Sowore’s Challenge is for the Good of the Citizen

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By Udora Orizu

Omoyele Sowore is a human rights activist, blogger, Writer, lecturer. He is the founder and publisher of the much-cited SaharaReporters, a website of citizen journalism, supplying videos, photos, news stories and commentaries.

Mr. Sowore is an indigene of Ondo State. He was born on February 16, 1971 in the Niger Delta region of the country where he was also raised. He studied Geography and Planning at the University of Lagos and holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Colombia University. He teaches Modern African History at the City University of New York and Post Colonial African History at the School of Art, New York. On February 25, 2018, Sowore announced his intention to run for President in the 2019 general election. In August 2018, he founded a political party, the African Action Congress (AAC). He emerged unchallenged as the presidential flagbearer for the party.

Security

For the last three decades, Nigeria has become an increasingly dangerous place. Militancy, kidnappings and terrorism have been on the rise. No one is safe from this growing menace. Our government will remain supportive of the amnesty program with a view towards emphasizing the creation of sustainable job opportunities for participants. We believe that the underlying causes of the conflict are the lack of opportunities in the oil producing regions, the wanton neglect of the communities by successive governments and the abuse of the environment. We pledge that the long delayed environmental restoration of the oil induced pollution in the Niger Delta will commence and all parties with an obligation for the clean up of the environment in the Niger Delta will have to discharge their duties in a timely manner. Thousands of Nigerians have lost their lives to the farmer, herdsmen conflict over the last decade. Comprehensive solutions to the crisis will require the transformation of the cattle rearing business in Nigeria from a pastoral approach to a commercial ranching model.

To this end our government will work to support the establishment of commercial ranches, proximate to hydrological zones that can provide access to the year round water resources required for use by the animals as well as for the irrigation of the land to plant forage crops and grass during the dry season. We will intensify the war against Boko Haram, provide better security to communities that are susceptible to the attack by Boko Haram. We will enhance collaboration with neighbouring nations and countries that are engaged in the global war terror, no stone will be left unturned and no potential partnership will be ignored in the battle against Boko Haram. We will use technology like drones and satellite monitoring to ensure that there are eyes on all vulnerable areas at all times, to prevent tragedies such as what happened at Chibok and Dapchi from ever occurring again. As criminals and crime networks become more sophisticated, increasingly utilizing cyber technologies, our government capacity to respond should be equally sophisticated. We will promote the development of advanced cyber crimes law enforcement capabilities.

Infrastructure

Economic growth is facilitated and enabled by robust infrastructure. For road, It is the goal of our government to double Nigeria’s road infrastructure within four years. The associated costs will be about $283 billion, at an assumed cost of $1.4 million per km. We will emphasize the creation of dual carriage ways that will enhance safety expand the capacity to use roads for supporting trade and commerce, our infrastructure development program will strongly emphasize inter-regional connectivity. For rail, it is the goal of our government to double Nigeria’s rail infrastructure within four years. Priority will be given to rail projects that enhance commerce, link farms to markets and facilitate the ready movements of persons and goods across Nigeria. Housing, Nigeria has a housing deficit of about 17 million units. We estimate that this massive building project will cover as much as 8.5 million acres across the country, with an estimated market value of about N1.275 trillion ($3.64billion). Our housing sector programs will be enabled by government but driven by partnerships between the private and public sectors. On Sanitation, Nigeria continues to lag in its ability to provide clean drinking water and sewage treatment facilities to it’s people. In our first four years, we aim to provide drinking water to an additional 30% of Nigerians and sewage treatment to 20 percent of Nigerians. At an assumed per capita water usage rate of about 40 gallons per day, we estimate that 1,347 million gallons per sewage capacity and 2,021 million gallons per day of drinking water capacity would be required.

Economy

Nigeria is a rich and blessed nation. However our economy has not performed at a level that commensurate with the energy and abilities of our people. The three major planks of economic growth that we will focus on are leveraging technology for growth, promoting small businesses and strengthening manufacturing sector. We will support the emergence of globally relevant software and ICT technology markets in Nigeria. One technology hub will be created in each of the geopolitical zones. These hubs will provide highly subsidized rents to ICT firms and encourage the emergence of creativity ecosystems. Our government will promote small businesses through provision of affordable loans, development of small business innovation fund that will provide up to N 1 million in non-dilutive equity funding for breakthrough ideas, creation of new bureau for small business enterprise to be charged with the task of driving the growth of small business enterprises. Nigeria’s manufacturing sector is in shambles, we will ensure that the Nigerian manufacturer and the Nigerian economy get a fair deal out of a any transitional trade agreements.

Health

Nigeria’s health care system is in shambles. Hospitals are poorly equipped and chronic shortage of health care personnel across the country. The goals of our health care policy would be to enhance access and improved quality. Our government will improve health care access by deploying 160,000 new primary health care workers across Nigeria’s 774 local government areas, this will ensure that each LGA has at least about 207 new primary health care personnel. We will also set minimum resource standards at the state and local levels and ensure that these requirements are used as a basis for deploying resources and benchmark performance across the entire sector. In addition to finding a greater role for public- private- partnership (PPP), we will evaluate the following additional means for funding health care based on contributions from the private sector and religious organizations. Reform the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), working with all stakeholders in the health care sector we will institute urgent reforms that will assure high quality access to enrolees and ensure that providers are fairly rewarded for all services rendered. A significant effort will be expended by our government towards providing robust training at the PHC level to shore up the capabilities and skills of our frontline healthcare workers.

Education

Nigeria’s educational system is in crisis. Public schools have been diminished and many in our universities and tertiary institutions are places where functional illiterates are trained. Our government educational sector programs will address the following: aim for full enrolment for all children at the primary and secondary school level, integrate Almajari institutions into the mainstream educational system, assure sufficient and adequate funding for schools, invest in research and development and utilize universities and other tertiary institutions for the economic growth through innovation and restore vocational training and instructional institutions to provide required technical skills for a growing economy as well as to offer a viable alternative career path for our youth and children.

Agriculture

Prior to the discovery of oil, agriculture was the mainstay of Nigeria’s economy. Our agriculture policy will have three strategic goals: create employment opportunities, promote and boost the production of agricultural produce as a major foreign income earner and enhance food security. Our policy focus areas includes provide access to factors of production at affordable rates, farmers and other players in the agricultural sector struggle to access affordable loans, we will facilitate access to affordable loans and review the existing land use laws to ease the use of farmed government owned lands as collateral for loans. Leverage the federal government’s bargaining power to enable access to preferential purchase terms from agricultural equipment and product suppliers, strengthen extension services with a virile agricultural sector relies on a network of strong extension services allied with agricultural educational institutions and targeted research institutions and organizations that develop advanced methods for cultivating crops and animals and bring such knowledge to the attention of farmers and other players in the agricultural sector. Create a platform for agricultural entrepreneurs to emerge and a platform to facilitate market access for farmers.