Criticizing The Critics

by Michael Ewetuga

The lawyers amongst us need to take a hard look at the laws of the countries where our monies are stashed. We need to see what the laws of these countries say about stealing and receiving stolen properties. If we find some kind of remedy, we need to look at the procedure of representation so that money that should remain in our economy will not go elsewhere, if parties are entitled to represent themselves we need to find volunteers, people who have the love of the country at heart and who will go argue the case for free and whose expenses will be paid by donation from people who care about our country. Proving that the money was stolen should not be difficult; we need to look at the burden of proof, even if the legal system of that country requires proof beyond reasonable doubt, there should be no problem there either because we should be able to calculate how much someone like Babangida should have earned in his years as a soldier and as the president of Nigeria, the accountants among us will come in handy here. Accountability should be everyone’s job.

We need to ask them about taxation. What is their program with regard to taxation and how are they going to achieve whatever goal they set with regard to taxation?

We need to have a virile and dynamic system of taxation. Banning goods to my own mind is a product of unimaginative mind. If a man wants to put on only dresses made in America or China he should have the freedom to do so but he must pay tax on them so that we can get money from him to develop our industries too.

I had a cousin who was working with Julius Berger, a German construction company in Nigeria and they hardly ever buy anything made in Nigeria, even their pencil is made and imported from Germany. A pointer to the deficiency in custom duties. When products are made in Nigeria and someone goes abroad to get the products we should tax it so much that the price would be like terms five of the price in Nigeria. Since the essence of being in business is to make money, this will force them to consider the cost and I can assure you they will settle for the ones made in Nigeria so we can get the economy rolling.

To me it is madness for one person to have ten cars and I have seen that before. When someone buys expensive cars he needs to pay higher taxes, this will prune down the number of cars they can own and if they choose to go on the route of owning ten cars that should not be a problem as this would be a way of generating funds for crucial projects that will benefit the people.

We need a reorientation in Nigeria. We need to promote the outlook that used to be in place before now. We need to promote the fact that wealth is not as important as comfort and we should strive to provide comfort to the majority of the people so that they will cease to look at thieves with awe when they display their ill gotten wealth. Everyone should be able to get from point A to B if not in their own cars then using a transportation system that is working and effective, everyone is entitled to basic needs of life period.

We need to know what their program is with regard to the economy. Any fool can say he will improve the economy; we need to ask for specifics.

We need to develop an economic theory that will take into consideration the nature of our country, that will work well for our setting. Right now all you hear is “the economy should be private sector driven” why? There are economies in this world that are government driven and they are not doing badly, I am not an economist and so cannot go into specifics. The fact that the western economy is private sector driven does not mean ours should too. What did our economists study in school, what research are they conducting, what solution can they proffer to move the country forward? It is time to put our knowledge to the test; we should not be educated illiterates. It is time to think and suggest solutions. We need to come together and give alternative opinions to the opinions of the western trained and based economists. A doctor who examined a patient should be in a better situation to prescribe drugs for whatever ailment she might have, Nigeria is not America and we need to stand up to anyone from any part of the world in any profession instead of the inferiority complex that we display when someone comes from abroad with some fancy theories, providing food for the family is so very practical, theories should be banned to the classrooms unless when they are being used as a basis for a test and they must be tested before adopted.

We need to look at what we can sell to the world; we should not rely solely on petroleum as means of generating the much needed foreign exchange. We are blessed with both natural and human resources we should learn to utilize them. We should learn how to combine our resources to achieve positive results. We love to read we need to turn that passion into a source of income. We can train our people and export them to where they are needed, not as slaves but as professionals.

The state can sponsor first class education in Nigeria say in nursing and information technology, provide loans to the students and enter into an agreement with the host countries to deduct some percentages from the pay checks of the beneficiaries so that we can have money to train other people and thereby empower our people. Human resources are exactly that, resources and we should learn to tap them to our nation’s advantage. Positive program like that will bring the much needed respect for our citizens more than $10 billion spent on publicity, then instead of saying beware of Nigeria’s 419 it will be Nigeria’s professionals are well trained.

We should ask those seeking offices what they will do about education, what programs would they implement to ensure a sound educational system? What are their plans with regard to a development of environmental friendly education? By environmental friendly, I mean education that would make the students contribute positively and effectively to our society and not make them walk around with their heads in the clouds filled with unrealistic ideas.

We need to look at the disciplines students are being admitted to go into and see if we really need to provide education in those disciplines. We need to look at our society and see what we need people to do and provide some education in those areas. Everyone should not be graduating with bachelors, we need to look at things that we can provide associates degree in. we can understudy some countries too, not necessarily the west but whichever one has the best programs that we can understudy to improve our society. We know for example the havoc fire causes in our society, we should look into whether we need to train people in fire prevention techniques in recognition of our inadequacy in terms of fire fighting. We should look into whether we should have on our schools time tables’ curriculum that deals with property security, information system, forensic investigation, transportation, arts and culture so that our kids will be told the truth about us. Etc

We need to ask them about health care, pension, justice and other areas that we know we need to develop.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with criticizing or promoting a government’s programs or positions, if we are criticizing them we should be clear as to our reason(s) for disagreeing with such programs or positions and how in our opinion they could be improved on and if we are promoting or supporting them we should be clear in our reason(s) for supporting or promoting them. We should not be like the Romans mob that set out to kill a particular Brutus but ended up killing another because of his name rather than the Brutus they set out to kill because of his deeds.

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Anonymous December 28, 2006 - 10:16 pm

Well written. But all the ideas and points you raised are well known. They are not new and this is not a comment to down play your well articulated piece. The problem with Nigeria and Nigerians is not a lack of excellent ideas but a lack of will. There are policy gurus in Nigeria and there are development experts among Nigerians. Implementation is our problem and that includes you and me. By the way you are right about the agreeing thing (I agree with the first speaker and everybody stands up in turn to agree with the last speaker. The first person to voice a diffent view becomes the enemy). Anyway that will not stop me from agreeing with you on your points but I will go a step further to give a practical, at least in my view, suggestion. One practical way of transforming our society I believe is to get men and women of purpose into the national assembly, state assemblies and local government council. Believe it or not that is the back bone of any functioning system. These assemblies are supposed to give oversight to the running of the system. What we have in Nigeria is that everyone wants to be president or governor and they leave the assemblies to rif rafs who do not even understand their function. But without a strong body to make law and hold the executive accountable all that you talk about cannot materialise. A strong national assembly will keep the presidency on it toes. It will monitor more closely program implementation, spendings etc. We need men of purpose and integrity in all arms of government. The assemblies are supposed to be representative of the people but as we have it today at the national, state and local levels these group of people are representative of the godfathers of the day. People of substance should express interest in going into these bodies and to help them realise their ambition the constitution should be changed to allow for independent candidates to run in elections into these bodies. Pat Utomi would be a good president anyday or at least far better than those we have had, but under the current dispensation he cannot be elected because no political party will give him the platform unless he is willing to sell his soul to them and the same goes for many men and women of integrity. It is only when people of purpose participate at the most basic level that we can have discussion about policies and what each candidate has to offer. You cannot ask hard questions under the current dispensation(except may be on the internet) because the politics is not issue based and by the way many media outlet are under direct or indirect control of the masqurade politicians. I will give an example here to illustrate a point. Compare Obasanjo talking to the press with Tony Blair, George Bush or even Tambo Mbeki talking to the press. Compare the questions asked? Then compare the boldness and confidence of the reporter asking the question. The difference is that the reporter asking Obasanjo question will be afraid for his job and life because he could be sacked and arrested at the presidents pleasure. So he is very careful not to ask questions that might offend the president. But if the national assembly is made of men of principle who will stand up for the basic right and freedom of all citizens even if the president were to threaten a reporter the assembly will challenge him on that and possibly sanction him. A reporter or anyone knowing that will be bold enough to ask the president or any elected official questions of accountability.

BA December 27, 2006 - 12:13 pm

You right about accountability of government. People look at individual as person, but can't justify how they will help the system and tackle the issues affecting us. People sell their vote for penny and turn around to cry for unreasonable chaos. I think we need to educate our people how the system work

Anonymous December 27, 2006 - 8:09 am

Thank you for asking the questions we all know needs to be asked but gloss over in our armchair political debates.


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