Open Letter To Muhammadu Buhari: Next Steps

Open Letter To Muhammadu Buhari: Next Steps

"Muhammadu Buhari assured me when he received his Certificate of Return that he will give all Nigerians a voice in his government. I therefore can contribute to governance because he sees all Nigerians as his own. This is the privilege I don’t want to lose," Ini Akpan Morgan, a Legit.ng guest contributor, writes in his submission to info@naij.com. "I am expecting the president-in-waiting to start delineating his policy direction, to draw up the lists of his teammates and the offices they would oversee rather than occupy. I hereby submit my contributions to the president-elect."

Below is part two of Mr Morgan's appeal to Muhammadu Buhari; you may find part one here.

The Niger Delta question

Apart from deliberately empowering and making his Ijaw brothers billionaires through the Presidential Amnesty Programme, Goodluck Jonathan's administration did not make any visible impact on the Niger Delta region. The region is still neglected and abandoned. Was it for this reason that the "Niger Delta militants" held the country to ransom, the money in the pockets of the ex-militants? This shows them to be criminally self-seeking. Their activities in the future must be checked.

We thank the Yar’Adua-Jonathan's administrations for completing about 45% of the East-West road. We have seen the good asphalting of a six-lane highway, which covers no less than 80% of the road, but where are the nine bridges on that road? The incoming administration should reassess the construction documents, review all costs estimates and payments made, and then raise new targets that should complete the road in record time.

The administration must distinguish between a deliberate "Ijaw cause and struggle" tagged as the yearning of the "Niger Delta people" from the real yearning of the indigenes. If it concerns the Niger Delta people, it must embrace every state and ethnic nationality comprising the region. We are tired of one ethnic nationality claiming to represent others when negotiating business ventures with government and excluding them when the goods arrive. To do this will from now be protested as government’s deliberate connivance and treacherous conspiracy against the Niger Delta people in favour of one ethnicity.

The administration should consider speedy implementation of the Ogoni/UNEP recommendations and reassess all border disputes in the Niger Delta region to resolve them justifiably.

Before the suspended February 14 elections, I was told of an Ijaw "folksong" preaching that should Jonathan fail to return as president, the Ijaws would "defend their oil with their blood". I expectat that Buhari’s administration will peacefully overcome any resistance from the Ijaw youths, especially considering their present clandestine insistence on maintaining and sustaining the lopsided status quo.

Security surveillance of oil pipelines, oil installations and our coastal waters is the statutory responsibility of the Nigerian Navy and the Nigeria Police Air Patrol Unit. The Joint Task Force established to ensure security in the Niger Delta region also can complement the roles of the aforementioned agencies. Trusting public/private bureaucratic contract arrangement with protecting our territorial waters is absurd and a sell-out, to say the least.

Public/civil service reform and census

Many Nigerians have bought into the "Steve Oransonye civil service reforms report," and I believe that the incoming government should implement this report in its entirety.

There should be a review and merger, or disbandment, or harmonization of some of the relative ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs). Replications of ministries at both the federal and state level should be revised and remodelled.

The present civil service structure is overbloated. In the face of the Obasanjo administration’s monetization policy and the advent of information/communication technology, senior civil servants subordinate to permanent secretaries, who wish to have drivers, messengers, cleaners, clerks, etc., must be ready to pay their staff from their take-home package. It is absolute rubbish for officers of the civil service to have computers and laptops supplied to them by the government but be unable to use them. President-elect and every principal officer of government must be minimally computer-literate, please!

I see the incoming administration as a dawn of civil decency in public spending. The era when civil servants would sit at their desk "8-to-4" selling recharge cards, soft drinks and watching government-bought televisions in office without any productive input to governance should be over. Merchandisers in government offices must be outlawed, and offenders prosecuted for trespass. I recommend that civil servants be remunerated on contract basis, paid according to man-hour input, like it is done on construction sites. This way, civil servants can choose what they do with their time. It is absolute waste in government spending to continue to pay for redundancy.

The era when the annual recurrent expenditure is four times the annual development budget should be put behind Nigerians. We are expecting a more serious approach to governance and government expenditure profile. Too much money earned should not be misconstrued for careless spending, as the outgoing administration exemplified. The administration must evolve the attitude of investing excess earnings into blue-chip stock concerns, like China did in General Electric (GE). Funds saved away are stagnated; they can only generate more money if they are invested in international stocks.

Government contracts are highly inflated, up to four times their actual cost, because our civil servants love exploiting these excess funds for themselves, and steal from contractors, disabling them from doing thorough jobs.

The sales/commercial and relative departments of the NNPC must be disbanded since our refineries are down and unproductive. In my opinion, only the engineering department of the corporation should be retained and encouraged to proffer solutions for resuscitation.

If petroleum must be imported, it should be handled entirely by the NNPC without the subsidy regime. Or, if it must be handled independently through private sector investments, it should be entirely a private business engagement, with the government providing the enabling environment which is not subsidy-related. This would eliminate exploiters and deep-pocket looters.

Political/judicial reforms and ethics development

I am not aware how far the outgoing government has gone with the implementation of the "Uwais political reforms" recommendations. I am expecting the incoming administration to build upon the gains of their predecessors and to further strengthen our electoral processes by encouraging the INEC, the National Civic Registration Commission (NCRC) and the National Population Commission (NPC) to unify our national identification systems in one secured central biometrics server, with one permanent identity card which could be used to identify a Nigerian, and which he can use as a voter card, driving license, or any other form of identity application.

With the present biometric data capture of eligible voters, which is saved to a central database, the election processes must be made less cumbersome, prone to violence and manipulation, and less expensive for the INEC.

In my view, violence and malpractice in our electoral process are caused by the usurpation of peoples’ right to choose who represents them, by imposition of those with illegitimate political power. In such instances, and against all odds, state powers and resources are employed and deployed to intimidate, harass and sway ordinary people into submitting. I hereby suggest the introduction to our electoral system the "Option A4" system of electing aspirants for political offices if voting by mobile devices cannot be actualized. Political party congresses and primaries have clearly revealed how political office-holders and party organs at various levels manipulate people against their will. A politician who thinks he is popular should win elections from his polling unit. This way, a governorship candidate can be sure of winning his unit, ward, LGA, and state.

The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari must make political offices less attractive by trimming down on their pay packages. Parliamentary activities should be on part-time basis, and opportunities granted to legislators to pursue other legal and beneficial concerns.

The autonomy of local government councils must be ensured. The present supervisory role of states over local government councils should be removed from our laws.

A Judicial Integrity Board should be established, with members drawn from the collegiate of retired Chief Justices. Their responsibility would be to scrutinize every controversial judgment and recommend punitive measures to the National Judicial Council against any judge found to have compromised their office. Bribery in the judiciary must be checked and eliminated. The judiciary must remain the last hope for common man.

Legal Aid Council must be strengthened to provide free legal and advocacy services for the common man. Staff of this Council should be empowered to access any police formation and speak to all detainees. This would help to ease pains suffered by innocent Nigerians, and improve our human and civil rights defense index.

The incoming government must promote a bill in the National Assembly stipulating life sentence for any corrupt public officer found guilty of pilfering, short-circuiting laid-down processes to weaken the check-and-balance framework, and diminishing expectations of their office.

Market and price control

The act establishing the Consumer Protection Council must be upgraded to give the commission powers to determine market practices, control the prices of commodities and services through comparative indices according to what is obtainable in other climes.

A Market and Price Control Board should be established to determine weights and measures control for market and consumer service activities and dispensing. This board must be empowered to fix prices for commodities and services dispensing. Prices must also be unified for every relative product or service. Though it is advisable to maintain the principle of laissez-faire, the government must be responsible for citizens and protect them from exploitation.

Laws must be put in place to punish any entrepreneur or service provider who tilts or adjusts set-down weights and measures used in providing goods and services to Nigerians.

Private establishments must be made to adhere to the remuneration standards established as unified minimum wage and professional services made to follow the laid down "scale of fees". There must be a unified system of pricing for goods and services throughout the country.

Import licenses for food, clothes and household commodities should be withdrawn and suspended. The era of merchants enjoying waivers from the government and bringing in products to sell at their preferred prices should be over.

Measures must be put in place to enhance the spending powers of consumers are geared towards the restoration of the "middle class" economy.

Taxes

A banking council should be set up to furnish government with details of all foreign monetary transfers. The following taxes could reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, and help control excessive flaunting of wealth in the face of abject poverty:

property tax: owners of every landed property of more than 2,000 square metres must contribute the property tax to a public housing fund established to strengthen mortgage financing and encourage the provision of housing for the less privileged;

luxury tax: indices must be determined by the tax board, and imposed on all privileged individuals who lead a luxurious lifestyle (own premium-class cars, private jets, mansions, yachts, etc.);

currency tax: the tax board must determine what amount of money an individual or organization may possess to be exempted from this type of tax. This type of tax is tailored after faith-based organizations which use Nigerian currency in an obscene manner without paying relevant taxes required for the printing and minting of the currency they flaunt. Individuals or organizations unable to pay this tax should print and mint their own currency and make it a legal tender in the world market. In the Jewish religious system, there was their own Temple currency which other world currencies at time traded with in order to enable monetary participations within the Temple.

Industrialization

The only way Nigeria can meet her industrialization targets is to withdraw all import licenses issued to merchants who deal in import items like toothpicks, matches, apparels and shoes, textile products, cosmetics, generators, mobile phone accessories, used vehicles, light construction tools, artisan and craft tools, and other allied goods. Alternatively, these merchants should be encouraged to liaise with the companies they deal with overseas and encourage them to set up their kinds of industries in Nigeria, with the government providing the enabling environment for these ventures.

It is not impossible for these Nigerian businessmen to ensure this; but, because of the excessive exploitation of Nigerians through imported goods and their roles in demanding that substandard goods be produced for our people, they have become adverse and repulsive of encouraging foreign investors. Nothing a Nigerian buys endures its usage, so they repeat purchases in short intervals.  Either they establish joint venture partnership and such goods are produced or assembled in the country, or their businesses close down. Import licenses must be withdrawn except for heavy-duty machineries and industrial necessities.

Government must provide the enabling environment for local investors to set up cottage and light products industries. The textile and confectionary industries in the north must be resuscitated. Peugeot Automobile Nigeria and the Volkswagen Nigeria should be resuscitated, too. State governments should be encouraged to privatize or commercialize industries presently run by them. There are paint industries, biscuit factories, etc.

Waste, whether scraps or plastic, organic or inorganic, is a great sources of wealth anywhere in the world, providing alternative sources of living in most African countries today. The government should encourage local and foreign investments in this regard. Scraps and waste dumps, equipped with machineries, should be provided in every senatorial district to collect different kinds of waste to be further processed. Plant yards should be built for recycling all the waste littering our environment and converting it to wealth.

Electric power generation, transmission and distribution

The government has the responsibility to get our gas policy right. Gas flaring is all over the place and must be arrested. How difficult is it to contain the flares and channel this wasted resource into powering gas-run turbines that should produce power? This would help save our foreign exchange earnings, provide jobs to our teeming youths, and bring about our industrialization.

The maximum capacities of Shiroro, Gurara and Kainji dams should be determined, reviewed and upgraded to boost our hydro-power generation. Government must completely divest from power businesses. I understand that power infrastructures in the Republic of Niger are power from Kainji dam; this offends the principle that charity begins at home. Why do we export power when we don’t have same at home? The same way the communication industry was liberalized, so should our power concerns be liberalized.

Importation of power-generating sets and the government's continuous use of generators must be outlawed. My expectation from the incoming government is to expunge all budgetary estimates for purchase of generating sets, their maintenance and fueling from the budget. If the government cannot provide ordinary Nigerians with power, they do not have any moral right to enjoy power. We should all remain in darkness. Our leaders must learn to share our pains and joys to show leadership.

The pre-paid system of metering, as done in the communication sector, should be institutionalized and made compulsory for the power sector, especially for ordinary Nigerians who are daily exploited with outrageous bills issued by companies handling power distribution. Ordinary Nigerians should be given the privilege of determining, in advance, what power consumption they need and can pay for. Just as operators are independently making provisions for their customers, power operators must not depend on government for anything.

Our elderly and the physically challenged

An agency to cater for the elderly and the physically challenged should be established in all LGAs, with the mandate to oversee health and welfare needs of our helpless ones.

Monthly stipends should be made available to the elderly who are not on the pension fund, and the welfare of the unengaged physically challenged who have no means of self-development must be ensured; those with skill should be competitively engaged.

Inasmuch as I have other ideas I would like to share with the president-elect, let me spare him some time to consider other pressing national issues that require his oh so limited time. I believe that if he gives heed to my contributions, Nigeria will be on the her road to being a first-world nation, as Singapore and China, who were third-world nations some years back.

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Source: Legit.ng

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