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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

How to Build a New Nigeria

I saw this piece written by Dele Momodu in Thisday Newspaper and I feel I should share it with you all. Have a nice reading.

"Ever since I wrote the piece, How to Build a Modern Lagos, I have been bombarded by mails, and strident calls from readers who wanted me to enlarge the scope of the article to cover the whole of Nigeria. My initial reaction was to wonder why these patriotic Nigerians wanted me to release a political manifesto when I had not yet declared my presidential ambition. As the requests grew louder and louder, I decided to take up the challenge, and hopefully, I’ll be able to meet their expectations.Everything you read here are things I’ll do if I have the opportunity of ruling Nigeria for just four years. I’ll declare from day one that I would never seek a second term. That would immediately signal to the parasitic political class that this new president is abnormal, and he must be avoided. It would naturally take an abnormal man not to attempt to sit tight in power with all the amazing paraphernania of office available to such juggernauts in Nigeria.As soon as I have been sworn in, I will immediately call a meeting of my party chieftains, and declare my manifesto again, as presented to the electorate, as a reminder of our covenant with the people. I will tell them I have every serious intention to follow the letters of that pact to its logical conclusion, without any fear or favour. I will also set strict conditions for appointments into my cabinet and the boards of parastatals. Even if Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu resurrects from his shallow grave, and makes his usual demands, I will look him straight in the face, and inform him that he cannot recommend illiterates and upstarts for appointments. He would have to comb the nooks and crannies of Ibadan for the many geniuses I know litter the many compounds of the great city of Oluyole. I will beg him not to present Ibadan to the world as a city of rascals and thugs. At any rate, he now knows that every man will die one day, no matter how much he rakes in from political brigandage. And we were never told he was buried with all the PDP money, and none of the thugs offered to escort him to the world beyond. Such is life.My cabinet would be a star-studded affair, the sort never seen before in our part of Africa. I will certainly shake up the civil service, and get rid of the deadwoods. Most ministries in Nigeria today are peopled by characters whose souls and hearts are elsewhere. You only need to visit one of the ministries to appreciate the magnitude of the rot. Files disappear at will. Most of the servants hardly care about computerizing their operations at this time and age. Contracts are inflated to the high heavens, and some crooks are ready to append signatures even if the jobs were never executed. I will give only one example. It is hard to believe there is a Ministry of Transportation in Nigeria, considering the state of our roads. Yet this ministry controls one of the fattest budgets. Please, take a drive from Kaduna through the River Niger to Ilorin, and through Ogbomoso and Oyo Alaafin to Ibadan, and enter the so-called Ibadan-Lagos Expressway, all the way to the Third Mainland Bridge. Any such adventurous traveller must conclude that the Ministry of Transportation is populated by demons of the most fiendish type. There is no sign of any work.Everywhere in the world new roads are constructed as the population grows, and vehicular traffic increases. Not in my dear country. Roads that were built by Sonel Boneh about forty years ago from Ile-Ife to Ondo township are far superior to the few new ones constructed in recent memory. The beautiful cities and estates constructed by the Awolowos in the old Western Region have been completely annihilated by the shameless public officers who took over from them. A drive through the Ijebu cities and villages would flood the soul with giddy nostalgia for communities that once held out hope of a beautiful future to a great people with a glorious heritage. The street lights of the sixties still work in many of these little towns and villages.My government will rekindle that hope and replicate many Bodijas all over Nigeria. Our people must have access to good roads and comfortable homes. I will draw from the experience and example of Great Britain, which remains my model country today. In 1995, I was forced into exile and arrived in London with my family. Our plan was to cool off for about three months and return to Nigeria in peace, hoping that General Sani Abacha would have finished jailing all jailables. But we were dead wrong. Things moved from bad to worse and we were thus compelled to seek asylum in the United Kingdom. Our application to the Home Office, which was backed by a plethora of documents, was promptly considered, and we were granted full refugee status. My main sermon today is that the British Government graciously rented an apartment for us and so many other asylum seekers, at great cost. Thereafter, we were able to secure a council flat in the posh neighborhood of Hampstead Heath, which we were entitled to buy if interested, after just four years. I will never forget that great gesture. The British Government has built homes for millions of its citizens who ordinarily can not afford to buy their own. These homes are built very close to the affluent ones in order to ensure that the gap between the rich and the poor are not too wide. The rich and the poor go to the same supermarkets, the same departmental stores (except where you are so super rich that you can go to a few exclusive shops and bespoke tailors), the same Macdonald’s, the same Kentucky Fried Chicken, the same Harrods (at least during the generous sales), the same ASDA, the same TESCO, the same underground trains, the same buses. Any British citizen can work in any part of Great Britain without being treated like a non-local. I will work very hard to achieve some of these wonderful opportunities which make Britain truly great.How does one go about changing age-long taboos and superstitions of our people? I will embark on the aggressive and compulsory education of our people. Education would eliminate some of the foolish prejudices that have rendered some of our people indolent, especially those parasites who believe they can only live and survive on government patronage. Education is the key that can unlock our future into prosperity. It happened in India, which has today become the hub for information technology. India used to be derided as a dirty and backward nation. The economy was very poor, and her mega population was seen as a big burden. On my visit to Bombay, now Mumbai, barely a decade ago, the city was as squalid as Lagos, with flies everywhere. Today the Indians have created a new haven and a great industrialized nation, a place now advertised on CNN as “irresistible India”.We can achieve this in Nigeria. My boundless optimism is predicated on the fact that our case is very similar to that of India. We have the largest population of Blacks on Earth. Nigerians are exceptionally brilliant in all the fields of human endeavour. Like the Indians, our citizens are scattered all over the world. Our kids attend some of the best schools. Many Nigerian students now gain admission into elite schools and universities like Eaton, Harrow, Charterhouse, Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and indeed everywhere in the world. They stand out proudly like the peacock. They get the best jobs available in the countries where they are domiciled. We parade the best surgeons, nurses, engineers, solicitors and barristers (we even have Queen’s Counsels), writers, scientists, doctors, and so on. We also have Nigerians who are involved in politics and administration of those countries. I am happy to note that the Northern part of Nigeria has joined in the march towards the elimination of illiteracy in our society. I came across so many brilliant kids of Northern origin on a recent visit to Canada. And everywhere in Europe, these kids are doing very well, knowing that the future of Nigeria lies not in the hands of professional politicians. These kids would perform better than many of their elders who failed them. They will be useful one day soon to their country of birth. We must encourage them.Food is the soul of every human. My government will embark on mass production of food. We are indeed lucky that God in His infinite mercy and wisdom has given us more than enough arable land for agriculture. We can grow almost everything we need to feed ourselves and our neighbours. We are capable of becoming a major exporter of food products in the world. It happened here before in the days of cocoa boom and groundnut pyramids. We exported gold, iron ore, bauxite, coal and others. Our yam was so juicy that many communities held festivals to celebrate it. Our plantains were as big as the arms of Goliath. Our fresh and organic tomatoes were so colourful and inviting. We all had small poultries in our yards where we picked chickens to slaughter for the august visitors, and eggs to break for that mouth-watering Nigerian egg-stew with steamy boiled yam during the special Sunday breakfast. We ate vegetables with every meal in our schools. We sucked fresh oranges, and ate the original yellow and crunchy pawpaw. How can one ever forget the roast corn which we munched with tasty coconut? Or the roast plantain, accompanied by freshly made palm-oil and a sprinkle of salt? Farmers would be encouraged to produce more, and they would enjoy a subsidy based on performance. The era of fertilizer armada will disappear. Nigerian politicians only use it to siphon our money away. We shall attract experts in food production from China and Malaysia.A well-fed stomach will sustain a good body and a happy soul. Health is wealth. After we’ve tackled the problems of food, half of our health issues would have been solved.My government will revamp all hospitals and clinics, and upgrade the facilities. I will work with donor agencies and allow access to the operations of our health ministry. We will never allow renegades and wicked officers to run away with funds meant for the physical well-being of our people. A leader does not need to steal public funds. There are too many opportunities for making money. I will make the salaries of medical workers very attractive, based strictly on performance and regular assessment. On a personal note, I will never allow any government functionary to go abroad for medical treatment, including myself. Let the death that will kill all of us do so on our soil. I would rather spend that money on equipping our hospitals and flying Nigerian specialists home, initially on short visits. It is a national disgrace and an international embarrassment each time an African leader dies on a foreign soil.There are too many problems to be fixed, and I’m aware that no government can solve them all. But one problem that must be solved in Nigeria is that of power and energy, even if blood will flow in the process."


Adiele said...

nice piece by Mr. dele momodu but i believe just analysing the problems that has befallen our nation wont be enough. Nigerians have to rise and demand accountability from their leaders.

ilesanmi said...

Mr. president seems a bit slow we can only hope for better things in his second year in office. lets all give him a chance.

yinka said...

word up nice piece. this government has taken us for a ride

Adiele said...

the politicians are corrupt no thanks to the various god fathers they have to settle after getting into power.

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