My Humble Advice for President Muhammadu Buhari

By Dele Momodu.

Fellow Nigerians, let me say emphatically that the moment we all dreaded has finally arrived. It is unfortunate that the falcon did not hear the falconer. Nigerian leaders behaved like Nigerians were nonentities, idiots, slaves, donkeys and all what not. Week after week, I have been writing, begging and praying that President Muhammadu Buhari and his goons would not drag us to Golgotha.

I’m very sure that even now, my President is unable to see the handwriting on the wall. I wonder what he’s being told by his kitchen cabinet and hordes of advisers. I won’t be surprised, if in their typical arrogance the President is being told that this is the handiwork of a few rabble-rousers or at the very worst, opposition elements. They even dismiss the protests as a terrorist act that must be crushed. They will soon introduce ethnicity and religion. Let me assure this government that those permutations will only make matters worse.

I pray the Federal Government won’t make the mistake of opting for a violent response. These protesters are too smart to allow hooligans hijack their well-thought out struggle. They are even smarter by not allowing any individual claim ownership of this fantastic intervention, which has been long overdue. The State Governors who are still deluding themselves will soon receive common sense when the youths who have been impoverished for too long spill into the streets. They made the mistake of ignoring the massive army of employed youths for too long. It is now pay back time. What I love is the decision of the organizers to take the art and science of passive resistance to a higher level. It is a game of who will blink first. And this lot are not ready to blink at all.

What started as a simple agenda of curbing police brutality has since snowballed into asking for a total overhaul of the dilapidated and oppressive Nigerian State. No reasonable Nigerian can demand for less. If Buhari decides to be reticent and refuses to restructure the lopsidedness that’s too palpable in this government, these youths are willing and ready to borrow him the ideas that will move our long-suffering nation out of the doldrums. Let me take the liberty of laying out the fantastic proposal for a new Nigerian envisioned by the protesters. I do not see them as antagonizing the different arms of government. Instead, I see it as a blueprint for reconciliation and regeneration. Buhari should thank them for doing what the National Assembly has failed to consider and execute:

“ We recognize that this moment is the culmination of decades of dissatisfaction over the decay and corruption of our dear country, Nigeria.
We find the unhealthy haste to fashion a unit termed “SWAT” to be a misrepresentation of the 5for5 demand. It is not enough.
This protest is beyond #EndSARS, #EndSWAT, #EndPoliceBrutality. This movement is for the soul of Nigeria. We are demanding a systemic overhaul of governance and institutional reforms as the barest minimum. We are better than what obtains presently; we demand progress.

We are not vain agitators. We are clear-eyed youths and professionals in our respective fields who are tired of the way and manner our dear country has been run aground by successive administrations. We cannot idly stand by whilst our future and that of our children are mortgaged.
Below is the updated 7-point demand that concerned citizens are asking from the government.

1) INSTITUTIONAL REFORMS (SECURITY)

That the 5-point demand to release arrested protesters, compensate families of victims, investigate and prosecute all reports of misconduct, proscribe SARS and review the welfare of police be implemented immediately.
However, we believe the systemic rot in the police is widespread across Government institutions. Therefore, we urgently demand an immediate Institutional reform across all federal government institutions, agencies and parastatals, especially focused on national security.

Focus will be on improved welfare and terms of service for the police, military and all law enforcement agencies, provide body worn cameras for operation, refurbished housing, health, academic and pre- and post-retirement life insurance policy for the rank-and-file personnel.
Also reforms on adherence to the laws guiding discipline and prosecution of erring service men this should be aimed at extinguishing all notions of impunity.

2) COST OF GOVERNANCE

We have watched over the years the waste associated with governing Nigeria. We have noted the duplication and unprofessionalism in the civil service and across all strata.
We demand an urgent budgetary framework with 50% capital expenditure and 50% recurrent expenditure in all appropriation bill.
We demand a drastic reduction in the cost of governance. We also demand that the national assembly, be first by streamlined into a unicameral legislative and be further stripped down to become a part time job.
The huge salaries and benefits accorded them by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) should be reduced to the barest minimum.

3) CONSTITUTION REFORMS

There had been several constitutional reviews where youths were obviously absent. Whether by omission or commission or both, the time has come for an informed and progressive participation by the youths.
The Nigerian constitution as it exists presently does not serve all Nigerians. A more robust and engaged constitution designed and approved by all Nigerians will serve the nation.
We demand an urgent referendum within 90 days to begin the line-by-line review, reconstruction and upgrade of the extant constitution to be more functional for a 21st Century nation. The selection process for this referendum will have 50% young people under 60 nominated by their peers in a transparent, judicious and fair process.
We demand that credence be given to terms of citizenship over indigeneship and state of residence over state of origin.

4) EDUCATION REFORMS

· One in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is a Nigerian child. About 13.2 million Nigerian children aged 5-14 years are not in school. The impact of this numbers will be felt for generations.
· We demand that a state of emergency is declared in the education sector and demand increase in the budgetary allocation to educational sector by 50% and to double again within the next 24 months. This funds will be used to drive the education sector to provide affordable quality education to all citizens.
· A certain percentage of this allocation should be devoted to granting scholarship to outstanding Nigerians without recourse to the tribe, religious or sex.

· We demand a systemic overhaul in our curriculum and method of teaching to upgrade to a digital experience.
· We demand that teachers should be incentivized to attract the best brains and should be standardized and professionalized.
· We demand that the parent of any child not in primary school will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
· We demand that there be an Annual independent external Audit of Fund allocation and project execution: from Government approval to disbursement across the ministry, which would further be used to publish at least an abridged Financial statement available digitally to ensure transparency.

5) HEALTH REFORMS

· We demand that a state of emergency is declared in the health sector and demand increase in the budgetary allocation to health sector by 50%
· We demand mandatory health insurance for the vulnerable population in our society as NHIS is not doing enough to serve all Nigerians.
· We demand that adequate provision be put in place to protect the rights and privileges of physically challenged citizens in Nigeria.
· We demand urgent attention to mental health and a fund to set aside to create more professionals.
· We demand proper implementation of the National Health Act of 2014, including the Basic Health Care Provision Fund).
· We demand that there be an Annual independent external Audit of Fund allocation and project execution: from Government approval to disbursement across the ministry, which would further be used to publish at least an abridged Financial statement available digitally to ensure transparency.

6) YOUTH AFFAIRS REFORM

We have noted the giant strides made by Gen Z and Millennials across the globe. Many multi-billion corporations where founded by both generations. In Nigeria, it is extremely difficult for such to occur. The enabling environment viz-a-viz investors and lenders confidence, stable interest rate and manageable inflation are deficit in our dear nation.
· We demand that a state of emergency be declared in the ministry of Youths and Sports, Ministry of Science and Technology and Ministry of National Planning. We demand that this should be adequately funded, sports academy should be revamped.

· We demand the creation of the Youth development funds dedicated to growing the creative industries and agriculture.
· We demand that the Not-Too-Young to run bill should be expanded to include–50% inclusion of youth under 40 in every cabinet in government.
· We demand that the youth inclusion be monitored by the FCC as they currently monitor state inclusion and the NCDMB and other stakeholders partake in this action to protect our future.

7) PUBLIC OFFICE REFORMS

· We demand code of conduct reforms for all elected public office holders to have themselves and their children use public schools and public hospitals ONLY. Violation of which is immediate impeachment and recall.
· We demand immediate removal of immunity clause from public office holders to make them answerable to investigations at all times when and where necessary.

· We demand immediate resignation of every public officer found guilty of any forms of crimes and corruption. They must step aside during investigation also.
· Implementation of full digitization of the judicial process, prison decongestion reforms, with reforms drawn from past projects like the Uwais Report, Keyamo’s ministerial screening address, strict time limits to determination of industries litigations, etc…”

These demands are not too difficult to work on with time frames and deadlines attached to each. Let no one deceive the respective Federal and State governments that they cannot wriggle out of this easily, like they’ve always done. This is by far better than a bloody revolution. Nigeria is very close to the brink but like other leaders in history, our rulers have been too blinded and deafened by power that they can’t feel the pulse of the nation.

Arewa Agenda is a Publication of young writers from Northern Nigeria towards Peaceful Coexistence and National Development through positive narratives.

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