Opinion: The Only Way Forward for Nigeria by Dr. Moses Wokili

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I had published this article many years ago and still to share.

You think it is still not relevant for implementation? Happy reading!

As a frequent traveler outside our borders, I know by experience that Nigeria and Nigerians are rightly not respected anywhere in the world. The first thing that comes to mind with the name ‘Nigeria’ is corruption and deception. One is automatically guilty of these vices until you proof yourself otherwise. Our bad national image has been cultivated and nurtured to maturity over the past decades by successive regimes in this country.

Our image is the bye-product of unbridled corruption, avarice, false democracy as presently practiced in this country, indiscipline and loss of morale values by the generality of Nigerians as exemplified by various successive self-imposed leaders. We are currently not practicing democracy but DEMONcrazy which is flagrant demonstration of demonic craziness.

Elections are rigged with violent inducement of money, public pronouncements of our leaders are the exact opposite of what they practice, the law enforcement agents are compromised, the ordinary folks out there have lost confidence on the judiciary, and dishonesty governs the leadership while deception becomes the compass. This has been the story for decades.

While a few people are swimming in the ocean of affluence, majority of Nigerians are wearing oversized garments of poverty decorated with ornamental frustration. The universities are churning out graduates in hundreds of thousands every year without jobs thereby grooming them into future armies of revolution. Insecurity as expressed in assassinations and kidnappings is the order of the day! How do we come out of this quagmire?

I find out that the only difference between the people in the western world and Nigerians is the quality of leadership offered which is a reflection of the administrative structures in place. Aside from this, Nigerians and the westerners (Americans, Britons, French, and Germans etc) are basically the same and will behave the same way under the same conditions. The westerners and Nigerians have the same natural instincts for bad and good, it is the administrative structure in the society that shapes the conduct of the people by promoting either of the instincts with the other one diminished.

Whichever instinct is consistently promoted over a period of time becomes the culture/value/norm of that society just like corruption is a standard value in the present day Nigeria. This goes to say that if Americans were to be evacuated to Nigeria and vice-versa, over a very reasonable period of time, the corrupt administrative structural system in Nigeria will wear out the dominant positive attitude of the Americans and gradually reduce them to the level of Nigerians.

That is why majority of Nigerians residing overseas behave like their hosts and on their return back home, they change to be the usual Nigerians. The problem is not the people but the administrative structures and leadership. Leadership uses structural administrative system to change the society for good or bad. Nigerians are the most obedient set of human species that I have ever seen and they are excellent copy-cats of their leaders. They sheepishly follow the foot-steps and direction of their leaders without questioning.

The present Nigerians who are perceived at overseas as the most corrupt on earth are reflective of the leadership and will turn out to be the most decent on earth once the leadership gets it right! Even the leadership is a victim of the deficient administrative structures. So, the problem is essentially not that of any party, regime, tribe or individual but the structural system that encourages all forms of negative vices, hence the need for fundamental and holistic changes.

The state and federal administrative structural set-ups should be fundamentally changed to achieve a truly democratic society where the rule of law reigns supreme above everyone including the presidency. The law enforcement agents like the Police, EFCC, SSS, NIA, etc should be completely and truly independent in terms of funding and administration as it obtains in the western world. The press should be empowered by law to request for, obtain and publish documents that border on corruption and any other matters that are of public interest without being harassed by law enforcement agents.

INEC should be truly and completely independent in terms of funding and administration, receiving orders from nobody. The judiciary both at state and federal levels, should be truly and completely independent and no state or federal executive should have any form of power/influence on the judiciary by making the appointment, promotion and dismissal of local, state and federal judges the sole responsibility of the National Judicial Council without seeking the permission or approval from anyone.

Nigerians irrespective of their ethnicity should be able to seek for and get employment based on merit anywhere in the country. The retrogressive policy of quota-system just like the rotational presidency should be abolished to generate healthy competition and innovation among Nigerians. We should amend our constitution so that there will be no presidential election and the best performing state governor is chosen by a completely neutral and independent body as the President of the country irrespective of his/her tribe, location or party affiliation.

This method will ginger rapid development throughout the country. Depending on his performance, the chosen President may continue beyond the initial four-years-term provided he emerges the best competitor among other state governors. If this type of system were to be in place before now, Nigeria could have still been at par with Singapore, South Korea, India and Brazil!

No retrogressive, archaic and disincentive quota system in developed countries. Mrs. Hillary Clinton is a native of Illinois and yet represented the State of New York in the American Senate. Obama’s father is from Kenya and yet he is the President of America despite the fact that he comes from the black minority and just because he was born in America. That is healthy competition and meritocracy at work – the bedrock of American prosperity! Our present administrative structures make all these impossible in Nigeria. Why can’t anyone contest for any elective post in any part of the country he resides and pays his tax? The people should be the one to reject him and not the retrogressive constitution in place!

Anyone caught in corrupt acts should have all their properties and accounts forfeited to the government in addition to jail sentences with possible death penalty. Electoral malpractices should attract capital punishment because such culprits are toying with the lives of millions of Nigerians! To me, corruption is the most dangerous and potent ‘weapon of mass destruction’! It kills enmasse via road accidents, typhoid as a result of untreated water, simple diseases due to lack of adequate medical provisions etc as the budgeted funds are embezzled.

When leaders at Local, State and Federal levels know that they can be exposed by the press, arrested by the police and arraigned before judges for maximum punishment without anybody (including the President) having the power to intercede, everyone will be on his/her toes! Election rigging will seize and elected leaders will have no option but to serve the people or else end up in jail. Militancy will fizzle away because leaders (executives and law makers) can be held responsible for their actions by the poor using instrumentalities of law without any hindrance or fear, assured that pure justice will be dispensed and applied.

‘God-fatherism’ in Nigerian politics will not find any footing. Graduates will not be roaming the streets for jobs reserved for the ‘connected’ ones that are even less qualified. Folks will grow according to their respective potentials for the common good without having to know any ‘big man’ up there. Chief Executives will be bound to develop their respective states infrastructurally because they can’t steal the money. Consequently, factories will spring up from the private sector, unemployment will be eliminated, and the gap between the poor and rich will be minimized while less money will be spent on security because crime will be at the lowest ebb with foreign investors trooping into the country.

There will be no need wasting billions of naira in re-branding Nigeria instead of MENDing it through administrative structural adjustments. It is this type of administrative structures in America that distinguishes the Americans from Nigerians. Many weeks ago, I was in Jacksonville in Florida when President Obama recanted his statements made 24 hrs earlier where he described the action of a white Police Sergeant (Mr. James Crowley) that arrested a black Harvard Professor (Henry Louis Gates) in his very own house as ‘stupid’. The police community did not take kindly to the presidential remarks and the Sergeant even went to the extent of demanding for an apology from President Obama!

The sergeant had the temerity of going to that extent because he is sure of the justice system and administrative structures in place in America. He knows that President Obama has no power to order dismissal of any police man or woman in America! President Obama was even humble enough to phone the police Sergeant inviting him to the White House. The only difference between us and the Americans are the administrative structures in place and the universal application of the rule of law without anyone, including Obama, having the power to intercede in the course of law enforcement.

Making the Law enforcement agents truly independent of the Executives in Nigeria is the ONLY way forward for Nigeria if not we will continue to grope in darkness in futility. Mega party formation, rebranding, WAI etc cannot solve the problems. No policy or legislation can work in Nigeria without these structural changes as law enforcement and administration will always be frustrated and abridged by the powers-from-above.

Only recently the Republican Party gubernatorial candidates defeated the sitting democratic governors in the two states of Virginia and New Jersey via the most recent elections in America because the structural administrative system in America absolutely makes it impossible for Obama to influence the outcome! If he dares it, he loses his presidential seat and faces prosecution thereafter. That is the only type of system that will save Nigeria!

Here in Nigeria, the garrison commanders of the political Parties will consider it as a slap on the face of the president for any other party to win such elections. They are not to blame. Any party in power will do the same thing as long as the present administrative structural system is in place.

I make bold to say that the ruling parties, elected officials and civil servants are not the problems of our country. They are just victims and creations of circumstances and any party in power will behave the same way because of the deficient administrative structures in place which is the root of all evils in Nigeria! Let the present administrative structure be replaced as suggested above and you will find almost all our problems fizzling away.

The question is – how do we bring about the necessary administrative structural changes? This is where the progressives across the divides, the Nigerian Labour Congress, the civil societies, the students, oil workers and the progressive elements across all parties can form a pressure group/coalition for representation to the government for these changes (including the UWAIS electoral reforms) to be implemented without any form of dilution and if does not work out, then, the last resort will be through massive, decisive but peaceful civil disobedience/strike as it happened during the Kokori’s NUPENG era.

Everyone will sit at home as long as necessary until these reforms are carried out. That is the ONLY way forward for Nigeria! You can’t plant a seed (good objective) in a rock (our present system) and expect it to germinate (good governance)! All the security agents must be independent in funding and in administration. They must be detached from the aprons of the Executives. Every court order must be implemented immediately by the police without seeking prior permission from the Executives.

In view of our abundant natural and human resources available, Nigeria can be the best place to live on earth if we have the right administrative structures in place henceforth. Nigerians are generally hardworking, intelligent and making waves in the academics and various professions abroad. We beat the whites academically when we go abroad to school. Only few people know that the touted one of the ‘fathers of internet’, Engr. Emeagwali residing in America is a Nigerian!

Without Emeagwali, the internet that we are using today could have probably taken a longer time to realize! Have you forgotten the encomiums poured on him by President Clinton when he visited Nigeria during his presidency? There are millions of better Emeawaglis in Nigeria rotting away just because they don’t have these despotic, suppressive and needless godfathers to propel them in life. The natural resources are in abundant laying dormant underground while we focus only on the perishing crude oil. What a great, rich and potentially viable country being decimated on the slaughter slab of corruption and maladministration!

Here come the structural changes to the rescue! The changes will provide a level playing field for everyone to grow according to individual God given talents at individually dictated pace of development. Everyone will be the master of his destiny, designing and constructing it with his talents and resources easily made available by the relatively egalitarian system in place. I sincerely hope and pray that Nigeria will soon be truly ‘born-again’.

There is no country that is as heterogeneous as America and no ethnic group in the world that has no sizeable presence in America championing their narrow interests within the ambit of law. Yet, Americanism is exalted above all other considerations when it comes to national policies formulation and implementation.

That is the reason there is nothing like state of origin or quota system in their private and national life. You can get anything anywhere you live and pay tax and even have the liberty to contest for elective posts! Competitive quality determines what you can get from the American society, if not how could it have been possible for a black man to emerge as President from an ethnic background that constitutes a  mere 12% of the American population!

I think the problem with Nigeria is that we have never been fortunate to have, since independence, a moral and ethical President who will really lead by example to drive formulation and implementation of relatively egalitarian policies that will ultimately redefine our national values, culture and norms resting on the tripod of fairness, equity and justice. A man who is above all primordial negativities, who sees himself only as a Nigerian and not a champion of any section, religion or ethnic group.

Some may argue that the President cannot do it in a democratic setting as ours especially with the shared powers among the three arms of the government. Where there is a will, there is always a way! All depends on the sincerity of purpose and political will. Fortunately our constitution makes our President one of the most powerful Presidents in the world with enormous conferment of wide discretionary powers. Therefore, a President who knows his onions can easily achieve the goal.

We need to pray for God’s miracle in having somebody with the right mind-set and will-power as our President to carry out these fundamental changes, without which I do not see any real hope for Nigeria and Nigerians.The Nigerian President will be remembered as the father of modern Nigeria even by generations unborn if he can devote his tenure in effecting these fundamental structural changes within our system before the next election. It will be foolhardy for anyone to believe that the next general elections will not be worn by the highest bidders whose passion to contest is hinged on the determination to fund their bottomless bellies and lineage.

May God Almighty grants the President the willingness, courage and wisdom to start and finish these changes. We cannot achieve the American status overnight but we need to start from the right direction just like Ghana.

God bless a united Nigeria. I love you Nigeria and Nigerians!

– Dr Moses Wokili


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