Fayemi: We’ll build egalitarian, accountable, secured society with swift justice delivery system
Ekiti State Governor and Chairman, Nigeria Governor’s Forum (NGF), Dr John Kayode Fayemi, recently decided to throw his hat into the ring to contest the presidency. At a forum with members of the public, civil societies and newsmen, he spoke on his vision for a new nation if elected as president. MUYIWA ADEYEMI was there.
On The Spate Of Impunity In The Polity
This is a very serious issue. There are a number of dimensions to the impunity that is in our country. I always say something that as a leader, it is not enough to be competent particularly in Nigeria; it is also not enough to be committed and compassionate. What is also lacking in Nigeria is the leadership, the courage to do what is right. Some people consider themselves as principalities, that they own this country, and can do whatever they like. They also believe that the law cannot catch up with them. We will not be arbitrary but we would be very, very sneaky about upholding the rule of law, and access to justice to all Nigerians.
There are different levels of impunity. We need to also make sure that we do not leave our people with the temptation to do the wrong thing under the guise of religion, culture, and the like. We must at all times be advocates of citizen’s rights, as well as responsibilities because when you have rights, you also have responsibilities as a citizen of the country and we must uphold that.
Impunity reigns because our justice system has been crippling and the entire justice sector system in our country is problematic. If we look at the journey from the investigation of the crime to conviction of the crime, you would have forgotten that the person actually committed the crime. I think swift delivery of justice, access to justice, accountability in society are areas we need to pay attention to. We need to also support our judicial officers, so that we will not again tempt them to resort to other misbehaviour because the state has not taken care of its own responsibility in terms of remuneration, in terms of support to the judicial officers.
On Preferred Mode Of Primaries
The constitution of the All Progressives Congress (APC) says that the model of primaries can either be direct or indirect or consensus. Now, we have an Electoral Act now that says for us to have consensus, all players must sign off. For me, yes, we have a lot of people who have expressed their interest and I think we must commend the party for being so popular to attract this calibre of Nigerians offering their services to the country. I think for me, Nigerians who also wants to field the polls for the President of Nigeria must be citizens of the country. I believe from all my travels around the country over the last one month, I believe both inside and outside the party, the sentiments will appear to be anything but consensus. That is because people want to have a say and don’t forget we have a president, who has been an advocate for bottom-up political practices. President Buhari is known for its passion for every member of the party having a say in the decision that affects the party so in that sense, I have no problem stalking a claim to a primary process, whether it is indirect or direct. I don’t have a problem with that.
There is a lot that the government is doing that the government cannot talk about some times. There are also areas of impediments that we need to tackle quickly. Our principal officers in the security sector given my background that I spoke to let us know some of the challenges they face. I always talk about Egypt and this country was able to recruit in an emergency manner in 1967. It moved from an army of 10,000 to 250,000, within the space of one year. Today, there are all sorts of bureaucratic impediments that are not allowing us to expand the men and women that we have in the armed forces and in the police. Now, we need to do that quickly. If we are not able to do that in the shortest possible time, by clearing the windows bureaucratic impediments, we need to bring on board our reserved elements, who are still on duty. Our soldiers even in retirement they are on duty: Major Generals, Colonels, Brigadier they are all over the place. Many of them would love to serve and help tackle this problem probably in the shortest possible because it is, firstly, the problem of men. We don’t have enough people in uniform, and even the ones we have, they are undertaking police duties.
There is no single state in this country today where you don’t have military officers and soldiers patrolling on internal security issue. That’s not the job of a soldier. Yes, sometimes you may need soldiers to act in civil authority, those are exceptional circumstances. We need to populate our security agencies. Egypt is not up to half of our population. We’re told Egypt as 1 million policemen. In Nigeria, we have well, we always tell ourselves we have 350, 000 policemen. But 150, 000 amongst them are doing VIP duties. So, not only do we have to expand and turning our schools during vacation to training facilities because part of the problems we have is training facilities.
We may have to turn our schools during vacation to training camps for those that we want to bring into those cause so that we can get more men in the force. As I was talking about operating in a new environment, a new order of battle, a new force posture has to be developed by our military because we are not fighting a conventional war. What we’re dealing with now is unconventional; more often than not you don’t even see the people that you’re fighting. So you need to devise counter insurgency, counter terrorism measures that will go beyond infantry and other extreme approaches to warfare. We are at war. What happened in the train is an indication that we need to take immediate measures. Around the suburb of Abuja, I hear some of these things are also beginning to happen.
And we need to really watch and I believe the President you know is not a man of many words. He is taking too many steps that some of us may not be able to speak to. He is also preventing many things that they can also not come up and say that, yes, yesterday we stopped attempts by bandits to destroy this particular community. It’s ongoing, and it’s a continuous work in progress. We must really have faith but we must take adequate steps on intelligence, on better recruitment and on equipment in order to address the issue.
Near Absence Of Electricity Supply
I think the solution is this, it’s time to do away with a national grid. We now need to begin to look seriously in the direction of zonal or regional grids or even micro, or mini grids outside of the mainstream of official national energy grid. It’s the only way to solve this problem. Our focus should also be on new energy, on renewable energy as well. This national grid is completely broken and fixing it everyday is a problem that we cannot easily tackle.
Appalling Level Of Unemployment
For me, it is not the job of government to start focusing on employment. But it is our job to provide a living environment for private sector to thrive; for the agricultural sector to thrive; for the infrastructure sector that will have to create jobs; and there’s so many jobs tied to these various critical segments of our economy. That is what we need to do. In addition to address the question of skills, because we talked about employments, majority of young people don’t have the requisite skills to do the job that is necessary. We need innovation, we need creativity, we need technology and we need skills in addition to providing the enabling environment to allow this to happen.
Considerable work is already ongoing on the upgrading and expansion of our infrastructure and one of my prime objectives would be to accelerate this both through public investments and partnerships with the private sector whilst simultaneously ensuring that we enforce accountability and get much greater value for money. By the same token, a major rescue and investment programme for the education sector, the health system, the civil service, and the local government system will be launched to re-orient each of them for the task of overall national development, progress and prosperity. Each of these domains can benefit much more from a deliberate and systematic deployment of digital technologies as appropriate to their context; the opportunities will be followed through as an integral part of our programme of rebirth.
I fully understand that we cannot secure our prosperity without ensuring that our agricultural sector is able to deliver self-sufficiency in critical food markets, feed our efforts at agro-allied industrialisation and thus meaningfully enable the transformation of the unemployed into gainful employment, reinvigorate the rural areas, foster the coordinated expansion of commodity exchanges, and boost the flow of foreign exchange into the economy. We will prioritise the sector for the multiple benefits it can bring to the agenda of national prosperity and transformation that we will be pursing with unrelenting vigour. As part of this commitment, issues of streamlined and transparent access to agricultural finance, and the expanded adoption of agricultural technology by farming populations will rank high in the priority areas for focus.
No vision of national prosperity however impeccable or programme of national transformation however comprehensive can deliver the outcomes desired without attention to the planning system of government writ large. We must build on recent successes in restoring our national planning system and statistical capacity in order to open new, forward-looking approaches to development management that is research and data driven. This will form an integral part of the new elan that we will be bringing to governance as a whole, driven by a philosophy of efficient service delivery, the enthronement of a civic culture, and the encouragement of an empowered citizenry to engage with public affairs understanding that it is the repository of power. As part of this commitment, a holistic approach to decentralisation will be embraced and institutionalised so that government and its services are brought closer to the people.
Our programme of decentralisation will also feed into the goals of a stronger, more united, and stable Nigeria, outcomes which are not only good for our domestic prospects but which will also benefit West Africa, the rest of the African continent, and a troubled international multilateral system.
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