The President-Elect of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd)
Let me, on behalf of my family and I and all your admirers all over Nigeria and in the Diaspora, CONGRATULATE you Sir for winning convincingly in the just concluded Presidential Elections of March 28, 2015. This victory is for all Nigerians at home and abroad who yearn for change for the better for the sake of all of us and our progeny. We are gratified that the naysayers were put to shame and the wish of Allah to save our country was realized through the general mandate of the people of all walks of life to you. We are assured that you are not only competent, but you have been through the crucible of the tribulations of trying three times to attain the position, but we all know that only that which Allah permits comes to pass. CONGRATULATIONS to you and your (OUR) family, especially for allowing you to do what you have done for the whole of Nigeria in spite of the hardships this would have imposed on all of them. Especial thanks must go to Madam, our MOTHER, for taking good care of you and for ensuring that we are able to have you as our leader.
On December 14, 2013, I was with Honorable (Dr.) Muhammad Ali in Kaduna and I was to have met with you. But due to your busy schedule, we did not meet. I had sent the following (amended) document through him to you, to form the basis of my presentation to you. Now that the Presidential and National Assembly Elections, as well as the State Elections, are over, we all collectively MUST face the challenge of nation-building like never before.
Last year we (Honorable Ali and I) were in constant dialogue in the run up to your emergence as the flag bearer for APC. The day that an assassination attempt was made on your life I felt bad that I did not forewarn your security team because I had a terrible premonition about which I called Honorable Ali. I did suggest, even before you went to the bank to access funds to obtain nomination forms for APC candidacy, that we need a GMB Support fund. I discussed this with General Ishola Williams and others in the circle. When the matter came to Baba Dembo, the critical issue which prevented this being opened outside Nigeria was tax related matters and how this may expose you to various issues with USA and other countries authorities, and we would not want any blemish on your record, as the enemies of Nigeria would have latched on any straw to tarnish your reputation. But the support fund was instituted locally in Nigeria and I made special
duty of reaching out to all in my circle of professional and personal connections that they should encourage all friends, colleagues and associates to make donations.
Since the National Elections produced a resounding victory for you as our leader, I have been in dialogue with him (Professor Jagusah, Baba Alhaji Umaru Dembo, Aliyu Bala Aliyu, and many others) to make various suggestions about persons who would be very useful to sit behind you or with you in the Executive Council, as advisers, assistants or even as persons who could be called at short notice to serve our country without second guessing their commitment to the interest of Nigeria. These include General Ishola Williams (Rtd), Femi Falana (SAN), Dr. Sadiq Abdullahi (Educationist and Sportsleader), Dr. Johnson Ayodele Akingbade (formerly of CBN and retired senior World Bank staff with global respect), our own popular Jingo, Dr. Dipo Fashina (of ASUU and University of Ife fame).
When Honorable Ali asked me to write this brief for you to seek your audience, I was very reluctant for a number of reasons. First am an academic who will answer your call if so required, but am not a politician and probably am not the best person to have around, because I find it difficult to not speak the truth as I see it, no matter the personal cost to me for such forthrightness. This is a trait that has often made me unpopular and even brought me pain at various times professionally and personally otherwise. Secondly, there are many people who will be seeking attention and jostling for positions and jobs, believing that they have earned some recognition through the efforts they put into your campaign in material and kind, than those of us who are distant and have no leverage at all and should not even be keen on serving “since we ran away from the problems of Nigeria”. Am not in that category of seeking to join any gravy train, and none exist because the dispensation we must have are selfless service and commitment, and hence whatever contribution I may have made, I made because of who you are, and because our country cannot continue on the trajectory it was on without crashing to ashes. Third, am far away from the daily grind of Nigerian lobbying that will be taking place, and I do probably fit the mode. And finally, most people find students of philosophy hard to tolerate, because of their approaching issues from unorthodox often cynical perspectives. Am guilty of all these shortcomings, if they be such! But I thought it will be disrespectful if I did not write. I attach a short version of my bio, and a more complete CV.
Meeting with General Muhammadu Buhari (December 14, 2013 Amended Discussion points)
Gratitude for Fatherly Kindness
Our revered Excellency, it is an honour, a privilege and a most humbling experience for me to be presenting this to you. I come from very humble, but honest and decent background and I was taught by my parents, teachers and community back in Esa-Oke as a youth never to forget that privileges conferred by elders and communities are based on kindness and trust of elders and communities; as such they must be reciprocated with the utmost respect, loyalty, apprehension and commitment at all times, so as not to disappoint the elders, the communities, the ancestors and those unborn generations upon whose shoulders rest the survival of our ancestry in the comity of nations and races. Thank you very much for finding the time and the fatherly capacity to peruse this presentation from me, who by all accounts, is so junior, a nonentity, but who is an admirer, and a critic as well, especially as one who realistically believes he “knows” where you stand with respect to the survival of our common patrimony – Nigeria. I come humbly not as a know-all academic or anyone who knows anything, but as a son, who is concerned about the future of our common patrimony. Hence, I present this with humility and utter sense of respect for you and for all who genuinely care about/for this country that we all must call home!
The Decay of our Educational System
It was 1979, when, as a Youth Corps member, serving in Kaduna State, that I first visited Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, and I went to the Library, as I was a fresh graduate, keen on research and I was totally enthralled and amazed about the wonderful edifice that the Library was, with such attractive layout and welcoming ambiance. It was very navigable, comfortable to sit and read, and well resourced, leading to me commenting to my colleagues that of all the University libraries with which I was familiar while I was an Undergraduate – University of Ife, University of Ibadan, University of Lagos, University of Benin, UNN and University of Port Harcourt – ABU Library was the most modern (I was fortunate to have traveled with Professor Ogundana, the hydrologist all over the Southern part of Nigeria for his research, because of my social science background from Higher School Certificate results). My own University then, University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife also has a library with up to date books,
journals and facilities to support staff, student and public research, but in architectural design and layout of the reading rooms and the inventory of equipment and ambiance, the ABU Library was light years ahead. At that time the roads in Nigeria were motorable, day or night, without any fear of ending in a ravine on the road or being waylaid by either law enforcement officers collecting extortionist tolls or hoodlums robbing the hapless travelers.
Everywhere you went now in the educational system you have to wonder how anyone could graduate from these environments to have any visions or dreams. Last year I was Keynote Speaker at Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma and I was devastated by the degrading circumstances in which we prepare the future generation of leaders. It was like the University has been ravaged by some natural disaster of war. When I mentioned the fact that it is near hopeless to expect graduates from our institutions to have any understanding of excellence, the faculty could not but agree with me. But the University is not alone in this desperate situation, as my visits to UI, UNILAG, OAU and others speak to the disaster that our educational system has become. This is not to mention the pigsties in which out infants and youth are “educated”. There is no nation in the world that expects excellence without investment in education in a meaningful way. And it does not take rocket science to see that Nigeria is almost a basket case, destined for backwardness unless we do something urgently about this
Deterioration of General Infrastructure
As a Youth Corper, posted to Southern Zaria, teaching at Advanced Teachers’ College, Kafanchan (Philosophy of Education), my friends and I usually travel from Zaria to Kafanchan mostly in the evenings (nights), in a car owned by one of our youth corps friends. And we laboured (served) for the country with zeal and zest, believing in the future, and hoping to make a difference. We chose various professions, from law to journalism, from banking to librarianship, from agriculture to trade unionism, from academics to insurance. Things were not this bad then, and you did not have to know people to get good jobs after graduating from a university. I had numerous options after graduating top of my class in Philosophy.
After completing the service year, I was offered a position as Lecturer at the Advanced Teachers’ College, Kafanchan where I did my Youth Service, to teach Philosophy of Education, which I had designed for the College, but I chose to go back to my alma mater, University of Ife, for a number of reasons, but principally because ABU had no
post graduate Philosophy programme – I am not aware if they now have a department of Philosophy to ground everything they do to enrich the intellectual capacity of the youth that come within its portals. Even more significantly, I had friends from all over Nigeria (and I still do), who were more like family, and we were so bonded that it was difficult to know what our individual mother tongues or ethnicities were, as pidgin English was a medium for transcending those barriers created by linguistic limitations, ethnicity and colonial heritage which threw us all together within the boundaries of one country.
Modernity, Progress and Improvement
One of the critical things about modernity and post-modernity is the pursuit of improvement, advancement, change, transformation, simplification and progressive reduction of all distressing aspects of life (pace Taiwo 2010). Imagine the modes of transportation and the improvements which have been witnessed within the last two decades. In the automobile industry, humanity has moved from heavy steel to light plastic, fiber glass, and hydrogen power; we have moved from alternator distributor engines to computerized engines, etc. In health care, humanity has got to the point of growing human organs to replace bad ones, and means are being found daily to elongate human life span. In the domain of education, location has been dislocated, with the classroom moved into cyber space; this is the reason why I did Postgraduate Diploma and Master of Arts in Distance Education. In the domain of employment, diverse new vocations, professions and creativities have replaced old limitations, such that there is virtually nothing which cannot be engineered – since there is no sky, there is no limit – and people can live in Birni Kebbi and be working in Tokyo, in what is now known as tele-commuting; and the specialties have moved from the traditional ones to myriads of professions and sophisticated creative avocations.
Commitment to Nigeria and Academics
After my MA Philosophy in 1982, my Professor, Dr. Chris Nwodo, wanted me to join him to build a new Department of Philosophy at University of Portharcourt, and I was offered Lecturer II (usually reserved for people with PhD but because I had published even while doing my MA, I was always ahead of my peers when it came to work output, research and development). I did not take the offer because, after visiting Port Harcourt with Professor Ogundana, the Hydrologist, I thought Port Harcourt was too far a place to
work at that stage of my life. I chose to remain at University of Ife. The irony is that less than ten years later, Jamaica, in the West Indies, became my father’s “backyard” and is not far for me to live with my family when the conditions in Nigeria changed for the worse for teachers, civil servants and all honest 30 days make one salary earners! I first went to Jamaica on my first Sabbatical Leave from Ogun State University, Ago-Iwoye as a Visiting Rhodes Scholar, and I developed courses for the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus to enrich the programme of the University with an African centred content and at the end of the academic year I was offered permanent employment on the merit of my qualifications and professional accomplishments.
What happened to persons of my generation who left Nigeria was that the old dreams gave birth to nightmares for most of us. We were taught that if you went to school and worked hard, you will be successful. This was because our parents believed that hard work and dedication pays. The group which fought the “Ali Must Go” became totally disenchanted, disillusioned and compromised. And those of us who cannot join the kleptocracy, lootocracy and physical and pen banditry that became the new normal for Nigeria had to find ways of exiting the country: if you do not work in the oil industry which paid well because they had little or no oversight on their income and expenditure and they had to pay international rates to keep staff; if you are not in the army or police with access to other people’s money through the road checkpoints, and if you are not into banking to do “arrange”, then you must either join the corruption bandwagon in the political sphere or become Andrew, by checking out! Those were trying times for lecturers, when salaries were paid on the 50th day of the month if they were paid at all, or many months’ wages were owed to workers, leading to corruption.
Decline of Professional and Moral Standards
I remember clearly when I was Vice-Dean of my Faculty at Ogun State University, Ago-Iwoye (now Olabisi Onabanjo University), at that tender stage of my career, and I was offered twice my annual salary to admit a student – I was in charge of the first stage of admission processing in the Faculty at my University then. I looked at it and remembered what my father taught me, that oogun oloogun, bi ko ya’ni l’apo, a t a’ni ni’se. That is, what one has not earned (someone else’s sweat), if it does not tear one’s pocket, it will impoverish one. So, I asked the young man to go upstairs – to Oga at the top – and seek help. Well, we became friends thereafter, because he was admitted on the strength of my advice to him to go to the appropriate quarters where he could
receive help under the circumstances, but he appreciated me for being upright. The point is, one could ask the questions: Where did he get the money? Did he steal it or obtain it fraudulently? Did his parents borrow it? Did he pressure someone at work to give him riba or egunje or family support? What?
I did not wish to find out, and would not be part of it. But when the situation got to the point where I had to be visiting the banks (WEMA Bank, Ijebu-Igbo) almost monthly for overdraft or salary advance from students whom I had taught who are now bankers or colleagues we graduated together who are now bankers, and salaries were being paid on the 50th of the month, I knew something had to give. It is worse when you have the moniker Dr. in front of your name. To become so poor that you walk with your toes showing in your shoes, or your shirt becoming so threadbare that your skin begins to show, can only drive one into desperate acts. That briefly was why Jamaica became shorter distance than Port Harcourt for me to work. When armed robbers took my car at gun-point, I knew I would not be able to buy a new one in the near future, and I determined that it was better to try to market my intellectual achievements globally. And this has paid off handsomely, as today I have about seven books to my name and numerous essays in internationally recognize journals of philosophy and my ideas are sought after globally, leading to invitations of various types. Could it then be that the disaster of poverty and armed robbery provided the leverage for me to forage outside of Nigeria to the benefit of humanity and my family? What has Nigeria gained in all of this?
And how has all of this contributed to my view of reality and existence? These are serious questions which influence my actions and beliefs on a daily basis, making sure that I never forget where I come from and that I should strive to contribute wherever I can.
Part of what has contributed to the problem in Nigeria has been a number of factors of which one can mention the following: a) non-regular payment of salaries, b) poor salaries, c) absence of reasonable access to credit, d) total disrespect, disdain and cruelty of leadership to the masses of the people, and e) profligacy borne of non-accountability, impunity and a vapid plantation mentality of leaders – where the leadership behave like an alien army of occupation over a conquered domain, reminiscent of the colonial period where government was not accountable to the people governed by to the colonial office in London. What changed are just the faces
which are no longer white, but black. The colonial education has produced a coterie of inheritors of independence who have no respect for their indigenous traditions or the humanity of the members of their societies. This disgraceful situation has bred multiple dysfunctionalities which cannot be corrected overnight or without deliberate and concerted effort.
Legacies, Posterity and Modern Slavery
Returning to my starting issue, all parents, elders and visionary leaders of the family of civilized humanity desires to leave good, better, and more auspicious environment for their progeny to prosper. This is what drives modernity’s persistent desire for change and improvement. It is what drives the desire to simplify and make less stressful all aspects of existence. It is what drives the Western desire to automate, apply technology and improve everything – even when further improvement may seem pointless. It is why what used to be major surgery – appendectomy – is now a minor pin-hole procedure which people can recuperate from and go home on the day of the procedure.
Just look around us. Take the electricity that we use, from the light bulbs to the process of generating and distributing power. The transformation that has taken place over the last few years has been remarkable. Take transportation: money now moves without boundaries and one does not need to take a cent to travel – unless one is a Nigerian with dubious sources of income! One can sleep in one continent and wake up in another continent the following day – compared with donkeys, steam boats and propeller airplanes, we have supersonic jets beating the speed of sound.
In terms of education, even as bad as American economy has become and there has had to be various cutbacks in educational financing, the basic things have not been compromised. You can imagine that at the peak of the recession in the US, I was invited to Brooklyn College – CUNY, as an Endowed Professor of Philosophy of Culture with a salary that was way ahead of what most professors of the University were earning – except probably for the Provost!
What has happened to us as Nigerians? Why are we still where we are – backward, squabbling and non-progressive and in the rank of the “failed” states? In some instances, when I visit my Universities – Ife, Ibadan, Kafanchan, Ijeby-Igbo, and others, I find conditions worse now than they were when I was a graduate assistant. I often joke about it that the only time I occupied a well-furnished and air-conditioned office was
when I was a graduate assistant at the University of Ife; as I climbed the ladder of seniority, it seemed that the conditions under which I worked worsened instead of improving. It could not be because Nigeria has no money, because Nigeria now earns more money today than then. What is responsible why societies with little are able to make their citizens live human lives and we cannot? This is the big gorilla in the room that needs careful dealing with – so that the whole house will not be destroyed in the stampede that careless handling of the beast in the room may generate!
When Baba Gana Kingibe visited Nigeria as External Affairs Minister after the annulment of June 12, I accosted him to explain to Nigerians living in Jamaica why he who should have been the Vice-President of Nigeria was now the errand boy of the military which truncated our democracy. He said Rome was not built in a day, and I responded that responsible persons continued to build Rome daily until it became what it is, while in our own case, we have only been tearing apart our Rome, hence we have nothing to show for 30 years of independence at that stage! He had no further response, and I believe that experience would have remained with him for the rest of his life.
Respect, Human Dignity and Transcience of Humanity
Two things: first, respect for the humanity and dignity of fellow human beings are extremely critical for the development of any society (Bewaji 2012). When there is respect for the humanity of others, there are certain patronizing things you simply cannot do. But there can be no respect from persons who do not consider themselves to be human beings in the first place; that is, those who see themselves as lords, super-humans or saints, who must be worshipped no matter how horrible their behaviours have been will not see reason to respect the humanity of their compatriots. This leads to the second; and that is recognition of human transience and history (Bewaji 2013). When one recognizes that we were all born with nothing – princes or nobility or peasants – and we would all die and take nothing away from the world, maybe we would appreciate why legacies of accountability, responsibility and youth and people empowerment is better than anything we could think of!
History has it that when Julius Nyerere demitted office, he did not even have a personal house of his own to retire to. The state had to build him a bungalow. But he would have died a happy man, knowing that he made a difference in his life time in the life of his country – within permissible space that was allowed by the imperialist agent provocateurs. Nelson Mandela just transitioned, but his legacy globally as a peace
maker, rather than an intemperate rabble rouser, looms larger than even that of Gandhi or King, because he had the power to turn South Africa into an inferno with rage and vengeance, but he did not. Regardless of how imperfect the RSA that he left behind may seem to be today, we find that it is work in progress for the rest of us who are still around. Even more significant, he had enough confidence in the health care system of his country such that he did not leave to seek treatment outside his country for his body to be returned in a bag!
General, when Your Excellency and General Tunde Idiagbon (of blessed memory) took over power in 1983, most of my generation jubilated. Especially when sanity was restored to national life, by example and by precept. Even more significantly, we were more committed to the task of nation-building than at any other time. Some of us are still there in the trenches; my friend Femi Falana is one such indefatigable individual who has shown resilience beyond compare. But some have sold out, and are worse than those they criticize! I hear they now boast of having houses in Dubai and Doha – places where they are not wanted and where they will never live!
Anyway, there is nothing I can tell Your Excellency that you do not already know. And I must appreciate the fact that you have remained the point of departure from the general rot that is our beloved country. Many are afraid of you, because they are beholden to corruption and greed and are bent on continuing the depraved practice of destroying the common patrimony that is Nigeria for their own selfish ends. Many adore you because they believe you have the ability to turn things around. But am sure you are realistic enough to appreciate that you alone cannot do much, that you cannot do all that has to be done without the participation of all Nigerians of good will and honesty, but as the elder and leader, you can hold those behind you accountable. That is the critical thing which will make the country grow.
It is clear that beneficiaries of corruption will fight tooth and nail to protect the system of graft which put them at unearned advantage. Even more important to them is the protection of the loot which they have derived from the corrupt system which made them into who they are at the expense of society, and they would be ready to bring the house down on all in order to protect their ill-gotten loot. This is where eternal vigilance is critical, and hence the need to ensure that critical portfolios are staffed with trusted and dependable persons of integrity and maturity. This is where a Truth and Reconciliation Mechanism can be of use to provide opportunity for healing the nation.
Priorities for your administration must be the immediate Destruction of Impunity and the Building of Infrastructure
There are certain basic things which must be addressed on the governance side immediately:
a) Salaries: Salaries of all Civil Servants throughout the Federation must be paid unfailingly on the 25th of each month. Where the 25th falls on Saturday or Sunday, then it must be paid on the Friday preceding that date. What this does immediately is that workers are able to predict, plan and manage income, without resorting to overdraft, kleptomania, corruption, family support or riba. It also helps the financial sector to plan income, expenditure, advances and interests on loans. A situation where the Federal government or state governments do not pay workers on a fixed date and without fail is detestable and makes for uncertainty and helplessness with the attendant desperation which leads to graft, embezzlement and corruption.
b) Leadership by Accountability and Example: Nigerians are responsive to leadership and where leadership goes, there Nigerians follow. As a University Student during the Muritala Muhammed time, we saw how leadership instils in the followers confidence once they are led by example. Till today, remnants of the experience still exist in banks, post offices, bus stops in Yaba and other places.
c) Education: This is the cure all for most of the ills afflicting Nigeria. Except for the Ekiti fiasco, there is hardly an educated society that believes in stomach infrastructure. Education empowers and removes the capacity of rogues to misuse the trust that is reposed in leadership. Even more significant, there is need to have very sound early childhood education, properly resourced and managed. To this end it is important to invest in resources which will be easily available in order to ensure as level a playing field as possible nationally.
d) Health Care: Health is wealth. This is very important to remove a lot of the avenues for superstition and dependence on charlatans who abuse the ignorance of the people for exploitation under the guise of religion and herbalism.
e) Energy: Power is critical to development in contemporary society. Cheap, sustainable, accessible and reliable energy is what drives modern society in the post-industrial era. Nigeria has to invest in this, especially in renewable and alternative energy sources. Blessed with abundance of sunlight, solar energy must be explored. Currently there are possibilities of getting solar energy at less than US0.10/kwh. This is something which Jamaica is currently doing. Apart from that Thermal and Wind sources are also available, so that we begin to plan for post fossil oil era in Nigeria. The events of the last year demonstrate how critical it is to diversify the energy sources for Nigeria. If there is proper energy and secure and reliable power, we can trust on Nigerians to do the rest.
f) Infrastructure: A situation whereby people follow the cattle from Sokoto to Lagos on foot is totally despicable in the new age. Cattle rearers must be encouraged to form cooperatives and ranches established. The spinoff for the society in this regard is immeasurable as various industries will follow in tow. For example, skin and hide, hooves, bones, teeth, etc will be useful and be made to generate income.
g) Employment: There is desperation in the land, breeding all manner of ills. As such it means that various miscreants are bred in the crucible of unemployment. Skills development and empowerment will allow the youth and able bodied men and women to develop their interests and to utilize the talents productively. Jamaica has a robust skills training system which can be adapted.
h) Sports: Nigeria used to be leaders in the global sports arena. We produced the likes of Nduka Odizor, Lawrence Awopegba, Sadiq Abdullahi in Tennis, with Ogbe Hardcourt being a signature event in Benin. In athletics Nigeria was the powerhouse and Africa followed. Apart from this, the industry that sports leads is quite remarkable in its capacity to build individuals and communities. Even more significant is the fact that sports provides avenues for the release of youth energy, instead of bottling these up to be unleashed negatively on society.
i) Women and Gender Issues: We must not neglect our women and the issues of mortality issues related to pregnancy, infancy and immunizable diseases. A healthy society is one which promotes the welfare of all. But more significantly, one can see the relationship between development and how a society treats with its weak, disabled and vulnerable communities. We must invest in the care of the
elderly and the old. Welfare programmes must be formulated and implemented in the interest of all of us.
Remember Tunji Brathwaite and the “Chop, I Chop Party”? Everyone laughed at him. But he was right in one sense: if the income of Nigeria was divided equally between the number of persons who are Nigerians, young and old, men, women and children, Nigerians would have been happy to get what each person deserves. A situation where some loot everything and most have nothing can only breed Boko Haram, MOSOP, etc. Injustice only breeds violence. Peter Tosh was right when he sang “Equal Rights and Justice” being the solution to most maladies in society. It is the absence of this that has been the foundation on which the parody of politics of “stomach infrastructure”, a degradation of humanity into pigs, without capacity for reflection has been built. And he, who has nothing to lose, does not care if others are dragged to the same depth of degradation as him/herself.
It is remarkable to note that there is no educated country that is poor and no uneducated country that is rich. With education, coupled with prudent leadership, and working infrastructure, Nigerians are not lazy people. They will surpass expectation in how much they will contribute to the creation of wealth, employment and development.
Leadership and Governance by Example
As I told my friends, Honorable Muhammad Ali, Ibrahim Sanyi-Sanyi, Aliyu Bala Aliyu, Honorable Farouk Adamu Aliyu and Salihu Mohammed, what the new government needs to do is to show through governance practices in the states under its control that there shall be no hunger, poverty or destitution in those states and that the Federal Government you lead will allow each state, each region and each community to take leadership role in the empowerment and development of its people. This they can do by prudent management of resources, as well as unleashing the capacity of the people to produce for local consumption as well as for export to the rest of the West African region quality products which will become house-hold names.
The Republic of South Africa does this within SADEC, and Nigeria can do the same within ECOWAS and into the Maghreb! Imagine the wastes that we currently have regarding citrus and other food items when the technology is there to process them and sell them. Honorable Ali and I have been in dialogue from 2011 for him to visit Jamaica to see the
wonderful things that are being done all around in agro-processing, human empowerment, training, health development, early childhood education, sports, etc. True because of the political culture of Jamaica progress has been stunted, but there is no doubt that there are areas in which Jamaica is leading the world in best practices which has attracted international recognition.
May the good God enable you to continue to live in good health to be able to realize the vision you have for Nigeria – either personally or through your elder-statesmanship capacity to enforce accountability and responsible governance on those who serve under your leadership! As human beings we pass through this way but once, and we are remembered by the legacies we build – either positively or otherwise. History is never silent on those whom it has endowed with so much. The trust that is vested in you will continue to grow, and you will be a beacon of light, vision, and empowerment to many. From the above, one could look at immediate issues that must be attended to.
Immediate Action Points:
a) Begin dialoguing with International and Local Media on Governance Ideas by putting together properly developed, orchestrated and delivered media friendly presentations of your vision. Make this a systematic, deliberate, carefully planned, and regular interventions on National issues, but devoid of emotive rancor, based on research and vision for a better Nigeria
b) Begin Assuring the International Community and Agencies, Multinationals and Industrial Financial Institutions of Nigeria’s enduring and unflinching natural Commitment to Treaties, Agreements and Pacts entered into in good faith by previous administrations in true spirit of continuity and trust. It was reported that you have assured Nigerians that your government will have zero tolerance for corruption. This is as it should be, but this will not be an easy task for a society which has over the last many decades been fed on Babatocracy, kleptocracy, and other forms of corruption. To deal with this there would have to be extreme vigilance and regular dialogue.
c) Begin Assuring the Business Community that Nigeria will be truly open to honest, genuine businesses from all over the world, and go back to National Development Planning that is focused on MDGs and the Durban Plan of Action,
aimed at transforming Nigeria from poverty into a land of pride in labour, wealth creation and excellence in everything that we do and can do
d) Determine that Nigeria will embrace sustainable, cheap, alternative and domestically driven energy and power generation and reliable distribution nationally to fuel the creativity of our people and propel Nigeria to the industrial pinnacle that it should have been decades ago.
e) Insist on the Rule of Law and Due Process of Law in all aspects of national life and your readiness to lead by example, so that all affiliates of APC understand that the change has come, and that there will be zero tolerance for profligacy and cronyism. There is need to have workshops with and for the top echelons of the leadership and various strata of governance so that everyone can be on the same page.
f) Governance by dialogue, people centred and future oriented – truly committed to Nigeria as a programme to liberate the people from poverty by empowerment
g) Assure Nigeria that a clean break must and will be made in governance practices: from now on and no witch hunts, no targeted destruction of persons or institutions, once every one realizes that Nigeria means business and will not continue for another day under APC to accept mediocrity or enthronement of greed.
h) Reexamine retrograde and retrogressive policies such as the banning of importation of used vehicles – no country does that in any way without flouting WTO! Even more serious is the move to have locally assembled vehicles, which may not be economically competitive or of safety quality that is mass produced by Japan to beat the world in auto manufacturing!
i) Embrace the wisdom behind the saying that “Silence is Golden” as you do not and cannot go into someone’s mind to take what has not been voiced. That way you protect yourself and your vision from being opportunistically twisted. So, desist from making knee jerk responses to any developments, with a view to ensuring that whatever you say is not misrepresented, misconstrued and misinterpreted to harm the programme you have for the country
j) Develop a template of speaking points on a plethora of issues going forward through think tanks of persons qualified and committed to provide charters for such dialogue with Nigerians and the international community
k) Ask all leaders within APS to desist from making inflammatory or compromising statements which may become albatross in the neck in the process of governance
l) Carefully test the waters to see how much the fear factor will affect the middle class which have robbed the country blind, and which may be afraid of witch-hunt, as you become the President. How would you assuage those fears? Would you consider putting forward a protégé of yours, like Honorable Muhammad Ali, for example, if such will be a more acceptable liaison person with the security and intelligence apparatuses?
m) I suspect that at your age and with your accomplishments and pedigree, you do not need Nigeria as much as Nigeria needs you. This is why Nigeria has elected you as President. And the fact that some objected vociferously means that you have to carry all Nigerians along with you in executing your vision. You are the President for all and the way to lead and get Nigerians to buy into your agenda is to make sure they understand the reasons behind decisions and position enunciated by the Government that you lead.
n) Nigerians know you as the stern, disciplined and selfless individual who would liberate them from the culture steeped in feeding on the gravy train of corruption, slush, pork-barrel politics, cronyism and graft. You need to let the world know that Nigeria has enough to make a clean break from the past, without creating a crisis. Knowing that those who did not work for what they hold do not know how to keep what they have, you are assured that with time, wealth goes back to rightful source and Nigeria will prevail. In this regard, you could leave those who have amassed illegal wealth to keep it, bearing in mind that they will soon squander same. In any case, the reason why elections is a do or die affair in Nigeria is because of the vicious cycle in which thieves are never satisfied and must continue to steal to replenish the ill-gotten wealth they have acquired. For this reason, you will need eternal vigilance to ensure that their activities are made impossible or at least reduced to the barest minimum
o) Be extremely diplomatic, so that you combine Nicolo Machiavelli’s the Prince with Chinese Art of War, in order to lead either from the front or from the rear, whichever is more pragmatic, so that this country can be transformed and empowered.
p) Let the world know that the only goal of Nigeria is the liberation of the people from destitution, poverty, squalor and desperation which drives the youth after visas to other countries, while what we are seeking to find in Sokoto is in our sokoto pocket, as Yoruba proverb says!
q) Assure our neighbours that Nigeria will never be a threat to them and the rest of the world, because you are a believer in non-aggression and peace. Publicly call all lovers of peace to join with you to remove the causes of discord from within the borders of this country – impunity, irresponsibility, non-accountability, indiscipline, inordinate greed and leadership disrespect for the masses of the people.
r) Insist on respect for the weak, the vulnerable, the elderly, women, children and all who are disabled or of different orientations or persuasions
s) I have suggested already the modalities for the development of your comprehensive Autobiography. I belief that most of us would agree that there is nothing more befitting than to document the struggles that have become your life. When it is easy to fold up tent, enjoy the fruits of your hard earned retirement as a General of the Nigerian Army, give up on Nigeria’s future, you continue to show that perseverance is a necessary forte to instil in the youth. As such, Buhari – a life, a struggle, a vision, needs to be done as biography. It should be done from your version, helping posterity to understand your tenacity, doggedness and enduring belief in project Nigeria. It should be done fairly, objectively and concisely in order to correct the many myths, errors and speculations abroad about your humanity
t) There is need to develop a Foundation in your name and to propagate your vision. With regard to the Foundation, in my reflections I have not given it any direction or name. While I have a template of how foundations are set up, in terms of structure, constitution, etc., one would need to tailor it to what your Excellency considers to be the critical issue that the foundation should be
concerned with. Once the instruction is given about the goals, objectives, mission or agenda of the foundation, a committee would be set up to work on it in a timely manner
u) It is my view that, for strategic reasons, both initiatives must be concretized and birthed before the end of next year, the first year of your Presidency
But the events of Maitatsine, MOSOP, Boko Haram, the kidnappers and armed brigands roaming undeterred, are symptoms of a bigger problem – centralization of governance for resource destruction and expropriation with unbridled impunity laced with cancerous leverages of primordial tribal emotions. And the situation can only get worse, unless the critical steps that need to be taken are taken immediately.
If you can do these things, prevent the looting that breeds hatred for government it does mean that the process of fracturing and separation of Nigeria into bits and pieces is (will be) off the table. Some of the consequences that will follow are:
i) At the Federal Level, the Military remains centralized, like the Pentagon in the USA
ii) A Police Force, like the FBI, at the Federal Level is forged to deal with Federal Offences, while states have their own police departments
iii) Power generation and distribution is left to states
iv) Education at all tertiary level is left to the states and private investors, while at the Elementary and Secondary, the Federal Government continue to lead the process
v) Resources are controlled by states where derived, while arrangements are made for payment to the Federal Government an agreed proportion, to ensure that no state is made unviable till it can survive without dependency
vi) Taxation formulated in such a way that it is equitable, covers all income earners except minors and senior citizens (with no room for tax evasion or avoidance).
Details can be discussed and worked out. But your government must abort GEJ’s wasteful contraption that drains Nigeria of resources. You must begin to outline clearly vision, not just trying to define yourself simply in contradistinction to PDP. You must declare that the age of IMPUNITY is over. The All Progressives Congress must take that
stand right away and mean it, through how it organizes itself transparently with accountability and probity. You must ensure that the reward mechanisms are enough to prevent long-throat, and those who become greedy must be caught and publicly dealt with even within the ambit of the law so that everyone will know that there are no sacred cows.
That is, all who are members of your governing team must begin to reflect the ethos which your enunciate and originated.
To conclude, Nigeria is a paradox: easy and difficult to govern. Whichever is the case is a function of leadership. Dwindling income from oil and gas may seem to present a challenge, but this is to be understood against the background of fake subsidies, wanton profligacy of government, absolute disregard of accountability and impunity attendant to that, and worst of all, the believe that power makes office holders to live above the law. China has been able to curtail corruption, and many successful countries known as the Asian Tigers have strict rules governing behaviour of office holders.
There is urgent need to have workshops for your team and all elected persons. This is necessary, since various educational systems has failed to show people that being part of government is service in nature and nor a means to amassing wealth at the expense of society and future generations.
Sir, Your Excellency, I thank you for your patience, time and devotion to the cause of Nigeria. I thanks you for giving me the opportunity to address you. It is my hope that you will count me worthy to make contribute my widow’s mite to the project Nigeria. This is a task that we all must cooperate to carry out in our own interest and in the interest of posterity. May Allah continue to bless you with good health, vision, wisdom and discernment to fulfil the expectations of the masses of Nigerians who trust and adore you as our leader.
Professor Tunde Bewaji (April 11, 2015)