Nigerian govt must allow governance reflect democracy – Experts

Nigerians have been wailing. There seems not to be a marked difference between democracy and the military regimes that had featured in Nigeria’s political space. Experts point the way out of the misery.

“There has never been a golden period in Nigeria’s history,” Martins Onovo, a former presidential candidate, said.

A private-sector expert, who spoke with BusinessDay on condition of anonymity said: “The problem with Nigeria is that it appears that there is a Caretaker in Aso Rock, while there are others who provide leadership or who are expected to provide leadership. But the power in Aso Rock is too much to have a caretaker.”

The expert further said that Nigerian governments and leaders have consistently failed to learn from Singapore.

“They have continued to believe that Nigeria is unstable because of the different ethnic and religious groups. But they have never cared to adopt the Singapore’s model and winning ways.

“For Singapore, the most valuable natural resource for a country is its people, which Nigeria has in abundance,” he said.

In a recent interview, Patrick Loch Otieno Lumumba, a Kenyan who served as the director of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission from September 2010 to August 2011, spoke about huge possibilities for Nigeria, and the need for genuine conversation for the country to make progress.

Read Also: Nigeria’s democracy: Rule of law and implications to national growth

According to him, “One in every African is a Nigerian by nationality. And I described it as the African hit. #EndSARS has gone underground. It is in comatose, and the government thinks it has solved the problem. No. That was a statement by young Nigerians that we are dissatisfied; that there are certain things that we want done; they hope that the administration in Nigeria will in a very pragmatic manner begin to address those issues.

“The day Nigeria wakes up something would happen. If you have 50 million people, some of the most educated men and women in the world are Nigerians. There are more Nigerian doctors in the United States of America and the United Kingdom than they are in Nigeria. There are Nigerian surgeons, engineers, teachers, business people. Nigeria is the engine.”

Lumumba also noted that the Nigerian population is larger than the population of all ECOWAS countries combined. That tells you that if you make Nigeria great, it will be a magnet and that is why I think that deliberate efforts must be made to make Nigeria stable and Nigeria also must be re-negotiated so that these tensions will go away.

“I want the current administration to listen to what Nnamdi Kanu is saying; I want them to listen to the Oduduwa is saying; I want them to listen to what the MEND is when you have a conflict in your house with your children, what do you do; do you beat them, and stop talking to them? You call them on a table and tell them it is in our best interest that we retain this family, and what is it that you don’t like? If you do that in humility, then you listen to the people and then restructure your country in a manner that makes it sustainable.

“Some of you who are spiritually inclined; on the day God was creating man, there was a conversation, he said, let us create man in our own image. Those are conversations in the heavens. Why can’t we have a conversation here on earth?”

Sharing the Singaporean experience, how the country moved from poverty to a wealthy and progressive nation, a citizen, said education was key.

“The Singapore we know today wasn’t always like this. Back in the 60s there was racial tension that led to many deaths and hundreds of injuries. In the same period, Singapore became independent from Malaysia and had to decide its own fate. The economy wasn’t stable. No natural resources and many people had no jobs, housing or formal education. Without solving these problems, it is more difficult for nation to progress. So, how did Singapore do it?

“Education: Singapore focused on making an education nation. Twenty (20) percent of the country’s budget is spent on education. This is to keep it universal, practical and relevant to the market needs. English was made the official language for teaching to suit children from all races. Mother tongue was still preserved and taught in schools. Primary education was made compulsory and by this year, 97.5 percent of Singaporeans are educated. Education. Education. Education. It can’t be stressed enough. An educated nation can communicate, socialise and make better choices for themselves and their country,” he said.

According to him, “Housing also played a huge role. To solve the housing problem, the government launched a public housing programme. Housing is generally expensive in Singapore due to lack of land, however, with government subsidy and payment option, majority of Singaporeans can afford shelter. Housing system also forced people of different races to live together. We are Singaporean Arabs; our neighbours are Chinese, Malay and Indians.

“New economy: Upon independence, Singapore put together a plan to become a centre for manufacturing and service industry. Government built industrial state to make it a centre for businesses. The service industry grew and attracted other investments that made the economy stronger and stronger, and created more jobs for the people. Singapore today is home to one of the largest and busiest shipping ports in the world. It is the fourth richest country despite its small size and lack of resources.”

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