Democracy in Nigeria is Manipulative, Says Dr. Yusuf
Dr. Yusuf JS is the founder of Dr. Yusuf JS Foundation, a non-government organization focused on youth empowerment and promoting humanity. In this interview with our Managing Editor, VICTOR OROYI, he speaks on the 21 years of democracy in Nigeria and other national issues. Excerpts.
Nigerians just celebrated 21 years of uninterrupted democracy, what is your general assessment of the country’s democratic experience?
To be honest, there is nothing worth celebrating on 21 years of uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria; if you look at the roads constructed during the military era; that is what we are using till today while the roads been constructed now, go bad within two years. Roads in Nigeria are terrible, people spend several hours of man hour before getting to their destination. Some are impassable, traffic dreadlocks leading to increased insecurity on the road.
For me, democracy is manipulating the people for a group of persons to get to power. The people will be cajoled during electoral campaigns and soon after the elections, the elected will fence their houses and offices against the people. It is so sad.
So much of negative things are happening, we going down the slope of development in all the sectors of the country on a daily basis with promises from politicians that cannot be met. Insecurity is everywhere, there is no cause for celebrating because we have not gotten it right. Until we get it right, people should suspend any form of celebration in the name of democracy and for letting the military go.
With your assessment, would you have preferred the military system of governance?
With my assessment, I would prefer the military system of government because I believe it will help the country, it is just the truth. There is nothing the people in government are getting right and you will agree with me that Nigerians are very stubborn, therefore needs a very strong hand to navigate us to achieve success.
Let’s face the issues confronting us now, indiscipline in public places, corruption in official quarters and daily occurrence of inter- and intra- communal clashes are results of lawlessness and nepotism by the elites, therefore there is a need to restore sanity in our law enforcement. The country is at the brink of collapsing because everybody wants to lord over others and amass wealth for themselves. Many Nigerians are at the mercy of the few rich ruling class that keeps recycling themselves after every election.
The military may not be the entire solution but with the code of conduct and discipline within the military system, it will go a long way to bring change. Some may disagree but I believe, military era was more profiting than the crop of leaders we have now. There are signature policies and projects that the military left behind that should be replicated because if look at what is happening between the executive and legislative, is there any difference with what happened during the military era?
Somebody just proposed that the National Youth Service Corp, NYSC should be scrapped and replaced with a compulsory one year military training for every graduate, which I totally agree. Military training improves discipline which transcends from physical, mental and comportment in behavioral lifestyle. If not for the infiltration by civil elements that corrupted the military, they fine and refined gentlemen programmed for service.
Although, this is my opinion but I also want to believe that I am not alone in this assertion. With proper checks and balances, chain of command and vision, the military will do well for Nigeria. Every society has its peculiarities and we are not an exception. We should stop comparing ourselves with the western world, if we cannot do what they are doing. Nigerians are widely travelled since the arrival of the colonial masters but the things we learn and see abroad, we have not been able to replicate them in our country. We should not deceive ourselves but begin to build our own systems that will be beneficial to us and guarantee our development.
With the current pace of development in the country, especially power supply, what can the government do differently to solve it?
The issue of power supply is not a problem if the people involved will be willing to do the right thing to ensure that we have uninterrupted power supply.
We have the sun, where we can generate solar energy, the wind energy, and abundant gas reserves that can improve the generation of power and not rely only on hydro (water) to service electricity. Ironically, it appears that those in charge appears to be ignorant of what to do. We cannot tell why they want the country to be perpetual darkness.
I don’t see any reason why Nigeria will not enjoy uninterrupted power supply with the natural resources made available to us. It is important to allow the states to develop power generating stations without federal government interference. The states can generate and distribute power.
Again, if someone is being appointed as a Minister of Power, the person should be able to go through an interview to state his action plan. The usual screenings by the Senate, I keep wondering if it is comprehensive enough. They should ask pertinent questions such as, this is the problem that will confront you in the office, what are the solutions and packages you have in place to solve the issues?
When you fail to meet your targets and timelines to deliver on the job, you are fired. If you have been assigned something to do and there is a penalty attached to it for failure; trust me, everybody will sit up. We can have power. Sometimes, when I travel to Ghana, and I see the level of power supply, I wonder, we the giant of Africa, what are we doing?
It is time to leave politics out of power supply and we will see the gains come natural.
The question of leadership is something that Nigeria has been struggling with since independence. What is the way out of the country’s leadership crisis?
Nigeria will continue to suffer leadership crisis, when you carry a medical doctor and gives him or her an engineering job; at extreme you make a social media practitioner to head a medical center. Our placement of personnel is just wrong. We should look for people who have the capacity to run certain sectors as the administrative authority so that things would work efficiently.
For instance, the Igbos are good in business, why don’t we put them in charge of the economy especially the production chain while the Yorubas are good in administration and administrative duties. The Hausa man is good at politicking, we should begin to identify these unique areas as a nation and put people in their area of specialty. We should drop ethnic bigotry; appointments should not be based on sentiments, where because he is my brother and without the proper qualifications, such a person is made the head and get other people to work under their brother. If the head has a problem, others will have problems; when they bring something on your table and you don’t understand it, you will call your staff to look at it, we have gotten it wrong already because you are placing the wrong people in positions. Until we start changing that narrative and start giving position to qualified persons that is when we will see development.
Let’s consider the current happening in the APC a ruling party. Would you say, the party is ready to take us to the promise land?
The funny thing about our political party is that they are same people. The politicians just move from Party A in the morning to Party B in the evening. They don’t have structure and ideology.
The political parties in Nigeria don’t have structure; somebody will just come and destabilize the party. Political parties need to build structure and endeavor to see that these structures outlive us. When these structures and ideas are well defined as people come into the party, they naturally fall in tune with them. Without a proper laid down foundation, we will continue to rise and fall.
The crisis in APC, today is the game ahead of 2023 where the cabals wants to be in power and they are the ones causing the crisis but they forget that the more they do these things, the more they set the country backwards. The APC is already collapsing because there are stronger people who are going to raise their own party and send APC back to the drains. The issue is that political parties should to build structures that have the capacity to outlive any leader.
How can the issues of ethnicity and tribal conflicts be resolved in the country?
We can get rid of ethnicity and tribalism by eliminating all forms of preferential treatment among ourselves. For instance, if I commit an offence, if I appear before the court of law, the law takes its cause; nobody is bending the rules that we collectively set and everybody is treated equally, we will all be fine.
If Mr. A commits an offence like Mr. B, there should be no preference, everybody should maintain law and order, then we shall have peace. If I commit an offence, and there is a brother I can call that can take me off the net than I can still commit another one.
There is the burning issues of true federalism and devolution of power from the center to the federating units. Do you think it will help to address the issues of underdevelopment?
Devolution of power will definitely help to develop the country, if I have my own resource to solve the issues in my area, I will be efficiently able to provide solutions. Whenever a person deliberately fails in an assignment which funds have been provided for, I should face the law.
This brings me to the judiciary. Until our judiciary has the capacity to stand without wavering or giving waivers to people that are calling that is when we will get it right. If I know that I am giving an assignment and I don’t do it the stipulated law will take it’s course because I know exactly what I am going to face; knowing that nobody can help me to make call to a member of the judiciary concerning my issue than I will do the things right.