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APC’s Litmus Tests




Salihu Moh. Lukman

Given that the term progressive is used loosely in Nigerian politics, it is important that APC leaders and members are able to functionally decide what the party represents beyond just the name. Progressive politics is about dynamism, action and improvement, which is goal-oriented with a clear vision. Political challenges in the country especially in the context of how they are manifesting, makes it important that APC leaders are supported, in every way possible, to transform the party to emerge as a truly progressive party, which should be both representative and responsive to the yearnings of Nigerians. The challenge of adopting a shared understanding of what it will take to build a progressive party requires introspection and tolerance. Leaders have to be able to debate, critique and compete freely without being discourteous or criminalising each other. This entails a change of attitude such that leaders don’t interpret criticisms as opposition to their ambition. It also necessitates that leaders are able to use internal debates to strengthen their perspectives and positions on how to resolve problems facing the party. This should be the source of APC’s electoral advantage.

Part of the expectation is that the 13-member Caretaker/Extra-ordinary Convention Working Committee appointed by the emergency National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of June 25, 2020, led by His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni, will take steps to begin to resolve challenges facing the APC, which was difficult to achieve under the dissolved NWC. With the initial tenure of six months, which was extended by another emergency NEC of December 8, 2020 to June 2021, the work of the Caretaker Committee is expected to end with a National Convention where another leadership should emerge to manage the affairs of the party for another four years.A

All party members and leaders should prioritise ensuring that the Caretaker Committee is able to complete the task of organising a National Convention where new leaders of the party will be elected. The first test therefore is whether the challenges leading to the dissolution of the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC are being resolved by the Caretaker Committee. To what extent, are the resolution of challenges facing the party conforming to both democratic principles and progressive ideals?

Conforming to democratic principles requires that initiatives being implemented by the Caretaker Committee are based on decisions taken by competent organs as provided in the constitution of the party. Progressive ideals would require painstaking approaches to guarantee wider participation of leaders and members in the process of decision making. Both democratic principles and progressive ideals are not mutually exclusive and could be achieved through guaranteeing that meetings of organs are taking place as provided in the constitution of the party. Absence of meetings of organs partly contributed to most of the disaffections in the party during the tenure of the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC.

READ ALSO: So, Nigeria Was Good Before?

To what extent has the APC Caretaker Committee distinguished itself from the old characteristics of managing the affairs of the party without meetings of organs as provided in the party’s constitution? This is the fundamental operational question, which, however considered, would have implication in terms of whether APC leaders are taking the necessary steps to rebuild the party based on any considered vision of progressive politics. Somehow, the reality is that in terms of convening the meetings of the organs of the party, for more than nine months, the Caretaker Committee has not convened any meeting of any organ of the APC apart from the emergency NEC meeting of December 8, 2020. Sadly, even the 13-member Caretaker Committee is hardly meeting.

Part of the indication is that most decisions taken by the Caretaker Committee were done by the Chairman, His Excellency, Mai Mala Buni and the Secretary, Sen. Akpan Udoedehe. The good thing is that the major challenge of ensuring that the party is able to have a verifiable membership register is being resolved. But without the organs meeting as provided in the constitution of the party, where progress reports are given, what is the guarantee that the old problem of having inaccessible membership register will not be replicated? Already, given that the party’s membership registration/revalidation was done based on the old analogue method without applying modern virtual technology, what is the guarantee that the process of leadership reformation in the party, from ward congresses up to National Convention, will be done based on the new register? Will all members of the party be able to participate in the process of electing leaders of the party at all levels?

The test of whether the process of candidates’ selection for election will accommodate a broader participation of members of the party is the extent to which all members of the party participate in the election of leaders. Once election of leaders of the party is handled by few delegates, it is almost logical that it will be few delegates that will elect standard bearers of the party for elections.

Given all the developments in APC, especially against the background that most of the expectations around the Caretaker Committee are yet to be met, it will be important to review challenges facing the party and perhaps appeal to APC leaders to get the Caretaker Committee to urgently conclude the membership registration/verification. The needless extension of the exercise only serves to strengthen suspicions that the Caretaker Committee is reluctant to organise a National Convention where new leadership of the party will be elected. Based on what has been done so far, the minimum requirement should be that records of members of the party are displayed in all wards and copies made available to Local Governments, States and National Secretariat.

With membership records displayed, timetable for Congresses and National Convention should be set. Under no circumstances should there be any contemplation of extending the tenure of the Caretaker Committee. In order to ensure that no extension is being considered, Committees for Congresses and National Convention should be established without any further delay. Similarly, the dates for Congresses and National Convention should be decided.

Once that is done, negotiation and campaigns for the emergence of party leadership at all levels can commence. Negotiation and campaigns for leadership of the party have already started on a low scale. Many caucuses have emerged and some of the issues that will dictate the emergence of new party leaders would include the conventional approaches of zoning and relationship with power blocs in the party. Old affiliations such as membership of the merged parties that form the APC will come up. The negotiation will not be easy and if not carefully managed, especially against the background that the Caretaker Committee has not done much to broaden the process of membership participation in decision making within the party, there is a very high possibility that the party will be weakened in terms of conforming with basic democratic principles and progressive ideals.

Perhaps, what APC leaders need to do to be able to develop some enabling environment for the emergence of leaders of the party, especially at national level, leaders that can put the party on a good footing to begin to resolve challenges, is to identify people with good relationship across all the power blocs. APC must avoid situations where political touts are elected to the party’s leadership. APC should elect leaders that can inspire strong belief in members, and by extension Nigerians, that the party is working to resolve its challenges. Once political touts are the new leaders of the party, it simply means weak capacity to resolve challenges facing the party. Instead, the challenges may become worse.

In particular, the National Chairman and National Secretary should be people with excellent relationship across all the power blocs. These power blocs are known and permutations for 2023 elections are already crystalising around them. Under no circumstance, should anyone who has declared opposition to any of the power blocs be considered as either a National Chairman or National Secretary. Similarly, no one with any form of subsidiary ambition to contest for any elective post be considered for any of the national offices. In addition, the National Secretary should have both political and administrative skills to manage the process of negotiating the re-organisation of the National Secretariat of the party.

READ ALSO: How Buhari’s Second Term Is Becoming A Curse – Tunde Bakare

Moving forward, the party should be able to have a well organised bureaucracy with established conditions and competent personnel to guide the process of decision making and implementation. With the difficult task of maintaining and managing verifiable membership register, which should form the pillar of membership participation in the election of leaders and candidates, ensuring the effectiveness of the party’s National Secretariat is not a matter that should be handled with carefree disposition.

Related to the issue of electing leaders who have good relationship with all power blocs within the party, as well as developing a competent National Secretariat is the issue of strengthening the provisions of the party’s constitution to ensure there are stronger checks on the leadership especially in the area of convening meetings as provided in the party’s constitution. The fact that leaders of the party don’t convene meetings as required by the constitution of the APC means that there is the need to review relevant provisions of the party’s constitution to make meetings of organs more compelling. There is no reason why the party cannot have a calendar of meetings, which must be respected by all leaders, especially the NWC.

A test of whether APC will be able to commence a new beginning based on respect for democratic principles and in line with progressive ideals depends a lot on combinations of factors leading to the emergence of the next leadership of the party. Every committed APC leader and member should recognise that as much as 2023 election is important, whether APC will be able to enjoy the confidence of Nigerians and therefore win the election is really about how broadly democratic the party is and the extent to which the vision of the party aggregates the expectations of Nigerians.

Part of the limitation of politics in Nigeria is that everything revolves around who will emerge as a candidate for election, especially the presidential candidate. The conventional approach is that for anyone to emerge as candidate, such a person must control structures of the party. The extent to which APC is able to manage the process of electing leaders of the party will determine whether the party is working to change Nigerian politics or not. Once the leaders of the party are product of supremacy battle, conferring victory on any of the power blocs, it will simply mean that the priority of the new leadership is to confirm one of the leaders as the presidential candidate of the party for 2023 election. Once that happens, the business of winning election will hardly be about winning the support of Nigerians.

Being a progressive party, APC must take every step to win the support of Nigerians. This is also not going to be an easy task at all. APC leaders must be reminded that the existential challenges facing the nation require sober reflections. These are not the kind of challenges that will just blow away. Any business-as-usual approach will demoralise the confidence of Nigerians and will weaken the support base of the party. From security challenge, to problems of unemployment, poverty and inequality, the challenge is basically about negotiating new frameworks of managing the country.

With all the initiatives of the APC Federal Government to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, it is important that Nigerians are able to recognise and endorse the plans being implemented by the President Buhari’s government. Beyond endorsement, Nigerians should be able to accept the details of the APC’s anti-poverty agenda. The Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) led by Prof. Doyin Salami has provided the necessary orientation for the Federal Government to achieve the plan based on the principles that ‘Poverty is not only the lack of cash. It is defined by lack of access to shelter, health, education and jobs which must all be addressed.’ How lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty creates jobs and reduces the problems of unemployment in the country should be unambiguously expounded.

Combined issues of citizens’ participation in implementing government initiatives and development of political institutions in the country will be determined by the capacity of elected representatives to consider initiatives to strengthen the nation’s federalism. Considering initiatives to strengthen federalism is a necessary requirement to ensure that Nigeria’s democracy is both representative and responsive to the needs of Nigerians. Recommendations of the APC Committee on True Federalism contain some important proposals in this respect. APC leaders need to take all the necessary steps to strengthen Nigerian democracy by facilitating national engagement based on the recommendations of the APC Committee on True Federalism.

Part of what is holding the country back is the inability of political leaders to allow negotiation to take place. As a result, APC leaders are indifferent to all the recommendations contained in the report of the APC Committee on True Federalism. There is the need to appeal to APC leaders to move the country forward to a position of active negotiation based on the recommendations in the report of APC Committee on True Federalism.

Other factors also blocking political negotiation in the country include combinations of undemocratic mindset of citizens and political bullying. These are also contributory factors to why democratic engagement in the country is weak. Actions by organised groups such as protests and strikes against debates in the National Assembly on proposals for reform in the country are adversative to democratic culture. Why should any organisation with claimed commitment to democratic values seek to arm-twist elected representatives? On the other hand, politicians and many Nigerians also use measures of blackmail and arm-twisting to subdue perceived opponents. Political leaders, both elected and appointed, impose their positions on citizens. Where possible, citizens also bully political leaders. Bullying has reduced the nation’s democracy to a pretentious vocation, which is not more than that of imposing preferences of leaders.

The test of whether APC will be able to provide the needed political leadership to discourage the use of bullying to win the support of Nigerians depends a lot on the tolerance levels of leaders of the party in terms of winning the support of party members. Once leaders of the party also apply blackmail, arm-twisting or bullying to force their choices on the party, it will only be logical that the same approaches will dictate conducts of elected and appointed representatives produced by the party.

Another test, which will determine electoral viability of the APC considerably include issues of leadership succession. Being a progressive party, APC leaders need to begin to move to a situation whereby leadership succession arrangement at all levels are planned and criteria for leadership recruitment are set. Currently, leadership succession is based on individual decisions of current office occupants and is prone to a lot of challenges. There is the need to appeal to APC leaders to be more broadminded, unobjectionable and accommodating. In 2013/2014 leaders of APC were very much united with all the divergent preferences around leadership choices, both for the party and the country. The unity in the party was informed by the respect leaders have for one another.

READ ALSO: IPOB Denies Role In Attack On Owerri Correctional Centre, Police Station

Operationalising APC’s brand of progressive politics is a dynamic issue and needs to be approached with open mind to be able to contribute in a way that endears the party to Nigerians and gives confidence to every member to promote the party as the embodiment of the political future of the country. This is a big challenge, which unfortunately many party members try to reduce to cheap propaganda of simple expression of support for positions of party leaders and government. Often times, to succeed requires a very honest engagement and being able to convince leaders about the limitations of their actions or inactions.

Being successful also depends a lot on the disposition of party leaders to consider issues and recommendations made by party members and supporters. The framework for engagement between APC leaders, on the one hand, and party members and supporters, on the other hand, will be a determining factor in terms of how wide or narrow will be the support base of the party. Related to how wide or narrow the support base of the party will be, is the question of whether APC will contract relationship with organised groups. Being a progressive party will require that APC is able to develop relationship with organised groups based on which members of the organised groups commit their votes to candidates of the party.

The issue of mobilising young Nigerians, for instance, can be more effectively and efficiently achieved with strong relationship between APC and youth groups in the country. This is also the case with reference to mobilising women to support the party. If the party is to emerge as a truly progressive party, the support of the women and youth is paramount. In this age of information highway, the APC must be both representative and responsive to the aspirations of women and youths with good application of modern virtual infrastructure. This is where there must be a complete change in the APC National Secretariat. A situation where a governing party with claimed progressive credentials is not having an official website and official social media handles is simply unacceptable. All the websites and social media handles bearing APC are controlled by individuals, who may not even be members of the party. The party has no direct access to these websites and social media handles. To say the least, this is very scandalous. Why should the only business of the party’s publicity department be reduced to issuing press statements?

Once the party is unable to develop virtual infrastructure and deploy it for effective engagement with Nigerians, it will be weak to engage groups in the country. Besides the issue of virtual infrastructure, is the question of whether the APC will handle the mobilisation of Nigerians based on the conventional endorsement of divisive politics? Or will the party and its leadership adopt painstaking strategy of mobilisation through developing the productive capacity of Nigerians? Beyond developing the productive capacity of Nigerians, ensuring access to education, jobs, healthcare delivery, shelter, etc. are fundamental preconditions for the effective mobilisation of Nigerians.

What is the APC’s vision for Nigerians? The APC manifesto outlined in clear terms its commitments on a number of challenges facing the country. Part of what APC leaders need to do is to be able to develop the framework for engaging organised groups of Nigerians based on provisions of the APC manifesto. The relationship between APC and organised groups in the country should be expanded to the realm of policy engagement in the country. The big task is whether APC leaders can develop the needed confidence to engage groups and win their support in terms of contracting agreements around policy initiatives of governments controlled by the party.

As a progressive party, APC needs to be proactive to be able to facilitate engagement on policy demands in the country. Actually, negotiating policy demands is the NEXT LEVEL politics APC should be creating. With active policy negotiations, the challenge of building the nation’s health and education sectors can be addressed. Issues of strikes by unions can be preempted and brought under control based on corresponding national agreements of mobilising resources, both human and financial to achieve a national vision. If there is any lesson Covid-19 pandemic has brought, is that developing the nation’s health sector must be a priority. Developing the nation’s health sector necessarily also requires good investment in the educational sector so that the required health personnel to manage the nation’s health sector can be produced. As a party envisioned to be a social democratic party implies that education and health will be the priority sector. Is APC going to be able to actualise its vision of being a social democratic party?

Progressive politics based on the characteristics of both participatory and responsiveness to citizens’ expectation will always be popular. For it to enjoy the trust of Nigerians requires a high measure of honesty on the part of political leaders. APC leaders and members must take adequate steps to understand the needs of Nigerians and respond with a positive disposition. Whether APC can pass all these tests and protect its electoral viability depend more on whether the Caretaker Committee of the party can demonstrate capacity to finish its work in June 2021 by organising a National Convention where new leaders of the party will emerge. Failure to organise a National Convention in June 2021 will simply mean that the Caretaker Committee is not interested in protecting the electoral viability of the party. There should be no debate about whether the National Convention of APC should hold in June or not. What is debatable is the issues that will emerge in the National Convention, which should include the election of leaders and amendment to provisions of the constitution to make it more compelling for meetings of organs of the party to hold as required.

READ ALSO: Who Bewitched Nigerians? (I)

Whether APC will be able to pass all its litmus tests will depend a lot on whether the Caretaker Committee is committed to finishing its assignment by June 2021. Even if it is able to complete the assignment, processes of internal negotiation to produce leaders of the party, the character and capacity of the new leadership, as well as the scope of membership participation during Congresses and National Convention, will be determining factors of whether the party is conforming to both democratic principles and progressive ideals. Commitment to democratic principles and progressive ideals are strong requirements for both representation and responsiveness. APC must emerge as a dynamic party, action- oriented, based on which it is able to engender improvements in the lives of Nigerians.

APC is the only party where contestation is taking place and leaders recognise the challenges facing the party. If democracy is about contestation, with all its problems, APC represents the hope for a democratic Nigeria. For that to become reality, APC must pass all its litmus tests. A strong pillar, which is the catalysing element for the party to be able to pass all its litmus tests is the liberal leadership of President Buhari, based on which he doesn’t interfere in the management of the party. The Caretaker Committee must not abuse the President’s confidence by delaying the National Convention of the party. No party in Nigeria has the liberal atmosphere provided in APC.

Dr. Lukman is the Director-General of the Progressive Governors Forum Abuja.His position here does not represent the view of any APC governor or the Progressive Governors Forum.

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Where Are The New Notes?



Where Are The New Notes?

By Hope O’Rukevbe Eghagha
It was with mixed feelings that Nigerians first received the news in October last year that the federal government was redesigning certain denominations of the nation’s currency. From December 15, 2022, the new notes would be in circulation, the CBN governor Godwin Emefiele promised. It was also announced that by January 31, 2023, the current N1000, N500, and N200 notes would no longer be legal tender. Government explained that some unscrupulous politicians had accumulated billions of naira in private vaults and would deploy the illegal funds to compromising the general elections scheduled to start on February 25th. What has become of those billions?

Owing to the level of distrust between the government and the people, conspiracy theories surfaced with ‘stupendous alacrity! The Minister of Finance did not help matters when she openly disassociated herself from the new policy announcement. She asserted that her ministry ‘was not consulted before the policy was announced and she believes the policy is wrongly timed’. CBN Governor countered by saying that he did not need clearance from the Minister to initiate new policies, adding that he was accountable to the President.

This aspect of the controversy was only laid to rest when President Buhari’s spokesman Garba Shehu issued a statement that ‘the president said the CBN’s decision had his support and he is convinced that Nigeria will gain a lot by doing so! The government explained that the policy would compel persons who had stolen monies and had hidden same in vaults, septic tanks, and warehouses to deposit same in the banks before January 31. Limits as to how much could be deposited per day by individuals and corporate bodies were specified. The National Assembly had tried on different occasions to make the CBN extend the deadline. They have not succeeded so far. What exactly is going on?

READ  ALSO: How Nigerians Keeping N2.7 Trillion At Home, Others Caused Naira Redesign – Emefiele

Suddenly, Emefiele became a target of arrest for possible prosecution by EFCC. A narrative that he was a financier of terrorism was pushed into the national space. He was accused of massive corruption. Push backs came from counter forces. Emefiele was being persecuted because he had hit the big money bags in society with a harsh policy. It was reported that Emefiele was on the run like a common criminal. A court refused to grant an order to EFCC for the arrest of Emefiele. The general question on the lips of everyone was: what exactly is going on? While this charade was ongoing, news came that the CBN governor had secretly returned to Nigeria. Men of the DSS raided the governor’s office but did not arrest him. Another report came out that the Chief of Defence Staff had deployed soldiers to guard the embattled governor. Two arms of security fighting a battle of arrest and protection? Who gave orders to the Army? Who gave orders to DSS? Is the president aware of the madness at large? Who wants the head of Emefiele and why?

The uncertainty and controversy around the CBN governor are unsalutary. In other climes, the economy would take a nosedive. Perhaps because the economy is already sick, there is nowhere to fall into. He that is down, like the Nigerian economy, needs fear no fall! But there is great confusion in the land that foreign investors no doubt would be watching out for what would happen next. Emefiele himself had got himself into many controversial actions, one being his attempt to contest for the office of the president while heading the Bank of bankers. It seems that because he is in the good books of the powers-that-be, no harm can befall him.

It’s a few days to the deadline. There are still many questions. The most important question right now is: where are the new notes? As a corollary to this question, why are the banks reluctant to dispense the new notes? Is it true that some Point of Sale (POS) operators have the new currency while banks claim they do not have the same currency? How much has entered the banking system since the October announcement? How can the banks be monitored for compliance? What are hard hit politicians planning to do next?

READ  ALSO: CBN Extends Withdrawal Of Old Naira Notes Deadline

APC presidential candidate Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu recently cried out that the currency and fuel scarcity was met to sabotage the February elections. Buhari has asserted that he wants to leave a legacy of free and fair elections, not tainted with money. He has somewhat withdrawn himself from the political fray and directed that money should not be allowed to determine the winner. Some irony here. Our president now wishes to distance himself from the system which gave him the presidency and sustained his rule for some eight odd years. How the politicians will react is not clear yet. But it is possible to become a statesman after experiencing the rot of the system at close range.

For the common man, the main question is: where are the new currency notes? I am yet to set eyes on the N200 notes. I didn’t have access to the N1000 note until two weeks ago. This has exacerbated the level of desperation in the land. Suddenly changing the currency has its advantages especially if the security of the nation is threatened. One of the first groups to ask for extension of time was Miyetti Allah. They claimed that because they keep a lot of cash, they would need more time. Fittingly the government has stuck to its guns. No compromise. Kidnappers and bandits who keep huge sums collected as ransoms from their victims must be caught in the web.

The Central Bank of any country is insulated, should be insulated from politics and politicking. It ought to be the last economic institution standing tall even when all others collapse. But the CBN under Emefiele has been hijacked by powerful interests who do not have the common good at heart. Emefiele symbolizes that takeover. History will judge him harshly. But for now, Mr. CBN Governor, let hapless and hungry Nigerians have access to the new currency. If the CBN is unable to enforce its directives to the banks, it will be because the bankers see that institution as a weakened and weak one that can only bark without the capacity to bite. Let us end the uncertainty now!

. This article was sent in before the Central Bank of Nigeria on Sunday, January 29, 2023 extended the January 31, 2023 deadline for the withdrawal of old naira notes from circulation.


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Post-2023 Policy Advisories: Youth Unemployment  And Job Creation



Stoic Philosophy, Resilience And Nation Building Project In Nigeria

By Tunji Olaopa

In this piece, the focus of my policy advisory will be on the critical connection between education, unemployment and job creation as fundamental elements in the transformation of Nigeria’s economic growth and development. And this is crucial because of Nigeria’s low-employment intensity and its collateral effects on the non-inclusive growth of the national economy. Over the years, so much analytical ink has  been spilt over the largely uneven, unbalanced and socially non-inclusive growth trends of the Nigerian economy, deriving essentially from the unimaginative monocultural dependence of the economy on oil. This is further aggravated by several deep-seated structural debilitations at the heart of national low development policy performance over the years. I have in mind, first, the crippling national infrastructural deficit which is now estimated at $100m yearly, and requires $80billion in financial commitment over the next ten years to build up. There is also, second, the cost and ease of doing business. In the 2022 ranking by the World Bank, Nigeria currently stands at 131 out of 190 countries. This simply implies that the regulatory environment for doing business in Nigeria is not friendly enough to boost the economy. Nigeria’s heavy dependence on the oil and gas sector is also inhibiting because it is not a labor-intensive sector in terms of its production process and the dynamics of its capital formation. 

READ ALSO: You don blow!

All this has grave implications for the chances of the Nigerian economy to achieve a robust diversification through a multi-pronged and strategic policy rethinking of the developmental components. The resolution of this problematic is inherently connected with the governance imperatives of a restructured Nigerian federation that has the capacity to harness the non-oil resources of its federating units based on comparative advantages. It is easy for the reader to immediately discern how such a critical move, especially the unbundling of the agricultural sector, can easily alleviate the lingering unemployment tension. This policy challenge has consistently been crucial to the social inequality which has instigated the unbridled draining of human capital made up of essentially young Nigerians who cannot be blamed for choosing the Japa option in privileging their life prospect rather than be undermined by a state that is not rethinking its potential.  

READ ALSO: Tribunal Sacks Adeleke, Declares Oyetola Osun Governor

What is also immediately certain is the significant role that education and training will play in arresting the drift in Nigeria’s human capital and workforce dynamics. This is because the challenge of unemployment is complicated by (un)employability as a result of various levels of skills deficiencies and mismatch. And this not only demonstrates the defectiveness of the educational system skewed in favour of formal certification, but also points at the urgent need for an education reform as a critical part of the larger development equation in driving Nigeria’s progress. On the other hand, and also quite unfortunate, the informal education sector is not only disarticulated, the policy innovation that ought to creatively reconnect it as a structural base for productivity has been scant and far-between. And when successive governments have been earnest in their investment in technical and vocational education and training (TVET), it has also been to the detriment of the proper structural reprofiling of the traditional apprenticeship system and non-formal training models as equally fundamental elements in the education provisioning that generates productivity and human capital for jumpstarting Nigeria’s development. And this is not to say that even TVET itself has been properly grounded since there is still a serious gap between the available opportunities and the skills and competences the education made possible. 


We are then sensitised to the creative policy direction that the new administration needs to pursue—an urgent and comprehensive re-articulation of the education sector in ways that (a) strengthen the formal education and certification process to fit into the industrialization objectives of the Nigerian state; (b) connect the formal and the informal education sectors together on a continuum of learning and training; and (c) leverage the traditional apprenticeship, informal and vocational training and formal certification into a reprofiled human capital development policy. Such a proactive policy strategy will surely be a significant complement to the Nigeria’s 6-level National Vocational Certification Framework (NVQF) which links the education and training systems in terms of industry and competence-based qualifications. This has the advantage of facilitating a strategic collaboration between the higher education and industrial dynamics in Nigeria; in terms of connecting the dots between theoretical and practical realignment to rejuvenate the workplace for national development. The trajectory of the Students’ Industrial Work Experience Scheme (SIWES) is also lamentably stalled due to the total lack of synergy between students inchoate theoretical learning and workplace demands. 


So, while the incoming administration crucially needs to start mapping the policy framework for a proactive education reform that will connect learning and training to human capital development, at another fundamental level, there is also the critical imperative of land reform as part of the development reflection. Here, land reform relates to leveraging land and agriculture as development complements for rejigging job creation and youth employment. This calls for the meeting of governance and constitutional reforms to facilitate land reform as a legitimate means of aggregating and expanding the means of production that Nigeria needs to achieve economic growth. The focus of this governance and constitutional alignment is the repeal of the Land Use Act of 1978. This has an immediate relevance of freeing up land use in ways that aggregate it for economic development. The Act contradicts all the critical norms of land use for economic growth anywhere on the globe. And its logic is only due to the lopsided unitary federalism that is suffocating developmental initiatives. Whereas land is supposed to belong to local communities in terms of customary and legal dynamics, Nigeria’s anomalous federalism gives all lands to the Nigerian government. And this becomes an immediate constraint on the socioeconomic dynamics of national development.    


It not only undermines the subsidiarity principle that engineers the grassroots as the context for a people-centered development initiative, it also fundamentally ties landholding to the tough and debilitating environment of doing business in Nigeria. Unfortunately, however, when farmers—the fulcrum of any agricultural resurgence—fails to hold the titles to the lands they farm, then the agricultural unbundling will be affected in ways that prevent their being coupled to the governance reform to activate development. More important still, as Hernando de Soto argues, in most third world countries, land and other critical resources for development are held in “defective forms”. In other words, “houses built on land whose ownership rights are not adequately recorded, unincorporated businesses with undefined liability, industries located where financiers and investors cannot see them.” The problem of this observation for farmers and agricultural investors in Nigeria is therefore that any land that is not properly documented cannot be capitalized for investment and national development. 


We then turn back full circle back to the governance challenge of the ease of doing business in Nigeria that links landholding to the surveying and regularizing land use for investment purpose. Nigeria needs a land development policy, with an institutional framework, that frees up land use for investment and development purposes. But in the long run, the land reform must be insinuated into a broader and more comprehensive local government/governance reform that will tap into the larger objective of restructuring of Nigeria’s federalism and all its debilitations. At this point, we have a confluence of reform fundaments—democratic governance, national development, local governance, federalism and education. And they are all intertwined into a policy framework that the next administration must be willing and politically courageous to hold together. Federalism speaks to a local government/governance imperative that instigates grassroots development founded on social capital and the subsidiarity principle. When development is genuinely taken to be about the people, then its dynamics must emanate from below, and within a rural and local governance context that unbundles the growth possibilities that could radiate democratic governance. This includes the traditional and informal apprenticeship system and the non-formal vocational training that could complement the formal educational training for the harnessing of Nigeria’s human capital for development. 


The Igbo apprenticeship system is a good case in point. This singular example brings to the fore how a local innovation can serve as the nexus for developmental policymaking. It is an educational initiative that brings a solid entrepreneurial spirit into the development equation. This provides a leeway for undermining the vicious cycle of unemployment, while also redirecting focus away from the government as the sole provider of everything. And this is just one example, among many, of how the government can harness the social capital and subsidiarity represented in the local government arrangement that has already been, to all intents and purposes, excised from the federal dynamics and the framework of stultifying centralization. 


The next government has a lot on its plate already. And what must be done must be dictated by the agonies of Nigerians who have had to suffer too much for the simple fact of being born into a country that lacks developmental leadership. The flash point of the urgent policy intelligence and direction are already clearly outlined in painful reliefs in the lives of Nigerians. Unemployment is not something that can be subject to bad politics that kills Nigerians. This is the politics that past governments have played. The next government cannot afford to do the same.      

 .  Olaopa is a retired Federal Permanent Secretary, and Professor, National Institute For Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, Jos.


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Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement



Readers’ Showers Of Encouragement

By Tony Afejuku
It is time for me to wake up in the New Year in my waking mind to catch the pictures of the unseen and seen inhabitants who help to make this column the stuff of dreams. These inhabitants are my readers whose words see me any time they come to me or are called up by music of words, showers of encouragement, that help to seize and define the column.
My readers help me to see and feel the beauty and truth, ever bright, ever potent, ever lovely, in the things I set my mind to all the times it tip-toes to the rosy sky with its lure of some-thingness. I quote now select readers:

On ASUU and the “conquistadors.”
Professor Ademola Da Sylva
TA, our TA! Your resilience is amazing, your uncommon focused energy and optimism have continued, so far, to serve as essential fuel that keeps the ASUU collective struggle steadily on course, and very assuredly to the expected end. There are tricksters and there are tricksters: when a trickster-character attempts to make a society worse than he meets it, the trickster always ends up unwittingly, burning its own boat! Ditto the Speaker of HoR under reference, a chief trickster indeed, and his current ruling Party. No country’s leadership treats its academics this shabbily and disdainfully with impunity without serious short-term and long-term repercussions. Any further delay on the part of the society in taking decisive actions against these clowns and self-styled “conquistadors” could lead to a permanent and further irreparable damage to Nigerians’ warped psyche, and any meaningful development in the country. TA, the payback time is surely nigh. Cheers.

Professor Ademola Da Sylva
TA, our TA, ageless and timeless! When this current ASUU struggle shall be over, predictably victoriously, and hopefully pretty soon, either the principalities in the current government like it, or not, your adorable portrait, and name written in bold gold, shall surely adorn a conspicuous place in the nation’s Hall of Fame!; but the tricksters, interlopers, who constitute themselves, lately into a bunch of elitist-Boko Haramists, shall similarly have their names in the nation’s Hall of Shame! Kudos for an essay well thought out, and lucidly crafted! My 2 Kobo appreciation! Cheers.

Professor Ibrahim Bello-Kano
Ha! Ha! Ha! You nailed the imbeciles once more. You’re quietly gathering a reputation as the Jonathan Swift of terrorist academic journalism or is it you as the columnist-academic-Professor terrorist? A student of mine said sometime ago that he would soon begin imitating your writing style. I told him in response that he should wait until he has mastered the language well enough. It’s not easy for a PG student to imitate a Professor!

Anonymous Reader
Dear Mr. Afejuku, good morning. I am always eager to read your write ups. You are among the three highly rated journalists in this country. I have learnt so much from you in both content and form. I am an Associate Professor in the Arts Faculty in UNICAL. Keep feeding our brains and minds with your grip of the language, your knowledge and your expertise in journalism. God bless you immeasurably. The unfortunate thing is that you are speaking to minds that are depraved and have been inhabited by demons. Demons know nothing but wickedness and oppression. However, there’s always a day of reckoning, where the chicken will always come home to roost. Thank you profusely, Sir. Accept the expression of my esteemed regards. Have a useful and fruitful week ahead, while I await your next write up, Sir.

READ ALSO: Pele: World King Of Football Had Warri Ancestry

A Reader from the Diaspora
Good afternoon, my dear Brother. Thanks for your usually brilliant piece. It is obvious that the intent of the Buhari administration is to drop the ASUU file for its successor. Perhaps a bilateral conversion with each of the leading presidential candidates should be considered. Have a Blessed day and weekend.

Anonymous Reader
Good morning, Sir. I appreciate your thoughtful article on the trickster beggars, and I love the inclusion of the allegories from the erstwhile FIFA World Cup, where professionals behaved like true professionals, upholding the integrity of the game by employing the best human and electronic resources to get the best out of the game. In our national climate, the different interest groups and personages in government and not in government, who begged ASUU to call off or suspend the strike, suddenly went mute. Even press and media personages involved in the begging charade are now fully engrossed in the flimsy stories of distraction created by the CBN sector and the Naira. The courts, which were employed by the FGN to force the lecturers to pick up their chalk by force, have ceased from advocating for the truth regarding the debilitating decay in the educational segment. A handful of those columnists, like you, who maintained a respectful distance and wrote about it truthfully, decently, genuinely, are now vindicated for writing objectively and absorbingly about the subject of begging and taking a stand. CONUA or whatever the alleged traitors of academics are called, are allowing themselves to be used to be playing a nauseating game against their mother union and colleagues.
SSANU members did not get their due for listening to the beggars. Now we are all waiting… Waiting… waiting…, while the present administration prepares for their swan song by inflicting financial pains on the populace with un-thoughtful money policies.

On Pele: World King of Football
Professor Owojecho Omoha:
Were you there at the invention moments of capture theory? You theorize the admiration of King Pele to recapture the attention of the world on coach Izilien. This vibrancy of your memory lives in poets, and only poets memorably work passionately to capture the attention of readers, the way you do, Afejuku. The year has begun with your poetry. Hold further passionate lyrics till you capture the attention of the world on Nigeria, when Coach Izilien and the rest of us shall dance gracefully turning backs on the criminals in February. This happiness makes greater sense, when you shall turn the attention of the world on Nigerians who survive the dark years in our history.

On Pele’s Warri ancestry
Professor Owojecho Omoha
A true African writer must be traditional in spite of the burden of modernity, from the ancestry, and again, back to the traditions that we know. This piece scores high on both points.

Suyi Ayodele
Passion and passionate passion! Now to our Waffi enclave. Pele was a Waffi Boy? This is a bad suspense and only a poet does that! I have started counting the day, to next Friday! Good morning, Sir.

Suyi Ayodele (On Pele’s Warri ancestry)
Nobody, I repeat, nobody can dispute those revelations. I sat in divination sessions with my late uncle. Reading this piece brought back graphic images of those times. The Ifa priest was right, is right and will eternally be right. This is one of your best I have ever read. How did we abandon that plain religion, IFA? And about your younger brother, pity that you folks did not do what Ifa prescribed. It is always like that with Ifa, the Atori Eni ti o suhan se (The repairer of humanity). I would have personally ‘bewitched’ you if you have not written this! VINTAGE AFEJUKU!!!!!

READ ALSO: Pele: Coach Izilien Revises His Memory

Professor Olu Obafemi (On Pele’s Warri ancestry)
This is a very fascinating treatise, especially because of its crisscross transcendent of the abstractive ineffable to the physical/archaeological referents. The narrative’s rhetorical strategy is suspenseful with the capacity to provoke insatiable yearnings for the remit of the story. These days Africans in the Diaspora are Evoking DNA identity/Descent retrieval. Unfortunately, Pele has left.

Professor Sony Awhefeada (On Pele’s Warri Ancestry)
This is thoughtful, enriching and instructive. I wish you published this when Pele was alive he would have come home. And how is your younger brother now? I am really moved.

Nonso, Owerri resident (On Pele’s Warri ancestry)
Good evening, Afejuku. I am totally intrigued by your write up on Pele’s Warri ancestry. I am enchanted with the eloquence of your pen that glides through the white sheet of paper and the attendant satisfaction that gladdened my heart to have stumbled upon this great literary work. Allow me to say that the article is un-putdown-able and the accuracy of the Divine revelation of the Ifa Priest should be announced to the world. Who knows? Or may-be Pele’s offspring may be interested in knowing the tree they were carved from … Thank you for the great work.

Professor Dan Chima Amadi (On Pele’s Warri ancestry)
Good, good historical touch. I could not stop.

Roland Uyimulam Aleshi, from Calabar (On Pele’s Warri ancestry)
Greetings, Mr. Afejuku, I read your well researched write-up on Pele’s Warri ancestry. You impressed me a lot with useful information and updates on Pele’s Warri ancestry ties. Well done.

READ ALSO: On Pele’s Warri Ancestry

Professor Mabel Evwierhoma (On Pele’s Warri ancestry)
I agree (from personal experience) that the art of divination is a means of finding out deep truths. We could know more, from such researches, but how can they be untainted by the factors of selectivity and monetary inducements? – May we know that which will not lead to perdition.

What do I say other than to thank my readers and readers, listed and un-listed, whose words charm me beyond any measurable afflatus? My nib gives applause to your lovely music of words – whose peroration I charm myself to let be.
Afejuku can be reached via 08055213059.

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