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Nigerian State: How Do We Resolve Our Myriads Of Problems?

By: Kunle Oduseso
 Published November 25th, 2010

It is disheartening to see Nigeria become what it has become today. The recent happenings from debates on zoning or no zoning in the PDP, the salaries and allowances of members of the national assembly, state of the roads, kidnappings, to the independent celebrations blowouts give reason for one to ask: where are we really going?

It has always being alleged that the military and their cohorts in civilian dress started the rot in Nigeria. We have had full civilian government now for over ten consecutive years with a brief spell with the civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. It has always been business as usual with the politicians looting the treasuries at all the different levels of government any time they get there. They now steal money in billions, buy all the houses available at all the posh areas in Nigeria and abroad, buy the best exotic cars, fund girlfriends, send children to schools abroad and hold the best parties with this their loot.  They donate to churches and mosques in the day and visit babalawos in the night for “African Insurance”. They are not bothered much about the decay in the society because they benefit from the system. Power and corruption have been the biggest problems ever facing Nigeria. Little has been done to solve these two problems. If the power problem could be solved to a large extent and corruption reduced to its barest minimum fresh breath of air would have been breathed into Nigeria.

We don’t even know what the present position of power generation is. Are we generating 100MW or 1000MW or 2000MW or 4000MW? Are we not entitled to know the generating capacity of our plants, even, on a daily basis? Are we not entitled to know why the plants built by the past administration are not supplying enough power to the citizens and the industries? I think we need a National Summit or Conference on Power to know the true position of things and proffer solutions as soon as possible. Government is killing people because of this Power problem. There are myriads of problems associated with non-availability of regular supply of electricity.  Why can’t one of the newspaper houses organize one: call the stakeholders, the public, government, manufacturers, foreign experts on power and all others together that can proffer solution to this lingering problem. Every low to medium income household group has one form of generator or the other. These range from 600va (I better Pass My Neighbour) to 2Kva and 5Kva. The big generators are owned by the rich. A large sum of money is spent everyday to fuel these generators. A large quantity of fuel that is imported goes into use everyday. We can save a lot of money on generators and fuel if only the government can solve this power problem. Industries that have been in Nigeria for decades are now leaving Nigeria for smaller nations in West Africa while most South American states are now categorized as developing nations because of their rate of industrialization. An example is Brazil and Mexico. Recently a Ghanaian minister said, during the elections, that Ghana cannot afford to fail because the whole of Africa is looking up to them for direction and democracy. This is a slap on the Nigerian State. Without steady power in Nigeria, Nigeria cannot even start any development that can rate it amongst the best 20 economies in Africa, not to talk of the world, for the next 50 years if we go on at this rate.

Nigeria is a big country with human and natural resources in abundance. Why is it we lack that discipline, sincerity and wherewithal to do things right. Some people say it is because of our size; some say it is because of lack of trust between the different ethnic groups in the country. In as much that these excuses are tenable; one still cannot understand that, over the years, these excuses will continue to prevail and nothing done to assuage them. What has ethnics got to do with good roads, modern transportation systems, good health care system, food, shelter and sound educational system for the teeming masses.

What are the main problems being faced in Nigeria? These include: Bad roads, non-availability of good transportation systems of conveying goods and people, inadequate health service facilities; bad educational policy; shortage of housing units, bad environmental policy and the two hydra-headed problems of power generation and distribution and corruption that have been mentioned earlier. I would say the greatest problem we have is CORRUPTION. If we can reduce the existence of this cankerworm – corruption, in our polity, we shall surely be on the way to development.

I would like to reflect on the past to be able to bring the present into focus. I am going to use Lagos and the West as my case study. Several years back, without much money in the polity, the government was able to do so many things to the joy of the people. Fairly good roads were available; health and education were free to a certain extent to some age groups; transportation not really adequate but effective; sanitary inspectors made sure the environment was clean; food was not really a problem as government was then interested in agriculture. While some are thinking that most of the problems now can be attributed to population explosion forgetting the increase of earnings of the Nigerian State, I want to believe that most of the problems have a lot to do with the way we do things and think. These include: lack of vision, selfishness, bad planning, ethnic tendencies, lack of professionalism in the approach to crisis resolution and corruption. These all started during the incursion of the military into governing but, you may ask, what have the civilian governments after being doing since to stop the rot. They have only continued to use the incursions of the military as an excuse for bad governance and corruption.

Specific happenings need to be identified to show why our society degenerated to this level:

Power: The regular supply of electricity to homes, commercial enterprises, industrial establishments and service utility centers is essential to the development of any nation. ECN had a good set up that took care of electricity generation and distribution in Nigeria as required several years back. Generation was adequate to a certain extent. Decay started creeping in when positions of authority started being filled using quota system based on tribal leanings instead of professionalism. Resentment started to show its ugly head amongst the highly skilled workers of the corporation who were not happy with those who were not as qualified or experienced as them bossing them. Contracts were awarded based on ethnic leanings. Purchase Orders were sold right at the NEPA Headquarters in Lagos then after being received at the top floors. Corruption actually destroyed NEPA while the existing systems were allowed to rot away new ones were not put in place. All attempts since then to revive the organization have not been based on sincerity and patriotism on the part of staff, government and politicians. 

Education – There were primary, secondary, modern schools, trade centers, polytechnics, colleges of education and universities in the country before. Most students knew their capabilities and stopped when they could not go further. Most students needed to have Higher School or Advanced level Certificates to gain admission into universities in the past. Not all students wanted to go to university as it is now happening. In fact most of the students now are not university materials. They want to go to university to enhance their pay packet while in search of work. It is now easier than before to get admission to higher institutions through JAMB and other corrupt means. Moreover government policies at different times have really destroyed the quality of education. For instance, government during Obasanjo’s regime between the year 1976 and 1979 stopped the cafeteria and boarding house systems in universities and secondary schools respectively. Nowadays students in universities go to markets, cook their own foods, wash and iron their clothes and still attend classes. This was not the case until “Alli Must Go” incident. The quality of education fell to the extent that students going for Masters Degrees in the UK have to sit for admission tests whereas it was direct admission before. Graduates from higher institutions then were respected, treated very well and had in enough time to read. Some secondary schools almost closed down as students from faraway could not attend some secondary schools because of non-availability of boarding houses. Remember that some university students used to be interviewed for employment while still in school. This is no more happening. Most banks now employ students with Upper Class degrees while some are even not comfortable with this set. JAMB scores are no more respected by universities. They now do their own tests to really know the quality of students they are giving admission. Recent disclosure about the test giving to teachers in Kwara State by the Commissioner for Education is a shame to our society. A country that does not believe in setting up Modern Libraries at every Local Government cannot develop its educational system. I cannot remember when a new Library, except the one by the past Nigerian President which was built for personal use or aggrandizement, has been built in Lagos or any where in Nigeria. I remember one in St Agnes in Lagos and another one in Lagos Island. I don’t even know if they are still there now. All students cannot be using the British Council and other private libraries in Lagos. All old people in England and some other lands while away their time by going to libraries every day to borrow books and read. Nigerian students don’t read novels any more. They don’t even read newspapers. The best form of education to our students now is watching the home video. This is not peculiar to only students alone but to the society at large mostly women. Many Nigerians are now mentally lazy.

Transportation – I used to see trains pass through Yaba bus stop railway line with coaches carrying, fuel, cars, other goods and passengers. Iddo train terminus used to be a beehive of activities with passengers going to different parts of Nigeria either checking their goods in or trying to board the trains. The Lagos Municipal Transport service was replaced by The Lagos City Transport Service later. All were working with route numbers clearly placed in front and back as required.  I remember Buses 1, 2 and 3 were going to Tinubu, Race Course and Keffi respectively. Pardon me the incorrect order, if any. Transportation systems were available even though the roads were not adequate for their services. Air transportation within the country was in place through the Nigeria Airways and available to many people in different classes. Ferry service from Apapa to Lagos Island complemented the bus service. The roads are now not very good and transportation systems are not adequate but thanks to the newly introduced BRT service in Lagos.

Health – Hospitals, health centers and private clinics were available and most services were available to a certain extent free most especially to students and young ones below 18. Most people were treated in Nigeria and the rush to do medical checkup overseas were minimal. Well trained Doctors were available to attend to patients’ needs. The hospitals were well kept and drugs made available. This writer was involved in an incident while in secondary school: There was an accident in which I had a knock with my head against a concrete ring used for wells finishing with blood oozing out from a cut under my nose. I was rushed to a dispensary because there was no clinic or hospital in the town then– Ago-Iwoye. The dispenser knew I couldn’t get to the nearest hospital which was in Ijebu-Ode for treatment because of the rate which blood was being lost and the Doctor was not around because he only came from Ijebu-ode twice a week for Consultation. The dispenser had to act quickly and he stitched the cut crudely but saved my life by stopping the blood flow. He was so intelligent as to be watching the Doctor when he came around during the occasional visits to the dispensary. There are very few dedicated workers now who observe others when they work. In fact only few Nigerians know what is called First Aid not to talk of performing acts like that.

Agriculture – Apart from private farms, government was into farming through Farm settlements. When they were not farming, they made sure farmers were comfortable with the provision of advice, farming materials and equipment as required at minimum cost to the farmers. Cooperative Societies were available and so were Produce Boards and others to assist the farmers. Cocoa production was at a high level and quality then and Groundnut pyramids were everywhere in the north while palm products and coal were in abundant in the east. We are not using these opportunities given to us by God any more. Somebody said at a meeting that if you stick your fingers into the soil in Nigeria for a short time your nails will start to grow in no time. The man was trying to emphasize how fertile the soil in Nigeria is.

Police – The Police, several years back in the sixties and early seventies, even though they did not have the best of setup or training yet they performed to the best of their ability. I remember if something was stolen in a house the detectives came in and checked for fingerprints if available. Investigations were, at least carried out to solve many cases. Things are now different and the setup is nothing to write home about. Daylight open collection of money from motorists at unofficial road blocks, bribery to bail out offenders in every Police station, sale and rental of arms, armed robbery and other vices perpetrated by officers who are supposed to be checking the activities of criminals are the vogue in the Nigerian Police setup. In any way, the Police misgivings are a reflection of the society. They cannot be an exception. Police men, because they do not want to pay transport fares cling to Danfo and Molue buses thereby loosing their respect and authority. I am not sure if we have riot squads in the Police Force any more. What we have is a killer Squad which carries AK47 rifles to stop genuine protests and quench riots by harmless civilians. Investigations are no more adequate and professional. There are so many unsolved murder cases and Police men who even want to do their work as they should do normally are prevented from doing so by their superiors. To the politicians  the problem with the Police is funding whereas no amount of money can be allocated to the Police and salary increase implemented that would change their thinking, work ethics, dedication to duty, patriotism, interest in what they do to make them have job satisfaction.   

Entertainment/Relaxation- A lot of activities go on in Nigeria in form of entertainment but the insecurity pervading our society makes it difficult for people to really go out to express themselves fully be it with the natural provisions at their disposal or manmade pleasure centers. Night life has been killed by armed robbers and day life is always being threatened by miscreants in the society. To make things more difficult, government has not made available an enabling environment for people to seek for fun. Relaxation is one thing the developed world never jokes with. Our bankers wake up at 4am to prepare to go to work. They come back between ten and eleven everyday. Some go to work on Saturdays. The workers at the Customs Service hardly go on leave because of what they would miss while away. This is the same with all categories of workers in Nigeria. Civil servants while away the time at normal periods of work but wait to do overtime to earn more money at the end of the month. Overseas trips by some Nigerians are meant for only shopping at Liverpool Street market, Oxford Street, Macey’s and all other shopping centers in Milan, Rome and other places. White men who work in this country usually go for coffee breaks, lunch and go home after closing hours while their Nigerian counterparts are still at work virtually doing nothing or working too hard. The Technical Committee on Power during the first four years of President Olusegun Obasanjo used to work till 4am in the morning in order to find a solution to our Power problems yet several years after we still don’t have the power. In Cotonou, Lome, Accra, Abidjan, Cameroon, and Congo and down to virtually every country in Africa nightlife is still kicking and they have a pattern: working hours is not the same with Nigeria. They work for a period till 12 and go for lunch and to relax to come back at 3pm or 4pm and then close at 7pm. No matter the system that is employed or used relaxation is what matters. Money rules in Nigeria. We are always chasing after money and forget to relax. The high rate of hypertension and other ailments in the society is caused by the stress we go through on a daily basis.

Most relaxation centers have been taken over by the elites in the society. The popular Ajasa Park – Muson center, is now where the retired elites and some co-opted youngsters go to sing. The Queens Park is now Parkview estate where the elites sojourn. The ikeja Stadium has been allocated to those who served in government and their friends. The white man considers the green area as very important to a community, which Gov. Raji Fashola is trying to bring back through the planting of some palm trees and other plants in Lagos. The waterfront in Victoria Island has been taken over by the rich. Giant buildings in form of civil centers, hotels, restaurants and personal buildings now cover the entire length of Ozunba Mbadiwe. Queens Road in Ikoyi used to be visible from this end and it used to be beautiful looking at the waves roll by at the seaside. Cinema houses are coming back in some selected areas but it is not yet the same as before.

Housing – the greatest achievement in housing was before 1976 when, in Lagos, houses were built in excess of the requirements of the inhabitants. LEDB housing policy has been one of the best in Nigeria. LEDB built a completely new city in Suru-Lere. Some other housing estates sprang up in other parts of the West but the best housing policy, after that of the LEDB, was that achieved by the Governor Lateef Jakande’s government. He actually built on the system of the Action Group government in the sixties. Different housing estates were made available in every part of Lagos at affordable prices to virtually all categories of workers and traders without any discrimination. Nowadays, property development is only available to top class workers, government business men and politicians in the federal, states and local government establishments. The greatest problem the inhabitants of Lagos State are facing is that of housing. Rent is going up daily while LandLORDS demand three years rent in advance. It is not all the inhabitants of Lagos that work in banks, telecommunication companies, oil companies and other big companies or parastatals that pay between Five Hundred Thousand to five million Naira to their employees as rent subsidy every January of each year. Some Managing Directors of banks, as recently made known by one of them, collect between four fifty million and one billion Naira or more for a five year rent or housing loan. Government needs to build houses everywhere instead of having to reclaim the lagoon to build houses for the elites.

The best housing policy ever in Nigeria has been that of the Action Group government and the government of AD’s Lateef Jakande. People who benefited from Jakande’s housing units are still saying they would have gone back to their villages if not for the man. If a massive form of housing policy could be in place in four years and three months – Jakande’s Government, I wonder why three times that number cannot be in place in more years since then. Government is for the people, though I know is not by the people in Nigeria. It is for those who forced themselves on the people. Some people portend that the houses built by Jakande are not much to write home about. I think the houses built for the masses at around N8,000 to be paid over time and still standing for over twenty years should be commended. The houses being built and sold now at about N9,000,000 and more, at times depending on the area, for a three bedroom apartment is something else. Considering the salary and allowances of a Permanent Secretary in both federal and State governments, this is something they cannot afford in reality. Some of the houses even collapse before they are finished. The developers want to recoup their money within a few years to the detriment of the buyers. Who except the politicians and those who make money from the system can afford that? Why are houses built in some areas just to make money by government? When are you going to serve the people? Most of those in government who studied abroad know the government there does not joke with housing. No government can allow its people to sleep in the cold. You will always have a place to sleep. Council flats are built overseas to allow the occupants to own them later. You can buy an apartment by going for mortgage so the rent you would have been paying as rent every month goes to pay for your mortgage. Why should people rent an apartment for over twenty years without owning the place? It is because the government is not doing enough. When the New Suru-Lere was built, nobody wanted to come and live there. New cities have not sprung up since then. There are no more new Ikeja, Ilupeju Industrial Estates with goods trains running around them to transport raw materials to the factories there. Forget about the propaganda by the mortgage houses. Very few people, except those in the category stated above – bankers, politicians, civil servants etc., can afford to put down the initial deposit being asked by these mortgage houses.

Why should government build houses for its workers when millions are looking for a place to put their heads everyday? Why are houses not built by government for rental purposes for inhabitants to have the first choice to buy after several years? Who says in the developed world there is personal housing for everyone?

Telecommunications – The government has been able to make available telecommunication facilities to its teeming population. Because the government has not provided an enabling environment for these telecommunications companies to work, there services are not the best expected.  Our people are so gullible that we take anything. There are no Consumer/subscriber protection organizations to protect the subscribers. The providers are over subscribed and their services are nothing to write home about. They now bombard us with sms messages every hour of the day with this or that promotion. The supervising organization has not much to say or do about this than to issue warnings for the media to have something to write only. Nigerians carry about four different brands of mobile telephone at times because of service. In the US, Asia and Western Europe, about 90% of the people carry only one; because that one works properly. One way or the other the national telecommunication service provider – NITEL, has been killed whether intentionally or not. Only God and these people know why. People in the western world still use their land phones most of the time and mobile phones occasionally. Telephone booths are still all over the place. These are no more available in Nigeria.

Religion – There has been a surge in the development of churches or one can say proliferation of churches in Nigeria. Many have said that, if not because of the prayers by churches in Nigeria, Nigeria would have collapsed. But I have also heard one woman say that if God does not punish the people in Nigeria, with the way we are going, God should apologize to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. I believe this is a metaphor. In as much as I do not know the location of the cities or city of Sodom and Gomorrah, I would like to believe that a statement is being made as to the fact that Nigeria needs cleansing. When we were young there were the Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, Baptist and very few white garment churches. The Olorisha’s, Egunguns, The Ogun worshipers, The Orunmila and Shango worshipers were obviously around doing their thing unmolested. Things were better, lesser crimes, no armed robberies, corruption at minimum level, ritual killings minimal and generally the lust for money was not even there. 70% to 80%, if not more, of marriage was based on love and friendship and divorce rate was very low. What happened later? People are now very eager to make more money than before to make for or compensate for the disparity in the financial imbalance in the society. Churches are now richer than local governments. Many more people now go to church yet crime rate is going higher and higher. Why? It is because of insincerity of purpose. Many churches exploit the gullibility of the people by preaching miracles to them because of the state of poverty in which they have found themselves. Many countries have highways or motorways which are well constructed to serve the people with well constructed exit points. This is not the case with Highways in Nigeria. The most popular highway in Nigeria is the Lagos – Ibadan Expressway. It has been turned to a Church Avenue Expressway where all the churches in Nigeria have settlements: Tanker drivers are kingpins on this road thereby causing accidents and loss of human lives on a daily basis while the churches on a regular basis make people to sleep on the road causing untold hardship, insensitivity and stress all in the name of God and salvation. My conclusion is many Nigerians are religious but not spiritual. Spirituality makes one to live a life of forgiveness, consideration for others, no envy, love for others, unselfishness and always ready to assist or serve people. People steal money that belongs to the people and go to church on Sundays to donate millions and think salvation will come to them. Church is not where you turn bad money to good money. Some pastors condone this and that is why the church will continue to grow to the detriment of the society.

Manufacturing – One would expect the same quality to apply to goods manufactured in Germany, England, Nigeria or any where in the world by the same company. I attended a seminar given by a High Commissioner of a country in Nigeria; he said he wondered why the quality of a popular brand of tooth paste made in Nigeria is not the same as that made by the same company in the UK. We know why: power, tax, bribe to Customs and other establishments, cost of importation of raw materials and others will not allow this to happen. They have to “Se owo ku” (Cut corners). It is almost the same with all manufacturing units in Nigeria. Standards have to be lowered to make more profits. Who suffers - The consumer? There is no good enabling environment for manufacturing in Nigeria and that is why many people don’t go into it. I am happy Michelin and Dunlop left Nigeria because if they were to follow others to reduce the quality of their goods, there would be disasters on our roads on daily basis. The environment in Nigeria is not conducive for manufacturing and yet we need to manufacture for export and home use.

Banking, Finance and Insurance – These institutions are surviving because a lot of money was put into the systems by money bags and the military and normal banking practices are not adhered to. When most generals retired after their first incursion into governance, they went into farming and did badly because of bad planning or lack of proper supervision and also lack of patience. They were expecting returns very quickly but unfortunately it is not so with farming business. They now abandoned farming for buying shares in banks, insurance and other financial institutions. They were lucky: because the regime of General Abdusalam made way for the opportunities by increasing the capital base of these institutions. The banks declare huge profits every year by not doing real banking. Hardly can anyone get a loan to do serious business without having to put his life down as collateral. Scrupulous charges to customers are collected at will and you pay for every service now. No free lunch. The banks are now destroying the property business in Nigeria. They offer ridiculous amounts to landlords and speculators to take over their properties so that they can set up new branches. Rent has gone up so much in Lagos through these activities. Banks pay ridiculous salaries in order to poach staff from other establishments and banks. At the end there is no staff stability. Some banks pay around N60,000 to N80,000 to new graduates of higher institutions while some pay between N120,000 to N250,000. Who does not know that the banks assist in money laundering? Can any transfer or take out of $2,000,000 be done without the aid of the banks? Is it possible for a transfer of that kind of money to be done without the Central bank’s knowledge? Who checks on the usage of funds requisition by manufacturers, traders and other purchasers of foreign exchange? The foreigners transfer our money out everyday without any problems. Those who transfer money out keep the money in banks abroad or buy properties abroad for commercial gains and residency. Where are the checks? Banks have no security. It is just too easy to rub a bank in Nigeria. Most banks that I know in London and other cities of the world would not allow anyone to go to the back of the counter for any transaction. You are attended to at a security area where the officer will come to meet you and attend to you. The security doors now being employed by the banks are death traps. Other entrances are locked securely and cannot be opened easily in emergency situations. No teller works continuously for four hours abroad yet our bankers work continuously for over eight to ten hours. It brings drudgery. Friends and well wishers visit the banks during normal working hours without any good reason to do so. Most bank offices abroad will not condone such acts.

Salaries and Wages: Why so much disparity in the system? Why should the banks pay so much to their staff and yet there are still reported frauds in the system? Banks pay a lot of money in the beginning of the year for accommodation to their staff. This causes increase in rent on a yearly basis. Landlords now demand for minimum two to three years rent even from old tenants. There should be harmonization, most especially in the banks, oil companies, multi-nationals and the civil service and parastatals. The salaries and allowances of Government officials, National Assembly members and others are just too much. Why any Nigerian should be earning N7,500 a month while some get thousands of Naira on Food Allowance in a month. Differential wages bring instability in the system. The minimum wage, with the rate of inflation now, should not be less than N25,000.

Politics: The Presidential System that we run is very expensive and it breeds corruption. It is not that something is wrong with the system but it is the way it is practiced in Nigeria. There is too much corruption, dictatorship, autocracy, patronage, nepotism, favouritism, insensitivity, selfishness, tribalism and self-centeredness. Those who play politics do not display the leadership qualities they are supposed to display at all times. Those who can fight the bad system, try to correct and point the way forward, are never allowed to get to government. They are either labeled as saboteurs, too old to rule or have a say in governance and are deemed as irrelevant as to have much to contribute to the system. The experience of this set of people is still very much relevant and important to our polity. The people who are still being called by President Barrack Obama of the United States of America to assist him in government are people who are advanced in age and with a lot of experience. The Senate in the US has senators of over 30 years of experience. Because of the money in politics, people are ready to kill themselves and this happens every other day in Nigeria. The interest of the masses is no more of any consideration. People get appointed into government and they head straight to church to give thanks to God for given them the opportunity to steal. They now become larger than the society. They buy choice cars, build luxurious homes and send their children abroad for schooling. Medical checkups are now carried out abroad by those who can not afford private hospitals and three square meals before. They do not pay adequate tax and they hold parties every month to celebrate one thing or the other. We spend about 70% of our budget on recurrent expenditure and little for capital expenditure. Through patronage cars, money and other materials are given to those who do not deserve them. Executive Governors become larger than life. They give choice land to those they like. Obas (Kings) and Chiefs are spoon fed for support. Unnecessary and unproductive appointments are made to thugs, friends and well wishers thereby causing a bloated government establishment.  The size of our government is at least twice if not thrice that of the US we are copying. Political decisions are, at times, based on ethnic, tribal, friendship, geographical location and personal considerations. Mediocrity is always substituted for professionalism. Why should a politician be asked to do the Turn Around maintenance of a refinery when those who built the refinery are still around? Why government can’t be based on the needs of the people: Shelter, Food, Education and Health.

Judiciary - An independent judiciary would be very invaluable for any country. It is not likely for justice to always be carried out justly when the President and Governors are the ones appointing judges and magistrates. The President appoints the judges of the Supreme, Appeal and High courts of the country. Most of the appointments are based on ethnicity. A well balanced and independent judiciary is what any country requires for proper functioning of the judicial system. Judgments, at times, are based on the highest bidder. Political tribunals sit forever. Magistrate courts now work in tandem with charge and bail lawyers and Council officials. Injunctions now help criminals to stay execution of judgments.

General – Do you want to know why we are in this mess? I’ll tell you: because we don’t do our home-work properly. Everything we do is dictated by the politicians and the civil service. They have no standards, vision and are not creative. The society has been bashed so much that, whoever finds himself in position of authority uses the opportunity to help himself and his family as much as he can while the opportunity lasts.  They tell us what to do, tell us how to live our lives, tell us we need them more than they need us when they are there. They never prepare for governance; they are selected and have no programmes. The professionals hardly have a say. The media men get along with the politicians and government of the day. They are controlled by the politicians for what they get from the system. They protect the governors and others when they are there through press centers and one of them being made the Press attaché or information officers. The few – so small, who speak up are hounded.

We use committees to find out causes of problems and their solutions in specific areas where normally studies should have been carried out by experts in these fields; Jobs for the boys. The result is always chaos. An example is the Police Reform Committee. What the Nigeria Police need is Re-organisation, Re-orientation and Re-training. Not many people in government have vision or use their intuition to go about solving problems: lack of imagination. Some people who are very educated have no vision: they just get into government and continue with the routine work they meet on ground. All sorts of bad ideas are introduced to governance by those who are not exposed or enlightened. They qualify for the positions only because of their degrees and because they can blow grammar. Government engages some Doctorate degree holders and professors to government service because of the belief that they are experts in their fields of endeavour  and would perform better than normal graduates but this is not always so. There are well trained and experienced civil servants and private people capable of performing better than this group of high qualified people at times but the government always goes for these set of people in large numbers to the detriment of trained officers in the civil service. This results in the depletion of the workforce in the universities. Public experience can be very different from private experience because, in the private, everything is standardized and made to work. 

An example of bad decision making is the retirement of the civil servants during the Mohammed/Obasanjo regime instead of putting in place corrective measures that can sanitize and sensitize the system. The Civil Service used to be the most secured job one could get during that period. The regime started with the retirement of one Chief Akindele at the Ministry of Communications where General Murtala Mohammed worked earlier as a Minister before becoming Head of State. It was insinuated there was some sort of disagreement between the two and the latter decided to take his pound of flesh on him when he became Head of State. The trend continued with people being retired on radio, television and newspapers. Babaginda regime destroyed the Civil service further by politicizing the Civil Service. Permanent Secretary Positions – the highest position a civil servant could aspire to, became political positions. Director-Generals were appointed from the public to occupy some of these positions. Through these acts by the Murtala/Obasanjo and Babaginda regimes the civil service became insecure. All what was required was your supervisor or “Oga” (Boss) to recommend you for retirement or for the top management to recommend retirement for some categories of staff all in the name of downsizing. The result is civil servants now make hay while the sun shines. These acts started the high corruption rate now in the civil service.

Another example of bad decision making is the odd and even system introduced in Lagos State when there was heavy traffic jams in Lagos. A solution to a problem in a system could be in place on short time basis but when left for too long other problems creep into it. We do not know how to plan for the future before a crisis situation creeps in. That was what happened during the period the odd and even system was introduced. This system was introduced when there was oil boom. People started finding a way of circumventing the system by buying more cars for each day. Initially it was one car for each day but it later increased to two or more cars for a family. Nigerians were initially used to one car per family. You go to church with your family on Sunday, visit friends together, drop your children and wife in school and work respectively during the week before going to your own place of work. There was togetherness and families remained one. The lust for money and cars started and government corruption increased. Families became divided and family values destroyed and infidelity crept in. The husband can now go out with a car and the wife with another and, even the children with other cars. We all know that in the developed countries you virtually don’t need more than one car because the transportation system is alright.


Proffered Solutions:

Trying to proffer solutions to myriads of problems that have been there for ages is very difficult. You don’t want to say those who have been working the system don’t know what they are doing or you are the gifted one who knows it all.  But considering a government that cannot generate new 5000MW of electricity in 10 years to solve power problems that have been plaguing this country for a long time now, then something drastic has to be done. The solutions to any problem been proffered here are only hypothesis that need to be studied seriously by the experts and developed or discarded. They only form an opinion on every issue discussed. This writer is only a Systems Analyst, a problem solver by hypothesis and study.

1. Database System: The Nigerian Identity Card Data Base System must be developed to include every record of the holder from personal data, medical history to criminal data and others. A database should be developed to hold this data. A central Database in Abuja with normal information technology backups on super computers and super mini computers is ideal for this system. Every state should have its own database on super mini-computers that will be used to update this central database daily. A local government only requires about 10 networked computers on a server to collect and collate data to feed the States’ central super mini-computer on regular intervals while normal work is carried out on their own. All General Hospitals, Clinics and others could be connected online or offline to Local Council computers. Information or data to update the council computers could be in form of Death and Birth Certificates, registrations, licensing and data from other activities of the councils. Every citizen living in a Local Government Council must be made to register at the Local Council nearest to them. Even if you move from one Local Council to another your record will still be available in the central computer. Every Landlord should make sure that all the tenants in his house are registered right from birth. An automatic Identity Card System will always be generated on the attainment of 18 years by those who have reached that age. A person, who on attaining the age of 18 and used to live in Lagos,  moves to a Local Government in Bornu State and requires the issuance of a National Identity card only need to go to the nearest Local Government to obtain one. The records are their on the national database. Death is the opposite of birth: it requires only the marking of the record so. It would be easier to do a good census count if this system is in place. With regular updates, the movements by people from one place to the other, registration for use of amenities made available by government would be made easier.

2. Transportation: When you are trying to solve a number of problems in a system you will find out that a lot of other problems could be solved by tackling one of them. For instance, if a fast modern Railway System is developed to run from Lagos  to Shagamu and from there to Ijebu-Ode, Ore, Ondo, Akure, Owo, Okene, Lokoja to Abuja, Kaduna, Kano and again from Shagamu to Ibadan, Ife, Ilesha to join the one already in Akure, a lot of problems of transportation and housing would have been solved. For instance, one can live in Akure, Ilesha, Ife and Ibadan and work in Lagos if the modern rail system is not more than one hour thirty minutes to Lagos. Ditto for those living in Kano and Kaduna and the other towns and cities along the axis can work in Abuja and commute on a daily basis to and fro. This same system applies to a railway system to Benin, Onitsha, Owerri and then to Port Harcourt. I would probably go to Ijebu-ode and be commuting daily to Lagos. All the Governors along this axis can come together and make this a reality on public/private participation basis. The housing problem and congestion in Lagos and Abuja would soon be a thing of the past. A similar system should be designed to run from Lagos to Ikorodu and Badagry. This would help develop all the towns along this axis and relieve Lagos. A similar system can be carried out by other zones.

A good railway system is what Nigeria needs now. We cannot continue to use tankers, trucks and small buses to carry goods and passengers on our roads. Those in transport business can buy into the Railway business by investing in wagons, warehouses and packaging businesses. If a company has trailers and trucks that carry goods from, say Maiduguri to Lagos, nothing stops it from investing in wagons, build a warehouse at some designated areas on the route and have some kind of packaging system to pack and identify the goods. You now load your wagon and off it goes to Lagos and other destinations. You can now off load your wagons at destinations into tankers, trucks and delivery vans for delivery. No where in the developed countries those small buses – Danfos that we use here are used for transportation of passengers. Coaches – Luxurious buses should always be used and regularized. A train service from Ikorodu to CMS, a train service from Badagry to CMS, a train service from Ota to CMS and a train service to run from Gbagada to Apapa will ease transportation and accommodation systems in Lagos. London with around the same population as Lagos has a large transportation system comprising of buses and train services. Many commuters come from Manchester, Winchester and other cites to London on daily basis to work. A good transportation System is required in every large urban city like Port Harcourt, Kano and Abuja. A serious study, though, is required for this system to be practicable. Lagos State is trying to achieve some of these suggestions now.

The Railway System should not be limited to only Nigeria. Attempts should be made to open up the whole of West Africa and Africa by cooperating with other countries in West Africa and Africa generally. One should be able to take a train in Lagos and go to Europe via North Africa. This system will improve the trade relations between African countries. A train service from Lagos to Banjul in Gambia is desirable as well.

3. Police: The Police case is a more serious problem that cannot be discussed on the pages of newspapers through articles. As earlier mentioned it requires serious study based on Re-organisation, Re-orientation and Re-training. No amount of equipment, salary increase and other pecuniary encouragements can solve the rot in our Police system. The Police department is a reflection of the larger system which is the society. A paper is being prepared towards this. The Police should be given the kind of respect they deserve by the authorities by given them all that are required for proper functioning. A police man should only be a Police man when in uniform. No public transport should be taken by any Police officer in uniform. A Police man should be able to leave home and go to his Police post, if not living in the barracks, change his mufti dress to police dress and go to his bit by foot or dropped there and after his bit, he returns to the station or is picked by a Police van and dropped at the station to change and go home.  This way the interaction between the Police and the populace will be minimal unless when performing their normal duties. This will bring more control, respect and dignity to Police work.

A proper training programme should be designed and carried out amongst the different cadres and levels of the Police force. Various studies both local and overseas should be the starting point of this reorganization. When the various problems have been identified and analysed proper solutions would be feasible

4. Education: Our educational system should be overhauled. The Higher school System should be re-introduced and more emphasis should be on the training and re-training of teachers at all levels. The 6-3-3-4 systems of education should be discarded for the earlier system of 6-5-4 or 6-5-2-3. Boarding house and cafeteria systems should be reintroduced and the environment for learning should be conducive for that purpose. Tuition in all secondary schools should be free. Only boarding and other expenses should be paid for by the students. Every university should have hostels for the students. All Federal, State and Private universities must comply with this directive. Tuition in all universities could be paid for indigent students in form of scholarship by their Local Government Councils and it must not be less than N100,000 per annum for each student and it should be graded according to courses. Local Government Councils could pay the tuition for only students in their locality who are indigent. Application forms for those applying for this scholarship should indicate the work the parents do. Officials of the councils can always carry out verification exercises on all applications. There are parents who pay between N150,000 to N1,000,000 in private secondary schools for their wards and yet they want to pay N10,000 per session for their wards. By the time these students requiring scholarships are reduced, the Local Government Councils would be in a position to afford to pay the tuition fees. This system should be started with only the new entrants to universities. I don’t know how this suggestion can work but a way out is needed as the tuition and other fees being paid in public universities at the moment are too small to run universities without going cap in hand to Federal and State governments who own them.

Teaching in universities should not be limited to only PhD holders. Experienced sound professionals from industries and commercial establishments should be encouraged. We still need experienced overseas professionals – white people or liaise with overseas institutions, to teach in our universities and higher institutions as we need to be up to date in latest technologies and equipment available at all times. Teaching in universities should not be limited to only class work lectures. Assignments should be given to students weekly for submission and attendance group work with the lecturers or supervisors. The students will be compelled to stay in school and do the assignments for submission since other students cannot stand for other students with this system. This requires adequate remunerations to teachers. This will reduce incidence of private jobs by lecturers

Technical colleges could be developed to modern standards by employing the services of companies with similar professional understanding of each of the courses they run. For instance, Toyota could help develop the auto vehicle department to a modern setup and run some courses over time or train the trainers of these professional courses. LG, Sony or Panasonic could help with the electronics department.

Libraries should be built in every Local Government with modern gadgets and technology – Virtual Library. Regular update of the supplies to the libraries should be carried out periodically.

5. Corruption: There is no way corruption can be stopped by paying lip service to it and if corruption is condoled by the system then we are not ready to stop it. We don’t have to start to kill corrupt people as it was the case in Ghana but something drastic has to be done. Adequate punishment has to be dished to offenders through relative prison terms for the offence committed. You cannot be cutting the hands of those who steal cows and yet be asking those who steal billions to go to jail for six months and eventually serve two weeks or less in hospitals. They now turn around and tell you they will bounce back. The system should not be out to protect some people who were not very known before they got into government or politics and, because they have started to make money, mostly through corrupt means, have become sacred cows and now bigger than the system.

What is really meant by money laundering? I believe the Nigerian Bar Association is not helping matters along this line. Is the law still an ass? When is the law going to change from being an ass and become a cat or dog or something else that is friendly and considerate? Why plea bargaining?  If we are not careful some Nigerians will be looking for the opportunity to be in government through politics to launder money and plea bargain. The Police needs to be strengthened. All our systems need to be computerized: Land, Tax, Housing etc., if someone is riding a Hummer Jeep, has from two to three or more houses used for rental and commercial purposes, or a private jet and other luxury possessions, then the tax paid should reflect the income from these setups. If the tax man can access the central data base and check the tax paid on those who are aspiring to become public office holders we would have gone a long way in checking on cheats. The computer system would have been built in such a way to be able to match records for identification purposes. Our identification records should contain finger prints and all other security checks necessary.

Every Dick and Harry goes abroad for one thing or the other putting pressure on our scarce foreign exchange. The musicians go abroad for months with a lot of foreign exchange without bringing anything back. They keep their money abroad yet they use the scarce foreign exchange in traveling. Those who steal money from government and other sources change money from “Mallams” and transfer to banks abroad with the connivance of the banks. The Central Bank is culpable. All these could be stopped if there is will. Most legislators who had nothing before they got into government now have houses in Houston, London, Dubai and several other places. The manufacturers and traders ask for foreign exchange they don’t need but know how to drop some in their banks abroad. Our coaches go round the world to see unproductive players at their clubs all in the name of estacode. The level of corruption in Nigeria is so high that Transparency International cannot even determine the extent it has reached because there measuring mechanism and index cannot capture the corruption in Nigeria again. Nigeria is the most corrupt country on earth and heaven. Let us look at some areas where corruption is thriving:

- The salaries being earned by legislators compared to what others are earning in Nigeria is corruption.

- The constituency allowance being paid or used by legislators is corruption. They don’t have business in the execution of contracts. The silence by labour unions on that matter is corruption.

- Newspapers that support governments, mostly State governments, to the detriment of the society are corrupt.

- The ministries, the Police, the parastatals, the Immigration, the Customs, in fact, all sectors of government, Judiciary and private organizations including banks are corrupt.

- Children, housewives, traders who sell fake products, transporters and others who cheat are corrupt.

- The civil servants that have perfected loading of contracts by using templates and other criteria for budgeting where generators are bought and maintained by our embassies and High Commissions abroad are corrupt.

- The government, the National Assembly and other public establishments that build houses for their staff are corrupt. Housing should be for all.

- The banks, Insurance companies, other financial companies and all private and public enterprises have corruption thriving in their businesses because the accountants and the internal and external auditors look the other way instead of reporting the malpractices detected during their auditing checks.

If we want to build Nigeria on the basis of what we can leave for our children and grand children then we have to forget about development. A situation where no body asks for sudden wealth is dangerous. Those armed robbers, drug pushers and fake business men live amongst the people. If reports to Police could be investigated discreetly without molesting those who give information to the Police about the activities of these people, then an attempt would have been made to start reducing the lust for money in the society.

6.         Youths Restiveness and Development: Every nation should be able to provide for its youths and the elderly. Proposals have been sent to some State Governors on how to take care of youths’ restiveness so that they can be good leaders tomorrow. The youths in this country are struggling too much. Those who are too ambitious take to crime. They try to develop themselves without any enabling environment. Most of those youths who do well in sports, music and other games start too late and hence they struggle later. The best time to start developing any skill is when one is still very young. I remember, in Tennis, the Williams’s sisters and Andre Agassi started as early as three year olds. They later became world beaters. One way to keep the youths off the streets is to keep them busy. Sports Complexes should be built in every Local Government area for sports and other meetings. More vocational training centers should be built every where as well. Parks should be available for working-out and jogging and relaxing. One of the other ways to stop crime amongst the youth is to have adequate housing policy to take care of anyone above 18 so that the situation where 5 to 10 people live in one room is stopped. The result is stability and responsibility. The old don’t have to work too hard to live. You cannot live the care of the old to their families, relatives and friends. A social policy should be developed to cater for this category of citizens.

 

In fact, I look at the programs the government has for the youths and the aged I wonder why government do not put a lot of attention on those who are going to be leaders tomorrow and those who have worked hard all their lives and yet still grappling with all the inadequacies in the society. The youths have nowhere to play, socialize, play games, relax and entertain themselves. Nigeria used to boast of good night clubs, cinemas, parks and other playing grounds. The Ikeja stadium was high jacked by the elite and turned into an estate. The Queens Park of old where, I remember, we used to go for picnics during Easter has been turned into an estate – Park View Estate, as well. Why should the elites think, when they own everything, buy the best luxurious cars, build the best houses in posh areas, send their children to Switzerland to school (where they keep their loot) that they have really arrived to be counted in the society. Everyday and time that I hear the masses talk, I see the anger in them. They rain causes on those who loot the treasury, the government and the legislators for not taking care of their needs.

 

7.         State/Local Government Councils: State Governors now own the land and the people in their states. They can allocate land, give contracts to those they like and do whatever they like with the money in their treasuries so far they pass some to the legislators in their Houses of assemblies. Why is the Local Government Council no more doing fumigation work as before? How do we spend the billions on Naira that we spend on malaria control and other health problems in Nigeria? Why do we have to buy mosquito nets for people when you can control and prevent the breeding of mosquitoes? Why are they no more doing the work they used to do up till 2003? Most of the Local Government Chairmen are now selected and they really don’t have much to say about how they run their councils. The councils are now mere appendages to the State Governments. The Governors direct affairs and call the shorts at the Local Government Councils. The Local Government Councils are supposed to be nearer to the people and hence they know their problems and how to solve them. More authorities should be given to the Councils where inspection and supervision of their areas should be done with all enthusiasm and dedication. The Local governments should be independent of the State governments. Allocations to Local governments should go directly to them.

8.         Agriculture: There is no seed that is put in the ground that will not yield something in one year or two. Maize can be grown all year round as it is done in some States in the North. I understand that cocoa can be grown in two to three years now. Why can’t the government give to all the States, say N10,000,000,000 each to start large scale farming in their states? Of course they will add their own money. Each State should provide land suitable for the type of farm products that can grow there. Every farm settlement must have accommodation with facilities for internet, sports and community centers for the workers from low to high level. Every settlement must have a school for children from nursery to primary. Children can then go for secondary school education in the nearest towns to the settlements after finishing from the primary schools. Some packaging and transportation systems must be available at the settlements as required. Vehicles should be made available to convey goods and personnel to towns and railway stations on regular basis. This is where some of the displaced trailers, after the development of the railway system must have been completed; conveying cows and goods from the north to the south and vice versa could be useful. Some processing can be done on some farm products before being transported. Private companies can be encouraged to site their factories near the settlements. Warehouses for storage and packing could be built by the settlement or private enterprises. We shall be surprised that within a short time the groundnut pyramids will come back and Nigeria will take its rightful place amongst one of the first three countries producing cocoa in the world. We can feed the whole of West Africa if we wish.

9. Professionalism: Professionalism has lost its essence in Nigeria. Apart from the brain drain, nobody really wants to work to the best of their ability. Too much emphasis is now put on money. Every business is to “Pari Ise” (Make a Deal). Most people have lost interest in really working the system in Nigeria. They now talk about what they can get from the system for their future and their children. Professionalism has now been thrown to the winds as people do not worry about the quality of work but the large amount of profit from the business they do. How do you explain why houses built several years ago are still standing and those built recently by developers collapse easily and even kill people. The developer or builder definitely has not done its work properly. Most jobs built on Build, Operate and Transfer basis are shoddily done. Professionalism from the builders – civil, electrical, structural engineers and others in form of good quality work according to international and professional standards are no more there. Urban planners are no more doing good work. In fact I have been asking this question for ages: Where are the areas in Lagos that have been initially designated as commercial areas? Allen Avenue, Obafemi Awolowo way in Ikeja, Opebi Street, and Awolowo Street in ikoyi, and so many others are all residential before they were turned into commercial areas by the public. In Nigeria people develop before government. In England, most especially London that I know very well, you see some streets that are purely commercial even though pockets of people reside there. For instance, see Oxford Street, Soho, Leicester Square, Edgware Road, Goldersgreen and many other streets in London that are commercial streets. Shops are built in such a way that all the ground floors are for shops and commercial enterprises like restaurants, banks, grocery shops, retail shops, offices, Bureau de Change and others. Some of these streets are called High Streets.

Some of the reasons for these lapses could be attributed to bad planning, corruption on the part of supervising authorities, lack of adequate knowledge on the part of the professionals working the system and corruption. Many professionals are no more updating their knowledge by having constant interaction with other professionals abroad through the internet, newsletters, professional magazines, and observations and training. Training in Nigeria by consultants is, at times, not up to date as it requires a lot of money to do some training. Moreover, equipment is not available for proper training so, its theory and theory. The costs of internet and subscribing to magazines of international institutes of professional bodies are high and so many up and coming professionals are not endowed as much to afford these costs. Universities can no more give adequate foundation to these young professionals because of lack of equipment and tools. Drastic improvement and emphasis have to be placed on quality training, supervision, professionalism and integrity in order to achieve a society well planned according to the aspirations of the present governor in Lagos State. Professionals in the civil service and private consultants giving approvals and supervising some projects must be made to be accountable to their work and their professional bodies must be informed of their inadequacies and professional discipline applied as required.

This brings to mind new estates and new cities that are being contemplated. Are they fully designed to accommodate all the necessary requirements of the modern day Nigeria? In Lagos markets are being rebuilt into shopping malls. An example is the Tejuosho and Gbaja markets, to mention a few. Where will the multitude selling oranges, provisions, meat, boli (roasted plantain), beans and many others that represented 90% of the inhabitants of the former Tejuosho market now sell the wares? Where will those who offer some small services carry on their trade? The bulk of these people serves and feed the masses. When they are displaced there is a vacuum created and this will bring problems later. When new developments are being contemplated, the culture of the people, their requirements, modern developments, the users and the technical aspects must be considered. For instance, the service people businesses– mechanics workshops, vulcanizing workshops, shoemakers, carpenters, masons, plumbers, technicians and many more, must be considered. You don’t just build houses and not consider the low class workers that would service the houses. I would have expected the Tejuosho shopping mall to accommodate a few locked up stalls of modern era like it is done in China and other developed countries. The masses are always more than the elites in any society. I hope the Atlantic City would not fall in the category of sojourn for the elites.

10. Housing: Massive housing units in different categories - studio flats, one bedroom, two bedroom and others, should always be encouraged by government. These housing units could be in form of blocks of flats, five-storey buildings, skyscrapers and so on. The units should be built in all areas of the States. New Cities, Estates in line with that built by the AG government in Suru-Lere, Shitta area and by Lateef jakande all over Lagos, could be built everywhere in the town and outside the town to accommodate every cadre of the society. For instance, building housing units in Lekki is more costly than building the same units in Agege or Abule-Egba, Shomolu, Mushin, Badagry, Ikorodu and Epe in Lagos. Consulting with experts in the building industry in Nigeria and overseas for specially built low cost houses would be an ideal thing to do. Who says the type of Eric Moore Towers will not stand in Agege, Shomolu, Iyana-Ipaja and other places. We need to start to do urban renewal. Some areas need to be demolished by government and rebuilt at the cost to government. Private people could come in where necessary but the government should be in charge. All the developed western world countries built their cities with consideration of the masses in mind. The rich and the poor always live together. They cannot be separated. It is a natural law. Provide the land to developers and give them the prototype houses that are supposed to be built on them. Arrange for mortgage, if necessary, through mortgage banks for them. The houses could be rented out at subsidised rates for the different categories of apartments. After staying in an apartment for up to five to ten years one should have first right to buy. Some could be sold outright. Only very few people can buy houses and pay in full in Nigeria. Those who buy houses are those money bags who have made money from politics and government and very few who are genuine.

Massive urban renewal should be carried out in some areas in Lagos and other cities in Nigeria. For instance, places like Suenu, Randle Avenue, Bank Olemoh Street, Gbaja and other areas in Suru-Lere which have, at times, one bedroom apartment on almost a plot of land should be demolished and rebuilt. If possible, the whole of Lagos Island should be demolished and new houses built with very good planning for both commercial and residential accommodation. Of course, an area should be built up before demolition of the houses with agreement that all occupiers of houses demolished will be moved to the modern setting and have the choice to move back to an appropriate accommodation in line with what was initially being occupied. A very serious study, proposal and agreement are required. Gone should be the days when people have to cling to some family houses. Government has the right to change the society on continuous basis. The government has to have good intentions and sense of purpose to be able to do this so that speculators and other greedy people do not derail the plan. This same system should be employed in all the States. There should be no compromise in providing accommodation for the people. Cost of land, rental and houses are so high in Lagos and some other urban areas because of speculators. You will find out that about ten speculators would be dealing in one property and each one of them will always try to make a big cut.

There is an eye now for these speculators to make quick money through the sale of plots of lands they must have bought very cheap from the Ogun State Government along the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. Every town and village along the axis has now been invaded with promise of heaven and earth if one buys a plot of land from them. Ogun State government is giving away good, valued and prime lands to those who do not deserve them. The land along the Express up to Ibadan is solid land that requires no sand filling, piling or any structural stabilizing. Most of the land along the axis has been occupied by Churches, Universities, Islamic Organisations, Tanker Terminals and illegal housing units. Why can’t the government build new cities and Industrial Units along the axis? Why can’t The Ogun State Government repeat what the Action Group Government did several years ago in building up the Industrial Units of Ikeja, Ilupeju and other commercial and industrial areas of Lagos along this axis? The industrial units built along this axis will be taken up before they are completed by the time the cargo Airport is built. Government has to open up this axis as it is now crowded and this could eventually lead to serious constant traffic jams and accidents unprecedented in the history of the road. All developments should be constructed ten to twenty kilometers from the road. In fact, the undeveloped tanker terminals, universities and Churches along the road should be stopped now as the problems they are likely to cause in future will be enormous. The government should revoke any approval given to any company who wants to build a tanker terminal along that axis as one has been built at Ogere and another in Ibafo. The Orile-Iganmu is still there to be occupied. The road is the number one highway in Nigeria.

11. Religion: Spiritualism, they say, is not as is commonly believed, a sinister cult meeting in darkened rooms to “call up the dead” but an officially recognised religious movement with its own churches and Ministers, who possess the same rights and privileges as other religions. Worshipping has reached a new height in Nigeria due to prevalent poverty in the society. Every Nigerian now looks up to God for miracles and salvation without really working and eventually asking God to bless what they are doing. The looters too go to church and mosque, either for blessing of their loots or to ask for forgiveness, at least for the mean time. They go back to continue their misdeeds. Most warehouses and residential houses have been turned to churches. Our youths have embraced Christianity to the extent that they even attend conventions instead of going to work. Fervent and violent prayers, fasting, deliverance, speaking in tongues, paying of tithes and other religious acts are common place now in the society. All these are good if only we can translate these to good behaviour, love and consideration for others. The executive, members of the National Assembly and others are not left out of this new development but they still visit their babalawo’s and imams at night.

The question is why are we still in this quagmire that we are in with all that we put in prayers? Why is Nigeria still amongst the poorest, least developed amongst the rich countries in the world? Why is Nigeria still under developed? Our salvation lies in the work we do, the honesty we display, the consideration we have for others, how we respect the right of others to live a good quality life and see the need for service all the time, and see to the well being of the society we live in every time. You can’t deprive others of water, accommodation, food and good health care and think God will forgive you. God gives us the freewill to act and atone for the good and bad that we do.  Building of big churches and universities that all the members cannot send their children to for education is not an ideal thing for any society. Why should individuals own churches without paying tax? Is there any church that the rich is 70% more than the poor? The poor attends church almost everyday, contributes to the development of the church, serves in one way or the other in church and yet cannot afford to send their children to the universities started by their churches. Warehouses and night clubs have been converted to churches. There are more churches than houses of manufacturing, residential and commercial enterprises. Some Pastors make triumphant entries to their churches with bodyguards and some followers. They worship as if they are the Lords incarnated. Some fly in private jets and go about in the best luxurious cars. One thing though, the orthodox churches still have order and decorum instilled in their congregations and their old beliefs are still being followed.

Government should ensure that the proliferation of churches along the highways should stop and those already there should construct roads to connect their churches away from the highway. All residential buildings and commercial houses in cities converted to churches should revert to their original status after all government is against residential accommodations being turned to commercial enterprises.

12. Political System – There is no political system that is not good. It depends on how it is implemented. The presidential system that we run in Nigeria is too expensive and there should be a way out to shrink the large size formation or structure that we have on ground. How do you explain the large size ministerial, special assistants and advisers, and other positions in government? There are too many ministries with too many workers. The amount we spend on recurring expenditure is too high. The lust for power by political jobbers is so high that it is killing the Nigerian State. Our national assembly has clearly shown us recently with their behaviour in the House of Representatives recently that the system we run is not proper. The Presidential System we run should be discarded for a Parliamentary System of Government. If we don’t do this, we shall be running in circles. There is no one that can get an oil block for himself in a parliamentary system. I do not think the United States of America have up to 20 Secretaries, the equivalent of our ministers, not to talk of Special Advisers and Assistants. A Sovereign National Conference is a necessity now in Nigeria. All the fear that goes along with conveying one, on truth, will go at the end of the exercise.

The Executive Presidency, Executive Governor and Executive Chairmen positions do not fit an African setting. It brings dictatorship and winner takes all syndromes into the system. The President is too powerful: he has control virtually over everything and can make or mar anybody or group of people as he pleases. Same goes for the Governors and Local Government Chairmen.

The agitation for more states and Local governments is uncalled for. We should learn how to live with each other. The States should be pruned down to 18 with three states in a zone or region or states should be discarded for large local governments in each zone or region. There should be six zones or regions with three each from the north and south respectively. Each zone or region should have three states each. This means that present states would be merged to form new states. There should be a reduction in the number of Local governments. Kano and Lagos states shouldn’t have more than 10 states each and the others pruned down accordingly if the old order persists. For instance, Lagos State is paying the salaries of 57 Local Government Chairmen/LCDA Chairmen with their allowances. There are Deputy Chairmen, Treasurers, Councilors and so many other cadres of workers in each setup. A lot goes into remunerations for these set of people thereby leaving very little for massive development.

Whatever is decided at the National Conference should be binding on all stakeholders. A new Nigeria will then be born where people can live and work anywhere without any molestation and suspicion.

Kunle Oduseso, Systems Analyst

3, Calabar Street,

Suru-Lere,

Lagos.

Tel: 234 803 306 9785

E-mail: kunleoduseso2002@yahoo.com




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