By Nseobong Okon-Ekong
Asukwo Mendie Archibong, presidential candidate of Nigeria for Democracy (NFD) has written and published a document containing his vision for development of Nigeria. His ‘Contract With Nigeria’ is the springboard that the NFD hopes to use to ‘Take Back Nigeria’. The party insists that it is time for the people of the country to enjoy the fruits and benefit of democracy. The NFD believes that it is time to properly govern the country and time to exhibit a high level of competence in the administration of the country. Archibong is a US-trained attorney.
The challenges facing the power sector are inadequate generation of power, inadequate and delayed maintenance of facilities, insufficient funding of the power stations, obsolete
equipment, lack of exploration to tap all sources of energy from the available resources. To resolve these challenges we must do the following: (a) Generate power from diverse sources such as Solar Energy, Wind Energy, Nuclear Energy, Hydro-Electric Power, Thermal or Fossil Fuel Power including Coal Fired and Gas Turbine; (b) Break up the monopoly of the Transmission Company of Nigeria; (c) Create redundancies in the power transmission infrastructure of Nigeria; (d) Distribute power to all areas of Nigeria; (e) Protect the power infrastructure of Nigeria from all internal or foreign attacks; (f) Improve government oversight of the companies involved in the power sector
Strong Economy and Job Creation
With a vibrant teeming youth population, we need to provide an enabling environment for the creation of jobs. Our youths need to be kept gainfully employed. The enabling environment entails providing constant power supply, a safe and secure Nigeria, and good transportation network, amongst other things. This will increase Foreign Direct Investments in the country. This will also encourage Nigerians outside the country to return home and contribute to the country. It will also increase our industrial base in the country.
It will take bold leadership to keep the few remaining industries within the country and attract other industries to come to Nigeria. Thus we must provide appropriate incentives for the few remaining industries to stay. We must also improve our banking sector, so that everyone can comfortably have an account. The fees charged by banks must be removed or reduced where appropriate. We must increase urban and rural area access to banks. The present percentage of less than five per cent of rural area access to banking facilities is abysmally low. Next step would be to invest in our technological base so we can compete globally. We will provide a nurturing base for our creative technology companies to grow. In this regard we will improve our Intellectual Property Laws so as to protect the intellectual property of our innovators and inventors. We will also reduce the tariffs charged by the telecommunication companies, which is really one of the highest in the world and provide free WIFI to technology hubs or schools to spur development and innovation.
We will also remove oil subsidies so it can be used to develop our transportation system in the country. This money can be used to stimulate the economy by developing capital projects
that will lead to job creation for our graduates coming off the National Youth Service Corp year. We will start out with low hanging fruits such as encouraging companies to situate their
call centers and support centers in Nigeria. The availability of jobs serve as an enticement for our youths to go to school, remain in school and perform well. We have one of the most active and productive youths in the world today. We must give them the tools to succeed. We must create an enabling environment so that jobs are created in both the private and public sectors of the economy.
A Safe and Secure Nigeria
We must have a Safe and Secure Nigeria. The World Economic Forum recently released their Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, which analysis the state of the travel and tourism sectors in 136 countries around the globe. Nigeria unfortunately was ranked the fifth worst country to visit. We must recognize that life is important and we must respect the sanctity of life. Life is without duplicate. Where there is life there is hope. We must take bold steps to protect every
Nigerian wherever they may be. We must take bold steps to create a safe and secure Nigeria such that when we send our children to school, we know they will come back home to us. When you become an affluent member of the society, you are not at risk of being kidnapped. When you are a government official you do not need a contingent of fierce looking policemen attached to you just to keep you safe.
We must ensure a safe and secure Nigeria so there is not one person who is internally displaced in Nigeria. In the North East and North Central Nigeria, there are two million internally displaced persons. It is heart-breaking that due to the wanton killings and lack of security Nigerians are being forced out of their ancestral homes. We must have peace in Nigeria and create a safe and secure Nigeria.
To have a peaceful Nigeria we must begin by taking bold steps to improve, strengthen, and professionalize the security agencies of this country. We must improve information gathering in the country so as to prevent crime. We must take bold steps to ensure that everyone feels included in the economic reward of a strong Nigeria. It is clear that where there is unfair and disparate distribution of wealth and the exclusion of people from the fruits of the economy, there can be no meaningful security. Therefore we must make all Nigerians feel that they are a part of the economic success of this country. Only then will we have a safe and secure Nigeria.
Furthermore, we must restructure the police force in Nigeria and adopt State Police. We must give the states more power to provide security for their citizens. The present situation where the power is solely in the hands of the President does not reflect the type of policing in stabilized countries where there is peace.
We must refrain from using the military for internal policing. We must refrain from using the police force as the personal police force of privileged Nigerians such as politicians, clergymen, businessmen and those who can afford to pay. We must move away from the “pay and carry” policing. This is a situation where you pay money and a policeman is assigned to
Free and Improved Healthcare System
As President of Nigeria, I will not seek medical attention outside of the country. We have Nigerians as medical doctors all over the world and within the country of Nigeria. We must develop a programme whereby we encourage those within the country to remain. Improve the environment they work in. Ensure that the drugs entering into this country are the right drugs and stop the importation of fake drugs. Strengthen our research and development process for the manufacture of drugs.
Our hospitals must be moved from mere consultation centres to world-class fully operational hospitals. We must invite and provide the right environment for Nigerian doctors outside of Nigeria to return and help with the healthcare system in Nigeria. I have never seen the president of any other country run to Nigeria for medical treatment. Thus as President of Nigeria, I will not run to any other country for medical treatment. Consequently we must improve our healthcare and make it free.