By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
Following the National Broadcast by President Muhammadu Buhari, on January 1, 2021, some Civil Society Organsations, CSOs, have set agenda for the government on the protracted security situation across the country, lingering Electoral Act Amendment Bill, reopened border and local industries, meeting demands of #EndSARS protesters, continued abuse of human rights, lopsided appointments, unemployment, and others.
Speaking with Vanguard a social crusader and Founder of One Love Foundation, OLF, Chief Patrick Eholor, said, “I think there is nothing different from what he has been saying.
“There is need to have trade relationships with other African countries, this is why I have suggested in many ways we need to reform our military apparatus such as the Immigration Service, Nigeria Customs Service, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, who are to tighten security on our borders to control illegal migration, illicit trade, trans-border crime, and that will lead to the retraining of our Customs officers and other security personnel; the government needs to introduce zero-tolerance to bribery because 95 per cent of our custom personnel at the borders have turned our border posts to their ATMs as they don’t care about what comes in or goes out of the borders.
“Government should invest in CCTV cameras to monitor our borders, to reduce crime such as smuggling and other illegal activities including human trafficking, drug peddling, car smugglers and cross border bandits and armed robbers.
“The measures to put in place to protect our industries and our local farmers is to impose high taxation on products the government knows we have here and can produce on our own for example cotton, textile materials, rice, palm oil, handkerchiefs, and others.
“My expectations from the government if it is possible to have a retroactive law to try all contractors who have failed to execute their projects, to look into the civil service for ghost workers, to straighten the judiciary for their autonomy, to investigate the NDDC with forensic investigations to compel them to refund the money they have stolen in the past.
“For President Buhari to do the needful is to use his fiat to list out those who have stolen our common patrimony as he has promised Nigerians during his campaign, to tell Nigerians the owners of the money found in those houses in Ikoyi.
“Finally, the President should invest our resources on our health, educational sectors, roads, seaports, and other critical infrastructure. These are my expectations and I believe a better Nigeria is possible for us irrespective of our political and religious differences.”
Mr President change tactics, allow young people to have to say — Charles
National Programme Coordinator, Association of Small-Scale Agro Producers in Nigeria, ASSAPIN, Yarima Adu Charles, said, “Mr. President, Nigeria has over the years doing things in the same way without any tangible results, it is time to change the tactics; in inclusive governance, projects and program are based on the felt needs of the people not on what government perceived; Young people are educated enough to be allowed a chance to design for themselves interventions that can positively impact their lives; Young people should be allowed to decide what, how, when and where they can be engaged meaningfully through Young people strategic development conference and it should be held in January; the processes should be void of politics.
“Nigerians’ voices need to be heard in an inclusive manner in the security architecture design and implementation, especially the civilians, our security agents leadership have failed us in their expertise and professionalism
“The better salary package for the security operatives as demanded by the #ENDSAR be implemented with immediate effect in January, to boost the morale of file and rank officers to do the needful, while normalizing the irregularities in the promotion cases in the police force immediately.
“While the masses take the lead now and see the difference so that we can judge from the two results for an informed decision. He who wears the shoes feels the pains, the politicians are comfortable with their payment packages and have job security, they can never be in the appropriate position of creating employment for the timing unemployed young people
“With COVID 19 cashless economy policy implementation should be the focus while payments directly to the unemployed young people are made monthly to their bank account using BVN and NIN because Nigeria has what it takes to reach people justly with BVN and NIN, while others who do not have process their own to be recognized.”
Buhari should now start listening directly from Nigerians — Nnimmo
The Director, Health For Mother Earth Foundation, HOMEF, Arc Nnimmo Bassey, said, “Government response to the demands of the #EndSARS movement has been either largely superficial or harmful. The government has also been in denial of facts surrounding the horrendous interventions that culminated in the loss of lives and property in parts of the nation.
“When the #EndSARS got supplanted by popular riots, the government and the unquestioning media characterised the people as hoodlums, a move that denied the reality of the unjust socio-economic situation and thus endorsed the flagrant suppression of dissent that we all saw.
“Government fails to learn that when the space for peaceful dissent is blocked, other manifestations would surely emerge. The government must think deeply about what would make a citizen ‘steal’ a toilet from a politician’s house! That speaks of a deep rot in the system.
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“It stands as a symbol of what the people think of their leaders. Take their toilets and deny them that exit point where they dispose odious wastes!
“It is now imperative for Mr President to find ways of hearing directly from the people. Right now it appears he is living in a bubble within which only one type of music is being played by his immediate handlers.
“As often said, in social media, Nigerians are hearing more from the Presidency than from the President. The President has to go beyond formal speeches and find ways to interact directly with the youths and all Nigerians. If the President is too busy, the Vice President can be the bridge.
“Security and productivity are closely intertwined in any nation. There cannot be full employment in a country without a productive economy. The government must wean itself from virtually sole dependence on revenue from petroleum resources. Putting all of one’s eggs in one basket has never been a wise thing to do.
“The situation where government revenue comes mostly from one sector and where the operating laws in the sector are unjust —and are wired against the people and the environment— cannot yield positive outcomes. The oil sector has been a massively negative sector and is piling up intergenerational crimes and debts.
“The second critical decision the government should make is to ensure that the educational system works, that universities stay open, and that students and pupils can be in school without fear of being kidnapped.
“At this stage, of our nationhood, Nigerians demand only basic things that we ought to be taking for granted at this time. Providing those basics should be the starting agenda of any responsible government. If those are unavailable we should at least have an environment that is safe and a food system that is not contaminated by toxic and neocolonial interventions.”