Open Letter To Nigeria’s President-Elect Muhammadu Buhari, By Chukwuemeri Uduchukwu
Sir, permit me to congratulate you once more on your victory in the March 28 Presidential election. You have indeed proved that there is a reward for consistency and faith in the democratic process. The massive votes you received from the masses signify the trust of the citizens on you to take Nigeria to a greater height.
Your Excellency, as you prepare for the noble tax ahead, it is very necessary to adhere to the following advice.
AVOID SYCOPHANTS: Sycophants are major catalysts to the failure of many governments all over the world. For any government to succeed, it must always surround itself with men of high integrity and whose morals can never be compromised by selfish interests. Your predecessor, outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan would have performed better if he surrounded himself with men with high level of honesty. President Jonathan’s main agents of failure are those greedy men that delighted in offering him unnecessary praises instead of nourishing him with realities on ground. I pray such will never be your experience. May God prevent you from sycophants.
MAKE CRITICS YOUR BEST FRIENDS: The fact remains that criticism is the major blood booster of government. This is because it helps the government to get wider logical views on it’s policies. Always see your critics as your best friends and always see it as a necessity to address the issues they raise. Ignoring criticisms or launching verbal attacks on your critics will be a first step to your failure. However, addressing issues raised by your critics no matter how bitter they may be will always promote the goodwill of your government and make it ‘government of the people’.
AVOID BOOK OF VOWS: As proved by your election, Nigerians are now politically wiser and are ever ready to judge your performance by evaluating the level at which you fulfill your promises. Act more and promise less. Your predecessor delighted in increasing pages of his book of vows instead of doing the needful. Always be sincere with your words and never make unrealistic declarations. Your recent honest comment on the missing Chibok girls is very encouraging. This is because since the girls have spent 365 days in the den of terrorists, it will be suicidal to assure Nigerians that you must bring them back. Your assurance that your government will do all it can to rescue them is acceptable. Keep it up!
MAKE THE STATE-OWNED MEDIA INDEPENDENT: It is very unfortunate that the state-owned media outlets are always puppets of any government in power that never see anything wrong with the government. Sir, you will make history if your government grants the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) absolute independence by sponsoring a bill that will grant the commission full rights to oversee the affairs of state-owned media outlets including recruitments, payment of salaries and allowances, finance and staff discipline in the media outlets. If necessary, initiate another constitution amendment over that. The commission directors and director-general should be elected by the staff of those media outlets who should also have the right to remove them when they deviate from the commission’s principles. Statutory allocations to the commission should also be provided for the commission through which it can perform its financial obligations to the state-owned media outlets. These will definitely grant those media outlets undiluted independence and enable them to perform their watch-dog duty creditably.
PARTNER WITH INDEPENDENT MEDIA: Independent media outlets which include independent radio and television stations, as well as independent print and online news papers are also necessary in keeping the government accountable. Your government should always see them as partners and not enemies or agents of the opposition. Always make out time to invite them to participate fully in every live presidential media chat. This will make the media chats more people oriented.
INITIATE A SCORE-CARD FORUM: In the spirit of accountability, your government should at least once in a month organize a forum in which various ministers will be invited to inform Nigerians about their policies and the level at which they have been implemented, the forum which should always be aired live by television and radio stations in the country should be programmed in such a way that the public can participate by either phoning in, tweeting with provided hashtag or posting comments through facebook. The score-card forum should always be chaired by you and you should always during the live aired programme, present disengagement letter to any minister whose presentations in the programme are below expectations. This will certainly confirm to the ministers that there is no more business as usual and with that, they will be always willing to perform creditably.
REFORM AND ALWAYS EQUIP THE NATION’S INSTITUTIONS: It is very necessary for your government to embark on comprehensive reforms in various institutions of the federation like the police, military, immigration, navy, airforce, EFCC, DSS, ICPC and FIRS. These reformations should include enlightening of those institutions’ officials and employees on their obligations to the nation and citizens as well as providing all necessary working equipments and materials for them always. Also, the officials and employees of these institutions should be adequately funded by government. This is because many officials and employees of those institutions had with events in the past, proved that they don’t even know their functions and are not even aware of the fundamental human rights of the citizens, and have been poorly equipped. Also, many of them engaged themselves in corrupt practices because of lack of adequate funding. The reforms should also establish an agency within each of the institutions that will be charged with the responsibility of promoting transparency, discipline and accountability. Such agency in each institution should also, always ensure that each institution under it carry out it’s functions without fear or favour and that human rights are ever respected in the institution’s activities. By promoting transparency and accountability, corruption which is a major agent of setback, will be prevented in those institutions and Nigeria at large.
ENSURE THAT ONLY EXPERTS RECEIVE YOUR APPOINTMENTS: One of the problems of past governments in Nigeria is that they appointed politicians instead of experts to head various ministries, agencies and parastatals. They also awarded contracts to politicians instead of professionals and these played major role in the downfall of their governments. Always ensure that every ministry, agency and parastatal is headed by experts in those fields. For example, a professor who may be a current or former vice chancellor or rector of a federal university or polytechnic is more qualified to head the education ministry. It will be an insult to the nation’s education sector to appoint a politician or somebody without adequate education knowledge to head the education ministry. Always ensure that various ministries, agencies and parastatals are managed by experts in those fields.
MAKE PUBLIC OFFICES LESS ATTRACTIVE THROUGH A BILL: You will be ever remembered by history if your government initiate a bill that will heavily reduce the financial and material benefits of elected or appointed public officials and representatives. The bill should also provide for the total scrapping of all unnecessary allowances and material benefits provided for various elected or appointed public officials and representatives. The bill should make provisions that will totally transform public offices from money-making avenues to servant-positions. If necessary, initiate a constitution amendment over that. Such will scare greedy persons away from governance and encourage persons with selfless character to occupy the government.
TAKE THE WHOLE NIGERIA AS YOUR CONSTITUENCY: Moreover sir, it is very necessary to always take all the six geopolitical zones and the federal capital territory as your constituency. Always treat every part of the country equally regardless of their ethnicity, religion or political affiliation. That will definitely promote unity in our dear nation and encourage our democracy.
ALWAYS NOTE THAT POWER BELONGS TO THE PEOPLE: Finally Sir, always bear in mind that your victory at the 2015 presidential poll was championed by Nigerians and not your political party the All Progressives Congress (APC). Also note that from the very moment that you take your oath of office and allegiance, your loyalty is transferred from the APC to Nigerians and if you fail to perform within four years, Nigerians are ever ready to effect another change by disgracing you with their votes in 2019.
I wish you all the best in office and May God continue to guide and protect you.
God Bless Nigeria.