Monday, 11 December 2017

Article: To Build A Real Nigeria Nation; The Utmost Need For A New Leadership

By Jaye Gaskia

Our country and her peoples have been, and continue to be subjected to intensifying levels of hardships, compounded by growing insecurity.

Fifty-Seven [57] years after independence we seem to be trapped in our past, as we continue to debate not the challenges of nation building or nationhood, but the very notion of whether we can exist as a nation, and coexist as one people with one common citizenship.

Public service delivery has failed, poverty is rising, and the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen, creating unprecedented levels of inequality in our polity and economy.

And nearly six decades after independence, while we are home to the Richest persons in Africa, we are also home to the largest population of poor people on the continent. More than 112 million of our citizens live in poverty; over 90 million live in subhuman and inhuman habitation or are homeless, against a housing deficit of 18 million.

Our education system has collapsed, with more than 11.5 million children of school going age out of school; with the quality of education provided in public schools in rapid decline; and with private education inaccessible to the majority, and churning out graduates who though educated have no knowledge of their context, and are incapable of understanding, let alone responding to and functioning effectively within that context.

Little wonder that unemployment levels, both among the general population and among youths have reached historic, unprecedented and near cataclysmic levels. The number of young able-bodied Nigerians unemployed at over 40 million is more than the total population of a significant number of countries.

The major reason why we are in such a mess decades after independence; the main reason why we have been unable yet to fulfil the promise of independence and fully realise our immense potential can be attributed to one major factor; The Failure of Leadership. The failure of our leadership recruitment, and leadership reproduction mechanisms; the total failure of the ruling elites, the ruling class to provide purposeful, strategic and nation building leadership.

This failure is a class failure, a collective failure. This ruling class, in all its incarnations, and across all its factions have failed to build a viable and sustainable economy, and equitable and socially just society, on the basis of which a prosperous and inclusive nation can be built.

The ruling elite has failed to build a Nigeria Nation, superintended by an inclusive welfare, developmental Nigeria State, one that can earn and keep the trust and confidence of citizens; one that can weave our various peoples together into one single citizenship of one prosperous, great and equitable Nigeria Nation.

It is the reason why our institutions, once strong, effective and efficient, have all collapsed. The Historic Challenge confronting us in 2019 and towards the 2019 General Elections therefore, is how do we discard with this failed leadership, and empower a new transformational and visionary leadership; and elect a new patriotic and nation building leadership.

Our collective task is to put in place measures, and take the necessary steps towards supplanting these Nation Wrecking Leadership, with a new crop of Nation Building Leadership.

So, what conclusions can we draw? That we are suffering the impact of failed and collapsed leadership, that the quality of leadership provided by the ruling class has been declining since independence, and that this decline is now precipitating a collapse.

What do we need to do therefore? It is obvious that we have to empower a new leadership that will deal with the following core and fundamental historical challenges:

First, we need a leadership that will promote and take practical steps as part of a concerted citizen driven National Building effort to enable the development of common and shared experience of single Nigerian citizenship. All Nigerians must be able to enjoy their human rights, and their rights as Nigerian citizens anywhere they are in Nigeria, as well as outside Nigeria. No Nigerian should have his or her citizenship diminished or somewhat impaired by reason of where they live, where they are resident, where they work, nor as a result of their faith, gender, ethnicity, and or age or disability.

We must address the question of citizenship and the need to protect collectively our human dignity. My citizenship should not be diminished because I have stepped out of the boundaries of my so-called state of Origin. We have to do away with State of Origin, and instead embrace residency. It is supplanting of citizenship prescribed by residency with one prescribed by indigenship that is at the bane of most of our problems; it is why we have been unable to plan in any pragmatic and or empirical manner.

Why should Lagos State or Kano state be planning not for the accrual population resident in the state, and who are also meeting their obligations within the state? Why should they instead be basing their plans on indigenes of the state many of whom are not resident in those states?

This residency question has significance for quite a number of issues. For instance in the implementation of Federal Character principle and quota systems. I agree with the need for affirmative action to correct historical imbalances; but since it is those citizens who are actually resident in the various states who are directly impacted by the relative underdevelopment of those states viz-a-viz others; then it is the residents of those state that should count when we are implementing quota systems and federal character, not the indigenes who live outside the state and who probably live in relatively more advantaged contexts than residents of the underdeveloped states.

Also every affirmative action should be time bound, there must be a projected exit date, as well as a clear strategic plan to close the existing gap within the transitional period.

With respect to Gender; again residency rights will immediately remove the barrier to women that excludes them from political participation when the dichotomy between their states of origin, and the states of origin of their spouses is brought up. Once citizenship is prescribed by residency it removes this unnecessary anomaly and impediment to women’s’ political participation.

Again, let us take the question of devolution of powers, and the establishment of state police to enhance internal security of states. Will the recruitment into these state police forces recognise residency rights, or will exclude residents and instead be based on indigenship? Back to the example of Lagos and Kano States. Will the state police in Lagos and Kano states respectively recruit only on the basis of indigenship? Will each for instance rather recruit so-called indigenes who have never lived in those states, who were born and bred in other states, and who have no knowledge of the context of those states, over and above residents of those states who were born and bred in those states, who have lived more than one generation in those states, and who have clear knowledge and understanding of the context of those states?

Second is the issue of inclusivity, equity and social justice. We require a leadership that will be committed to building an inclusive and socially just nation; one that must recognise the urgent necessity for redistribution of wealth, and take active, proactive, pragmatic and strategic steps to address these. A leadership committed to ensuring a comprehensive reform of governance [the Structure, Process and Content of Governance] to ensure effective, quality, efficient and affordable and accessible public service delivery. For let us be very clear, the failure of public service delivery, is the beginning and the driving force in the failure of governance and subsequent collapse of the state and its institutions.

This leadership must address the question of promoting the Ease Of Doing Business for small and medium scale enterprises, and must be ready to take practical steps to integrate the so-called informal sector into the formal economy and enhance service delivery to and for them.

The Third fundamental issue that this new transformational leadership must address is that around comprehensive reform of Governance in general, and local, community governance in particular. Our communities have progressively over the years since independence become ungoverned spaces. There is an urgent need through deliberate policy action to restore governance to the communities, and enable a system of democratic self-government by the communities. Making this happen will mean taking steps to modernise community institutions of governance, but on the basis of our own history and traditions.

We shall have to find ways to effectively combine and integrate a system of democratically elected and tenured community governments [probably based on a reform and formalisation of the existing Community Development Associations - CDAs - frameworks]; and the historically inherited system of traditional rulership, with the traditional stools and their courts playing in relation to the elected governments, a somewhat strategic advisory and oversight role. They could for instance have a role in customary adjudication of cases, as well as in the surmounting/inauguration, and dismissal/dissolution of Community Governments.

Such Community Governments should have a central role in provision of community and municipal services, which are public services provided by community and municipal governments.

Now, this is the type of transformational, and nation building leadership that we require, and that we are committed to providing.

To make this realisable towards 2019 we must actively canvass support for and demand that the ongoing constitution amendment process delivers positively on removing age barriers [Not Too Young To Run], as well as on enabling Independent Candidacy. These two fundamental reforms will contribute significantly towards opening up the democratic space, and create an enabling environment supportive of the emergence of a new Transformational Leadership.

The 2019 General Elections must be based on fundamental issues of practical significance to ordinary people, issues which if addressed will significantly positively impact on the lives of the average Nigerian.

Is this vision realistic and realisable? Some will say that politics and elections are two capital intensive, too dirty, and too devoid of issues in Nigeria.

They will say, and with empirical facts and proof that the electorate is bought, that voting is transactional in character.

But wait a minute? Let us take a critical look at voting patterns since 1999. We have never achieved more than 40% turn out in elections. With the eventual winners taking significantly less than 20 to 30% of the registered voters.

What is the significance and the implication of these? It means that in every election since 1999, more than 60% of registered voters, even of those who have collected their PVCs and had their biometrics captured have never bothered to go out and vote.

Why is this so? Because for the vast majority of them, they do not see any qualitative difference between the choices on offer. And they do not trust any politician to be sincere and to have the ability to take steps once in office that that can have help to qualitatively transform our nation, our condition of living, and our condition of existence. So they stay away.

The other significant implication of this is that these majority of non voting registered voters, including a significant population of Nigerians of voting age who have never bothered, for the same reasons to get registered to vote; these significant population cannot be bought, and will not participate in any transactional voting.

Thus if we are to effect any significant change in leadership, and in the process of selecting and recruiting leaders, then it is to this population of seemingly apathetic and apolitical regiseterd but non-voting electorates, as well as those of voting age who have never borthered to register that we must turn.

We must approach them, turn to them, and arouse their interest and desire in transforming our nation, and rebuilding our country. We must convince them, that the task is realisable, but only if they come onboard and take ownership of the process.

We must give them something to excite them, a vision and mission that can stimulate their intellect and their passion.

If we are going to Take Back Nigeria, then we must awaken this population politically, make them believe, and then together march on towards the emergence of a new transformational leadership, and take on the responsibility of Building our common Nigerian Nation.

That is why I am running for office as President of Nigeria in 2019. To reach out to this population of Nigerians, to draw them out and bring them back to take the centre stage in the project to Rebuild Nigeria, and Take It Back.

I am not a politician, but I am running for office. In any case, there is no profession called being a politician. I am a Development Strategist by profession, my career has been in Inclusive Governance, Participatory Development, Conflict Transformation, Peace And Security. My competences and expertise have been around Policy analysis and development, and engagement with policy processes.

I am not looking for a new career, much less one as superfluous as being a Politician. But I am running for office as President in 2019. Let us be clear, in 2019 I will be running for office as President; In 2019, it will no longer be possible to rationalise or justify staying aloof and withdrawn by stating that ‘there is no credible choice on offer, no viable alternative among the candidates’, because you know what? I will be a candidate, and I am credible and viable.

If we chose otherwise, it will not be because there is no choice, it will be because we chose to either directly or indirectly sanction the status quo by voting otherwise, or by abstaining from voting!

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