By Jerome-Mario Utomi
As a background, this piece stems from a questionnaire sent to one professionally trained librarian and researcher, pious, soft spoken, intelligent, and self-contained and quietly influential Nigerian that divine intervention brought us together. The questionnaire centered on the political, socio economic situation in Nigeria as well as recent developments within the international circle.
Essentially, the respondent aside coming from a very conservative family where discipline is the second nature of their behaviour and life was also traditional and living enjoyable, he explained how he was influenced by love for reading. As his father had love for reading the newspapers and often subscribed for such titles as Concord Newspapers, Vanguard and Daily Times of old. Opinions and views of the journalists in their writings geared his love for the profession.
While providing further insight to his professional background, he placed a distinctive signpost between a librarian and researcher. To him, a librarian is a researcher; a general custodian of all aspects of human knowledge generation. While a researcher focuses on a specific human knowledge activity, a librarian covers all. A librarian is a researcher in scientific, arts and social sciences.
To answer the first question- which has to do with the nation’s educational sector,
He, contrary to the general beliefs absolved the nation’s education sector of any wrongdoing in its inability to produce graduates tailored to meet the industrial needs. To him, the current educational policies at the current –6—3—3—4 American system is excellent in policy statement but the inability of the financiers to prioritise the teaching tools for its success has truncated its intended goals and objectives.
I do not share such opinion, he noted. The sector has been able to produce excellent graduates in different fields of human endeavors. But industry is a different field. If the industry co-opts the graduates through industrial training or management trainee programmes, the industrial needs of the nation would be achieved.
To further consolidate on the gains of the present system, he argued that entrepreneurial programmes/studies should be integrated into the educational system i.e from the primary schools to the university levels. Creativity, endurance and courage are skills that should be taught by psychologists to students in all classes of our educational system.
What about the second question- an objective analysis of the nation’s (Nigeria) democratic experience or is it experiment in the past two decades?
Again, he admitted that the democratic system has opened up the economy in such areas as privatisation, deregulation and free market economy. Nigerians have more to wealth than before. Freedom of the press and access to justice are better when you contrast them with the military regimes of the past. He, however, added that regionalism is different from democracy.
‘I do not agree that Nigeria is ripe for regionalism. Federalism is a fair practice now if you juxtaposed it with tribalism, nepotism and political tribal lords that the country is facing today. I will advocate for fiscal federalism where each state generates and spends its wealth generated.
On the nation’s restructuring, he has this to say; True federalism should be practised. The constitution should be amended to give more powers to the states in conduct of their affairs. Concurrent and residual lists should be left entirely for the states while the exclusive lists should be managed solely by the federal government.
While lamenting that Nigerian leaders especially in this current dispensation are not patriotic, he stressed that ethnicity and region—biased leaders do not view Nigeria as a country. Poverty, greed and avarice are seen in Nigerian leaders. These have created psychological problems in their reasoning. They are ethnic champions with ruthless adherents.
To the next question which centred on his personal impression concerning the much-talked Corona virus? The orchestrated palliatives (food bank) by the state governments? Has the government (both state and Federal) been fair to the people? And his personal opinion on the current global calls for sanction against China for their inglorious role in this troubling moment?
Listen to him; the palliative was a farce. It was intended to imitate what the western world did. A (propaganda) government publicity stunts. Why didn’t they sustain it till this day? The citizens did not believe the government anyway. China should be called to pay reparations to every nation of the world for their negligence or willful intention to cause calamity to the world-personal, institutional and national loss.
Now, to politics. Do you think PDP is prepared to bounce back to power at the federal level, especially the Presidency in 2023?
I do not know if they are prepared, he responded, but the current APC-led federal government has performed woefully—in infrastructure, human development and in foreign affairs of the nation. Willful killings, clear support for the Fulani Herdsmen, the west-north against the east—south in all aspects of the nations policy are enough to knock out the current powers sitting in Abuja.
The nation is presently facing a lot of security challenges, what would you proffer as a solution to the security threats in the country?
He has this to say; the country should create quasi—military outfits devoid of ethnic colourations. Such creations should be given specific mandates to deal with herdsmen, gunmen (419), ritualists and kidnappers. They should be equipped with communication tools while being supervised by the Nigerian Police Force. Again, industrialisation of the country will help to draw the youth out of criminal intentions.
Continuing, he noted that states should create their out security outfits but be supervised by the federal police. It should not be regional. If it becomes regional, you will begin to see ethnic and tribal colourations. The states should employ and fund it under the supervision of the States Commissioner of police.
Politically, in history the country with its traditional administrative system is different. This often becomes glaring when voting in democracy. Literacy of the voters in the South is higher than when contrasted with those in the North. Again, government (federal) should deregulate the mining sector, the railway system, the oil and gas, electricity sector, and so on.
What are the issues?
He answers; Overbearing power of the Federal Government of Nigeria, ethnicity/tribal bearing, fiscal federalism that is absent, Godfatherism in the choice of leadership, Duplication of legislature chambers, unicameral (one) legislature chamber should be allowed.
The representative system of electing local government officials is a fraud. It has achieved nothing beneficial for the citizens of the local governments. Therefore, I advise that men and women of good character who has had good experience in the public and private sectors including good clergy men should be appointed to manage the local government council with no salary, but should be paid allowances. They should not come from the political class. This selection should be done by the judges and magistrate of the states.
There is so much corruption in the country, does it worry you?
Of course, it does worry me. It will go worse in time to come. Corrupt officials either in the public or private sectors should be sent to jail if found guilty with no option of fine or bail. The laws on offenders should be fully applied and should be apolitical. Institutions should be strengthened to fight corruption.
A man’s handwork is what he is. Our youths should go into commercial farming whether it is cash crops or animal husbandry and also seek outlets to sell their farm produce. Trading of essential goods is also a fair business to do. Morally, they should stop engaging in fraudulent activities like 419, rituals and cultism, he concluded.
Jerome-Mario is a Lagos-Based Media Consultant.