The challenge of change in Nigeria (1)
LET me first congratulate you most heartily for your recent victory at the presidential polls, after a most harrowing electioneering campaign period that was unfortunately marked by an unprecedented degree of bitterness, acrimony and rancour. We are grateful to God that in spite of everything, your team survived and coasted to victory.
The spontaneous celebrations that greeted your victory at the polls are a testimony to the desperate expectation of the Nigerian masses who are tired of a political and economic dispensation superintended by callous exploiters and punitive overlords.
Now it is time to execute the CHANGE that you and your party consistently promised Nigerians. This brief letter is to call your attention to a couple of areas that I consider should be given priority attention among the myriad of issues requiring change. I acknowledge that you cannot possibly solve all our problems in four years, but you will do well to focus attention on the following:
Secure the North Eastern States from the menace of Boko Haram and bring impunity to an end.
A key responsibility of government is the security of lives and property of the citizens. When thousands of Nigerians are killed daily, and others are maimed, abducted or sold into slavery with reckless abandon, the impression created is that there is no government in place, and that we are left to our own devices. The Boko Haram insurgency has ravaged the North Eastern flank of this country for over six years now, taking and re-taking towns, setting churches and whole villages ablaze, killing thousands of boys and abducting hundreds of girls.
Many Nigerians voted for you and your team because they believe that your government would do much better than the outgoing government of Goodluck Jonathan in rooting out the insurgents from our national landscape; and indeed during the campaign period, you promised to deal with this menace expeditiously. As the responsibility is now to fall on your shoulders, you must immediately take on the challenge, do everything possible to improve the nation’s security apparatus, boost the morale of our soldiers, and seek all necessary support from the international community, so as to reduce drastically the capacity of the insurgents to inflict further harm on the nation and its citizens.
The regular Police Force must also be re-oriented, sufficiently capacitated, and their infrastructure adequately enhanced to fight street crime, armed robbery, political assassination, kidnapping, and other evils across the country.
Nigeria must once again become safe enough for international investors to have the confidence to invest their funds here and thereby boost the economy and generate employment. Nigeria has witnessed a long period of impunity whereby high profile and well-connected criminals often escape being sanctioned. The Rule of Law must be jealously protected by all functionaries of government, and elements of the Judiciary at all levels must be challenged to discharge their sacred functions with utmost commitment to the principles of justice and fairness in strict adherence to the Constitution of the Federal Republic.
Our current situation whereby high profile criminals who have stolen billions of Naira often go with a pat on the back and sometimes given state pardon, while those guilty of petty crimes are sentenced to long years in jail, or are even dispensed with extra-judicially by the Police, cries out to heaven. St. Augustine of Hippo, the 4th Century scholar, had observed that “kingdoms without justice are nothing but a bunch of bandits or a gang of robbers.” Thus, your government must do everything possible to restore confidence in Nigerians that those who govern them at all levels are noble men and women of impeccable integrity, not a bunch of bandits or a gang of robbers.
Reducing the Cost of Governance and Simplifying the Conduct of Government Officials
Governments exist to provide for the welfare of the citizens. But when over 70 per cent of the resources of the nation is channelled towards servicing government functionaries and the bureaucracy, something is seriously wrong. A country struggling with widespread poverty and decayed infrastructure cannot afford to have public officers that are among the wealthiest in the world – not from any business investment or entrepreneurship on their part, but all from legitimate and illegitimate earnings from government.
Also, government officials should learn to conduct their personal and official affairs with a sense of modesty, humility and simplicity, not the arrogance, flamboyance and the vain and expensive show business that now characterise the conduct of public officials. I am told that it costs close to N4 million to charter a private jet for local flights to and from any of our major cities in Nigeria. Yet, a number of governors and ministers of the Federal Republic no longer travel by commercial planes, but regularly charter private jets for their trips to Abuja, Kano, Kaduna, Lagos, Uyo, Jos, Asaba or Port Harcourt.
This is simply outrageous – a callous and reckless plunder of the nation’s scarce resources which must be halted by all those who will be in your cabinet at the federal level, while at the same time, state governors should be admonished to be more reasonable, modest, judicious and accountable in how they expend their state’s resources.
•To be continued.
•Rev. Fr. Ehusani, Executive Director, Lux Terra Leadership Foundation, wrote the letter to President–elect, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.