SECOND Republic politician and one of the founders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Guy Ike Ikokwu, wants all Nigerians to rally round President Muhammadu Buhari, to actualise his change agenda or the country will pay direly for it.
Assessing the performance of the president since he took over the reins of power 38 days ago, the lawyer and former Anambra State chairman of the defunct Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP), said Buhari’s wind change could be made to blow good tidings for Nigerians within 100 days, if the needful is done. His words: \
By Clifford Ndujihe, Deputy Political Editor
Nigerians enamoured by Buhari’s change mantra
The whole of Nigerian nationalities in the last five months of this year have been enormously enamoured by the change mantra of the Buhari’s and the All Progressives Congress (APC) campaign ideology, which was vividly summarized on issues of insecurity, economy and corruption, gross unemployment and electricity.
Since President Buhari’s inauguration a month ago, he has been engrossed on the resolution of these issues and his ruling political party, APC, has also been engrossed in the issues of governance and the objective rather than the subjective criteria for the implementation of the mantra.
The Nigerian public is in some way becoming impatient with the seeming lack of progress as had been expected for the wind of change.
In view of the fact that our constitution, supposedly federal in character enshrines the doctrine of the separation of powers and democratic principles and processes, one must not be tempted as had been in the distant past to believe that a departure from the above principles would legitimize the diverse methods for the actualization of the mantra.
Buhari’s initial good steps
Although President Buhari’s constituency covers the whole country, it does not necessary guarantee that his style of governance should be unitary rather than federal. At the presidential level, it is his duty to tackle the issue of insecurity which requires both military, political and international solutions. He realizes these facts and has to the delight of Nigerians and with his background as a former military personnel of the rank of a general and astute administrator of the areas in the North East zone of six states, Borno, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Taraba, Yobe, has taken on the challenge by visiting our neighbouring West African states, attending a meeting in Britain, the G7 meeting of major powers, and scheduled a visit to Cameroon and the United States of America for the urgent resolution of the insurrection of the Boko Haram.
President Buhari on the issue of the economy and corruption has begun the probe of the NNPC and the recovery of several trillions of Naira looted by previous administrations and public and private moguls. It should be understood that many public servants and civil servants are indeed richer in wealth and style of living than some who are still serving or may have retired or opted out of service with their stolen billions, including ministers and commissioners.
Pervasive graft, economic depravity
It is also known and admitted that corruption pervades the very fabric of the Nigerian nation in both private and public sectors, and among all classes of individuals and professions and trade and among the various federal, states and local government structures of all the existing and previous political parties and colorations.
Restructuring the polity: This economic depravity is systemic in nature which is why President Buhari should vigorously, on the basis of the separation of powers, hand over to the legislature at the national and states levels, the urgent and immediate task of restructuring the nation.
President Jonathan had handed over to President Buhari and the National Assembly the 2014 reports of the Abuja National Conference on the issue of restructuring the nation into a viable fiscal federal culture. The National Assembly has spent some billions of Naira like the Jonathan administration in discussing and enumerating several constitutional issues which have to be corrected as a result of the immense lapses of the 1999 constitution, which was more unitary than federal in character.
The 1999 constitution was enthroned by the previous military regime rather than the people of Nigeria.
Diversification of economy
For the diversification of the economy which was part of the change mantra there must be an immediate devolution of powers from the central Abuja level to the zones and states. Several issues which are exclusive to the central government today should really be concurrent to enable the Nigerian economy grow at a greater pace than it is now.
It will also enable our economy to stop being a mono oil product economy to a diversified macro and multiple product economy which with discipline and zonal competition can grow at a rate of not less than 12 per cent per annum as China had done.
For instance, the federal government should no longer be the sole authority in the oil and power sectors of the economy. Local governments should no longer be sustained by the federal government but should be organized and funded were necessary by the state governments.
The system of government best suitable to our cultural ambiance is the parliamentary system where the state governor or premier or administrator is elected by his own constituency and has a seat in the legislature. Most Nigerians do not like the present system of executive governance in the states whereby the governors of all political parties are financially reckless and absolutely abusing their powers which has personalized the system of governance without any mode of accountability. In a parliamentary system a governor who is unable to pay the wages of its statutory workers would certainly lose his seat in a vote of no confidence and be replaced by another commissioner. This system strengthens the position of the political parties during and after elections.
It reduces the evil of corruption which was enhanced by the military which abolished our parliamentary democracy into the executive personalized unitary system.
Virtually all the previous and present governors of the states in Nigeria are guilty of financial recklessness and indictment by the EFCC and have used the false doctrine of immunity to shroud their economic misdeeds. The 2014 Abuja confab decisions have certainly taken care of most of these problems.
Reducing cost of governance
The other crucial issue on the economy which Buhari and the APC should immediately address is the issue of the cost of governance across the country. It should be reduced by 50 per cent and it should be made a constitutional issue that the capital expenditure ratio should not be less than 60 per cent while the recurrent expenditure should never be more than 40 per cent. The national and state legislative expenditure as well as those of the Executive and administration should be reduced by half and their number should also be trimmed down. Constituency projects, wardrobe allowance, bogus travelling allowances and too many vehicles should be reduced or scrapped. Imagine the recent case of where over 20 vehicles were retrieved from the wives of a state governor.
Indeed the recurrent expenditure in most cases should be 30 per cent so that privatization and governance of the economy should be the mode rather than the exception.
Actualising change in 100 days
The yearning of the majority of Nigerians can be achieved this year within the next 100 days if President Buhari’s administration takes the bull by the horn. The reduction of the ministerial appointees at the central and state levels should be guaranteed constitutionally.
Imagine the smallest state in the South-East recently appointing more commissioners than other states. This state is one of those wallowing in huge public debt, unfinished projects and unpaid salaries and pensions. A state in the South-West is guilty of this enormous profligacy of unpaid salaries, while financial recklessness and abuse of powers is dominant and the governor is one of those chanting the change mantra.
The resultant change will be manifest and the issue of patience will endear itself to the majority of Nigerians who are prepared to make sacrifices today for a better future for their children born and unborn and for the new Nigerian Nation.
Both the presidency and the legislature at the National Assembly have 100 days each for the transformation agenda in their change mantra. If the Boko Haram insurrection is not suppressed in the Northern Region, to make way for the economic transformation of the North East zone, in particular, Nigerians will become disillusioned.
On the other hand, the National Assembly can within the next 100 days achieve the constitutional restructuring of the nation into a truly federal nation with a truly fiscal federal structure in other to pave the way for the diversification of the economy, enhancement of education and employment and a rapid increase in the electrification of the urban and rural areas of the country.
The time is now and Nigerians have the capacity to claim the above areas of transformation and change mantra. This change can come but if it doesn’t, it would lead to total disillusionment, disenfranchisement, apathy, inequities and separatist tendencies of all sorts to our own political, economic, social and cultural detriment.