Infrastructure Concession in Nigeria as Panacea

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At last the Federal Government has taken a strategic step towards confronting the intractable problem of infrastructural decay which, together with the Niger Delta Crisis, has provided dispirited citizens with ample reasons to taunt the Yar’Adua administration. Basic infrastructure in most parts of Nigeria, Africa’s largest country, is in such dire state of disrepair as to be tagged moribund. This decadence has made Nigeria and Yar’Adua the popular subjects of endless diatribes on various public forums. But Yar’Adua may yet have the last laugh. Last week, the president nominated Chief Ernest Shonekan, former interim Head of State, as chairman of the Board of the Infrastructural Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), a body set up by the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Act signed into law by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2005. Other nominees of the president to the ICRC Board were Hakeem Sanusi (South-west), Bernard Verr (North-central), Clement Owunna, MFR (South-east), Comfort Saro-Wiwa (South-south), Joe Kyari-Gadzama (North-east) and Aisha Sheikh (North-west). The nominations are awaiting the nod of the National Assembly.

By the provisions of the ICRC Act (2005), ex – officio members that will also serve on the Board with the president’s nominees include the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Attorney General of the Federation, the Minister of Finance, the Governor of the Central Bank and the Director General of the ICRC. Already, the retired Group Executive Director (Refining and Petrochemical) of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and a former Managing Director and Chief Executive of Port Harcourt Refining Company, Mansur Ahmed, has been nominated as pioneer Director General of the ICRC.

Generally, infrastructure concession allows participation of the private sector in financing the construction, development, operation and maintenance of public infrastructure, development project or network for a stated period. Common concession contracts include Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT), Build, Own and Operate (BOO), Build, Transfer and Operate (BTO), lease contracts, etc. The concession process allows private investors and operators to inject much needed capital into upgrading and maintaining infrastructure. For instance, the national road network in Nigeria especially in the South has been reduced to death traps. The cumulative investment of the Federal government in the road sub-sector since independence has been enormous. In the last eight years, the Federal, state and local Governments spent a substantial proportion of their annual budgets on the construction, rehabilitation and maintenance of roads and yet the net asset value of Nigerian roads has continued to decline embarrassingly. Without requisite infrastructure such as roads, stable power supply, or transport networks to drive it, the Nigerian economy has remained virtually comatose.

With the support of the World Bank and other financial institutions, many African governments are adopting the concession option for the development of their basic infrastructure. Concessions are associated with direct payment by the user in the form of a toll. Toll systems are common in Europe for roads, bridges and tunnels. Tolls constitute veritable sources of internally generated revenue for many countries. Toll gates were also a common feature of some Nigerian highways until former President Obasanjo erased them from the landscape for no apparent reason. In the 1990s, concessions were chiefly employed to resolve endemic dearth of infrastructure in Latin America by bringing private sector efficiency and competition to bear on public infrastructure networks.

The “infrastructure” envisaged under the ICRC Act 2005 covers virtually every sector of the economy: power plants, highways, seaports, airports, canals, dams, water supply, telecoms, railways, land reclamation, inter sate transport systems, industrial estates or township development, housing, tourism development, waste management, ICT and database infrastructure, education, health, drainage, dredging, trade fair complexes, etc. Invariably, the ICRC is going to be faced with a big task in the months ahead. The ICRC is expected to fast-track the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) strategy that is the crux of the paradigm shift in the Reform Agenda envisioned by the Obasanjo administration. Despite previous policy somersaults, Yar’Adua has by the latest action shown a strong commitment to the PPP concept. Can the ICRC transform the bleak situation that has made Nigeria an investor’s nightmare to a country where basic infrastructure are constructed and maintained with seamless ease? Maybe.

However one looks at it, concessioning holds great promise. The ICRC holds the key to the realization of the 7-point agenda enunciated by the president. Meeting the target of the Millenium Development Goals will also, to a large extent, depend on the success of the ICRC. From the composition of the ICRC, President Yar’Adua seems to have made careful choices. The recognizable members of the board are men and women of high integrity. With an array of experiences in research, manufacturing, shipping, energy development, development finance, commerce, banking, construction, law, telecommunications, and petrochemicals many of the president’s nominees appear well equipped for the onerous task ahead.

Still, the coast is not yet so clear. Like privatization, not everyone accepts concession as the panacea to infrastructure problems. Labour leaders feel reasonably concerned about the impact of the process on workers. Those who do not agree that Government should divest completely from business also fear that monopolies may be created and argue that systemic neglect and inefficiencies could be alleviated by training, capacity building and anti graft sanction monitoring. In a country with poor record of continuity in governance, public policy discordance, and unbridled corruption, there is apprehension that the members of the commission may be exposed to undue influences and that concessionaires may require guarantees of protection from political instability.

All said, the Herculean task before the ICRC requires more core professionals, technocrats and corporate gurus and less jobbers, cronies and opportunists. The success or failure of the ICRC will owe a lot to how much the commission is able to show transparency in it’s actions and how far it is able to insulate itself from the shenanigans of Nigerian politicians and the vagaries of Nigeria’s deleterious partisan politics.

Uche Ohia About Uche Ohia
Uche Ohia is a lawyer, public  policy analyst and syndicated columnist. His column, Silver Lining, is published in the POLITY section of ThisDay on Saturday.

Posted in: Nigeria Matters

7 Comments

  1. allstin says:

    it is in line with our present situation

  2. Mohammed Kabir Olayiwola says:

    Quite informative, I wish the author can get in touch with me to do a joint paper on Infrastructure concession:the prospects and challenges urgent tomorow(mko@kabolaassociates.com)

  3. maryam Garba says:

    Very informative i can say. The feelings that something can at last be done to change the condition of the death infrastructures in the country is really amazing. I pray that those sadled with the responsibility, will be just and sincere in changing the current state of the nation.

  4. Chuka says:

    we dont need the concessioning approach in Nigeria now. we need to involve all nigerians in the process by enabling market instruments to be used for capital actualisation to satisfy pre-determined infrastructure projectsthis can be largely achieved by integrating capital and labour and allowing participation for “rouge” funds.

    solutions from within thus involving planning by our engineers(NSE), deployment through mass manual labour(Labour, Capacity building and skills acquisition) and implementation through adequate regulatory and enforcement capacities(Government, People-universal participation.

    30,000MW of power is achievable in 4yrs. why are we troubled by 6,000MW. I explain further

    His Excellency

    Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua

    President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

    State House,

    Aso Rock Villa,

    Abuja.

    OPEN LETTER TO A SERVANT LEADER

    18th May, 2009

    Dear Sir,

    May I seize this opportunity to encourage the efforts of you and your good offices in steering us through the numerous challenges, obstacles, interests and interest groups currently facing the nation. Indeed, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.

    I pray you forgive the length and eventual public nature of this letter as it is borne out of the conviction that all Nigerians both home and abroad should participate in this conversation, because much of its contents affect us all.

    Like most Nigerians, one is concerned about the state of the nation.

    The challenges we face today are similar if not the same as the challenges (and perhaps the obstacles) we faced in the mid 80s, over two decades ago, before the initiation of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP).

    Then, like now, we had epileptic power supply, industrial development was in reverse, education and healthcare were in decline, as was food production, unemployment and poverty were high, leading to heightened insecurity, cost of living was rising as service delivery was in decline coupled with infrastructural decay. Mass alienation, corruption and despair were also as evident then as now.

    Similarly, then like now, we had abundant reserves of oil and gas, a wide variety of solid minerals and vast expanses of uncultivated productive land. We equally had a conclusive array of official regulatory and enforcement offices and agencies, and abundant wealth of experience and funds. Then like now we also had the largest single market in Africa i.e. over 100 million people and an equally huge labour market (albeit largely unskilled).

    Today, decades later, we are still faced with the same problems, ever growing in proportion and ever recurrent, reaching levels beyond our collective projections and estimations.

    Clearly these problems are not as a result of the recent global recession and one wonders why we are contemplating stimulus packages, especially when it involves shoring up the tertiary, when our primary and secondary industries are in a shambles.

    One asks the simple question “where are the economists?” indeed what has happened to common sense?

    Surely the premise of all tradable value in any environment lies in its production and productive capacity (re futures markets). Wherein, production relates not only to that of goods and services but also the attendant raw materials and financial services.

    How do we hope to sustain the artificial values that would be generated by stimulating the tertiary when the fundamentals of modern production and economics do not exist i.e. Power, Energy and Socio-political stability.

    Without production we can only boast of sporadic economic activity. Our primary industries i.e. agriculture and mineral extraction have been neglected while our secondary industries i.e. production of goods and services, have been thwarted by an ailing power/energy sector.

    Many have observed that the surge and rally in the stock markets was as a result of the nation trading on hope, seduced by artificially supported indices of economic growth, as opposed to reality. The market is not in crisis, the stocks have simply assumed their correct values as a result of the “reality gap”.

    Further still, the institutional linkages that lay foundation for socio-economic and socio-political activity have been broken and replaced instead by interests and interest groups who have taken positions in all Sectors, awaiting successive national budgets for sharing whilst “moving the nation forward”.

    These entities and dynamics have gained foothold, using the instruments of state as rightly predicted by Karl Marx.

    Mr President, it is such matters and issues that trouble one’s mind, especially in this nation of ours, blessed with such abundant raw materials and enviable potential by the Almighty.

    This is more worrisome when, as a father, one considers tomorrow, the children growing and those yet to come. What suffering awaits them from our actions and, more so, from our collective inactions.

    Many have resulted to prayers, whilst others languish in apathy. The narration and lamentation of our woes has become a national pass-time of both social and prime-time entertainment.

    Several events, individuals and groups in our polity and history have been blamed, ranging from the imbalances within the “geographic expressions” created by the colonial masters, years of oppressive and successive military rule, mismanagement by politicians, theft by public servants, massive corruption, lack of political will and good leadership.

    Currently we have included global meltdown to the list as we continue to make excuses for folly and diminishing cranial activity. And clearly wallowing in the dark, we continue to return to history in attempts to becloud present and glaring realities.

    One wonders, perhaps the problem lies with the people, Nigerians themselves, as a collective and individually. This is an important question especially when you raised the matter of the “Independence generation”. Change is on everyone’s mind, but what kind of change and for whose benefit?

    A cursory glance at our society today reveals several distinct groups and stratifications that characterise our national realities.

    One grouping would be Government and all its offices at all levels nationwide. This would include the executive, legislature and the judiciary, all supported by the civil service.

    Most sizeable here are the civil servants, the official guardians of our collective wealth. Yet allowed by, and complicit in deliberate system failure, some have become the gateway for loot. Collecting unofficial fees in official processes or organising “contractors” for bloated contracts and government projects are but some of the ways they try to “maintain”.

    These qualities, perfected over decades unchecked, have led to the corruption we collectively complain of today. These qualities have equally been emulated by the executive, the only difference being a question of degree. And likewise with the legislature wherein, though only few actually observe their duties and functions, most have equally become contractors in addition to other collections and “constituency projects”.

    The judiciary however, though not directly or actively participant in the decay, exudes complicity through inaction in the face of abuse and even flagrant disregard for the rule of law. Sadly, herein lay the accomplices that enable graft and oppression. Indeed such is our justice system that a man can be jailed for stealing a chicken out of hunger whilst his fellow countryman, who stole billions out of greed, roams free.

    Perhaps another group would be the “merchants” i.e. the importers, the contractors, the middle men, facilitators and professionals. This is the group that accounts for the private sector i.e. a large pool of Nigerians who have at one point or the other rendered services to the first group. Here also shelter the other various economic and political “stakeholders” in our polity.

    The rich variety, creativity, age disparity, funds and collective acumen of this group is enough to propel any nation to global reckon. Yet attitude has allowed the cream of our society to sour, not emboldened enough to seek their destiny. Continuously complaining and curiously insufferable, united they remain, bound by the “turn by turn” psychology. Mostly they wait in servitude, nursing ambitions of their own turn to be “there”. Generation after generation, beyond cars and houses, amounting to nothingness.

    The last of these groups would probably be the masses. Herein, when culpable, and in many instances, the “perpetrator” elicits support either through direct payment or by instigating turmoil along religious or tribal/regional lines to avoid due consequences. Demands for accountability, transparency and service delivery have been changed at this level to “na our man, leave am”.

    But oddly, and sadly ironic, this is the same group most affected by our national deficiencies. These are the people who need the jobs and proper education, infrastructure and utilities and yet have no voice. These are the people who remain disenfranchised, and misinformed into folly, inspired by pennies.

    Indeed we have collectively acquiesced to this shame at all levels and aspects of society and as such should not throw stones at “leadership”. We have perverted our morals and customs to accommodate the ludicrous and bizarre in a twisted attempt at modernity. Logic, reason, honesty, principles, scruples and other essential fibres in the essence of the being are sacrificed for social and mercurial considerations.

    We accuse “government” of rhetoric and insincerity as if government is not made up of those around us – our brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, aunts and even our children. Are they not those same people we shower with all manner of honours and praise singing, perhaps for immediate gratification, instead of telling them the truth. The rot is not only at the top but equally exists in the middle and at the bottom levels of our society.

    One would like to share a poem with you Sir,

    For Whom The Bell Tolls by John Donne

    No man is an island,

    Entire of itself.

    Each is a piece of the continent,

    A part of the main.

    If a clod be washed away by the sea,

    Europe is the less.

    As well as if a promontory were.

    As well as if a manner of thine own

    Or of thine friend’s were.

    Each man’s death diminishes me,

    For I am involved in mankind.

    Therefore send not to know

    For whom the bell tolls

    It tolls for thee.

    It is an old saying that “a leader is oft’ led by the will of his people.” Perhaps that is why you have chosen to be called the “Servant Leader”. Indeed the essence of leadership is to serve and none can doubt your intentions to do same as evident in your 7-Point agenda.

    The necessity of addressing our Power and Energy issues are clear to all. Lack of Power and unavailability of constant and affordable Energy, accounts for over 70% of our current collective set-backs yet they have remained unaddressed simply because the successive ruling classes can afford and trade in the alternatives i.e. generators.

    Interestingly sir, one wonders why it is not national policy to use coal for power generation as do all other nations that have large reserves of the mineral. Even China from whence we currently derive much economic inspiration derives 80% of its Power from coal.

    The inclusion of Agriculture in your 7-Point Agenda is not surprising and this sector will ultimately benefit from mechanised large scale farming. There are miles of productive but uncultivated land that can be economically accessed through Cooperatives or other like business models for commercial mechanised farming. More important, however, is the need for enhanced preservation and storage capacities to maximise current levels of production.

    Agricultural potentials may also contribute to change the dynamics of the Niger Delta. This is possible in conjunction with an all inclusive pollution control and clean-up exercise involving the indigenous youth and the companies that have caused such environmental degradation.

    Much soul searching is equally in order as evidenced in recent Summits and Truth Commission. It is obvious that the people of the region know the script writers and the actors in their unending ordeal and ultimately have the power within themselves to displace those deviant few who continue to be “settled” whilst havoc reigns.

    Though a later entry into the agenda, Health and the health sector are equally of importance, and even more especially Education.

    But many have been our national agendas, reforms and visions. We pick and choose areas of focus forgetting or unaware that for economic development to occur, all variables and elements must be integrated and simultaneously activated.

    We have many and enough ministries, agencies, commissions, laws and tools, programmes and policies, yet we have not managed to make these existing offices, policies and institutions functional nor existing laws applicable. How do we then reform what we have not practiced?

    Many successive governments have sought to court the people and their support through these agendas and reforms, even probes and commissions. Perhaps this is related to the fact that we have never had a democratic government truly of the people. The military regimes usurped power by force and the use of arms and our civilian “rulers” usurped power by rigging. And thus, predictably, our only true democratic experience was annulled.

    Nigerians wonder why we spend so much time and resources in debates and discussions on agendas, reforms and visions that do not manifest any tangible difference in the lives of the citizenry.

    “No light, no water, no food, no money, no fuel, no anything” has become common talk in the polity.

    The Nigerian, “average” or “ordinary”, has nowhere to go and no one to turn to for solutions to mundane problems. Food, light, water, shelter, jobs etc. remain promised “dividends of democracy”. Even the various state apparatuses for societal regulation, order and rule of law ignore his pertinent need for fairness, equity and justice.

    System failure, and subsequent corruption, has resulted in governments’ inability to provide for the people. System failure has equally resulted in societal failures as both our traditional and official institutions have failed in maintaining the prerequisite standards of transparency, accountability, honour and discipline. This has denied the polity of local pairing structures at the grass roots necessary for policy implementation and policy benefits.

    There is a general feeling of despair and apathy as majority of Nigerians watch their country drift into obscurity. Even those in positions of authority have ultimately resigned to a psychology of business as usual or worse “if you can’t beat them join them”. And though they know what ought to be done they choose rather to aid the ostrich bury its head in the sand.

    Such is the state of things that the Local Government structure has been relegated to the “third tier of government”. Consequently many States fail to even conduct Local Government elections.

    The Local Government structure is that level of government closest to the people. It is through this level of government that the people can receive information and participate in government activity, initiatives and benefits, directly or indirectly.

    Economically, it is at this level that the inner wheels of any economy turn supported by state policy and intervention through financial institutions and initiatives. Politically, the Local Government structure provides the “electoral college” that selects, educates, prepares and equips future leaders at all levels. And sociologically, it is at this level that social safety nets become applicable and implementable either through organised menial labour such as sanitation and facility security or through direct state support.

    Historically however, our national experience at this level has been disappointing. In the forward to the 1976 Local Government Reform Guidelines, your brother, the then Brigadier Shehu Musa Yar’Adua was to comment that with “…the continuous whittling down of their powers…..Excessive politicking had made even modest progress impossible. Consequently, there has been a divorce between the people and government institutions at their most basic levels”. That was 33 years ago.

    It is at the local levels that the prerequisite levels of societal and administrative cohesion are fostered, through interaction, necessarily involving universal participation based on communication.

    This point was equally captured then, by the Brigadier, when he continued “…it is only through an effective Local Government system that the human and material resources could be mobilised for local development. Such mobilisation implies more intimate communication between the governed and the governor. But above all, these reforms are intended to entrust political responsibility to where it is most crucial and beneficial, that is, to the people.”

    It is then not surprising sir, that you should show visible interest in universal participation and participatory democracy under the rule of law as fundamental. It is equally not surprising that you understand the intrinsic and foundational relationship between universal participation and the rule of law.

    Your public acceptance of the discrepancies and invalidity of an election wherein you were victorious not only supports, but is indicative of your pedigree.

    This throws a challenge to the rest of the nation to rise up to the occasion, not through protest but rather through constructive dialogue and collective action. Indeed there is a national need to shift focus from “complaint conversations” to “solution conversations”.

    There is need for unison of purpose, guided dialogue and coordinated action in addressing the important and necessary tasks in our polity, especially that of uniting capital and labour in our country and fostering an economically viable entity regulated by the rule of law.

    This is indeed becoming more glaring with the obvious and eminent emergence of a new economic world order destined to ravage the developing nations, Africa especially.

    The dictates of globalisation determine that production will continually seek cheap skilled labour and more importantly capital will seek higher and secured profits.

    We have a large domestic market of over 100 million people to produce and cater for, which can sustain economic growth for decades were we enabled. And there is an abundance of capital, especially in private hands, which can be productively deployed for national development and benefit.

    Thought provoking is the notion that if neither the government nor the people can effect restitution nor afford the upheaval and the time wasting that will be caused by an attempt to immediately and fully correct the ills of the past, perhaps an amnesty is in order, allowing the economic reintegration of these “rogue” funds, from whence we may safely say “no more” and deal decisively with new culprits henceforth.

    There is ultimately the imperative that much attention be primarily directed to those between the ages of 20 and 50 as the focus of our new socio-economic and socio-political policies, and social engineering mechanisms. Therein lay our productive (20 – 40) and regulatory (40 – 50) capacities in the present.

    Proper categorisation, compartmentalisation, reorientation and deployment of this segment of society, if adequately planned and pursued, necessarily in conjunction with the integration of capital and labour, will provide for all our needs.

    The future however, lies with those currently between the ages 5 and 15 for whom we must immediately overhaul the Education sector such that the society produces reliable hands and heads for continuity.

    Whilst cramming and regurgitation have replaced thinking and creativity in our nursery and primary schools, cults, examination malpractices and “sorting” in collusion with staff have been the bane of our secondary and tertiary institutions. This has left us with a large pool of the unskilled, unschooled and largely untrained.

    Beyond tinkering with ownership of the schools or the number of years spent at each level, the vehicles of education are equally in need of drastic appraisal and repair i.e. the school staff and structures. Most schools lack adequate science laboratories, physical education facilities and basic amenities.

    The Kwara State experience where out of over 19,000 only 75 passed a Class 4 exam, shows that the teaching staff must be reassessed nationally as a matter of urgency. Perhaps the same State Commissioner for the Ministry of Education should immediately head the Ministry at the national level since, reading his methodology and even for the fact that he was thinking in that light, he obviously knows what to do.

    We have equally forgotten that education is a continuous as well as a collective process and the relevance of libraries (with books inside), arts and drama, clubs such as Boy Scouts and Girl Guides, Age grades and other traditional structures educative and supportive of instituted authority and collective societal input. Even toys, folk tales and sports have all but disappeared in our society.

    The benefits of recreational facilities, zoos, social centres etc have been lost as most of these instruments of Edutainment are fast being destroyed and replaced with housing estates for the affluent.

    Indeed Sir, even education involves universal participation as does most else of communal relevance, implication or deployment. It would be difficult to teach a child to throw waste in a dustbin while all around the streets and houses are piles of refuse left by adults.

    But, universal participation, like the rule of law involves and requires an understanding within a given polity. This understanding facilitated by communication, enables all members of that given polity to appreciate and adopt a common and agreed path of action, achievable and sustainable through continued understanding and the cooperation of all.

    An example of this would be queuing, wherein Nigerians manifested their will in stopping queue jumping. Though initially forced into queuing by a military regime, there was a collective consciousness in the matter as ordinary Nigerians abided and enforced queuing everywhere.

    It is this collective consciousness that is referred to as the “General Will” and translates to notions of a Social Contract i.e. an agreement made (acquiesced) to by all and binding by all. The concept of general will, as indeed social contract, introduces the element of trust to communal existence, wherein anyone who betrays that trust is decisively dealt with by all for the benefit of all.

    In a democracy, the general will is enabled by the electoral process which allows members of the polity choose representatives they believe will protect their interests, i.e. the people they trust.

    In Nigeria, as you have rightly acknowledged Sir, the electoral processes are in need of immediate attention and scrutiny to correct the ills therein.

    It is thus clear and evident from all social and national commentary that Power/Energy is fundamental to a realistic economic and socio-economic revival whilst free and fair elections i.e. participatory democracy is foundational to sustaining socio-political stability for economic prosperity.

    I commend the spirit of sincerity in your leadership and that of the Minister of Power who has acknowledged that we currently do not have a Power master-plan. If that is the case, then the minister should immediately prepare one, there has been enough talk already.

    This should be a full report, detailing the existing and proposed power plants in the country, both public and private, including pertinent factors and issues such as distribution capacity and requirements, envisaged constraints, accompanied by the policy and actions taken, time frame and expected results.

    Your recent observation that Nigerians are not adequately informed of Governments actions and policies is sadly also true. The Minister for Information and Communication should therefore publish an exhaustive list of all government Ministries, Departments and Agencies/Commissions etc, their functions and their addresses including their Service Charters created and submitted to SERVICOM.

    This is in line and core to the functions of that Ministry. Let Nigerians know their Government and its instruments first. The branding of a nation must involve its people who must be necessarily informed about their nation before all else. Indeed as with most things in life, for any successful outing, proper preparations must first begin at home.

    This should also be a free publication, distributed throughout the Federation through the Nigerian Postal Service, an essential instrument of communication and information, all but forgotten, yet structurally present in almost every Local Government Area.

    The Nigerian Postal Service should be at the fore in extending and attaining the desired levels of information dissemination and feed-back mechanisms especially at the grassroots in order not to occasion further disadvantage to those in rural areas. Though Government needs to be sufficiently enabled with Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for internal processes, hard-copy formats must necessarily be the platform for communicating with the nation, especially in Nigeria.

    This constant communication provides not only the platform for societal integration and regulation but also the collection and collation of accurate data and statistics for national planning, deployment and implementation of development strategies.

    Please find enclosed a copy of the Project Initiation Document for Deployment and Implementation of Development Strategies which lays the prerequisite national platform to bridge the gap between the government and the people. Reform like change must be a continuum, and, as regards to a specific polity, must represent a collective conclusion from collective contributions based on collective experience.

    Development, like government and governance is inter-related and inter-dependent. National development must therefore involve simultaneous ignition and actualisation in all sectors.

    As humble contributions to “solution conversations”, the first of three steps is the launch of an Ombudsman, necessarily by and involving the people, in concert with both government and traditional institutions.

    An Ombudsman structure, being inherently probative, will engineer adequate reform across the public sector especially in service delivery and accountability, whilst providing a bridge between the government and the governed. Supported by the collective, driven by the Public Defendant (through the Nigerian Bar Association in conjunction with other professional bodies) and guided by the Law courts, the Ombudsman will address

    1. Non-recurring injury to individuals or a group

    2. Recurring, systematic injury to individuals or a group/class

    3. Injury to the general public or the greater collective

    The second step would be actualising the integration of capital and labour for wealth creation through the provision of critical, commercially viable infrastructure, more specifically and most importantly Power/Energy and Rail transportation. This would include one 10,000Mw Thermal Power Station powered by coal, two 200,000bpd Refineries and 3000Km of strategic intercity rail. All of these will be deployed using nationalisation platforms.

    By so doing, not only will critical infrastructure be actualised in the least possible time, stability will be occasioned in the capital markets due to the inherently broad base platform of nationalisation instruments. This is in contrast to the stagnant monopolies occasioned by our unbridled application of single-owner privatisation policies.

    The imperative of actualising Power is basic, thus in conjunction with our current policy using Natural Gas, we must mine our coal and ultimately use it to provide electrical power as do all other nations that have large reserves of the mineral.

    Nigeria has the largest coal reserves on the west coast if not the continent. Our coal is sufficiently low in sulphur content to be considered environmentally acceptable. The employment potentials are obviously twofold as they involve not only the power plants but also the mining of the coal and our other minerals for export.

    Likewise sir, in relation to Energy matters, if a 200,000bpd refinery costs $4 Billion, why doesn’t the State build two new refineries and recoup the expenditure, plus cost of capital, by nationalising/selling same through stock instruments in the capital markets. There is an abundance of funds in Nigeria, though largely in private hands, that will definitely support and participate in such an initiative. A variant of this model may equally be used in deployment of rail transportation using manual labour. Rail transport is capital intensive but critical to national development. It is also a viable and lucrative business as are coal mines, Power Plants and refineries.

    Indeed most of the nations that offer us advice and loans for these items used and continue to use internal fiscal mechanisms and manual local labour to achieve sustained infrastructural and economic development by integrating capital and labour as a means of wealth creation. The Chinese even use their own nationals for projects abroad as evidenced in their various projects in Nigeria.

    The expansion in the economy occasioned by these three projects will necessarily provide mass real employment, direct technical and skills transfer, micro-economic activity and macro-economic stability. More importantly the projects involved either involve or stimulate other economic variables thereby deploying inter-relatedness, characteristic of governance and development, by simultaneously stimulating all sectors. However, the role and functions of the Central Bank, as indeed the commercial banks, need to be examined along with interest and lending rates in a bid to realign them to current objectives and realities.

    The last, but definitely not the least step, is that the national voter’s registration exercise should commence now, as a continuous and public process, to ensure free, fair and verifiable elections. This may be in conjunction with the National Identity Card scheme, another essential developmental and planning instrument.

    Further to this, the issue of independent candidature, as included in your proposed electoral reforms, should be vigorously pursued as enabling of involvement, access and universal participation in the polity.

    Nigeria is not a failed State. Many are also quick to observe that we are barely 60 years old as a Sovereign nation, and that we were under military rule for over half of that period. The current levels of developmental progress in some States, speaks volumes of what is possible.

    But still, in the history of our nation, few moments have been so critical. Externally, a new world order unfolds, one that will be conditioned by a new generation, products of a new time. Internally, old interests, interest groups, obstacles and challenges continue to distract and derail us.

    Fortunately for us, we are not at the end of a cycle, but rather at the beginning. Unlike our western neighbours in the global village who face economic recession, we are yet to deploy and sustain the basics of an economy. And whilst they seek new markets and means (including nationalist policies) to sustain consumption and thus production, we have a virtually untapped domestic market of over 100 million consumers.

    Mr. President Sir, in the next three months, Nigerians of all ages and professions, States and tribes, religions and creeds will be called upon to unite and actualise the first two steps in a historic moment of self actualisation as a Public Private People’s Partnership. Support us in every way and with all your good offices that together we will all deliver the heart of our nation.

    The last or third step can only be taken by you and your good offices. Should you bring the spark, Nigerians will light the candle of true democracy.

    I pray you Sir, always remember that you are the President of a nation and not just a political party or interest group. Seize these times, step out of the box, emerge the leader that your pedigree demands of you, Nigeria will succeed, as our pedigree demands no less of us.

    Majority of Nigerians do care and are willing to sacrifice for a new Nigeria devoid of excessive politicking, interests, interest groups, and all other obstacles presented by those who profit from this madness and shelter in the chaos.

    We are indeed old enough to give a “GOOD PEOPLE a GREAT NATION”.

    May the Good Lord grant you love, favour and shelter, both in the heavens and on earth.

    Yours Sincerely,

    Akunwata Chuka Modebe Esq

  5. Nasir Suleiman Yandaki says:

    We need people like him in Nigeria. If only our leaders could do according to the wish of the masses Nigeria would have been five hundred percent developed.

  6. Anaele Ihuoma says:

    Quite enlightening especially especially given the relative newness of the concept in this part of the world . The concerns raised by labour are typical and knee jerk, but the more likely scenario is for labour to benefit from the lifeline that the concessionaires would throw at the moribund entities, provided men and women of professional integrity and fear of God are made to manage the ICRC and the resultant PPP arrangements.

  7. Baba Ali Kellu says:

    Simple, articulate and educating.

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