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TBN: What We Shall Do To Rebuild Nigeria — By Jaye Gaskia

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INTRODUCTION: This brief summarises highlights of the election Manifesto Platform of the JG4P 2019 campaign, the Program of Action of the TBN, and the Governance Agenda of the TBN/JG4P in government.

CONTEXT: At TBN we know that A New Nigeria is desirable; A different Nigeria is possible; and Another type of Nigeria has become an imperative. But in order to achieve this, we shall have to Rebuild Our Country. And to be in a position to Rebuild our Country we first have to Take It Back from the failed ruling class and its discredited establishment.

This is why we say that we are on a mission to Take Back Nigeria – Inch By Inch, and to Rebuild Our Country – Brick by Brick.

THE FIRST REQUIREMENT IS LEADERSHIP: We shall provide visionary, mission oriented, result focused determined democratic and participatory leadership. A leadership that is transformational and inspiration; a leadership that takes ownership and responsibility; a leadership rooted in the people and the movement, and that shall be accountable to the people and movement.

Chapter Two of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which deals with directive principles of state practice already outlines the foundation for an activist, people oriented, state that leads development and the economy. We shall provide the necessary leadership to realise the full intentions of these and other provisions of the constitution.

WHAT WE SHALL DO WITH THE POLITY:

Universal Citizenship – As the foundation for building a New Nigeria, we shall promote, advance, and ensure Universal Citizenship based on Residency. We shall dispense with the dichotomy between citizenship and indigenship and replace the practice of state of origin with state of residence. No nation can be built, and none can realise its full potential without citizenship, without a shared and common experience of citizenship. We shall build a Nation that works for all her citizens and all those who are resident in her.

Democratic Restructuring – One of the most misused and abused phrases by all the factions of the ruling class is restructuring. They each shout about restructuring only when they have lost direct access to power and the treasury. If they are sincere, Nigeria would since have been restructured. This is why they have turned it into a mere slogan for negotiating access to power. We shall take concrete steps, led by the executive to ensure democratic restructuring of Nigeria in the interest of her peoples, in the interest of the poor. Restructuring is a package, and shall be negotiated as such. We shall ensure that no federating unit shall be too big to dominate others or too small to be viable. There shall be minimum and maximum criteria to guarantee this. We shall also ensure that restructuring does not lead merely to the introduction of new bureaucratic layers of governance that will simply amount to compounding the drain on the resources of our people. We shall be guided by the principle that a Federation is a relationship between two entities; a federal centre and the federating units. Our focus shall be on how to share responsibilities between these two units.

Democratic Local [Community] Governance – Perhaps the most fundamental gap in the governance of our country is the absence of formal governance at community levels. For all intents and purposes, our communities are ungoverned spaces. It is also why governance is far from the people. We shall ensure the restoration of governance to our communities through the process of establishment of institutions and processes of democratic self-government in our communities. Every country that has successfully modernised, does so on the basis of its own culture and history, why learning and borrowing from others.

In our context our historical community governance institutions that we now call traditional institutions, shall have a place and role in this modernisation process of community governance, including oversight roles with respect to elected community governments.

Local Government Autonomy – The creation and functioning of Local Government Councils as well as community governments should fall under the direct authority and purview of the federating units of the federation. Nevertheless, as part of the criteria for being a constituent unit of the federation certain constitutional safeguards must be put in place for the proper and autonomous functioning of Local Government Councils and the Community Governments.  We shall ensure that such guarantees are put in place, and that an institution of an Ombudsman’s office that shall be responsible for assessing complaints and advising judicial and other institutions with respect to complaints brought before it shall be established.

Take Back Nigeria Initiative

The State and its Institutions – there has been a big debate about the role and size of the state; a debate that has gained in intensity since the misadventures of the military regimes of the 80’s and 90’s who bought into the neo-liberal mantra of the state having no responsibility towards its citizens. We are clear that the role and size of the state is dependent on the challenges faced by a society and on the nature of the priorities to be achieved given these challenges. Plagued with one of the most unequal societies in the world, and characterised by a weak and monoculture economy; we are uncompromising in our stance that the Nigeria State must be a type of state that plays the leading role in advancing human and economic development. And even more importantly, this is the intension, the letter and the spirit of all of the 12 provisions of Chapter Two of the present constitution. It follows that since 1999 all the successive governments have been governing in direct breach of the constitution. For us therefore it is this leading and commanding role in national human and economic development of the country, that will determine the size and character of the state that we shall rebuild as we rebuild Nigeria.

WHAT WE SHALL DO WITH THE ECONOMY:

The Role of the State and the Public Sector – We shall ensure that the state and its institutions, including the public sector, shall play a leading and commanding role in the economy, and in driving economic processes. This shall include a revamped regulatory role, but also more importantly a revamped role in putting in place enabling environment for the economy and the various actors in the economy to thrive. Of course, we are against privatisation; and shall ensure that the public sector gets the required attention and support it needs to deliver. While we are against privatisation of public assets, we shall continue to provide the enabling environment for all businesses, public and private to thrive, and in a context that this thriving will not be injurious to citizens and the interests of the country. There are certain sectors of the economy that are necessary for the growth of the economy, but which private sector will not necessarily go into because of the long gestation period for profitability of investments. The state shall take the lead in opening up such sectors, and in ensuring that as public-sector businesses, they benefit the country and her people. Those who say that the state should not own businesses, are today collecting loans, and giving construction contracts to publicly owned corporations owned by other states.

Democratic Control and Management of the Economy – We shall ensure and promote a situation whereby all the stakeholders in the economy, including the State, Public Sector, Private Sector, So-Called informal Sector, Workers, and Citizens as consumers of goods and services, and/or as host communities shall be enabled to participate in the democratic management and in exercising democratic control over the economy. Workers, shall like citizens, and managements participate in policy design and formulation processes, just as they like others will have a role to play in oversighting policy implementation. We shall evolve a model for the participation of workers in the democratic management of publicly owned entities in the economy.

National Economic And Development Planning – perhaps the biggest gap in our economic development processes over the last three decades has been the lack of a strategic, systematic and conscious National Economic, And Human Development Planning Framework and process. Annual budgets are prepared without national development plan references, targets are arbitrarily set, and estimates are made not on the basis of any needs assessment. We are going to introduce a National Economic and Human Development Planning framework, that will ensure that all our development efforts and policies are guided by identified needs and priorities, and are therefore all fully integrated. At root of the dysfunctionality in government and governance is the absence of such a framework as this. This is why sectoral policies do not mutually reinforce one another, and why there is a huge lack of coordination in the affairs and activities of government. Agricultural policies are not in sync with industrialisation policies; which are not in sync with trade and investment policies; which are also not in sync with transport policies; which are not in sync with power and energy policies; which are not in sync with monetary and fiscal policies; which are not in sync with education, health and housing policies etc, etc. This chaos must be checked. And we are committed to ensure that we put a stop to this lack of integrated planning and this lack of coordination in government, by taking direct responsibility as a government, and by providing direct leadership. We shall ensure that the planning process is participatory, involving all stakeholders; and also ensure that we promote democratic control and oversight of the various processes. We shall deliver the blueprints of a Four Year National Development Plan within our first 100 days in office.

Regional Integration and Development – We shall actively promote national social cohesion, while also promoting regional integration and development between and among contiguous and culturally similar states of the federation.  We shall also promote establishment of a series of Economic Development Zones that will provide Business Development Support, Investment support, and Technology Incubation Support Services to economic actors across the different zones. This will be a major pillar of the National Development planning model.

WHAT WE SHALL DO IN THE SOCIAL SECTOR:

Section 14 of the present constitution is clear about the purpose of government. This shall be to meet and provide for the security and wellbeing of citizens. The wellbeing of citizens cannot be provided if they do not have access to quality and basic services in Education, Health, Nutrition/Food, Housing/Shelter, as well as basic infrastructure such as transportation, power and energy. If the purpose of government is to meet these needs, it follows therefore that these services must be provided by government, that the major business of government and major measure of good governance is effective and quality public service delivery.

Hence, we shall effect a revamping of the public service delivery system and processes, and in partnership with workers and citizens as recipients of services ensure adequate investment in public service delivery within the context of our National Development Plan priorities. Basic social services are at the heart of governance and as such they are public services to be delivered by government at all levels. These will be public services at Federal and state government levels; Municipal services at Local Government levels, and Community Services at Community Government Levels.

Wealth Redistribution – As one of the most unequal societies in the world, and as a movement and government promoting social justice, equity and equality; we shall take concrete steps towards drastically reducing the gap between the rich and the poor. We shall put in place a comprehensive social protection system to take care of the needy and vulnerable. We shall revamp the tax and revenue generation processes and ensure introduction of progressive taxation. We shall tackle the phenomenon of tax evasion and other tax practices exploited by the rich and powerful.

Massive Social and Public Works Program – We shall put in place a massive social and public works program to generate employment and also to tackle basic infrastructural deficits including in housing, roads, etc.

Transforming The Condition Of Women – Recognising that women face multiple challenges as a result of both the patriarchal and class nature of our society, we are committed to promoting and ensuring gender equity and the guarantee of women’s’ rights as human rights. With respect to affirmative action, we shall ensure that no gender shall constitute less than 40% or more than 60% of elected and appointed positions in the polity. We shall also ensure that all policies take cognisant of the conditions and situation of women, and are poised to address such.

Preparing And Empowering The Youth – Our population is a growing population; but even more importantly the young are the future of any society. We shall therefore promote massive investment in our young and youth, with a view to preparing them for a life of fulfilment.  We shall promote removal of restrictive age barriers that prevent the youth from fully realising their potential.

People Living With Disability – Our focus shall be on ensuring the promotion of an enabling environment that allows PLWDs to live very fruitful, functional and fulfilling lives, such that they can realise their innate potentials like every other citizen. We shall ensure that all policies and processes take cognisance of these and put in place measures to tackle the challenges.

Federal And Equal Opportunities Commission – We shall take concrete steps to reform and restructure the Federal Character Commission into a Federal and Equal Opportunities Commission that will address not only equity between the federating units, but also gender equity, and equity with respect to youth and PLWDs, and the vulnerable and poor in our society.

WHAT WE SHALL DO WITH SECURITY:

We shall ensure the reorganisation of the security framework and architecture, review and harmonise mandates of the various actors, and also ensure that a system is put in place for coordination, joint planning and joint operations. Internal security shall be policing led, and as such we shall increase the capacity of all policing units to provide internal security and to effectively coordinate. We shall also ensure that policing is oriented along community policing as the principal approach, and that it both policing and security is intelligence led.

PAN AFRICANISM AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS:

We shall promote Pan African Unity, and take the lead in projecting Africa before the world, while also ensuring that we build progressive Pan African consensus around fundamental issues affecting our continent, but also around those affecting the world and humanity – of which we are a core part of, and impacting on us.

Africa was the crucible of the evolution of Humanity, and the evolution of Human Civilisation; our vision and mission is to lead Africa once again into the centre stage of progressive human discourse and achievements.


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