Expectations from The President ,National Assembly/Executives
(Events and Panacea )
By Austin O. Umerah
Secretary , Kaduna Polytechnic Severed Staff Association
Nigerians are not interested in whom their president or any of their leaders is: his region, tribe, Religion, educational feat etc but his integrity, dispositions, patriotism, developmental abilities, irreproachability, detribalization, focus and fairness to all. We are thankful to God for your electoral success Mr. President. Nigerians are hopeful that your current tenure will actually transform Nigeria and Nigerians and put a salve in the minds of the oppressed and deprived citizens. Congratulations! Nigerians are tired of piper politicians in government. The problems of the country must be addressed and redressed quickly. If we cannot develop our country through concerted national efforts by curtailing the cankerworm in our society, initiating actionable plans and screwing up the loopholes in officialdom, we will never attain our 2020 objectives. Most Nigerians and our well wishers are tired of political mourners that thrive on pre-emptive lullabies, vain promises and grotesque exploitation of the weaknesses of the masses. A diagnosis of our country shows developing scenario that solicit action from the government. We have observed the geometric growth in population, what is the way out? We have seen the decadence in education, what is the way out? We have noticed mass unemployment what is the way out? We can bear testimony to massive importation of luxury and unnecessary goods, what is the way out. We have seen glaringly exhibition of inordinate wealth, what is the way out? We have heard about recovery of loot and the media execution of offenders, why so. We have heard about execrable exertive influence of untouchables and cabals in government, what is the way out? We have seen our pensioners starve to death due to non payment of their accurate monthly pensions and gratuities as adumbrated by the Kaduna polytechnic severed staff 11years corruptive pension payment. We have seen pensioners verified and have to wait for the effectuation of deficiencies in their monthly pensions and gratuities probably due to lack of altruism or the ineptitude of government agencies concerned. What is the way out? Nigeria is an indivisible entity as usually recited by some senators, assembly members as well as those currently gaining from the government in power without tacit consideration of the tenets of unity but covertly on selfish and parochial precipice. What is the way out of our differences?
SELL OF STATE VENTURES
It perplexes and stupefies one to observe that most of our politicians in government have travelled and still travel overseas and to some healthy neighbouring countries like Ghana, Togo, South Africa, etc. they have witnessed the pith of their development –infrastructurally, politically, economically and socially. Though not as wealthy as Nigeria, their developmental strides stem from patriotism, self contentment, civilization- initiated- behavioural modification nourished with dynamic actions induced by environmental perceptiveness. Nigerians are wary of political pipers and self-serving “Nouveaux riches” whose major objectives of travelling overseas are to change wardrobes hide their loot and pep up their self-aggrandizing “domestruments” and revive their insatiable unbridled fantasies for elusive local Elysium in Nigeria. No doubt some go overseas to look for investors to look after their grabs of viable state investments such as (NITEL, NEPA, oil Blocks) presumably purchased at give away prices. The question that always call to the wondering mind is why would they not lure manufacturers in auto, television , spare parts or partner with investors in the establishment of private refineries, commercial farming and so on instead of killing existing viable state organizations. We shall never cease to enquire what happened to NITEL and the shareholders investments in transcorp NITEL. Was it deliberately sold to kill it in favour of MTN? OR was it deliberately sold to mop up funds from the public in transcorp’s favour? What has Nigerian government done so far to salvage NITEL? These are some of the mind bugging questions that the government needs to clarify. The public is highly agitated that what happened to NITEL has unequivocally befallen PHCN Distribution privatization. Very soon our universities, water boards, railway or even inter-state roads would suffer the same feat. A prophet of doom, the profiteers will say. A serious government has the responsibility of providing water and electricity to her citizens as these are indispensable amenities for development.
The population of Nigeria is growing geometrically and pretty soon we shall overtake India. If nothing is done to curtail such growth or pre-plan for future population management we would be heading for a catastrophic future. The increase in population emanate from three symptomic factors viz; early marriages, polygamy and invasion of the country by illegal immigrants. Even Saudi Arabia controls her population despite her opulence and wealth. In Nigeria it is the poor and less educated or exposed that marries more wives and these wives favourably compete for children through fertility contest initiated by their husbands. Their husbands as the umpire often loose grip, the consequence of which is a flock of uneducated, envious, wayward unemployed children who constitute a threat to the society. The irony of it is that educated relations of these polygamists are reluctant or afraid to advise them about the implication of having more children than one can cope. Early marriages on the other hand are becoming commonplace. Youths hasten into marriages and primitively produce as many children as god gives them without weighing the future consequences. The most debilitating Nigerian population explosion factor is the influx of immigrants from west African countries especially Mali, Niger republic into every nook and crannies of this country. These immigrants often claim jigawa, katsina, sokoto, kebbi, kano indigeneship unmindful of the fact that we know Nigerians. These immigrants enter our country unchallenged and without valid papers and necessary qualifications. These foreigners are known to Nigerians, used by Nigerians and protected by Nigerians. The giant of Africa indeed! The question is: where were the immigration officers, the police and other law enforcement agents when these immigrants entered the country, walk our streets and involve in shoddy practices unchecked? Interestingly Nigerians cannot enter Niger republic so easily without intensive checks at the borders. Common sense has it that if an immigrant has no added value to a country such individual has no right to be there. This is the philosophy of the developed countries. If ECOWAS treaty prescribes free entry, Nigeria should call for a review of this section. Nigerian immigration, customs, civil defense corp, the army and the police should be mobilized to rid the country of these elements come under the guise of “mairuwa, shoe-shiners, maigadis and graduated reckless okada riders”. We may not be surprised that most of them must have got Nigerian identity cards issued to them.
Unemployment has gradually reached a crescendo where the only solution with popular government approval is self employment. The pity of it is that our youths are most affected. These youths are vivacious technologically oriented and enthusiastic to contribute to national development. It is selfishness, shortsightedness and myopism that trail the call for youth graduates to be self employed without consideration to their areas of study and compatibility of skill. These calls lost cognizance of the fact that some grand parents still in government employment have little or nothing to offer. A committee should be set up to probe the age of the staff of ministries and government parastatals. Some state governors buy motorcycles for their unemployed youths. This is political and leads such state nowhere because most of these youths are uneducated, know nothing about traffic rules and would constitute hazards as well as danger to other road users. The National assembly should ban commercial motor cycle services in our cities and sate capitals. This measure necessitates the introduction of state transport services and increased use of cabs. The consequences of which will no doubt render the villages unattractive to commercial motor cyclists and pull them into farming and varied craftsmanship. To boost agriculture, the state governments must assist in soil preparation and render other ancillary services as well as initiate local government farms of commercial crops peculiar to each area’s agricultural advantages throughout the country
There is no doubt that the youths are the future custodians of any country. They must be prepared for the future. Most workers in our various establishments and corporate organizations were youths when they were employed. They acquired in job experience and furthered their studies in some cases. Hence we have directors, general managers, professors, Accountant generals, chief…. etc. The question is why should retirement age be elongated at the expense of our teaming unemployed youths? Retirement age should be pegged at 60years or thirty years service for all employees in order to allow new blood into the services, allow innovation and our youths to grow. A workable pension system will enable most retirees to open up cottage industries. A professor beyond sixty five years of age cannot be as vibrant and current as a PHD holder from any reputable university. It must be realized that an elderly professor professes in a limited field and his ideas could be weak, repetitive and lacks currency depending on the time lag between his last qualification and professorship. To boost employment also the government should stop the employment of retiree as contract officers. No man is indispensable or an island. All establishment should concern itself is timely payment of retirees’ entitlements instead of contract offers. Nigeria should stop the recycling of spent workforce and create room for more energetic, vivacious, future workforce. A cursory look at immigration, police, customs, ministries, parastatal etc. reveals a lot of men and women above 60 years with affidavit induced renewable age.
Our educational system is in a parlous state despite the colossal sum of money channeled to the education ministry and the unfair cry for more fund. Political appointments does not consider qualification, where and how acquired and the compatibility of certificate with the competence of the holder. It seems certain appointments are done on the fluency of noise or rythoricism. Parents and certain sectors of government are promoting mediocrity in the society. The manifestation of which include over- emphasis on paper qualification, recruitment of unqualified teachers, faulty allocation of non specialized courses to lecturers with little or no knowledge, lack of zeal on the part of the students, parental pamperization/ class intrusiveness in education, lack of disciplinary measures against erring lecturers and students and laissez faire approach to teachers supervision. A typical crop of teacher impliedly awarded sympathy certificate could be found among the NTI /NCE distant learning certificate holders. NTI as centralized as it is and her encroachment into distant education promotes knowledge impoverishness and cannot enhance the present doldrum in our educational standard. The objective of establishing the NTI is still not known to many Nigerians. All we know about NTI is the organization of expensive workshops. Workshops can be contracted periodically at far cheaper rates. NTI is nothing but another source of economic wastage if the aim of its existence is to qualify and award certificates to otherwise perceived traders, house wives, farmers in teachers’ apparels or sheep clothing. If you are in doubt of the quality of these awardees of NTI certificates call for their past examination papers and soil your eyes. We refuse to believe that every body must be forced to read western education because some people have their skills elsewhere. The groundnut pyramids of yesterday were not built by people with western education but dedicated peasant farmers. Let us stop killing education by adjusting standard and appointing inefficient corrupt prone individuals where they have no business. Some Nigerians should not be coerced to read western education rather they should be encouraged to pursue specific professions of their choice.
LOVE FOR FOREIGN GOODS
Nigeria is notoriously known for her love of foreign goods. The nation allows massive flow of imported goods (some substandard) into the country. This consequentially has absolute rub off effect on our economy especially in the area of industrialization, marketability of local output and employment. A ban should be placed on certain luxury goods especially cars. Car manufacturers who are interested in selling to Nigerians should be encouraged to come and establish a factory in Nigeria. Specific cars must be earmarked for the country and embargo placed on the importation of egocentric luxury cars. Our conscienceless members of the national assembly are guilty of this and Nigerians expect attitudinal revulsion extirpation of greedy anachronistic ways and revivify the hopes of the citizens through the enactment of enforceable laws to curb Nigerians excessive lust for egoistic products.
Corruption has eaten up the entire fabric of this country and overwhelms the conscience of Nigerians from the highly placed to the masses. Continuous lip service to the fight against corruption is deceptive and disastrous. The persistence of this miasma in our society is informed by the decadence in our judicial and police systems and the interferences from the highly placed in the society. Previously when I was a boy, one can vouch that when the police was active and up to their responsibilities, some people were arrested, tried after recovering their loot \ its by-product and sentenced for merely living above their means. While within the force itself some corrupt officers were occasionally fished out and persecuted. Today people build mansions, drive expensive cars, and attain unimaginable social heights through fraudulent means without being investigated even when it is glaringly lucid that the source of their wealth is questionable. The police should be made to do their job and the judiciary should modify her go slow / delay approach to justice dispensation to a speedy one. The government must establish special courts, manned by judges of proven integrity and competence to try corrupt civil servants and another to try those in government and the national assembly. These courts must be zonally located and given free hand to operate without government or cabal intrusion. This arrangement will facilitate the job of EFCC. Constituency and security votes must be abolished as these are mere corruption gratuities to the Assembly members and the Governors.
Nigerians have been hearing about cabals and their exertive influences in the country’s affairs. Who are they? What manner of people are they and where are they located? They should be exposed so that Nigerians will keep watchful eyes on them. It is however pathetic and ironical to hear the past presidents and the commander-in- chiefs of Nigerian armed forces making inference to cabals.
The rampant killing of innocent Nigerians in different parts of the country needs to be checked. The most pathetic is the rampage of herdsmen, kidnappers, cultists, hired assassins, armed rubbers and political ritualism that are the consequences of political brigandage. It is not gainsaying that most politicians nurture and maintain a flock of tugs. Various parts of the country have witnessed the pre and post effects of political tuggery-hired assassins, killings of innocent Nigerians over the years, kidnapping and armed rubbery. These miasmic effects are still with us and it is prevalent in different parts of this country. Nigerians still rely on the police for solace though some people will say that the police is not a magician, yet this is a defeatist excuse because a well recruited, selected and trained policeman performs like a magician to the applause of the general public. The way the Nigerian police are selected must be scrutinized and audited for the shaft to be sifted from the grains. With the current rate of unemployment an elite intelligent force made up of graduates with proven character must be established. They should be well trained, autonomous and permeative in their operation. The elite force should be under the control and command of an army top brass, a high court judge, learned gentlemen and human right activist.
The plight of pensioners under the defined benefit pension scheme has reached the high heavens. It is worrisome and the Federal government is reluctant to take effective action to ameliorate the situation. The situation in Kaduna polytechnic is most pathetic because many issues are often taken for granted. It is unimaginable for a government agency to carry out pension verification and the verified pensioner monthly figure concealed from them by the verifiers. There is much to be desired from this covet act that impliedly lead to corruption. Nigerians would like to know the manner of people that work in PENCOM, NICON and the Accountant Generals office. Apart from their qualifications, their upbringing, behavior, current bank balances and lifestyles. If this exercise is done periodically it will help to expose corruption and leakages in pension fund management. It is painful and regrettable for those who served this country diligently to starve to death while expecting an indefinite pension. These senior citizens should be accorded respect and their dues given to them without let or hindrance. In addition all approved percentage increments (i.e. 33%) should be carefully calculated and channeled to their accounts with dispatch. NAICON had proved its inefficiency by regularly withholding pensioner’s monthly pension. Miserably the severed staff of the Kaduna Polytechnic are still being owed (9months pension by NAICON), grossly under paid monthly pension and gratuities by “PTAD” since 2008. It is axiomatic that there are peachable delays in the payment of pension by PENCOM and other concerned agencies to retirees under the new scheme despite adequate notices given to them prior to retirement date.
The government has been harping on deregulation as a way of saving cost. This is commendable but feasible if rudimentary steps are taken to lay the foundation for a successful take off. These steps include the construction of high speed rail lines from Lagos through Northwest, North central to North east ( Maiduguri) and from Maiduguri through North central via Southeast, Niger Delta to Lagos. Modern rail lines and express trains rather than the extirpated antiquated colonial rail lines must be established. Further step should be taken to encourage states to provide intra/inter city bus services. These measures will provide Nigerians alternatives whether to use own vehicle or public transport. When petrol subsidy is removed under this arrangement no one will raise eyebrow.
SELL REFINED NOT CRUDE
The constant increase in crude oil output is another issue of great concern. Presumably the present crop of leaders would die within the next fifty (50) years. Do they want to exhaust the main source of wealth of the country before they die? What wealth do we want to leave for our children? Their children would not be safe and happy living among the poor. It is high time Nigeria stopped the export of crude because we shall gain more by refining and exporting assorted finished products through economies of scale. The government had earlier given licenses to people to build refineries without expiry date line. It now behooves on the government to give these licensees an ultimatum after which the licenses would be revoked. The government on the other hand should build more refineries in areas habouring crude deposits.
The greatest instruments of industrialization are power, iron and steel. The government must focus on the development and diversification of Ajaokuta steel complex, Alaja and katsina rolling mills by employment of experts from Germany, china or Japan to man the company. Apart from creating jobs for thousands of our unemployed graduates will serendipitously accelerate industrialization. Our youths that excelled in various Expos must be encouraged by establishing mini firms for them and recruitment of experts to brush them up. The federal government must establish skill acquisition centres in various disciplines:- fabrication of motor parts, machine tools, farm implements, manufacture of phones, touch lights, electronics, sola devices, biros etc. in the six geographical zones with the assistance of foreign or Nigerian experts. One wonders what the science minister has achieved so far. The federal government must enact law that compels foreign firms that wish to sell their products in Nigeria to establish their factories in any part of the country. Build and convert some of our colleges into well equipped vocational colleges for ease of self- employment and industrial development.
Government has no business sponsoring pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem. One can imagine the financial drain on our economy. Why Naira should not lose its value when yearly, we spend billions of dollars on religious voyages. Ironically most pilgrims after the holy journey remain corrupt and relapse to their old ways. While some actually go for purification others regard it as an annual pique-nique. Such characters should be restrained from further pilgrimages and the government should stop wasting our wealth (through Rebate or subsidy) that would have been channeled into gainful investment for the betterment of the masses. Religion is in the heart not by exhibitionistic voyages.
The President, Ministers and national assembly members should wake up to their responsibilities. Nigerians are not interested in irrelevant bills but on human, social, technological, economic and infrastructural enhancement bills that would have rub- on- effect on current and future generations. N/assembly should not be regarded as a self- aggrandizing convivial social club of “isss and Nay” members. The ritualistic jamboree should be over by now to give way for a more serious business. They should have their salaries and allowances reduced remarkably. They receive jumbo allowances and salaries every month without prick of conscience about the suffering Nigerians and deprived Kaduna polytechnic severed pensioners some of whom since 2008 have been receiving N4500__N8900 since 2008 instead of their initial verified monthly pension of N9500 andN18900 respectively after 20-30years service to the Nation. Our Executives and Assembly member should be innovative and tackle the problems of the country squarely. We must stop the mimical governmental system and apply unicameral system of government made up of just 360 members with defined salaries and allowances equivalent to that of ministers. The will greatly attenuate all deleterious activities of desperate politicians. The constitution must be expressly amended to that effect. Our politicians in government should emulate the integrity, incorruptibility and sincerity of their counterparts in the developed countries as typified by our previous Minister of Finance. They should assure Nigerians that there will be No more do or die politics, cultivation/sponsorship of political tugs, empty promises, no rancours, No more jumbo salaries, greed, ostentatious life, self-centeredness but purposeful strides to develop this country with unparalleled patriotism.
Austin O. Umerah
Secretary , Kaduna Polytechnic Severed Staff Association