The #NewNigeriaOfOurDreams which we will build from 2019 will be measured on five planks of progress. As president, I will not take my eyes away from any of these five specific and measurable planks at any time:
A. Top-high standard of living – driven by productivity, competence plus jobs, jobs and more jobs which we shall measure by real GDP per capita accompanied by the Gini Coefficients to ensure lowest inequality levels. It is a pity that Singapore which got its independence five years after Nigeria now has a real GDP per capita of $60,000, while Nigeria’s GDP per capita as at 2017 was $1,944.
B. Top-high knowledge capital which we shall measure by adult literacy. Today, adult literacy in Singapore is 98%, while adult literacy in Nigeria is just 57%.
C. Top-high longevity which we shall measure by life expectancy at birth. Today, Singapore’s life expectancy is 85 years, Nigeria’s life expectancy is a mere 52 years.
D. Top-high human security which we shall measure by the Global Fragility Index. Today, we are the 13th most fragile country in the world. This is beyond unacceptable.
E. Top-high equality of rights and opportunities which we shall measure by the Universal Human Rights Index and the Freedom in the World Index. Today, we maintain a dismal aggregate score of 50/100 in the latter report.
10 Broad Principles
A vision for a productive, competitive, prosperous and secure country led by an intelligent and honest government. We will infuse productivity into every sector of the economy and area of governance in a way that provides equal opportunity for all Nigerians.
Our Country, Our Values
An Oby Ezekwesili presidency will be focused on the recapture of values that make for a decent society. Our current system elevates vice at the expense of hard work and decency. We will change that, ensuring that our democracy rests on the foundation of proper values. Bad behavior will be sanctioned while good behavior will be rewarded. Central to our values as a government and a people will be the rule of law which shall apply to all, no matter how highly placed. Our democracy will not rest on the whims or discretions of any individual or clique but on the sanctity of our laws and the assurance that they will be uniformly applied.
Our Shared Prosperity
Prosperity only means something when it is open to all members of the society and is shared by all. Today, Nigeria has riches in oil and various other natural resources but is also the world’s poverty capital For millions of Nigerians, prosperity does not have any meaning. That ought not to be so.
We want a prosperity that goes beyond natural resources in the ground. The prosperity we are seeking to create is one that is inside every Nigerian. We want to harness the brilliance and energy of Nigerians by developing their skills and talents for a prosperity that is not determined by the price of oil. The prosperity we seek to create is not the exclusive preserve of a connected few but for every single Nigerian who wants to share in it.
The Oby Ezekwesili vision is a society where there is equality of opportunity for all – irrespective of age, gender, region or religion. Societies that effectively use their diversity are those on the top of the economic league table.
Our Productive and Competitive Economy
If there is one thing Nigerians do not lack, it is boundless energy. For too long in our country, this has mostly been used as a defence against suffering and poverty and in some cases for crime. We believe this to be a shame and a waste.
The role of any serious and responsible government should be to harness the energy and talents of its people in a productive manner. We want Nigerian energy to be channeled to productive uses so that our people’s energies can be used as a seed investment for the creation of prosperity.
Our first big step towards this will be to reform Nigeria’s land laws and property rights. Nigeria’s current Land Use Act is 40 years old and has never once been amended or updated. It is time for an overhaul. We are seeking to create a strong foundation for property rights so that people can be confident that if they expend their energy in creating first something of value, it cannot be stolen from them or their children.
Our vision for a productive and competitive country does not leave anyone out. We want to raise the status of women in our country, socially and economically. We also want to ensure that the rural areas of the country have all the tools and opportunities they need to be productive and create the kind of prosperity that they are not locked out of just because they are in one part of the country. We want women to be able to own property and advance in their workplaces. Our government will deliberately elevate women where we have direct influence such as in the civil service and via political appointments. We will strongly encourage the private sector to follow the example we set in this regard using a carrot and stick approach. By ensuring that women are equal and active participants in our productive and competitive country, we will create a Nigeria that is twice as strong and prosperous as it is today.
Too many of those operating in the economy still do so in the informal low productivity sectors. An Oby Ezekwesili presidency will remove the barriers and bottlenecks to the productivity of this segment of society including providing critical infrastructure, training, access to finance, connectivity to the market and an enabling business environment. We will use policies, institutional reforms, and targeted investments to remove those barriers, and then give incentives that help them move from informal to the formal sector.
We will improve the quality of our growth and find more sources of growth for the economy. An Ezekwesili presidency will target between 7 and 10% of growth in its first two years compared with the current growth of less than 2%.
The crux of our vision for a more productive and competitive people is a huge Job, Jobs and more Jobs agenda. Our macroeconomic reforms, education, and other policies will be geared towards this Jobs agenda.
Our befitting structure
An Oby Ezekwesili presidency believes in decentralizing as much authority as possible from the federal government to the states and communities.
We believe that certain levels of security – for instance – ought to happen at the local and state level.
An Oby Ezekwesili presidency will initiate sincere conversations in the country on the issue of restructuring and coming up with a system for our country that works for all Nigerians and provides opportunities for all Nigerians.
Our approach to the needed conversation will be driven by an underlay of economics as well. Restructuring which focuses only on giving more powers to state governments may end up simply being a case of changing boxes if the issue of productivity and competitiveness isn’t considered. Our thinking is any agreed structure of the country must be one that enhances the productivity and competitiveness of all regions and persons. The end game is a stable and inclusive country where there is equality of opportunity for all. Any structure we decide on moving with must be one that guarantees that. The thinking is that structure must follow the function and not the other way around.
Closely linked to this is the issue of governance cost. How much should it cost to run the Nigerian government? We will tackle this problem head-on in a competent and intelligent manner. Our approach will be to ask what should the government be doing and what should be left to the private and civil society sectors? Our philosophy is that the Nigerian government exists to serve the Nigerian people and as such there must be a maximum cost of running government so that resources are available to invest in the future of Nigeria and the Nigerian people.
Our focus will be to do more with less based on our philosophy that every naira spent on running the government is a naira that is not available to spend on infrastructure, healthcare, education or any of the other interventions that can boost the productivity of the Nigerian people.
Our proposal is to cap the cost of government as a percentage of all revenues and make this a legal requirement.
Our #CitizensFirst: From Human Beings to Human Capital
No longer will we have a country where the elites or the 1% come first over and above the rest of the people. Ours will be a #CitizensFirst government. An Oby Ezekwesili administration will move Nigeria from an oil-focused governance to a human-focused governance. The missing ingredient in the transformation of human beings into human capital is investment. If other countries continue to invest in their children through education, healthcare, and infrastructure, Nigeria will not be able to compete with them unless it does the same thing. The future of our country depends on how we invest in our people today.
Our focus will be the transformation of Nigeria’s education policy to point it towards the future. Nigeria will not have oil or natural resources forever. The resources we have been blessed with as a nation should be the seed investment for the transformation of our people into human capital. We intend to be an intelligent government that challenges itself to think critically about the future with a view to preparing the Nigerian people to meet it head-on.
Education will be the new economy; education will be the new oil, under an Oby Ezekwesili presidency. Our vision for education is one which nourishes the mind and creates a good society that competes globally. A complete revamp of the Nigerian education curriculum is long overdue and we will not shy away from it. Everything taught in our schools will be scrutinized based on a simple question – is this relevant for Nigeria’s productivity and future in the world? Our approach will not be tied to any ideology or approach – we will consider any ideas that work with an open mind with a strong focus on literacy and numeracy.
Today, the bulk of education spending is directed at the top of the pyramid to benefit higher education. Our approach will be to redirect government education spending to the early years of a child’s life. An Oby Ezekwesili presidency will act quickly on the issues of access to education, both in terms of the sheer number of out-of-school children as well as the gender parity. We believe that where government currently intervenes is too late for any meaningful change to happen. We will take responsibility for the education of any Nigerian child from the moment they are born and ensure that we invest in them very early in their lives.
We will also frontally address the challenges of teacher inadequacy and teacher quality.
Tertiary education will be linked directly to the labour market. We will operate an analytic approach whereby we would map the sources of growth to the economy and match it with the skills needed for those sources of growth.
Our Petroleum Sector
Since the discovery of oil in Nigeria and the establishment of NNPC, Nigeria has unfortunately turned into a petro-state that simply distributes oil revenues. This has meant that the Nigerian government’s performance is tightly bound to the price of oil, which Nigeria does not control. We want to break this link because our philosophy is that the Nigerian government has so much more to do beyond the sharing of oil revenues especially as it concerns ensuring opportunities for those living on the margins of society.
An Oby Ezekwesili presidency will put the NNPC in a place where it faces the discipline of the market. Such a move will not just be the most sensible thing to do but will be the most favorable thing to do for the poor.
Our policy focus will be to restrict the Nigerian government’s relationship with oil to a regulator and collector of taxes from oil on behalf of the Nigerian people. In this sense, the petroleum sector will be treated like any other sector of the Nigerian economy which the Nigerian government regulates and taxes.
Our aim is to free up capacity in government to focus on the other areas that have been neglected due to the focus on oil. This is the diversification we are seeking to bring into government – to diversify the Nigerian government’s capabilities away from oil alone to technology, education, infrastructure, healthcare and financial management of the nation’s resources.
Our Strengthened Families
We want to be the first government in Nigeria to have a strong and direct focus on the well-being of the Nigerian family as the basic unit of Nigerian society. We want to strengthen bonds within families and encourage families to stay together to begin the reversal of the slow disintegration of the Nigerian family. Our vision is to use government policies as a glue to hold Nigerian families together.
Where we have Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) as a policy intervention, we will direct them at the family unit rather than to individuals. Our government will constantly remind Nigerians that the family unit is the basic building unit of our society and we must stay together in this unit to strengthen our nation.
We will have an intervention specifically to support Nigerian Family-Owned Businesses (FOBs). We will ensure that FOBs are supported with funding, friendly tax policies and the access to knowledge and training they need to grow their businesses.
Our Hopes For Disruptive Technology
An Oby Ezekwesili presidency will take disruptive technologies seriously. The world is going through a 4th Industrial Revolution with profound changes that will basically change the world as we know it. How can a country gifted with millions of young, vibrant, brilliant people, be satisfied with just being onlookers at a time like this? That would not be the case in a Oby Ezekwesili presidency. Nigeria will dream big dreams and do big deeds. We will explore the miracle of new, smart and disruptive technologies – from Artificial Intelligence to Quantum computing to Big Data and the Internet of things – to accelerate our productivity and global competitiveness.
An Oby Ezekwesili presidency will harness Nigeria’s brilliant young minds on this quest in order to demonstrate to ourselves and the world that our people have what it takes to lead the rest of the world through knowledge and advance our economy.
We believe that there are many ways of doing things in Nigeria today that can be improved and we will encourage technology development and adoption as a tool to disrupt the old ways of doing things and improve existing processes.
Without reversing the progress already made, we will seek to create pockets of excellence and a culture of experimentation and being able to fail without shame. We want Nigerians to try out things as many times as they need to get it right. We will also encourage and promote collaboration that incentivizes Nigerians to work with other Nigerians and their peers around the world.
Our Security and Dignity
An Oby Ezekwesili presidency will focus on the drivers of conflicts, kidnappings, terrorism and other crimes in society and put a stop to them. We believe in prevention as opposed to just apprehending those who commit crimes after its happened. The economy is at the centre of our broad approach to security. We will also undertake a security sector reform, ranging from ensuring adequate pay and compensation for the patriots who protect us to ensuring that our intelligence assets are cutting edge and proactive.
An Oby Ezekwesili presidency will ensure that we get a nation out of a country because insecurity happens when people feel that no one cares and people are not connected to each other. We will be committed to all Nigerians and candidly discuss areas of disagreement and dissent.
Like other human beings around the world, the need for dignity is hard-wired into Nigerians. This is not something that any Nigerian government can avoid and we will not run away from it. We will seek to bring dignity to the Nigerian life by strengthening laws that give everyone a fair hearing and access to the law equally. We will also tackle the problem of police and military brutality against ordinary citizens by cracking down hard on such behaviour and punishing it appropriately.
We will lead by example as a federal government by ensuring that every Nigerian who is a victim of any conflict or unrest is specifically named and treated with respect. We will strengthen the laws around how corpses are handled especially in public and ensure that the theme of dignity runs through the public and private sector when it comes to how we deal with Nigerians.
Our Private Sector
The private sector represents the foundation upon which the Nigeria of our dreams can be built. Our first step will be to intellectually define the roles of the private sector, civil society, and the government. By properly delineating the roles of all three actors, we will enhance transparency, accountability, and probity.
Today it is unclear where the government stops and where the private sector begins. This has created a system where the private sector looks to the government to gain advantages over local and foreign competition and the government, in turn, uses its wide discretionary powers as a tool to favour one set of people over others. None of this works for Nigerians as those who benefit from government patronage are able to disregard the wishes of Nigerians in terms of what they produce and what they charge for it.
Our policy focus will be to push the private sector hard but fair to allow it to stand on its own independent of government. Our government will be a supplier of fair regulation that treats all corporate citizens the same and creates a fair and level playing field. We want to make the private sector responsible and responsive to the Nigerian people who use and pay for their services. Our government will always strive to balance firm and fair regulation within an environment that creates incentives for prosperity and productivity.