by Oyebanjo Farroukh (Change Nigeria Group)
This open letter stems from the concerns of young Nigerians about the growth of this nation at snail speed. It is an issue which gnaws at every well meaning citizen whose hopes has been rekindled by the coming into power of President Goodluck Jonathan as the first civilian president from a minority group in Nigeria. It is therefore pertinent that we also state our immediate needs which we believe will be a short and long term practical solution to the seemingly irrevocable hitch inherent in the nation’s marrow.
The first appeal is the reconstitution of the entire education system. It is solely the first and major step to the sustainable socio-economic growth of any developing nation. The Short-term needs which can be urgently implemented includes the rehabilitation of existing infrastructure, the provision of basic resources and materials that are required to provide an educational environment that promotes teaching and learning. There should also be a focus on teacher’s retraining and capacity building and teachers should as a matter of urgency, be provided with professional development and in-service training as necessary, to increase their performance in the classroom and subsequently, help their students to succeed academically.
It is impossible to have the quality of education that is expected in the 21st Century within a context of poor infrastructures and limited resources. The long term needs, which are also imperative is the need for massive infrastructural development- including laboratories and libraries, the gradual re-introduction of the boarding system into Public Schools, investment in research and development in the universities.
The second appeal is that the official remuneration of every level of Political office, Federal, State and Local should be well structured in accordance with the minimum wage of the country. If a senator earns little above a level 14 Civil Servant, public offices will be seen as a responsibility for selfless service to the nation and not a means of embezzling public funds and gutting taxpayer’s money.
The third appeal is the Shifting of the country’s focus on oil revenue which is paramount due to the fact that harsh weather condition and change in climate has been known to affect some natural resources, though Oil is yet to be confirmed as one of such resources, no one knows what the future holds. Agriculture, fish farming, coal, recycling and empowerment of the SME industry would really impact on the economic growth of the nation. Infrastructural development will come easy as the only thing deterring its sustainability is illiteracy on the part of the citizens and lack of maintenance culture on the part of the Federal Government. Every infrastructure, be it electricity, road, water and housing being contracted out must included a maintenance and warranty period; warranty in the sense that, the construction company must be held liable if the infrastructure dilapidates before a certain period.
Fourthly, the entertainment industry, Nollywood, should be used to propagate positive views about the country which will in turn reflect on our image in the international sphere. Foreign media will be employed too, to strongly boost positive news and occurrence in the country and play down negative ones. It has nothing to do with the freedom of press; it is simply an adaptation of the social responsibility theory of the media.
The fifth need boils down to the judiciary system. They need to be highly empowered with the ability to administer justice effectively without hindrance, interference or influence from powers that be. There is need for the reform of the system and introduction of new policies which will hasten up court cases and ensure that equity, fairness and justice is practiced at all time as delayed justice is no justice at all.
Lastly, The Police force needs total re-orientation and empowerment. It is evident from their activities that they lack standard equipment and resources to curb crime. This is not just the provision of new armory and compact vehicles, although that is also necessary, but the training of every member of the force on ways to curb 21st century crimes.
If all these needs are attended to, we will promote sustainable development which will bring rapid results hereby reducing the envisaged year of attaining a developed nation status to 2015.