MEMO TO MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT, C-in-C. 3


 Your Excellency, as I conclude this three -part memo as my humble contribution to support your historic assumption of office after a record lengthy struggle, permit me to give my thoughts on some of the very critical issues on which you have promised the Nation significant, if not revolutionary change. I have chosen to write on them last because, in my candid opinion, these are the areas you need the best advice and the greatest help. This is so,because when all is said and done, these are the sentiments on which you won the election and it is on  these your success will be measured:
 FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION
Nigerians can and do disagree on many issues. But when it comes to corruption, ALL Nigerians agree that the level of corruption in Nigeria is very high. When the Transparency International places us year after year at the bottom quarter of the Corruption Perception Index(CPI), they are only reflecting what we Nigerians and our friends say about ourselves. They do not do so out of hatred or bias. Therefore, since there is this unanimous recognition and acceptance of this national malady, it should be relatively easy to cure it, because as we say in Healthcare, the successful diagnosis of a malady, is half the solution. But the problem we have in Nigeria is that while everybody accepts and confesses that our Country is corrupt, very few are willing to accept that they are part of the corruption. The General tendency is to see the corruption everywhere else, outside of ourselves. It is always that some one else or some other organization or some other group or sector is corrupt. And not us.
  Often, corruption in Nigeria is said to exist only in the government, and every other sector is clean, only politicians are corrupt while other professionals are not. It is only the Police that is corrupt, but we who commit traffic offense and bribe the Police to let us off the hook are not corrupt. The taxi driver who cheats or overcharges his passenger does not see any corruption in what he is doing but is quick to accuse the Police at the check point who collects twenty naira from him as corrupt. The electorate who demands money or gifts from the politician before he casts his vote for him on Election Day, does not see that as corruption but shouts at the INEC official who connives with another politician to change results. The Private sector employee who makes a false claim on his tax form of having four Children and two aged parents, when he has only a child and his parents are long dead, does not see that as corruption but will ask that the Legislator who collects "oversight" ticket  from the Securities & Exchange Commission(SEC),should be sent to jail for being corrupt. Even the Journalist who demands or expects a brown envelope before he writes a story or publishes an article seems oblivious of his corrupt Behavior but is ready to ask for the head of a soldier who rides in a bus without paying the fare.
 Your Excellency we can never win the war against corruption until we have a common definition of corruption. To us Nigerians, corruption means different things and majority of us are blind to our own corrupt activities. I believe this is one of the frustrations that your immediate predecessor, Dr Goodluck Jonathan expressed when he tried to distinguish stealing from the omnibus word -Corruption.  But the same hypocritical Nigerians made a joke of a serious matter. So sir, my first advice on this subject is that we need to define corruption in the Nigerian context. In the event that you plan to retain the National Orientation Agency(NOA), this might be a worthwhile assignment. You may wish to rename them National Anti corruption Agency( NAA) .We need to agree on what corruption means and how it manifests and they should impress it upon every Nigerian. It should be taught in our schools and we must find a way of testing every Nigerian's full and unambiguous understanding of what corruption is and how it manifests. May be we should include it in the test for driver's license renewal or what ever. Let Nigerians know that corruption is not only the taking of Bribes or awarding of inflated contracts. It is much much more. Let the NAA carry out a campaign on this as the first shot to be fired in this war.
  Sir, the second recommended step is to ensure that all law enforcement officers from the Police, the Federal Road Safety corps, and Regulators of all kinds,to the Judicial officers at all levels are well paid and well maintained. Hungry men can never successfully enforce laws, nor can they successfully resist temptations to be corrupt. Some of those we arm to fight crimes or maintain the law are paid 'starvation' wages and many have become 'official' armed robbers.My point is that if we must make the war effective, and sustainable, we must take good care of those who will be directly involved in the war fare, other wise the hunter might end up being the hunted.
  Third Sir, is that the Governments of the Federation must become responsible employers. They must not hire people, if there is no budget to pay them. Employees must be paid on due dates and all of their other entitlements paid as at when due. Government must never again wait for workers to threaten strike or go on strike before their legitimate demand are met or before promises are fulfilled and agreements implemented. Your Excellency, I do not know your experience, since for most of your life you have lived on government largesse,( Officer Cadet,Commanding officer, Minister, Head of State, Retired General and now President), perhaps in your younger days as Junior Army officer you may have experienced it; it is very very difficult for most working Nigerians to survive on their salaries without 'additional income'.In the frank absence of social safety,they bear many burdens for themselves, their families( nuclear & extended) and the community. Now how are these workers expected to survive when salaries are delayed, and as happens very often in States, workers are owed six months salary. Believe me Sir, it will be difficult to fight a war against corruption in such a milieu, not to talk of ever winning.
 Fourth Sir, we must all lead by example. And I believe you will lead by example. But it is critical that all other leaders and office bearers in your administration at all levels must be made to lead by example. When a head of department or agency is abusing his office, it is futile to expect those under his or her command or supervision to be angels. The fish begins to rot from the head. So we need to keep surveillance over all leaders in the government. This must be some agency's responsibility. If you intend to keep the ICPC, this should be their assignment or if not, you may assign this to the bureau responsible for public officers asset declaration- Code of Conduct Bureau. In which case their mandate will be to investigate any officer who is living above his means. They must not wait to receive petitions or complaints, they should work like internal auditors who routinely check that things are going according to plan, and where they notice incongruences, people are invited to prove their innocence. In Abuja, many people know many Mid level and Senior Public Servants( retired and serving )who own high rise buildings in Maitama and Wuse and yet no body is questioning them,perhaps because everybody is playing the same games.
   Your Excellency, Focusing only on political office holders and throwing them into jails as you did the last time will not work and I believe that you know that it did not work even then. That is why I am making these suggestions. We must begin this fight from first principles, so that the impact will be far reaching. I am not suggesting a police State. What I am saying is that People must be conscious of the consequences of corruptive activities and must feel that they could be caught. We must not allow those who have become adept at covering their tracks to continue their dastardly acts and believe they would get away as they have done in the past. My point is that there must be deterrence, if the battle will be won. All over the World, including the most developed Countries there are men and women who are pushed by their lust to abuse Public trust, but they ultimately get caught, not necessarily that some body complained, but because' Uncle Sam is watching' as they say in the United States of America.
SECURITY
 If you ask me, I will suggest that you do not spare costs in revamping, rekitting and rebuilding our security infrastructure. Sir, you have said it and it is well established that the first responsibility of any government is to protect lives and property of its citizens. When a government fails in this primary responsibility, for what ever reasons( defensible or not), then its legitimacy is called to question. We know there is Bokoharam terrorism in the North, which is significantly under control, but it took the military time to achieve this feat, most probably due to poor equipment and morale. But as bad as terrorism is, it is not the only security challenge that Nigeria faces. To be sincere to you, most Nigerians and our foreign business associates feel that Nigeria is Unsafe. In Nigeria life is cheap. People are murdered in broad day light, and the criminals disappear like 'spirits' never to be found, except perhaps if the person they killed is a Policeman!. So rather than give free meals to students or invest limited National income in some public sector funded physical Projects, let's first rebuild our police force, develop a robust intelligence gathering capacity and ensure that no criminal escapes speedy justice in our country.
LAW & ORDER
 Your Excellency, if you can turn the image of our Country from that where anything goes to one where law and order reigns, you would have met the expectations of most Nigerians, including those of Nigerians yet unborn. In this you will need the support of the other arms of government ( legislature and Judiciary) and other tiers of government( States and local governments). But you will have to lead. Truly, we may not necessarily need new laws. Let us obey and enforce all existing laws in our Statute . If one keeps the laws and follows the rules, he will get all that are due him and he  will be protected by the State. If any breaks any law( minor or major), the State will go after him in line with due process and he will be made to pay. No friends, no foes. No bias , no favour. No exemptions. No exclusions. " I belong to Nobody but I am for everybody"
  Your excellency if you spend all your time fighting corruption justly, keeping Nigerians safe where ever they live or work, going after criminals and law breakers and Enthroning law and order, you would make Nigeria A preferred investment destination. Then the Private Sector( Domestic and International) will bring in the investment to support the building of infrastructure, and the establishment of businesses that will create employment and generate wealth, thereby reducing poverty.
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PEOPLE
 Finally your Excellency, please do not allow your self to be held hostage by your aides or officialdom. You freely moved around the People when you canvassed for their votes. You held town hall meetings and village hall meetings to explain yourself to the people. Please do not allow anything keep you away from the People. Find regular opportunities to shake off officialdom  and touch base with the Real People and get first hand information on how things are going. Do not allow yourself to be shielded from Reality. Remember that you met them on your way to the top, and that they will still be there on your way down. May the grace of God give you the Solomonic wisdom to lead Nigeria successfully. Thank you so much for finding time to read my memo . Respectfully submitted.
 Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa  OFR

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THE GROWING MISERY INDEX OF NIGERIANS AND THE SEARCH FOR GOVERNMENT Nigerians readily point out what Governments ought to do which they are not doing. Indeed, virtually every problem in Nigeria is blamed on the government. And for many Nigerians, the government to be blamed often is the Federal government. Many are oblivious of the other tiers of government, especially the local governments. It is as if the local governments have no responsibilities or may be the people have come to expect little from them. The many years of over centralization fostered on the Nation by the military now makes most Nigerians think and act as if the Federal government is the only government in Nigeria. The 1999 Constitution sustains this misnomer by granting the Federal government a long exclusive list and the freedom to dabble into every other matter, some of which should better be left with the traditional councils in the states. This has led many Nigerians to allow the local and State governments get away with With 'blue murder' while holding only the federal government to account,even if feebly. While it is justifiable to blame government for poor infrastructure, poor education, poor healthcare, high unemployment, high insecurity, and even for hunger, corruption and traffic hold ups, it is beginning to look to me that this is an orchestrated ploy by some Nigerians to take a permanent flight from being held responsible for our individual and group conducts. In the first place, the governments we blame so frequently for failing us are run by Nigerians. Indeed the irony is that some of those who blame government for everything are in government themselves! Sometimes, it looks like that there is a mystery man called 'government'. But no, government is no mystery man, but a collection of persons who are first citizens and who run the government on behalf of and for the good of all the citizens. For convenience, they are grouped into the EXECUTIVE, LEGISLATURE AND JUDICIARY. And that includes politicians, civil servants, public servants, professionals and non professionals of all cadres and categories; from cleaners,security men and permanent secretaries to ministers; from legislative aids to the House Speaker and Senate President; from the court bailiff to the Policeman, to the Registrar and to the Supreme Court Judge; from the gatemen to the Director Generals of Parastatals and Agencies, they are all constituent parts of the government, agents of the State. And that's why they are paid from the tax payers money.Every action, each one of them takes or omits to take reflects on the effectiveness or in effectiveness of the government they are part of. But it looks to me that this realization does not exist sufficiently. Some how, you get the impression that the President or the State Governor alone is the government and everybody else is either the governed, observer, bystander, supporter,complainant or critic. Perhaps this may explain why there is a woeful failure of the"government " to satisfy the expectations of Nigerians. It is practically impossible for only the President to satisfy the 170 million Nigerians or the Governor to satisfy all the over 12 million people in Lagos for example. Everywhere you go,you meet people who work in the government institutions who act as if they care very little about the success or citizen perception of the government they serve in. When you complain about the poor service you are getting,the same people who are part or agents of the government turn around to blame the 'government', absolving themselves of any blame and often the complaining citizen seems to either agree or empathize with the government employee that the problem is with the mystery ' Mr Government ' Early this year, I wanted to make a trip to the United Kingdom and applied for the UK Visa. Few days after submitting my visa application, I received a call from the British Embassy that there was no space left in my passport to affix the visa. I quickly collected my passport and ran to the passport office in Ikoyi Lagos to get a new one. It took me six visits to the passport office over a period of six weeks to collect a new passport.Reasons ranged from missing file to long queues, mismatch of finger prints, the absence of the engineer and late approval from Abuja. It was an ordeal. Mean while I missed the trip to the Uk and was almost missing a trip to the USA because my subsisting US visa was in my old passport which had been 'quarantined' in the passport office. At the end of this rigmarole I was still expected to show 'gratitude' In August last year, I went to renew my driving license and I was told to fill out forms and make payments. Thereafter I was asked to come back one year after in July this year at the FRSC camp in Ojodu, Lagos for what they called 'capture'. I wondered why it would take a year to come for the 'capture'. I was told that many people were on the queue and their 'capture' equipments were few. I was told that a photocopy of my form on which the July date had been written would serve as my temporary driving license until that date. I shook my head and left. On the assigned date and at the stipulated time of 7am, I arrived. First, it took a lot of pleading to let me drive in through the gate. With one year scheduling, I had expected few people but was shocked by the large crowd milling around the place. I moved from place to place and after several hours when I arrived in front of the 'capture' machine, I was told that my name had not dropped. 'From where ?' I asked. I made three other visits over a period of five weeks, because either, my name was still traveling from wherever to the 'capture' machine, or because there was no 'network' to capture me. I finally got another temporary driving license. And so I will have to return to Ojodu in 60 days when it expires or wait to be called to come and collect the permanent driving license when it is ready and who knows how many more trips that will take, because I saw People who had been called to come and collect, and they came, only to be told that the license was not yet ready. I do not know of any other country in the World where citizens are subjected to this kind of torture just to obtain a driving license. When my son-in-law heard my story, he sympathized with me because he went through an 'agent' and got his with ease! I suffered the same fate in trying to renew my plate numbers as demanded by FRSC. I have completed my registration for the National Identity card at a special unit set up by the National Identity Commission at an interaction in Lagos. I was given a temporary National Identity card. I do not know when I will get the permanent one. Now I have been asked by the Central bank to go to my bank and obtain another Universal identity card. I do not know how many trips I will have to make to obtain a temporary card before I struggle to get the permanent one. I will still go for my voters card and do biometrics and for my Pension, another set of biometrics and identity card. How many Identity cards is a normal law-abiding Nigerian expected to carry?.Why the National identity card can not suffice for all these is what I am asking. I am searching for Mr Government to ask him, because that is what I am asked to do. Can't these government agencies and officers who are asking for these many identity cards share information ? Or is it the fault of Mr government ? Why do we relish in making life difficult for fellow Nigerian citizens and then blame government. Any where Nigerians are to receive service from a government agency, the story of misery and denigration of human dignity is repeated. Who is government? What can be the problem? Is it a matter of lack of a compelling vision, or lack of motivation, or lack of empowerment or plain lack of commitment. What ever it is, I believe that something must be done urgently and in a holistic manner to remedy this anomaly which is creating a lot of problem for the citizens in Nigeria. The unnecessary suffering to which Nigerians are subjected to at every point can not continue this way. What is worse is that the pains intensify when people are doing their best to obey the laws and be responsible citizens. This backlash may seem to promote deviant behavior or corner cutting. Some are 'compelled' to 'settle' police on the highway than go through the torture of trying to get a driving license. All those who are part of government at all levels will need to undergo a fresh orientation to make them understand that point, that a chain is as strong as its weakest link. That Government is not about a single person but a chain of persons who deliver service to the Citizens and that the best President or best Governor will achieve little if all other parties are not playing their roles with the same efficiency and consistency. The leaders of our Governments must therefore take appropriate initiatives on building this consciousness in all persons in government. For empowerment and motivation, the leaders must ensure proper skilling up and motivation of all those involved in the governance process. The right persons must be put in the right positions to ensure the integrity of the chain.For commitment,the leaders must demand evidence of performance down the line. This must be measured and rewarded so that the unskilled for the assignment, the unprepared and the indolent are weeded from the system, so that the impact of good governance can be felt by citizens leading to improved quality of life and the reduction of the misery index. It seems this is perhaps the most critical responsibility of the leaders of the different tiers and arms of government and may actually be the differentiating characteristic of the effective government leaders. Sitting at the capital and hoping that all the 'beautiful' policies, projects and programmes are yielding the desired result will not do. If those who are part of government are blaming the government,one can then understand why some other Nigerians make a past time of blaming government for every problem. If the gutter overflows, it is the government that must be blamed and nothing to do with the citizens who throw pure water satchets and sundry rubbish into the gutter. When the road is blocked, it is the government and nothing to do with the indiscipline of citizen drivers who refuse to give way to each other. In those Countries that we admire and aspire to be like, most Citizens regulate themselves and accept responsibilities for the good order of the society, thus allowing the regulatory enforcement agencies to effectively contain the few deviants. If everybody is a deviant, no government can effectively manage public order. That is my point and it does not in any way absolve the government in power from its statutory responsibilities. There is a role for the government and there is a role for the citizen. Any dereliction on either side will create problems for the society, just as we are having,Period. Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa OFR