The Green Book: Eight ‘foundational’ principles for Nigeria’s 3rd generation of political leaders


 

 Nigeria’s 3rd generation now needs to lead from the heart and create a humane nation that works for everyone

Adebayo Alonge

Solutions Ideator

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Introduction

By 2050, Nigeria will have ~400 million people within its boundaries. It remains a poster child for what Africans are and holds the promise for what the black man can be.

If Nigeria can succeed to create a homeland where being black is not a liability, where the status of the race is improved then the purpose of this book would have been achieved.

The Green Book seeks to ignite consciousness in young Nigerians- over 50 million strong today for what is possible. We can make a nation that works for us where we are loved, protected and supported by our communities. A country where every citizen can aspire and achieve their dreams irrespective of their background.

This set of ‘foundational’ principles for a new Nigeria is targeted at young Nigerians aged between 15-35 years who represent Nigeria’s 3rd generation. The first generation composed of independence and military leaders freed us from the British and established Nigeria’s current structure. The second generation composed of the current crop of governors- the class of ’89 have pursued economic growth by any means possible. Nigeria’s 3rd generation now needs to lead from the heart and create a humane nation that works for everyone.

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Nigeria’s 3rd generation has the unique experience of growing up in the last days of military rule and seeing the country change during the liberalization period of the democratic era. We are old enough to know what does not work and what can work.

We are challengers of the unjust status quo, ‘re-setters’ of a broken system and guardians to our younger siblings to the possibility of a more happy future. We can be the generation that achieves the dreams of our fathers and fulfill the hopes of their granddaughters. We are the generation that must sacrifice personal ambition for nation building.

Nigeria’s 3rd generation step up, reorient yourselves on the responsibilities required of humane leadership and remake a great nation. Take your place!

8 ‘Foundational’ Principles for a New Nigeria

The following 8 principles underpin what should guide every Nigerian youth working in politics, civil society and the private sector for a new Nigeria-where every citizen can aspire and achieve their dreams.

Yoruba

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1. Life is the substance of faith

 We are a spiritual people who have inherited the need to retain special connections to the non-physical realm.

At the heart of the spirit is Life which in turn is the substance of faith. Faith comes in all forms and is expressed through beliefs which could be Animist, Muslim, Christian, Humanist and in fact atheist.

Equality of all beliefs:

All forms of beliefs are equal so long as they dignify life and do not subject living things to suffering. All are expressions of humanity and of life itself.

Abolition of death penalty:

Life is the most precious resource we have. Humanity did not originate it. No one has a right to take life. The state should not take life.

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Image credit: Connect Nigeria

2. Supremacy of the Citizen

The State is an entity created to protect and serve all life within its boundaries.

Nigerians are the human stewards of the life that the state serves. And as such the state answers to them.

All Nigerians- defined as those born in Nigeria, of Nigerian inheritance and of naturalization- all of whom have equal rights and proportional responsibilities from and to the State.

The apparatus of state- executives, judiciary, legislature, civil service and the armed forces- has the responsibility to serve and protect Nigerians and help them achieve their dreams.

The basis of the government is the Nigerian and the fundamental structure is the Commune nowadays referred to as the Landlords Association. Election to public service starts from those units.

Those serving in the apparatus of state deserve a living compensation for their work and are expected to be forthright and forward looking in their service to the Nigerian.

The Nigerian through their communes can change State agents who do not serve them. The Nigerian is supreme to the state.

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Protection of the Nigerian:

The most precious resource is the life of the Nigerian and his property.

To this end every commune or neighborhood would have a neighborhood watch that guards the community and works with the police to prevent and stop crime.

The police force will be expanded but will not be allowed to carry guns- except ranking officers, military police and engaging officers going to fight armed criminals.

Mob lynching must end and those involved must face life imprisonment.

Anyone caught by the neighborhood watch for criminality must be handed over to the police for legal action rather than subjected to ‘animalistic’ jungle injustice.

The military would be strong and would protect our borders and citizens across the world. No country in the world would be allowed to maltreat or kill a Nigerian.

Prisons as correction and production centers:

Prisons are to be consolidated and expanded to include farmland and production centers.

Prisons must be self-sustaining-producing their own food and clothing and must not be overcrowded. Inmates are to be reformed and not further oppressed or deformed.

The judicial system must be fair and act fast so that the prisons are not overcrowded with those awaiting trial.

Those wrongly accused or held must be compensated by the State and the arresting party for wrong accusation.

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3. Education and critical reasoning

Nigeria’s most valuable resource is its people. For centuries we exported people through the slave trade, visa lotteries and Sahara crossings because we have not created a viable homeland.

To create a viable homeland we need citizens that can think and question reality.

If most of what our fathers told us was true we would not now have to be the ones having to make the sacrifice for a new nation.

We need to replace rote learning with critical reasoning and respect for authority with respectful debate. This is what our educational and informal training systems need to do.

Once this is achieved, we would have a populace that can hold government to account and stay participatory in the state.

We would have a people who can question dogma, reject harmful traditions like human sacrifices and liberate themselves from the slavery of domineering authorities.

Further by releasing our capacity for invention, we will raise economic productivity and produce viable exports that will keep citizens profitably engaged.

These outcomes will raise the overall standard of living and improve the Nigerian experience.

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4. Aspiration and ‘enablement’

Nigerians have the right to aspire to achieve their dreams irrespective of their background. The daughter of a toilet washer should have the same opportunity to become Nigeria’s President as the son of the Sultan.

Ours should be a nation that encourages merit-each man receiving compensation according to his abilities. There should be no ceiling to what can be achieved if you work hard and are capable.

The state should create platforms so that those who are naturally gifted can receive the support they need to become masters of their field.

No nation grows if ‘its’ very best do not assume the mantle of leadership and if they cannot receive the support they need to succeed. We cannot export our best to America and expect Nigeria to be better. We must provide the opportunity for those who are gifted, who are able and who are ambitious to achieve their dreams in Nigeria and in the rest of Africa.

Research and export institutions need support to become world class. The state needs to be one of several major buyers of the products of these institutions.

And a private finance market needs to be stimulated to invest into creative ideas through laws that enable parked funds sitting in treasury bills and other non-productive assets to move into productive private industry.

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5. Protecting the vulnerable: personal safety and welfare for the vulnerable

The purpose of the government is to serve and protect the citizen especially the vulnerable citizen- the woman, the destitute, the mentally challenged and the physically challenged. Laws are to be promulgated and enforced to serve and protect these citizens.

The Woman:

Today we marry our women off as children, we molest them, we rape them, we beat them, we allow foreigners prostitute them, we deprive them of education and steal their inheritance. This must stop!

Our women are the bearers of our future, the carriers of our hope. How we treat them shows who we currently are as a people- violent and depraved. We must become better. We must honor them, protect them and enable them.

Laws should be enacted to outlaw child marriages, enforce free and universal girl child education up to secondary school and punish all forms of sexual molestation with life imprisonment and hard labor. The burden of proof of innocence lies with accused sexual predators and our women must be empowered to report sexual crimes. A special Amazon (all female) Police Force should be set up to implement these measures.

Finally, quotas need to be set in all national institutions for female candidates to fill.

The Destitute:

Today we watch our poor die in the streets, beg on the roads and allow foreigners beat and enslave them in their homeland. This must stop!

Our destitute are to be protected and provided with the opportunity to remake themselves. Soup houses should be established in every local government where they can receive free food, housing and training-farming, vocational and technical. They are a resource we cannot continue to waste and humiliate.

The output they produce in the Soup Houses should be purchased by the State and the houses should be self-sustaining. They should produce their own food, sell their self-created wares and receive support from organisations who in return can receive tax benefits.

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The Mentally Challenged:

Today we beat them, we chain them, we mock them, we watch them die on our streets and starve to death under our bridges. This must stop!

Mental illness is a health issue and we must apply our minds rather than succumb to primitive sentiments about what mental health issues are.

To these end we must set up mental health sections or communes in our secondary towns where those who are mentally challenged can live normally with other people. These communes are to be well planned natural areas full of parks and public facilities. They are to be provided with employment in vocational centers, provided with therapy and supported to be self-sufficient. We can teach them art and export their works for their creativity. Laws are to be enacted to ensure their protection and those who abuse and molest them are to be imprisoned for life with hard labor.

The Physically Challenged:

Today we mock them and justify their existence in the margins of society. In the banking halls they have no wheel chair facilities, along the roads there are no pedestrian walk ways for the blind or braille in the public facilities. Car owners are more important than the lives of those hard of hearing and sight who find it difficult to cross the roads. This must stop!

We must enact laws that mandate public and private facilities to provide tools for those physically challenged to navigate through. We must offer priority and right of way first to those whose lives are hard enough already from their physical challenges. Those who would mock them and molest them must face the law and pay service for their inhumanity.

The Sexual Minority:

Life is each person’s own gift. How you live it is a matter of choice. The state and society only have a right to intervene in your way of life if you come in the way of others living their lives.

To this end what people do or do not do with their sexual persona  is their business.          It remains their business until they molest, abuse or force others into their                 sexual interests.

So long as sexual relations are between two equal and consenting partners who are willing and agreeable to their sexual exchange, no one has a right to harass people for their sexual preferences.

The next generation must guarantee and protect sexual rights and preferences of all citizens- this is the true mark of a spiritual society that is at peace with itself.

We must create a more humane society. We can be better.

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6. Economic Empowerment through agriculture, infrastructure and industry

To create a viable homeland we need to produce enough to feed ourselves, enable local industry and support world class exports. This is what we need to feed and gainfully employ our teeming masses.

Agriculture:

Our fathers lived off the land and they were self-sustaining. They did not need a money system and so preserved their values. Today we have created a country were to survive you must sell. We need to recreate one in which to survive you must eat. That way, we eliminate dependence and enable our people pursue their true life calling without having to sell their souls or slave to foreign capital.

To achieve this we need to invest in our rural communities. Stem the rural-urban drift and mechanize our agro farming, processing and storage. Our food must be free of harmful chemicals being forced upon our people in the name of trade.

The western world is moving to the organic way of food production, why are we now moving away from this?

Rural communities should have access to shared mechanization tools and should be encouraged to merge farmsteads into major farming clusters in order to  improve productivity.

They should be supported with processing facilities at low interest loans. Government should regulate the private sector warehouses to prevent exploitation and ensure that margins between farm gate and retail markets are not exorbitant.

Digital platforms should enable farmers know what the selling rates are in the urban centers so that they can negotiate with off takers better.

The rural areas should be the centers for our self-sustenance and reduction of import dependence of food. We must stop importing food of all forms. This will enable us create new centers of wealth across our hinterlands and reduce the current reliance for economic activity on our coastal and urban cities.

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Infrastructure:

Physical infrastructure

We need to enable our urban centers and connect our rural towns.

Roads, railways, airports, river and sea ports are the physical infrastructure Nigerians must build. Nigerian developers must build these things. We need to end the practice of depending on foreign developers. We must empower our local entrepreneurs and building schools to produce what is suitable for our environment. Replace cement with modern day clay. We must create employment for our teeming blue collar youths- the bricklayers, the welders. If the infrastructure we build fails, we learn what went wrong and rebuild. We must believe in ourselves and end this colonial vestige of self-doubt and ‘extraversion’. Nigerian engineers should not be call boys to German or Chinese technicians. These humiliation of our professionals in our own homeland must stop! If we need it, we build it.

Nigeria must be built by Nigerians!

Digital infrastructure

We cannot be globally competitive if it is still too expensive for us to connect to the internet or if we are dependent on foreign satellites and servers.

We are the largest habitation of black people in the world. All the data we create is the most valuable resource humans have about the nature of the black race.

We cannot continue to outsource it.

We must build our own data cables and connect all our towns. We must ensure that all servers holding Nigerian data are set up in Nigeria. We must build and launch our own satellites. No one else should know more about Nigeria than Nigerians and our servile dependence on foreign technology must end. We must learn from the Chinese- how they built their technology revolution and we must be bold to replicate the same. We must fund technology research and learn and replicate the best of what there is in the world.

By investing into digital infrastructure as a public good, we can lower the cost to access digital technology and unleash the creativity of our people to create the tools and the data we need to better organise and run our society. We can create a new generation of digital entrepreneurs and technology creators.

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Industry:

Local production and value addition is the way we keep wealth in the family.

We must promote local processing and manufacturing and become self-sustaining in producing what we need- our consumer products, our clothes, the inputs to our infrastructure. We need to revitalize our heavy industry especially steel and go beyond just been assemblers of finished goods.

Kano should supply Aba with leather. And Aba should supply Lagos with fine grade locally produced shoes. Our supply chains must be internally linked and we only import what we cannot produce or substitute locally. It is the work of our researchers to create local materials that can serve the same purpose as what we do     not naturally have.

In 30 years, we will have 400 million people. We can only empower them if we produce locally and by so doing provide employment and wages which in turn will be used to purchase our industrial output.

The State will buy all its requirements from local industry and we must stop buying

G-Wagons when we can buy Innoson. The State should show the way.

If you would import then you must pay the rest of the citizens for the jobs you take away. Through these import taxes the State can provide public goods especially for those without jobs.

Stimulate competition

Oligopolies and monopolies especially in critical industries should be broken up by law in order to stimulate prices. Otherwise citizens will not be able to afford basic necessities and we will enrich robber barons who will buy out our common freedoms and dictate our rights.

Young entrepreneurs should be financed and trained to take on established players in critical industries so that we can redistribute wealth and reorder centers of         economic power.

Regulate industry

The common good should not be sacrificed for industrial capital.

Those who produce should pay their fair share of taxes. They should employ Nigerians and not abuse expatriate quotas. They should be located in industrial clusters and pay fair wages and benefits to   Nigerian workers.

These should be measures ensured by law with steep penalties for those who default and who betray the common good.

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7. Environment

The space we inhabit and all that they contain is our inheritance. The land, our forests, our rivers, our seas, our air, our animals. We should not despoil them, ‘unsustainably’ exploit them and allow foreigners destroy them in pursuit of economic profit.

We must redevelop our country plan and designate areas to be preserved as historical, forest and marine parks. We must re-purpose development to preserve as much of our history, plant and animal life as possible and we must stop wanton and unthinking destruction of our natural habitat as we expand our cities.

Industries and people must stop polluting the waterways. Religious houses, night clubs and production plants should not situate in residential areas. Polluting vehicles and generators should not be allowed into the country.

We must setup task forces to monitor all aspects of our habitat and prevent local and foreign elements from destroying our inheritance.

The seas must be protected and prevented from exploitative mining and fishing.

Those who contravene our environmental laws should pay steeply and must be prevented from repeating their initial havoc.

We must reduce the number of fossil-fueled mechanized vehicles in our country and replace them with efficient and clean public transportation, bicycles and walking lanes.

We must stop the abuse of our common goods by truckers who would use the roads as parking lots- destroying them and causing accidents.

We must plant trees in all houses and along our roads. We must stop the production and importation of plastic and replace them with bio-degradable materials.

We must empower waste entrepreneurs to recycle. We must promote green technologies in our drive for energy- solar, wind and hydro. We must reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Those who must mine must protect the environment and communities they work in. They must return the habitat to its initial state after economic production or they should not be issued licenses.

We must stem the flow of foreign elements that sneak into the country to mine ‘artisanally’ and despoil our space.

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8. Afrocentrism

If we do not know ourselves, we cannot be at peace with ourselves and we will forever remain the heel of the human race.

Colonial domination destroyed our self-worth as a people and made us dependent on foreign approval to take action.

Afrocentric reorientation:

We must re-orient ourselves by educating ourselves on our history first before any other. We must study our past and the black diaspora. We must understand the role our fathers played in the slave trade and how the black race is perceived in the world today. We must reach out and build relationships with other Africans and with black people all over the world.

We must enable visa free travel for all black people into Nigeria. If we must import, we should import from Africa first before we turn to other places.

Afrocentric media:

What we have achieved with our music and movies we can achieve with the rest of our media- our television, our radio, our communication. All of what we watch and listen to must be of Nigerian origin. Our kids should grow up wanting to be like our own locally created super heroes. Not Superman but Sango. ‘Not’ Wonder Woman but Amina Zazzau. We cannot build a proud and self-confident citizenry if we take our cues, ways for social interaction and appearance from Indian and American media.

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Afrocentric art & history:

The high point of any civilization’s self-confidence is when it produces art. We must promote our local artists and art schools. We must support our historians and promote our history to the world.

We must promote exhibitions and the setup of galleries and museums where our citizens visit to learn more about themselves, their societies and their past.

We must channel private investments into these areas through tax rebates and other benefits for those who invest and volunteer to support local art and history.

Afrocentric international relations:

We must put ourselves and other black people first when we engage with the rest of the world. No more pandering to the big powers without putting our interests Africa and the black race first.

We must sustain the principle of reciprocity to all non-black nations- we treat them as they treat us.

We must prioritize our relationships with all black nations- starting with visa free travel to Nigeria.

We must refuse to get caught in the international conflict of West vs. East or West vs. Islam. The heart of our international engagement is to articulate, promote and protect our interest and the interests of Africa and the black race.

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Conclusion

By 2050, Nigeria’s 3rd generation will be in their 50’s- aging ‘gerontocrats’ responsible for the destinies of 400 million Nigerians and the status of the black race in the world.

This generation has the next 30 years to make their mark and remake a great nation where Nigerians can achieve their dreams, where being black is not a liability and where our voice will serve to assure the black man’s equal place in the world.

Will this generation step to the plate and create a role model legacy or would they repeat the selfishness of their forbears and drown their people and race further into poverty and universal servitude?

Every generation has the opportunity to make its mark and leave the world a better place than they met it. It is to Nigeria’s 3rd generation’s thinkers and doers to make the sacrifices required. It is left to history to remember them for what they accomplish.

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