Agenda for the President-Elect
In the passing transition hours to the swearing of the new president for the Nigerian state, we are under the burden of history to put before the new leadership a check list of dos and don’ts to steady the polity, improve the wellbeing of our people and consolidate our democracy. In this briefing, we shall focus on four important policy areas, namely, economy, politics, human rights and foreign policy.
There is a basic assumption about the economy of a country, that is, it is the substructure upon which other institutions of the state are erected. However, Nigeria exhibits some notable characteristics. Firstly, it is a consumer nation as its economy is externally oriented. Secondly, its linkage to the international political economy is crude oil export. Outside of this, the country is at the margin of the productive process of the global economy whose only relevance lies in being a dumping ground for outputs of industrial centres of the world. The oil sector, its major foreign exchange earner has been compromised by elite conspiracy that has rendered the four refineries in the country comatose, elevated import of petroleum products into the country to the pedestal of a national creed. The web of conspiracy has fostered mind-boggling oil theft and the so-called oil subsidy that has been a rip-off of the national resources to the gross impoverishment of the Nigerian people. There seems to be no end to this national robbery. The outgoing president is securing $800 million with the concurrence of a robber-stamp National Assembly ostensibly to cushion the effect of the eventual removal OF SAID oil subsidy.
THE said Oil-subsidy remains a national scam that requires political will to stop. Previously, the ruling class’ dominant narrative to the public never accentuated anything like (there was nothing like) oil-subsidy, it was about appropriate pricing of the cost of fuel, due to alleged smuggling across the national borders. On the basis of that there was incessant adjustment of pump price of petrol. Notably, the Abacha military junta increased the price of petroleum products and warehoused the difference in a special fund, Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), which was dedicated to revamping infrastructure in the country. After running aground, the nation’s refineries through deliberate mismanagement, an import regime was instituted and reinforced by the elite ripping off the nation. Since then the thieving elite have made it impossible to revamp the refineries, and has simultaneously obstructed the construction of modular refineries in order to perpetuate the large-scale exploitation of Nigerians. An excerpts from the analysis of Dr. Izielen Agbon, a petroleum expert and former consultant to the Venezuelan government under Hugo Chavez, underscored the falsity of the subsidy claims by the Nigerian government. Here him: “In March 2022, NNPC estimated a daily pms consumption rate of 100 million litres a day after declaring 60 million litres per day a few months earlier. They attributed the difference of 40 m l/d to smuggling across the border to neighboring nations. However, it was pointed out to them that the 40 m l/d would require 1212 pms fully loaded trucks of 33000 litres capacity crossing the borders every day. Another 1212 empty trucks will have to enter the country daily. Given that our borders are not that porous, the head of custom protested and NNPC revised their consumption rate to 68 m l/d. Apart from the invincible trucks, the data from neighboring nations is very reliable. A volume balance of PMS inflow and outflow from neighboring nations shows that there is very little or no smuggling of PMS across our borders.”
While there is need to stop the national scam, so-called subsidy, there should be alternative ways to refine fuel locally to stop the pulling of wool over our eyes in the name of a fictional category known as subsidy. We do not believe in waiting for Dangote refinery that is obviously a monopoly venture, a range of alternatives must be made available in the country to stop once and for all, this national heist. Afterall, no individual nor government can dictate to Dangote refinery its pricing policies (albeit, what for example should be the cost of a litre of PMS) A comatose economy means misery and sufferings for the people; and solving this problem provides legitimacy for the government of the day. The in-coming president must repudiate the World Bank loan as it is a parting gift for the out-going administration with a consequent deepening of our debt profile.
In every election cycle, the conduct of electionS has always been scrutinized post-electionS. The import of this is that our electoral process has not been perfect and a lot remains to be done to win public confidence. The in-coming president must unleashed the necessary policy reforms to strengthen the election management body to be able to conduct a credible, free and fair election. There is no gainsaying that the outgoing administration abused and undermined the diversity of our country in ways that hobbled the lines in our former national anthem that says “though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand…’ Although we believe that the sense of alienation in the polity today can be addressed by restructuring or the reform of the 1999 Constitution as amended, including working toward the emergence of a peoples’ horizontally and vertically driven constitution, the extant provision in Section 14 of the 1999 Constitution can do justice to the feeling of deprivation and the consequent alienation. Section14 (1), (3) & (4) states interalia: (1) “The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a State based on the principles of democracy and social justice.” (3) “The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.” (4) “The composition of the Government of a State, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the Federation.” The in-coming president must be bold ENOUGH to mainstream justice in the direction as espoused above particularly in all appointive positions and in all federal formations.
Human rights are rights that we enjoy by virtue of being human. In the last eight years of Buhari Administration this country has diversely bleed uncontrollably. The country has descended into a near (the) Hobbesian state of nature of where life is brutish, nasty and short. Life has been completely devalued and particularly loosing its ontological status. The spate of killings across the country, whether by Boko Haram, so-called bandits, Fulani herdsmen, Kidnappers and ritualists is alarming and blood-chilling, and seemingly not in a hurry to retreat. The fact that no one or two culprits have been brought to book aggravates the matter. The raison detre of state is the protection of lives and poverty (property). The Nigerian state under President Buhari has grossly failed in this. The in-coming administration must uphold the sanctity of lives, and non-state actors ravaging the country must be dealt with decisively and made to face the full wrath and weight of the law. Without security, productive activities can hardly take place.
Nigerian foreign policy in the last one decade or so, has had no direction. It has been hobbled under the out-going administration whereby the country has remained inactive and mere onlooker in global affairs. Therefore, the country has yielded its continental leadership to countries like Egypt, South Africa and Ghana. The country must re-engrossed its foreign policy in relation to China, and the collective West Africa. We must provide leadership for the continent through non-alignment and outright defence of continental interest without intrusion into our national sovereignty by global hegemons and historic imperialist powers.
On a final note we wish the incoming administration goodluck.
Long live Nigerian people! Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!
Prof. Lucky Akaruese
Prof. Slyvester Odion Akhaine
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