67% of Nigerians live one tragedy away from a single disaster…
Mama Bola is the mother of 3 girls, aged 14, 10, and 4. She sells tomato at Bodija Bus Stop in Ibadan. Her husband is the vulcanizer in Akobo Street. They live in a one-bedroom face-me- I-face-you apartment not far from Bodija Bustop. Mama Bisi did not finish secondary school; she had to drop out due to financial reasons.
She’d like to send all her girls to school but the couple are having a hard time paying for school fees for the girls since her husband had that accident 5 months ago at work. He can’t work and no one will hire a one-handed man to change tires. He is depressed and he sleeps all day.
Mama Bisi was worried until she heard about the new government policy that will help her make ends meet. Her neighbour told her that Glo Mobile and GTB Bank are working together to create Nai-Nai accounts. As soon as she registers her Glomobile SIM card with GTB bank, she will receive her monthly allocation of N25, 000 in her Nai-Nai account on her phone. Last week she registered and she is looking forward to paying her daughters’ school fees. In fact she is thinking of starting a Nai-Nai kiosk so she can stop selling tomato and get other women to patronise her.
Mama Bisi is not real, although there are millions of women like her living desperate lives all over the country. 67% of Nigerians live one tragedy away from a single disaster that is surely to bring complete financial ruin.
The purpose of this article is to flesh out the roadmap to the idea I discussed here last week. The idea is simple. Nigerians own all the revenue from natural resource extraction and rather than use their share of this revenue to support inefficient subsidies that never actually reach them, it will be better if the cash actually helps people live easier lives. I remain convinced that the purpose of governance is to make life easier.
Above all, I also believe that it will give my countrymen the overwhelming incentive to demand for good governance. The idea of actually empowering Nigerians in measurable steps is incredibly radical. The powers that be, the corrupt and incompetent, the monopolist and the cabals all have the incentive to derail this and as such we must find a counterweight to their influence.
Recently, a commenter on this blog informed me that the Petroleum Industry Bill actually had this provision but was struck down by the Legislature. This is to be expected. This idea, if it works, will take power away from them and diffuse it in the hands of the governed. It will make Nigeria a true democracy and this terrifies our current leaders.
But if we use the power of the collective, and coalesce all our skills and resources, we can get our country back. All members of the Nigerian Civil Society should debate the merit of this idea, make changes to it so it fits the Nigerian local context and propose a bill. Public discussion should be held and prominent people should have an adult discussion on the bill.
The modern history of Nigeria is best illustrated by the great triumph of the private sector. The reform of the telecommunication industry, the renaissance of the banking industry and countless other examples show the operational superiority of the Nigerian private sector. We should allow the banks to work out the details of the biometric exercise by agreeing to pay each client that registers a small sum just like India did.
Another example is the Berlin Facebook ID system; Nigeria can use this already widely popular platform to officially launch this idea.
The modern Nigerian ethos is dotted by massive public policy failures. No matter what the idea is, somehow successive Nigerian governments, find ways to screw it up. I will suggest that a constant feedback loop exists between the government and the Nigerian people.
Overall the idea stands for itself. It can change everything and finally help get our country back from those who take from the citizens to feed their insatiable corruption. This is a way. One hopes that the usual suspects will gather themselves together and get behind this idea that collective action can change everything.
This is our chance.