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ON November 6, 2012, the United States of America (USA) held its general elections, including Congress and presidential elections. The focus was on the presidential election involving the Democratic Party, represented by the incumbent President Barack Obama, and the Republican Party, represented by Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts. The race to the White House was tough and close, but neither the incumbent President nor his arch-challenger, nor indeed any of their supporters, was involved in an “accident” or killed by “armed robbers” or “hired assassins”.

Matters Arising

IT is axiomatic that the political independence granted Nigeria about fifty-two years ago (in October, 1960) has not yielded the much anticipated dividends for the country, fifty-two years on. The nation is still finding it very difficult to figure out what style of government it should adopt to make some headway. At first, it was the Westminster system inherited from the British colonial masters that held sway. Then came the military interregnum, an aberration that stared the nation hard in the face for upward of almost thirty years, during which period the nation went from the sublime to the ridiculous as the founding Constitution was rendered nugatory and hors de combat.

During the military interregnum, the Federal Republic of Nigeria was transmuted into a unitary state except for the title of the "the Federal Military Government", which operated in the realm of unitarism rather than of federalism. The scar is still clearly visible. During the military era, opposition was banished into oblivion, and socio-economic and political recklessness held sway. The military injected its order-from-the-highest-command style of administration into the Nigerian body politic, and, as it were,  wild life was let loose on the Nigerian populace! Nigeria was plunged into a civil war that lasted for  almost three years and which claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and destroyed valuable property. The period also witnessed the birth of rancid nepotism, corruption and tribalism (ethnicity), with all their negative consequences that continue to plague the nation today. A slothful civil service was also born during the regime of the military.

We give credit to Nigerians and to God that Nigeria still remains a country, albeit beleaguered by towering insecurity challenges. After the military, successive civilian administrations supervened, which tend to rival the military in iniquities. At 52, the country’s infrastructure is still primordial, despite advanced new technologies. Transportion for commuters and the means of transportation of goods and services have been crippled; Nigerian roads have been turned into death-traps; waterways are un-navigable and the aviation industry is comatose.

The government has not adequately addressed the tolerance level among Nigerians; some Nigerians have to hide their national identity to be relevant or recognized. The multicultural and multilingual nation of diverse peoples, with more than 250 distinct languages and ethnic groups, sees  itself, first as a group of diverse and irreconcilable ethnic nationalities instead of a united nation of Nigeria.

Democracy that is patterned after the American presidential system has yielded the opposite effect characterized by rank corruption, which cuts across all strata of the nation's socio-economic life. Unfortunately, none of the anti-graft agencies, such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or its sister, the ICPC, is powerful enough to stem the tide of Nigeria's systemic corruption.

Nigeria remains a country of consumers and has failed to empower the people economically; it has closed its doors on the basic needs of the country, refusing, thereby, to fully utilize the available arable lands for agriculture, as little or no attention is paid to the manufacturing industries.

Poverty is writ large on the faces of most Nigerians on the streets, in work places, in places of worship, homes, etc. Yet, until the country stops being a consumer nation, with full fledged manufacturing industries, the level of poverty will continue to challenge any progress on the pathway to the 20/2020 vision.

Medical services in Nigeria have shortened the life-spans of many a Nigerian to 48.3 years. Quite a large number of Nigerians are transferred abroad for medical services that could have been provided in Nigeria given the availability of the requisite infrastructural facilities and the concomitant ethical services.

Nigerian diversities, which ought to have strengthened the country, have polarized the nation to the advantage of the actors at the helm of affairs. They have failed to build on the solid structure laid by the past Nigerian leaders, such as Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sir Michael Okpara, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Herbert Macaulay, among others.

What direction is the country going? Is there any hope for the average Nigerian in the nation's fifty-second birthday? For how long will Nigerians wait to get things done right in the country? How would Nigeria be among the twenty economically viable countries in the year 2020, which is about eight years from now, if there is no peaceful co-existence? We dare answer these questions in the negative. It is clear, however, that Nigerians as a collectivity that will be, and can be, the architects to re-design the country to achieve the new look for themselves, to the satisfaction of the founding fathers and to the greater glory of God. We strongly believe this is a possibility.

Any transformation agenda can only create an enabling environment for better services. We should stop wasting human resources, stop encouraging religious and ethnic intolerance. We should, on the contrary, transform the mindset of the average Nigerian, canalizing it into positive channels. Nigeria must be great again. She must start tapping its human and natural resources to the fullest, resources which God has endowed the country with and which other countries around the world are taking full advantage of.

The Nigerian Government needs to be more transparent in governance, to strengthen its institutions to sustain the country for generations to come. Its civil and public services should focus on human-capacity building to make the government a continuum. Nigerians should be working towards regaining its lost glory to survive as one nation under God.

THERE has been much concern about the health of Patience Jonathan, wife of the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Presidency denied when the news broke out in late August 2012, that she was transported to Horst Schmidt Klinik Hospital in Germany for medical attention. The nature of her illness has developed from food poisoning, ruptured appendicitis, full body work including tummy tuck, Parkinson, and Uterine cancer. Nigerians empathize with the number one Nigerian citizen on Patience’s medical distress.

FOR the Nigerian Government, fighting corruption is an uphill task, particularly in a corruption-ridden ethos, which has become systemic in the country. The Obasanjo administration came on somewhat boldly to establish government agencies to fight corruption. The Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) were cases in point. They have been working on the slippery hill to fight corruption since then without any positive effect to show for the all-motion-without-movement efforts. Any attempt that is made to fight the monster creates an opportunity for the cankerworm, which corruption in Nigeria has become, to spread.

THE single tenure of six or seven years, for the President and the Governors, effective 2015, which is the French model to replace the present Nigeria presidential system imported from America, has been gratuitously misinterpreted to mean a tenure elongation for the President. The proposal of the single six or seven year tenure could be seen as lacking the contents and purposefulness demanded by today’s Nigeria marketplace.

Anyone suggesting that the proposed tenure of six or seven year’s policy would allow the President and Governors to complete their programs within that period would be a democracy neophyte. On the other hand it could be inane on the part of some Nigerian leaders to presume that the four-year term is too short for them to perform.

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