By Koye-Ladele Mofehintoluwa
"I have no apologies for believing that education is the key with which all doors open to development- whether national or corporate or individual- are opened. I hold the same views with Obafemi Awolowo that this country will remain backward, unproductive and prone to tyrannical government as long as some people are ignorant"- Bola Ige
The news hit the waves yesterday that Osun state paid 8bn on salaries from Paris club refund and 2bn on pension. I think that was too much for recurrent expenditure. I doubt Osun generates as much and I am stunned by the possible impacts on the lives of those workers if the Paris Club Refund did not take place in the first instance. The current Nigerian structure creates states that exist just to maintain the state civil service, carry out some projects and feed the political class that their hunger never quenches.
The price we pay for Nigerian unity at all costs is a 36-state structure that emphasises dependence on the centre for revenue and on crude oil for survival. This structure ensures that the peoples of Nigeria are not granted enough cohesion to seek a dissolution but at the same time does not let us move forward.
Sincerely, I think our civil service is bloated and ineffective. However, I do not think the solution is a total scrap as we are slowly tending towards with the various neoliberal economics playing out evidenced by the pervading foulness of privatization which would have been better if it sought advancement but is merely a way of cutting out huge chunks of the national cake for less than the cost and to themselves, their friends, family and even lucky concubines.
Rather, I push the position that the solution is in remodelling the civil service to become productive.
Most civil service slots are held by people being rewarded for political loyalty. Promotions are not based on merit. The service has for a long time existed merely as a source of sustenance for those holding the offices but not as an investment for growth for the state itself.
What must be done?
There must be assessment tests especially for teachers to determine if they are fit for their roles. Often. We complain that students fall in final examinations but their teachers are worse off. Reassessing those who hold these offices is key.
It should be followed up with a salary review which would also affect the political class. The cost of governance consumes much in this country. Government officers must be willing to part with huge bonuses and in turn work on building the economy such that workers would earn less but the money has more value. Thus, in essence, if the currency becomes stronger, salaries across levels of government can be reviewed downwards as the purchasing value of money would have become stronger.
We must consider investments into education. The world is creeping slowly towards natural resources not being huge revenue sources. Tourism, education, healthcare are fast replacing natural resources as revenue source. Oil, gold, cocoa, timber and other such may in the next 20 years not be the source of the wealth of nations. Our education must be raised to a global standard and our youth should be encouraged to stay back and make returns into local economy.
Nigeria should work on developing models that are futuristic. We should see the future and seize it. There should be 10, 20 and as long as 50 year plans for growth. Our country continues to emphasise politics while no concrete move is being contemplated on the chessboard of global political economy.
Nigeria should begin thoughts of creating her own multinational companies. This relates with our education too. We must connect the lines between what our children are taught in school, their understanding of the world and their ability to solve the problems of the world. We must market these solutions on a global scale and have Nigerian equivalents of global brands.
Those who can read the times should hold office and not those who can appeal to the sentiments of immediate gratification. Elections are being bought across the country and they are bringing into political office complete simpletons.
As it appears, what we operate in Nigeria is not a democracy but an imitation of it that should be christened. The factors that determine ascent to power go beyond the imprint of thumbs on ballot papers. There are strings that those who really intend to serve cannot pull. These strings determine the eventual outcome of elections.
In a nutshell, leakage must be plugged. The Ministry of Works as a civil service agency for instance should be upgraded such that contracts such as road repairs and construction do not go out to the Julius Bergers or RCC but rather highly trained and skilled engineers in the Ministry. They would deliver just as well for far less. If our Ministry of Works can attain this height, other capital projects would become realistic dreams without the constraints of economic handcuffs.
We must have parties that we understand their ideology and methods. We must also begin to form organisations that will push the demands of the mass. If you vote PDP, what is their foreign policy? Any answer? If you vote APC, are they capitalist oriented or socialist? If you vote MDP, do you have a clear idea what the party will do in event of a global economic meltdown?
Ideology must surface. A people without ideas cannot leave the darkness in which Nigeria wallows.
Nigeria must first catch up with the world and then try to overtake her. Time is running out.
Can we achieve all these radical change through a democracy or do the people have to change the government by toppling it by any means necessary?
By any means necessary!
Koye-Ladele Mofehintoluwa is a 300L student of the Faculty of Law, Obafemi Awolowo University. He represents his Faculty in the SRC as a Parliamentarian. He is a Student Activist with an undying passion for societal development.
By Koye-Ladele Mofehintoluwa