NIGERIA: THE PENDING MISCELLANEOUS MATTERS ON THE AGENDA
By Augustine Omilo
“For example, as big as the country (USA) is, she has only 100 Senators representing 50 states. Nigeria, with a lower population and higher poverty rate has a whopping 109 persons representing 36 state and Abuja federal capital territory as senators. The cost of governance must be held within the limit of the nation’s resources if she must enjoy the dividends of democracy devoid of sharp practices and humongous payments for services that are seldom rendered by legislators”.
Baring any other unforeseen occurrences, especially electoral litigations, the 2023 general elections in Nigeria will be concluded in a matter of days or months. Thus, opportunities present themselves ones again for the citizens to return to the national development drawing board with a view to resolving the pending matters that were probably put on hold by the polls.
Even though the supreme court of Nigeria has suspended the implementation of the naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, the debate for or against it has continued to dominate public discourse among members of the public. The governor of the CBN has told the nation that old currencies that have been returned to the apex bank so far have equally been destroyed. If this is true, where will Mr. Godwin Emefiele and General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) get the old notes that the Supreme Court has ordered them to begin to circulate again?
The apex court based its verdict only on the technical failure of the policy implementation. It cited the fact that the National Executive Council was not properly consulted before the commencement of the policy directives. It failed to acknowledge the gains already made by the policy. And these include financial discipline among Nigerians in public and private engagements, appreciating value of the country’s currency against the dollar and other major media of exchange in the world.
The issue of kidnapping for ransom which is becoming a thing off the past was not cited as a good omen arising from the policy despite the fact the target of kidnappers include men of means like the Nigerian judges. Neither the plaintiffs nor defenders in the case deemed it fit to seek the professional inputs of financial experts, economists, the mass media or even the so-called oppressed citizens.
Meanwhile, those who stuck out their necks to support the monetary policy have been left to regret their actions as they never envisaged that it will be so mismanaged that Nigerians would be subjected to “buying’’ back the monies they willingly saved in the bank from currency hawkers. Those who accepted the idea of online payment for goods and services via the use of banks’ mobile financial applications are getting stocked with the system. Mobile networks continue to hinder the smooth operations of the policy.
Apart from failure to make cash available, unscrupulous individuals are adding to the frustrations by dubiously withdrawing the few new notes available and hoard same to the detriment of citizens with little or no influence over bank officials.
A Divisional Police officer and some of his team members were gruesomely murdered by bandits, who attacked a village in Zanfara state on the 4th of March, 2023. This is in addition to the senatorial candidate who was murdered in Imo state as he prepared for the election of 25th February, 2023. There have also been reports of numerous killings in Anambra state involving both civilians and police officers and men on duty. This is just to mention a few of these security threats that appear too stubborn to resolve.
The Nigerian system of democratic governance is equally posing another source of worry. If it is truly a presidential system, one may ask; “which country is the nation’s model along this line?” If the model is truly from the United States of America, then Nigeria must have copied it wrongly. The version in use is far more expensive than that of America.
For example, as big as the country (USA) is, she has only 100 Senators representing 50 states. Nigeria, with a lower population and higher poverty rate has a whopping 109 persons representing 36 state and Abuja federal capital territory as senators. The cost of governance must be held within the limit of the nation’s resources if she must enjoy the dividends of democracy devoid of sharp practices and humongous payments for services that are seldom rendered by legislators.
It will therefore not be too much to request that the in-coming administration in Nigeria take a holistic view of the system with intent to cut down cost, build-in Nigerian variables and increase awareness on the need for all citizens to key into the country’s dream with sincerity of heart. The people must understand that electoral technology is not a replacement for good moral conduct, sincerity and selfless service to one’s society.
Universities in the Africa’s most populous nation have remained some of the most poorly managed in the world. The schools were on strike for more than 8 months in 2022. Though, the strike has been called off, the issues that led to it are still largely unresolved. The lecturers under the aegis of Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU are yet to be paid the arrears of salary that arose as a result of the industrial action. The government is insisting on “no-work-no-pay” while the teachers want to be paid for the period, they never rendered services as employed to do. Moving forward, issues relating to this and many others that affect academic worth must be placed in the front burner of government activities.
Many qualified Nigerian professionals are leaving the country in droves for greener pastures abroad. Those who are patriotic enough to remain and serve their father land are daily faced with challenges from government officials who have little or no regards for professional competence. The result is frustrations! Frustrations!! And Frustrations!!! Imagine a judge who was relieved of his duties in Ekiti state by a governor who was not favoured by his (judge’s) action in matter that involved the governor. The jurist remained unemployed for sixteen good years before he got reinstated to his position recently.
All these and many other pending miscellaneous anomalies in governance must be addressed as early as possible. The distractions occasioned by the recently concluded national and state elections must not be used as excuse for failing to address them.