2015: The Task Of Building A Nigeria That Works

nigerian-flag

Leading a country like Nigeria is widely-known to be a herculean task, not only because of inherited perennial challenges but also because of the diverse nature of our nationhood. The Nigeria extraction is a confluence of religious, ethnic, ideological and socio-cultural differences. Before I highlight some things that needs to be done to make our nation work, it is important to first establish that a nation’s existence is a product of the will of a people; therefore, the task of building a nation is in the hands of the people, it is a deliberate collective effort that takes a period of time since a nation is not a product of happenstance.

A nation is first established along a given political territory bound by certain rules and norms which are generally acceptable. The second is the existence of critical institutions such as a police force, universities, an economy, a civil service and so on. By inference, the fulcrum of building a nation is in its institutions. The first task at hand for the incoming administration led by General Muhammadu Buhari is to strengthen the institutions in our country, massive elaborate reforms must be made and this includes the area of education which is lagging behind at the moment, most Nigerian students prefer to study abroad either for undergraduate or postgraduate study. It is quite worrisome that neighbouring Ghana is now a haven for so many Nigerian students, it was also declared recently that Nigeria tops the population of international students in the United States. One may assume it is an indication of a wider middle class and a more prosperous citizenry who can afford a foreign education; but in reality, it is a clear reflection of a decaying educational system, teachers must be trained periodically. I recommend a licensing process for teachers just like every other profession like law, medicine and accounting. This will also add some prestige to the teaching profession. Other sectors that needs to be strengthened is the judiciary, there must be zero interference with the judiciary in the discharge of their duties, specialised courts must be expanded and the law schools must be very thorough.

Security is also vital, the police and paramilitary forces should be retrained in line with the world’s best practices, the issue of a policeman shooting an innocent civilian and the indiscriminate mounting of roadblocks by unidentifiable men in uniform is appalling. There should be a new rule of engagement between civilians and the police, a policeman must be able to show his identity and perfect his way of interrogation. Community policing is another aspect that could be looked into for better security, it is also important for the military to be better equipped and consistently reinforced by regularly recruiting new combatants into the forces. A ratio system is highly recommended, a policeman to every 10 citizen will effectively provide the basic security presence needed within an area, this will also allow the government to effectively allot security personnel according to the population of each state. Looking at the current ratio, it is alarming, and Nigeria needs to massively recruit more men into the force. Better remuneration and incentives should be provided for military men to reduce or eradicate bribery and corruption of force men.

Secondly, corruption has cut really deep into the Nigerian system. First of all, there should be a fresh reappraisal of officials at various levels and the penalty for corrupt practices broadened, effective laws binding on all private and public organization should also be put in place to allow for optimum accountability. Technology is also a great tool to reduce corrupt practices, when special systems are built, it will be difficult for individuals to engage in corrupt practices. The reason why a person would think twice before committing a crime in an advanced country is because he knows that the system in place would block him and if he happens to be successful, the system in place would catch him. Therefore, Nigeria must launch a fresh anti-corruption master plan and improve technology.

Thirdly, the task of nation building is also an engineering process. Proper infrastructure gets the economy running; they are essential constituents that determine the quality of life of a people. New roads should be constructed, alternative means of transportation developed, clean accessible water should be provided and constant electricity available. A basic developmental framework is highly-recommended, this is where the basic requirements that gets a city or town functioning are highlighted and efforts are to be made to build new cities and upgrade existing ones, it is also important to have the welfare and happiness of the people at the background and this includes recreation. A framework could consist of advanced waterworks, power plants, roads, a conference centre, museum, stadium and so on, some town have these while some do not, the idea is to improve the quality of life of every citizen irrespective of location, there should be a basic common developmental framework for every city and town in the country. A man should be able to visit a museum in Potiskum and be sure to find a museum in Warri while carrying out his anthropological research, culture is preserved and education is improved, an example of the benefit of a basic developmental framework.

To build Nigeria, it is also important to be an effective global player. Nigeria earned her mantra as the “Giant of Africa” not only because of her population and oil wealth but because of her role in international politics, Nigeria assisted South Africa during their days of apartheid, assisted Namibia to gain independence and played important roles in preserving West African democracies. For Nigeria to remain an important nation, we must continue to tow this path, it is unfortunate that Nigeria’s global reputation is really bad at the moment, we need to build from the scratch in this aspect, this backlog is heavily telling on Nigerian citizens abroad, the respect Nigerians used to enjoy in the past in almost absent. Nigeria should not wait for a crisis in another nation before becoming a global participant, it begins with strengthening our embassies and high commissions abroad, some are currently redundant, the presence of Nigeria must be felt in every nation, a programme should be handed to embassies to implement in their respective countries and adequate funds should be provided, some embassies are literally non-functional or even into oblivion at the moment, nothing stops a Nigerian embassy from having a cultural programme for their host country or a department to run a Nigerian market or restaurant to cater for her citizens abroad for instance.  There are so many things an embassy can do that can make the nation’s presence felt abroad and for Nigerians abroad to feel protected and at home. Our biggest export is our nollywood movies for instance, that is where rebranding Nigeria’s image starts from, it is the sacred responsibility of the embassies to promote the nation and this aspect has not been harnessed at all. The incoming government has the task of assigning real tasks to the embassies abroad if Nigeria wants to be a real global player.

Furthermore, national orientation is needed for the people, we need to be patriotic as a nation, we should develop a concept of a Nigerian spirit. The Nigerian mentality has a negative undertone which is not meant to be. We should recall at this point that a nation is a product of human will and imagination, it is also a collection of agreed norms and ways of life. Our way of life as a people needs to be re-evaluated, the entire populace needs to be aggressively sensitised on what is and what is not. It is very possible, it was possible when ebola was diagnosed within the nation’s territory, it is the same process and level of sensitisation that is needed to put Nigerian’s attitude right; however, it must be a continuous process. Values and virtues of nationhood must be fully enmeshed into the psychic of the nation’s populace, it becomes a habit and then it forms the character of the people. The educational system plays a vital role in this aspect, the exclusion of history in the school’s curriculum is just a very major mistake or decision a government can make. History when it was part of school’s curriculum was not really grounded, the next best thing is to find ways of making it more attractive and lucrative and not to scrap it. The solution to headache is not to cut off the head, history must be brought back to schools, it is the child’s first encounter with her nation, the study of history is where the sense of patriotism is developed.

Finally, the right policies must be put in place. There is no limit to the policies the government can put in place to make a nation stand. As development, trends and technology improve, policies must improve along too in order to meet the needs of the time, this makes policy review crucial. The first step is to reorganise Nigeria’s political system because it is the bane of policy-making, policies and politics go hand-in-hand. With the right politicians, we can have the right politics. Other areas that require political reform include agriculture and natural resources, education, power, labour, welfare, immigration and sports. Unemployment for instance is a major problem, many youths are roaming the streets, some are degree holders and others do not have the funds to start their own enterprise. The government must begin to show the desire to own and run institutions, privatisation is a good idea but is not automatically the best, it is ok for the government to build industries and outsource them, it creates a favourable value chain. The logic is that people work in firms and if more work is needed then more firms are to be created. One of the government’s surest solutions to unemployment is to build firms where people will work, there cannot be wastages because every excess of a nation is an opportunity for export. The incoming national leadership should harness the resources of every state and build industries and invest in the service sector too, the government can own hotels or run ferries for instance and also build cement plants, there will be jobs and the service and industrial sectors would be thriving concurrently with government having favourable stakes that can run the economy. A central national job portal is a good way for making Nigerians know where to find and apply for jobs created by the government. Government must not leave its sacred duty in the hands of private individuals; it will only widen the gap between the rich and the poor.

No nation can exist in isolation and it is the duty of the people to develop their country by entrusting their desires in the hands of credible leaders. Nigeria must remain a global player internationally, develop her infrastructure, put adequate policies in place and develop new systems for tackling her problems.  It is important to state that investment in research and development in all or atleast critical sectors of the economy will make Nigeria a continental forerunner. A sense of patriotism is crucial for citizens to be able to cooperate with the government and these and many more tasks are ahead of the incoming administration to achieve. Together, we can build a Nigeria where things work.

Written by Bolu’ Michael-Biyi

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POETRY: ~ Victory Over Ptolemy Philopator ~

ptolemy

~ Victory Over Ptolemy Philopator ~
(A poem based on the third deuterocanonical allegory of the Maccabee, around 204BC )

A certain nation so blessed and fruitful
There is no other nation like her
She’s the gem of the east and the symbol of the hopeful
She’s close to her enemies but to her pilgrims so far

No nation can war against this great nation
A land backed by a supreme power
She wins wars without any weapon
All her assailants must surely go under

Once a nation arose with great might and splendor
Came out in force to enslave these great people
The supreme being allowed defeat without war
A nation once strong then became so feeble

Thinking this was their final moment of life
The fulfillment of their most wretched fear
Their hearts became far from light
Even the strongest could not hold back a tear

They gave themselves to pitiful wailing
They began to kiss and embrace each other
Sons and daughters with grievous weeping
Threw themselves on their parent’s shoulder

Newborn infants sucked their last milk
Newly-weded brides gave their last kiss
The aged women became so sick
While the clergymen voiced their last pleas

Then a ray of hope struck down from Heaven
The Lion of Judah heard their last pleas
He will not let His people be broken
Nor let His holy ones have no peace

Ptolemy Philopator the godless king
Fell into deep sleep and forgot his scheme
He could not even remember a thing
As brilliant and easy as it all seemed

Ptolemy Philopator was drunk as his elephants
As confusion shook Hermon on his king’s plot
The Jews at last became triumphant
Victory at best is Israel’s worst

The Lion of Judah rescues His own people
The nation of Israel will never be down
Jerusalem is the seat of His temple
The City of David that bears His crown

Written by Bolu’ Michael-Biyi

POETRY: ~ Julianah ~

julianah

~ Julianah ~

I saw you afar off under a sycamore tree
I knew there was something good about you
I prayed in my heart that you’ld be free
And not that you are someone else’ boo

My mind became clouded
Your beauty made me dumbfounded
My thoughts became crowded
I feared she’ld be conceited

I bottled my fear and took the bold step
Walked up to her and flicked up my hair
I was hoping she would offer some help
And not cast me away because of my fear

What is your name? I managed to ask
Julianah, she said
Nice name I said, as a matter of fact
I hoped she’s not thinking I want her in bed

Join me for dinner later tonight
No, I can’t my mistress won’t let
She’s coming soon, that’s her in sight
Try talk to her, she’ll agree I bet

Mistress or not we can be friends
Why did you say that? She needed to ask
Seems you don’t want our talk to end
I’m fun I know, I said to bask

She picked up her bag and left with her mistress
Bye for now she had to say
Ever since I’ve been in distress
I’m hoping to see Julianah someday
Atleast, I know its Yes she’ld say

– Written by Bolu’ Michael-Biyi

POETRY: ~ Recrudescence of Hope ~

Hope

~ Recrudescence of Hope ~

Sometimes I cry to the Lord most high
To give me reasons to fly
I know my help is not in substance’ high
Even though I’m battling to try

Most times people mock my lot
I don’t care so far I’m alive
No matter the evils they may plot
I know I’ll always thrive

Day and Night chase after each other
Forever, they’ll never meet
When haters sit to plot and ponder
They’ll find me making new feats

In Him I trust in my days of sorrow
There are brighter days ahead
No need to wish not to see tomorrow
I would long for it instead

Very soon I’m sure my glory will come
Then I’ll be able to smile
The world would say my time has come
I deserve to bask and shine

No matter the challenges I face
Victory is always near
Everything in life is just a phase
Hard times I know I’ll bear

Victory at last I would cry
Never remembering my pain
The Lord will give me strength to fly
He’ll make my pains my gain

– Written by Bolu’ Michael-Biyi

POETRY: ~ Feat of Righteousness ~

righteousness

~ Feat of Righteousness ~

Its not only about doing the right things
It is also about doing things right
Not caring about what the world thinks
But being strong in the midst of spites

Not everyone will like your policy
Know not everyone will hate your principle
Some will make you their adversary
While some will ‘dorn you the king of the jungle

Your convictions will keep you sane
When plotters want to see you ashamed
Make a choice to remain the same
With that you’ll have them tamed

Its not easy to make a feat of righteousness
Much difficult to put it in people’s consciousness
But a journey of a thousand miles
One day will end with joyous smiles

Tick tock not every clock ticks
Some glide without making a sound
Silence a’times is a noble hard kick
It can floor an enemy to the ground

Choose the steps that you will take
Just be sure you will not break
Know your sacred honour is at stake
Lest your righteousness be seen as fake

Give a feat of righteousness a shot
There is really not much to lose
Not trying may leave you hurt
Don’t regret nor fear you’ll lose

– Written by Bolu’ Michael-Biyi

Married Or Marred?

Distressed Couple Finding Out Results Of A Pregnancy Test

I overhear people (guys and ladies) say things like “I must get married this year”, “I’m getting old”, “my mates are getting married” etc. Statements like that automatically subtract the place of God in the whole matter and a two-legged stool cannot stand. The mindset that follows this has made many get into relationships for the wrong reasons. Now, let’s reason this together, have you realized that couples who divorce after 10, 15 years of marriage were once inseparable love birds? This means that future co-existence is more important than present experience. A friend recently told me while teasing him, “I’ll rather marry late with the right person than marry early with the wrong person”. I share this same view. Now, God has a Time and Purpose for every man, the ‘Purpose’ is man’s and the ‘Time’ is God’s. We should focus on our purpose and God the custodian of time will make marriage etc happen as HE has destined in HIS own ‘Time Book’; therefore, a person making marriage a new year’s resolution may just be making a resolution outside of God’s will and its a risky mission that would end on a lonely path, he’ll be caught offside. An offside is a right move at the wrong time; in such situation, you’ll always end up being alone. Just like in football, a player caught offside will ALWAYS be found on his own and the same applies to marriage, many took the big step at the wrong time and then they end up alone, that’s why we have SINGLE parents (partner’s death aside). Purpose is sacrosanct, men especially must not joke with life’s purpose and the woman that backs that purpose up is very key.
The kind of woman a man chooses will determine Two(2) BIG things:
1) How successful he would be for the rest of his life (and)
2) His Happiness …
An unsuccessful man can never be happy and an unhappy man is not a success. I believe that marriage is more than a choice, its a destiny decision. If you choose the wrong person, you are not only legally married but also legally marred; so don’t be caught offside, never allow your circumstances, environment, age, friends, and parental pressures set an offside trap for you. Make God’s word the standard for your life.

The New Trend Of Ready-To-Live-In Homes In Nigeria

Ready-to-live-in-homes

Everyone aspires to own a house and the rate at which the middle class and wealthy in Nigeria are building houses is on the high. The number of real estate firms are also on the increase, this is an indication of infrastructural development.

Traditionally, individuals buy a land and build their houses to their own taste or purchase a house (usually through a government scheme) and expand it to taste. But there is a new trend and that’s the ready-to-live-in homes revolution. This new idea in the country may be as a result of brain gain from the west as regards real estate firms or the ever fast-moving Nigerian society where no one wants to be left behind.

Ready-To-Live-In homes are quite common in countries like the USA, Australia and many parts of Europe. The stress of having to build a house from scratch for about 9 months or more and an expected headhunt for contractor performance may be a major excuse for the penchant for ready-to-live-in homes. Wealthy Nigerians who are always on the move from country to country most likely would not be able to monitor their housing projects and would rather buy a ready-to-live-in house. The country’s rising expatriate population is also responsible for this new trend. Top international businesses and multinationals who intend to have their representatives work in the country for the long term purchase a permanent accommodation.

Another major reason is the homecoming revolution wave across Africa; many Africans who have studied, worked and lived abroad are now coming back home to start a new life, a relatively large population of them have slim or no links to family or friends and even if, they do not want to risk the move of having a relative or friend help handle their home projects only to come home to find out nothing was being built. These and other reasons are responsible for the increase in RTLIs. Despite the novel idea, note that it comes with its disadvantages.

First of all, let us evaluate the pros and cons of self-built houses:

  1. Build to taste: The first advantage is that land owner can build to taste. He can get the best architects to carry out his ideas for his dream house. He can determine how many floors he wants, how big the house should be or what and what it should provide for.
  2. Cost-Effective: Self-built houses are cost effective because the proprietor can negotiate prices and be lucky to get materials, good contractors or man-power at a very affordable rate.
  3. Monitoring: The proprietor can monitor the building process by himself. He would be able to block avenues contractors may want to make extra money from him, he would also be able to mount pressure to get work done quickly and also ensure that sub-standard products are not being used in the building process.
  4. Furnish to pocket: The proprietor, can furnish his house based on his budget and taste.

Disadvantages:

  1. Time-consuming: It takes a lot of time to build a house and it largely depends on the work rate of contractors and the enormity of the housing project.
  2. Stressful: A proprietor would most likely have to go through the stress of getting building approval from the government, working with architects, locating skillful workers and contractors, monitoring and mounting pressure on contractors to get work done etc.

On the other hand, Ready-To-Live-In homes are:

  1. Stress-free: All an individual has to do is pay for the ready-built and furnished apartment, he does not have to go through the stress of excessive documentations and approval, dealing with contractors etc.
  2. Convenient: It is very convenient in the sense that one can begin to live in the house the day it is purchased.

Disadvantages:

  1. Costly: Ready-to-live-in houses come at huge prices. The home buyer pays for everything involved in the housing process all at once. Nevertheless, it saves the buyer time and stress.
  2. No monitoring: Because the buyer was not involved in the process of building the house, the quality of the house cannot really be ascertained. The purchaser does not know if sub-standard materials were used in the building and furnishing or if the house was built in a hurry.

 In conclusion, RTLIs are a welcome trend in Nigeria, it is a sign on brain gain and healthy competition in the country’s property sector. It allows for individuals to have options to choose from and it raises the value of the country’s infrastructural standard. Nigerians can choose to depart from the norm or stick with a familiar system.