cal en­ter­prises in the min­ing sec­tor with a view to the in­dus­trial uti­liza­tion of the coun­try’s vast nat­u­ral and hu­man re­sources.

In­vest­ments ear­marked for the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment, or af­foresta­tion, in the form of the Na­tional Eco­log­i­cal Funds, and for the con­struc­tion of the Green Wall Project in Nige­ria, need to be seen to be more ef­fec­tively ap­plied and ex­e­cuted. These, along with the pro­vi­sion of agri­cul­tural fa­cil­i­ties and in­puts, as well as for­mal sup­port for the live­stock pro­duc­tion sec­tor, will cre­ate tremen­dous op­por­tu­ni­ties in the agri­cul­tural sec­tor for em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties-in con­trast to what cur­rently ex­ists.

The gov­ern­ment needs to pro­mote so­cial wel­fare, and so­cial se­cu­rity, pro­grammes in line with its campaign prom­ises in or­der to pro­tect the most vulnerable in our so­ci­ety. In other words those who are not em­ployed, em­ploy­able or able to take care of them­selves in any way.

There is need for gov­ern­ment to en­sure that re­mu­ner­a­tions for work­ers and pen­sion­ers are duly and promptly paid in view of fact that such funds were al­ready pro­vided for and rightly earned. In ad­di­tion pen­sion funds need to be pro­tected from abuse by po­lit­i­cal of­fice hold­ers and bu­reau­crats, in line with the laws of the land.

The gov­ern­ment needs to en­sure that lo­cal, medium and small-scale con­trac­tors are duly paid where they have ful­filled their con­trac­tual obli­ga­tions in or­der not to sti­fle the sec­tor, and keep many peo­ple out of job.

Spe­cial at­ten­tion need to be paid by the Gov­ern­ment to the pro­mo­tion of re­gional, and sub re­gional, trade and in­fras­truc­tural fa­cil­i­ties such as Trans African gas pipe lines, Trans-Sa­ha­ran Road Net­work, Rail­ways and a com­mon cur­rency in line with the ob­jec­tives of the Eco­nomic Com­mu­nity of West African States (ECOWAS) and African Union (AU). These need to be pur­sued as strate­gies for eco­nomic ex­pan­sion, and the cre­ation of em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties.

In con­clu­sion we need to em­pha­sise that the mass of our peo­ple that voted this gov­ern­ment into power have al­ready ex­er­cised great pa­tience, and per­se­ver­ance, in the face of tremen­dous hard­ships, in sen­si­ti­tiv­ity, and crip­pling acts of cor­rup­tion of pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions. There­fore the gov­ern­ment should im­me­di­ately ar­tic­u­late, and roll out, poli­cies that will bet­ter the eco­nomic con­di­tions of Nige­rian cit­i­zens. It should raise the stan­dard of liv­ing of the peo­ple, par­tic­u­larly the poor and the vulnerable, rather than com­pound them through the adop­tion of ill-ad­vised and ex­ter­nally pro­moted poli­cies.

For the con­sol­i­da­tion of democ­racy, the supremacy of the po­lit­i­cal party need to be up­held. We note that the rul­ing po­lit­i­cal party seems not to have any com­mon pol­icy po­si­tion in the run­ning of both the Fed­eral and states gov­ern­ments. We thus call the rul­ing party to har­monise the ac­tiv­i­ties of the states un­der its control so as to en­sure the ex­e­cu­tion of its man­i­festo and campaign prom­ises. The fail­ure of the party to per­form its role ef­fec­tively, in this re­gard, has marginal­ized the gen­eral pub­lic from ac­tively par­tic­i­pat­ing in the de­sign­ing, and im­ple­men­ta­tion, of gov­ern­ment poli­cies and pro­grams.

In re­spect of the fight against cor­rup­tion, inse­cu­rity and un­em­ploy­ment we re­quest the gov­ern­ment to give due at­ten­tion to the suggestions given above es­pe­cially in re­spect of the re­forms, and mea­sures, that are nec­es­sar­ily re­quired for the suc­cess­ful achieve­ment of its avowed pro­grammes. Prof. Sule Bello is the Chair­man, Na­tional Re­sponse Ini­tia­tive (NRI), Kano

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.