HONESTLY, EQUITY IS THE WAY FOREWARD
By: Augustine Omilo
Except for few cases of election postponements or pending electoral cases in courts, one can safely begin to offer some suggestions on the next line of actions the winners of the polls should take towards ensuring a more robust democracy in Nigeria. Agreed, mistakes have been made. It is time for the corrections of such abnormalities.
Correcting the mistakes of the past in Nigeria’s leadership equation requires the application of equity, justice and fair play in governance at all levels. All the anomalies that caused nightmares for the political heavyweights before, during and after the last elections of 2023 must be identified and put aside. They include greed, selfishness, tribal or religious sentiments in political appointments and distribution of amenities among the different units of the society.
It is high time the zoning and rotation of major political offices began to find their ways into the nation’s constitution. This is an issue that requires urgent attention from men and women in authority. Leadership choices and campaigns will become easier and cheaper if the process is seamless and acceptable to all concerned. There is no zone in Nigeria with monopoly of qualified persons for elections into the office of president or governor. Even among the major zones, political positions should not remain in the hands of only one community in a chosen area.
One of the major lessons learnt from the recent political tsunami that swept across the length and breadth of Nigeria is the fact that no one family or village can single-handedly elect a politician into office. Those who got into office and shut the door against the people that campaigned and voted for them equally had a fair share of the political embarrassments of the period under review. The political actors that are not willing to take advantage of these exposed lapses must be prepared to vote ‘’on behalf’’ of everybody in subsequent elections in their localities.
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By the way, equity, justice and fair play go beyond office sharing among federating communities and proper distribution of political returns. They also involve the inclusion of gender considerations in governance as well as carrying the physically challenged people along in decision making. Women, strong elderly and youths alike must be given equal opportunities in deciding how the Nigerian society is managed. Anything short of these will amount to discrimination against fellow humans and infringements on their fundamental human rights.
The discriminatory approach in the distribution of the nation’s collective wealth is overdue for overhauling. While it is easy for public servants to access loans of sorts, the artisans and other entrepreneurs that actually drive the economy cannot seamlessly lay hands-on financial assistance required for investments. Many salary earners are fast becoming registered contractors and consultants who execute business projects arising from their departmental schedules. The system cannot continue like this because it makes salary earners to also receive income from income through these sources at the detriment of the informal sector participants in the nation’s economic activities.
The wealth distribution model is faulty. It has to be holistically overhauled. If the minimum wage is N30,000, let it be logically applied across all sectors. In the present circumstance, while the minimum wage is 30,000 in some government organizations, there still other places while the scale is above N100,000 in the same country.
Beyond the disparity in income distribution, there is no provision for people who work and retire from the informal sector of the economy. Apart from pension schemes, old and retired members of the society should earn old age allowance as is the case in other climes. This is particularly necessary since this age grade members rely on drugs and proper feeding to surmount their health challenged. Of course, this is assuming that Nigerians will be sincere enough to provide the statistics required by government to make economic planning easy.
The laws of the land should be applicable to all citizens in all circumstances. So long as the country remains a circular state, she must ensure that the people are subjected to the legal trials when offences are committed except perhaps in cases where offenders are of the same faith and opt to be tried according to the tenets of their religion. In this case, legal experts in these areas should be restricted to the practice of their legal profession in areas acceptance and not allowed to occupy positions of sensitive nature such as the Chief Justice of the federation or the Attorney-general and minister of justice.
Meanwhile, American democracy allows individuals to claim citizenship of places where they have lived for a reasonable number of years. They can vote and be voted for in elections in such places where they are also part of the economic players. It is absurd to deny the inhabitants of the land certain rights on the basis of language, tribe or state of origin.