Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Before you increase the minimum wage


By Ahmed Adamu, PhD

The last increase on the minimum wage was in 2011 during the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, when the then minimum wage of N7, 500 was increased to N18, 000, and since then, the minimum wage has not been increased. Seven years after, and after increasing inflation, it is justifiable to seek for adjustment. However, before we consider increasing the minimum wage, we have to understand the unique economic situation in Nigeria and the best alternatives to the increase on the minimum wage. Instead of increasing the minimum wage, there are better alternative measures that can help improve the wellbeing of the people of Nigeria, and we will discuss these alternatives in this article. Before then, we need to go through the background and some of the effects of increasing the minimum wage.

How much should be the deserved minimum wage as at today? Going back to 2011, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) was 110.84 and this year’s CPI is 266, adjusting the minimum wage for inflation within the seven years, the minimum wage in Nigeria as at 2018 should be N43, 197.40. A public worker must earn this amount to be able to have a wage of the same purchasing power as the purchasing power of N18, 000 in 2011. In layman terms, a public worker (receiving the minimum wage) would need to receive at least N43, 197.40 to be able to buy the same provisions he used to buy in 2011 with N18, 000. Therefore, the minimum wage of N18, 000 today is equivalent to N7, 500.45 in real value.

Most people would think it is generally good to put more money in the hands of workers, not realizing that more money in the hands of workers leads to increase in the prices of goods and services. “Inflation is primarily caused by an increase in the money supply that outpaces economic growth”. Once the money in circulation is growing at a rate higher than the economic growth, the value for money will reduce. At the time when Nigeria is struggling with two digits inflation rate (11.28%), and achieving steady reduction in the inflation rate, increasing the minimum wage will put inflation rate back to around 20%.

To maintain corporate profits after minimum wage increase, employers must increase the prices they charge for the goods and services they provide, which leads to inflation. Increasing the minimum wage is like increasing the petrol price in terms of its correlation to inflation. Receiving higher income but paying higher bills makes no impact. The dangerous thing in Nigeria is that prices are fast at going up and sticky in going down, and knowing that should make us do everything possible to avoid letting prices go up.

Once the minimum wage is increased, the value for Nigerian currency will reduce, as the goods and services affordable for each unit of Naira will reduce. Similarly, a mere sentiment and perception of traders will push the prices up. Once traders understood that workers have more money in their hands, they wouldn’t hesitate to stretch the buyers’ purchasing income through higher prices.

Increasing minimum wage can cause many people to lose their jobs, as some companies will have to be forced to sack their employees to be able to maintain normal profits. New companies will have to cut down the number of the employees they intended to employ, and reducing the number of labourers may affect the productivity of the individual companies, which reduces the aggregate production within the economy, thereby reducing the country’s economic growth rate. Investment in the country will reduce as prospective investors will be discouraged seeing the increasing inflation and wage increase.

At the time when we need to create enabling environment for competitive economy, the best thing to do is to add value for the Naira by attracting investment and competition in manufacturing and industrial sectors. Apart from inflation and unemployment, increase on minimum wage increases the burden on government, making it difficult to invest adequately on infrastructural and development projects, which are desperately needed for investment and competitive economy.

With politicians investing heavily on campaigns and maintaining luxuries, extravagance and over-sized cabinet, it will be difficult for most governments to pay the increased salary and still have balance to do projects for the poor. Some governors still find it difficult to pay workers’ salaries, some take months before they pay salaries. Most of the states rely heavily on federal allocation to be able to pay government workers, and while the federal allocation may not proportionately increase, the salary budget will increase by at least 25% if the minimum wage is increased. This will mean cuts on development budgets like health, education, water and transport to fund the wage increment, and it will make life difficult for most of the poor. While trying to serve less than 5% of the population, majority will have pay for it.

With the minimum wage increase, the attraction to government jobs will increase at the cost of self-employment, creativity and productivity. The private sector should be more attractive to the younger and productive population of the country by making the prospects in the private sector more lucrative than the public sector. By increasing the minimum wage, the reverse will be the case, as a profit motivated private enterprises will find it difficult to optimize profit and employment while still paying higher diesel price, electricity tariff, taxes, and still providing for its own security and water supply.

The best alternatives: instead of clamoring for wage increase, the labour unions should have campaigned for measures that will add value to the existing wage, and advocate for adequate provision of basic life requirements and reduction of unnecessary government spending. It will be better if government can cut the excessive spending and allowances it pays to political leaders like senators, legislators, governors, ministers, SAs, SSAs, political leaders, and cut the unnecessary gifts, travels and events, and use the saving for adequate provision of basic requirements like education, healthcare, security, water, transport, and electricity. The reason why the N18, 000 will not be sufficient and even the proposed new minimum wage will not be sufficient is because workers have to provide these basic requirements for themselves. Workers are now their own government, so, even N50, 000 will not be enough for the minimum wage earner without these basic provisions.

To add value for Naira and to reduce the inflation, government should look for ways to restore petroleum subsidy. Petroleum subsidy is like magic, even if you earn N18, 000 minimum wage, with petroleum subsidy, life will be much better than increasing the minimum wage. The subsidy will make goods and services cheaper, make investment easier and increase the employment rate. With the additional amount of money that would have been used for the payment of additional wage, government can use that to pay for petroleum subsidy so that not only the government workers will benefit but everyone. With further cuts in government excessive spending, the government can save enough to pay for the petroleum subsidy.  

Another measure that will make government workers contented with the N18, 000 minimum wage is to allow and encourage them to engage in other enterprises. The existing code of conduct act is anti-economic growth for prohibiting government workers from venturing into enterprises, which makes them redundant and live below their economic potentials. Workers should be inspired and coached on how to become effective entrepreneurs. They should be given the space to make the right balance between government work and their business enterprises. No matter how much the minimum wage will be, it will still not be enough, only creative economic ventures can sustain workers. Relying on salary alone will not serve them, it will only tempt them into corruption.

Instead of paying for the additional wage, government workers should be offered soft loans to set up economic ventures, so that they will not rely on their wages alone. With this opportunity, you will see some of them resigning from the government work, because they will be more attached to their businesses. Like the popular saying that says, if you give a man fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for lifetime. So, let us teach the government workers how to fish, instead of giving them more fish.

Finally, the workers that really deserve increase in their wage are the small-skilled labourers, craftsmen and primary school teachers. The small-skilled labour force should be organized and their wages standardized. These are people who use their skills and sweats to earn every Naira, and there are more of these small-skilled labourers than the government workers. So, the small-skilled labour force should be professionalized, and supported to organize their unions to protect their own interests and agitate for their own deserved wages.

DR AHMED ADAMU
Petroleum Economist,
Leadership and Development Expert,
First-Ever Global President of Commonwealth Youth Council,
University Lecturer (Economics),
08034458189, 08188949144, ahmadadamu1@gmail.com


Saturday, 6 October 2018

Concession Remark after the Primary Election

By Ahmed Adamu, PhD
I didn’t win the Primary Election. I could have chosen to blame it on some nasty political slanders, betrayals, envies, selfishness, greediness, and traditionalism, but I chose not to point finger of blame at anything or anyone, I submit everything to Allah (SWA). I know if Allah had destined that I will win, no force or group of people can deny it for me, but Allah has already decreed that it is not for me this time around, so I totally accept it as Allah’s will, and it is for the best.
Therefore, I hold no grudge or ill feeling against anyone, and I don’t blame anyone. It was not because we fall short in our efforts or because of other political reasons, it is Allah’s will, and I accepted it with good faith. I thank Almighty Allah for this outcome and for the worthwhile experience. Whatever Allah decreed is for the best.
I would like to sincerely thank the delegates that voted for me, we might not have been successful for now, but I can assure you this is a step further to a bigger success. To the delegates that didn’t vote for me, I thank you too, and I know you must have had a conviction for your choice. I congratulate you. I also congratulate my opponent for his victory, and I wish him well and best of luck.
Coming down to my partners in this project, I don’t know how to face you, and I don’t know how to express my sincere gratitude to you. You trusted me with unyielding confidence and you stood by me, you contributed your hard earned money for this campaign. This campaign was fully and unconditionally sponsored by you. You bet on me even when we were not certain of victory. Some of you, I haven’t met you yet. I will never forget you in my life, I have marked your names and your faces. Thank you so much.
I would like to thank our teaming supporters across the world for the confidence you have on me, you asked me to come forward to serve you, and together we have done our best in the last 12 months. I know how shocking this was to you, we never thought our journey will be stalled this early, but it is not the end of it, we will keep trying and moving.
I know how hard it is for us to embrace this, but we have to be brave. It is a true test of our readiness for the battles ahead. I was told some of you overreacted, some cried, some fell sick, it is ok, but let us put it behind us and learn from it. At the time we lost the election, I was only worried about you, how will I face you? and how will you feel about it? This loss is not for me alone, it is for thousands of our supporters across the world, and it is a loss to the party and to the people of Katsina State and Nigeria at large.
Some political parties have started inviting me and offering me ticket to contest, but I still resist. I think we are not greedy for power, when our time comes we will get it wherever we are. Our project will continue, we don’t necessarily need to have a position to contribute to humanity, we can do a lot even without politics. In fact, one of my friends has been advising us to think of how we can do more for the society outside the politics. With the faith we have on each other, we can do great things.
I don’t want this experience to discourage other emerging young and promising politicians, it is part of the struggle, in fact failure teaches you more, and it is an asset. Don’t be discouraged. We need more competent hands in the politics, we have to take responsibility and actively engage in politics, especially at grassroots. We cannot be sitting on the fence and reacts to situations, we have to come down in the arena and change things ourselves. You have to involve in political parties, and become executives of the parties, that is when you can really become relevant and influence governance. I acknowledge that our political processes need to be reformed, but we can’t reform it from the outside.
While contributing to societal development, I will also continue with my career as a University Lecturer and Leadership and Personal Development Expert, I will channel my energy, creativity, and innovations in building people, who will in turn build the nation. Nations cannot make people great, it is the people that make nations great, so to develop, we have to build and invest on the people.
I thank everyone who contributed in one way or the other in this journey, especially my campaign teams, thank you for your sacrifice. Thank you once again.
Aluta Continua, Victoria Ascerta.
DR AHMED ADAMU
Aspirant for Federal House of Representatives (Katsina Central Federal Constituency) under PDP, 2019 Election.
Petroleum Economist,
Leadership and Development Expert,
First-Ever Global President of Commonwealth Youth Council,
University Lecturer (Economics),
08034458189, 08188949144, ahmadadamu1@gmail.com


Tuesday, 12 June 2018

MKO Abiola Day or Democracy Day?


By Dr. Ahmed Adamu

The first democratically elected government in Nigeria was inaugurated on 1st October 1960 and re-elected in 1964, but was toppled by a military coup on 15th January 1966. Likewise, on October 1st, 1979, another democracy was revived, but was toppled by the military on 31st December 1983, just few months after a democratic election. Again, in 1993, another democratic election took place on June 12, but was halted by the military. The most sustained democracy in Nigeria is the one that was ushered in on May 29th 1999, and it is the current democratic era in the country.

In choosing a democracy day among these dates, one may be indecisive. Would you consider a date in the past democratic era or a date in the current democratic era? Would you use a date that marks a success to the democracy or a date that marks a failure to the democracy? Whichever one you choose, you will still have to choose among options. If you go for a date to commemorate a failure to the democracy, you would then have to choose between 15th January 1966, 31st December 1983, and 12th June 1993. All these dates were days when democracy was ruined or crucified in Nigeria. So, what criteria would you use to choose among these options?

Unlike other individual’s decisions, when you are a president, every decision you make impact on people and the nation, and people will react to it, but you still have to make one at all costs. President Buhari’s recent decision to change the democracy day from May 29 to June 12 is a choice among many options, and this enticed reactions, hence the writing of this article. Changing the democracy day from the date in which the democracy was revived and achieved success seemingly forever (May 29) to the date in which a democratic election was negated 25 years ago (June 12) is a big call. Which of these two dates is more deserving to be a democracy day? Many would have chosen differently.

The question people ask is why President Buhari did not decide on changing the democracy day (to June 12) until a year to the end of his first term? When it is just eight months to the election. One would ask, is this decision political or based on informed justification? June 12 was the day in which one of the freest and fairest elections was conducted in Nigeria, but the outcome of the election was annulled by the military regime then. If the choice of a democracy day is based on sad events, why June 12 was a better date to commemorate a democracy? Why not 15th January 1996, which is another sad day in democracy, when democratically elected leaders were killed in numbers and put an end of the first democratic era in Nigeria? Why not 31st December 1983, another sad day in democracy, when another democratically elected government was toppled and the civilian leaders were jailed without a due cause?

The presumed winner of the June 12 election, MKO Abiola is no doubt a great symbol of democracy in Nigeria, and it is fair to dedicate a special day to remember his struggle and sacrifice, and June 12 is a perfect date to do that. MKO Abiola day is a day in which the country will reflect on and renew our hope for a true democratic principles and the contributions we can make to sustaining democratic values. So, June 12 should be an MKO Abiola Day.

For Democracy Day, it should remain May 29, the day in which democracy was revived to stay forever, and a day in which every newly elected government is inaugurated. In Nigeria, we have tried democracy four times, but we all failed except for the fourth time (May 29, 1999). So, May 29 is a perfect date to celebrate our democracy. It was in this democracy that was ushered on May 29, 1999 that we had four consecutive elected president. It is worth celebrating.

May 29th should not be isolated, it is a date we really achieved sustained success in democracy, and it is still the date we mark the beginning of every new democratic dispensation. Therefore, we should have both Democracy Day on May 29 and MKO Abiola Day on June 12. This will be more sustainable, otherwise, a different regime in the future may also wish to change the democracy day to either 15th January or 31st December. 15th January has already been marked and commemorated every year as an armed forces day, and that is ok because it was not made a democracy day as it is a day to remember a sad event.  Dates for sad events may not be fit to celebrate a democracy, but can be renamed to remember the victims and the struggles made in those times. Finally, the government should reconsider its decision on June 12 and make it an MKO Abiola Day instead of Democracy Day.

Dr. Ahmed Adamu,
Petroleum Economist,
Leadership and Development Expert,
First-Ever Global President of Commonwealth Youth Council,
University Lecturer (Economics),
08034458189, 08188949144, ahmadadamu1@gmail.com



Sunday, 3 June 2018

Not Too Young To Run: Celebrate Not Yet


By Dr. Ahmed Adamu

At 25 years old, most of the youths are struggling to finish from University, Polytechnics or Colleges, those that are lucky to graduate early are struggling to get or create a job. Most of us at this stage, we struggle to get a house, set a family or even buy a car. However, the story is not the same across, the children of our so called leaders know nothing about these struggles, they study abroad, they receive medical care abroad, they shop abroad, they go to holidays abroad, they buy cars and power bikes from abroad, and they have all the money to afford the most expensive politics in the world, the Nigerian Politics. If at the age of 25, a young person can contest for a state or national legislative position, then the children of the well-to-do or the political leaders are likely to take advantage of that. This then makes the political leadership like hereditary. The children of the poor may not even have the appetite to run for election, because they struggle with poverty, lack of quality education and focus.

The biggest barrier in our political system is not that of the age, but money politics. Though, breaking the age barrier is a positive development, but that alone will not make big impact unless we break other barriers especially that of money politics. Despite the recent cost reduction of nomination forms, the maximum cost of nomination form for the office of President, Governor, Senator, and Member House of Representatives is N10 million, N5 million, N2 million, and N1 million respectively. President Buhari himself could not raise N25 million then for his nomination form, he had to take a loan. Even at the reduced cost, it is still on the high side, because political parties are likely to stretch the cost limit.

Even if you have a decent job, how long will it take you and how much will you deprive yourself to save or raise such amount? In fact, the cost of nomination form is just a small fraction of the other cost that you must incur while contesting in this kind of politics. You have to spend for delegates to get a ticket of a formidable party. In fact, these delegates you have to keep watering them till the primary election. Once, you become an aspirant, you will automatically become the ATM of the people, everyone will come asking for money, and if you don’t give them, they will insult you. You also have to pay for the administration of your campaign, you have to pay for publicity, posters, billboards, stickers, rallies, party elders, stakeholders and media. As a poor youth who is eligible by age, are you eligible by money?

Like Frank Underwood said in season 3 of the House of Cards, he said “Power is more important than money, but when it comes to election, money gives Power”. I don’t totally agree with Underwood, but you still have to learn the significance of money in politics. The late Hausa Movie Comedian, Ibro was once asked if he has the “sinadarin cin zabe”, i.e. Ingredient for winning election, and he responded by showing some bunches of money.

Poverty is striking so hard now a days, people are waiting for politicians to suck from them, and this makes the politics even more expensive and increases the chances of those with the money to win elections even if they are not competent. The reason why we don’t have good governance is because the criteria for electing leaders are based on Money not ideas. And people are desperate to get money and can compromise on ethics for money because the government failed to provide the basic life requirements for them.

Professor Lumumba once said, “Good guys with no money loose elections, but bad guys with money win elections in Africa”. So, the barrier that we need to fight now is the money barrier. There are other barriers like the cartel barrier and party barrier. There are some circles of big and powerful politicians who monopolize the politics and fix candidates from the pool of their families and friends. As a young person, you have to break these cartels. They will not invite you because you don’t have the money, and they might not want you to take chances of their children. They would rather mobilize you for their political thuggery, use you and dump you. Getting the ticket of a formidable party is another big barrier. To get the party ticket, you have to have money, godfather, and influence in the party. The political parties, especially the big ones, may not be interested on your age, but your money. Therefore, we should not take the Not Too Young To Run policy as a guarantee for youth political involvement. We should not celebrate yet.

Many young people called and texted me telling me that they want to run since the Not Too Young To Run bill has become a law. I jokingly ask them, where are you running to? Just because, you are allowed to run, it does not mean that you have the skills and the capacity of running. With this new policy, we, the young people, we have to organize and unite to take advantage of the opportunity. We have to come together to fight those bigger barriers. If we all contest, then how do we unite our votes, we will split our votes, and the older generation will continue to rule us. The strategy is, we should choose the most competent among us and rally behind them; support them with our money, time, ideas, and energy. We can only fight those barriers if we unite. We should get rid of envy and partisanship. We should not worry about the party, let us consider the candidates only. We should identify prospective and competent candidates wherever they are and encourage them to contest. Most times, the ones that are desperate to contest are not the most competent. We have to identify and force the competent youths to contest in election and provide room for consensus.

We should not be eager to contest, we should be more concerned about building our capacity and personal development. If you are not fully prepared, how can you lead? It is better to be ready and not have the power than to have power without being ready. We have seen cases where some young people were given the chances, but because they lack capacity and professionalism, they messed up. We have to dispel those that doubt our abilities by sending qualified candidates among us, so that people will have confidence in our ability.

Now we can run, but what do we want to do? What do we want to change in Nigeria? Having just a young President or a young Governor or a young Legislator cannot fix our problems. Development has nothing to do with demography, it is determined by genuine intention, capacity and great ideas. Wanting to become President is not a Vision. What problem do you want to solve and how do you want to solve it? That is your vision, and that is why you want the office of the President or Governor or Legislator as a tool to fix that problem. We should not think that the only success we can achieve is by becoming Presidents or Governors. There are many ways we can achieve success. As a young person, if you become President and you can’t solve a problem, you are a failure.

Therefore, if we want to lead this country, we need to develop an agenda for this country. We have to show to Nigerians that we understand our challenges as a country, and how we intend to address them. Do we have that right now? We cannot be ready to run unless we have an agenda. Once we can develop this agenda, then we can influence governance even if we are not elected into political offices. We can still sell our agenda to the leaders, make them work on our agenda and still achieve our vision. So, it is not a must that we must contest before we influence governance, we can still do that even outside politics.

Finally, it is not bad if we can start preparing some few among us for the office of the President in a near future. We have to identify people who have the skills, capacity, influence, popularity, personality, popularity and relative experience in politics and in professional careers. We have hundreds of them that can run for President, everyone can draw his own short list of these caliber of people. I know lots of young people who I think can make a good president, people like Onofiok Luke, Jelani Aliyu, Moses Siasia, Grema Terab etc. If we are not too young to run, we need to be too qualified to run, too united to run and too organized to run. Now, we need to agitate for further reduction of political nomination cost, and strict limitation of political expenses during elections. If we have to attract good candidates into governance, we have to reduce the monetary benefits and luxuries attached to political offices.

Dr. Ahmed Adamu,
Petroleum Economist,
Leadership and Development Expert,
First-Ever Global President of Commonwealth Youth Council,
University Lecturer (Economics),
08034458189, 08188949144, ahmadadamu1@gmail.com





Tuesday, 16 January 2018

2019 Elections: A Young President?

By Dr. Ahmed Adamu

I have come across some young people on social media aspiring to contest for the office of the President of Nigeria, and I am happy about it. However, it would only take luck for any one of them to emerge winner in 2019 elections. As a youth advocate, I want to see my country producing young leaders, but we cannot achieve that without collective strategic planning. Let us assume there will be four young contestants for the president’s position in 2019, and each one of them running under a different party, what will happen is that the votes of the youths will be further divided, and there will still be some youths who will vote for older aspirants. This means the chance of having complete votes of the youths for the youths as suggested by Mal. Muhammadu Sunusi II will be minimal. I am afraid youth will keep trying and loosing, unless we strategise. Despite our desire to have a young president, we cannot achieve that without a better strategy. Instead of risking credible presidential hopefuls for election failure unnecessarily, I have a better strategy that Nigerian youths can use to surely produce a president among ourselves.

With the “not too young run” bill that is now been considered at state assemblies, more youths will aspire to contest for higher positions when the bill eventually becomes a law. This opportunity can only make a difference if we follow the strategy that I suggest below.

2019 elections should be a turning pointing for us, the youths, in political participation. In 2019, let us have more youths contesting for various legislative positions both at national and state levels, so that we can take over the majority of the National and State assemblies. If we can overcrowd the national assembly with young legislatures, then we can shape the governance and politics the way we want it. At that time, we will change policies and laws for our own interest. We will then control whoever will be the president. It would not matter whether the president is old or young, through the national assembly we can control governance. We will then have more experience in governance, and we can easily pave way for one among us to emerge as president.  The vibrancy and creativity of every democracy depends on the kind of people in the national assembly, if we have more young people as legislators, we can then have a vibrant and creative democracy.

Even Barack Obama, before he became president, he was a junior United State Senator; he also served in the Illinois State Senate. That was what gave him the edge to contest and win his election as president of America. Emmanuel Macron was also Minister for Economy in France before he contest for the position of the president of France. Let us apply this strategy, if we cannot take over the national and state assemblies, we cannot take over the country. Even if other promising young people are likely to emerge as presidential candidates, let them consider using their resources to contest for the senate or as members of house of representatives or state assemblies. I think a young president can only be realistic if we have young national and state assemblies. We have to be truthful to ourselves, no matter how much we want it, it cannot happen automatically, it cannot happen naturally, it has to be planned.

However, this strategy cannot work if we elect incompetent youths. The youths to be elected into the national and states assemblies must be competent, and we should elect them irrespective of their parties. As long as a candidate is competent and young, we should elect them without considering which party they stand. We also have to have unity among ourselves. For instance, if you are contesting for a position, and you see another young person who is more qualified than you, then you should step down and support that young person. We should not envy or hate each other, if we do that, we cannot go anywhere. We should get rid of insecurity and egoism among ourselves; it must not be us all the time. We should learn to see other people’s success as our success too. Your success should not be based on how you could push down everybody around you, your success should be based on how you can push everybody up, and if we keep doing that, one day you too will be pushed up.

We also have to change our ideology, we should not just go into politics because we want authority or we want money, leadership is not about authority or money, it is about responsibility, service and sacrifice. You must have what it takes first before you contest. You have to have the inspiration and the vision. Our participation should not be restricted to only contesting or voting, it should go beyond that, so that we can control who emerges, help in raising political awareness among uninformed population, and follow up to ensure better governance and representation after the election. Those that are politically informed among us should take responsibility and inform others, otherwise, those that are not informed will undo whatever we do, and their voices still matter. So, we need everybody on board.

Finally, we as young people, we should not let anyone deceive us with money. It is a deception and contempt for anyone to offer us money for votes. Our votes are priceless; every candidate must earn our votes based on his competency and vision only. I would like to call on competent youths to participate in politics, so that we can have majority and competent young legislatures, and then we can easily produce a young president. Let 2019 elections be the starting point for this strategy, let us support our fellow youths and send them to national assembly, and soon we will have a young president.

Dr. Ahmed Adamu,
Petroleum Economist,
Leadership and Development Expert,
First-Ever Global President of Commonwealth Youth Council,
University Lecturer (Economics),
08034458189, 08188949144, ahmadadamu1@gmail.com


Friday, 5 January 2018

Petroleum Catastrophe: Truth Must Be Told

By Dr. Ahmed Adamu

Someone very close to President Buhari sent me abusive comments because I suggested that President Buhari should step down as Petroleum Minister. Now, over 4,500 Nigerians supported my initial call, and they also called on President Buhari to step down as Petroleum Minister. Now, that close aid to Mr President should also come out and abuse these innocent Nigerians too.

After my initial call, an online newspaper called Premium Times conducted an online survey seeking the opinions of Nigerians on whether President Buhari should step down as Petroleum Minister or not. Over 6,700 Nigerians participated in the survey, and 67% of them have the opinion that the President should step down as minister of Petroleum Resources. This is an indication that Nigerians want their President to free himself from unnecessary pressure so that he can concentrate fully in overseeing the affairs of governance. This call was not out of hatred but out of love. Nigerians want their President to maximize his resources to achieve efficiency. The office of the President and Commander in Chief of Armed Forces requires undivided attention, and the one occupying this position needs to maximise his concentration and focus through effective delegation of power, so that he will supervise effectively. Now, politics is approaching, the attention of Mr President will further be divided, this can affect governance. Therefore, this call is a patriotic one, and it is not intended to contempt Mr President, but to help him achieve more for our country, and prevent avoidable hardships that may be caused due to possible oversight in managing the affairs of a sensitive sector like that of Petroleum. 

For those that think telling the truth to a leader is hatred, than they are the ones that hate the leader. If you love someone, that is when you will tell him the truth. If you are with someone and you always say yes to that person irrespective of whether he is right or wrong, then you became sycophant and a cheater. No body is perfect, and even the President makes mistake, and he must be told the truth. 

We should be professional in judging and reacting to people's opinions. If someone says something you disagree, you should disagree with respect. If you abuse and criticise without facts, it means you are ignorant and unprofessional. If you disagree with someone, disagree politely and with facts and evidence, don't just say no, say no to it with reasons. If you disagree with someone, don't pass negative comment, just establish your own point, period. 

Remember this: "Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant". Quran 7:199.

Finally, Mr President should take absolute responsibility of all the hardships that people are undergoing right now. President Buhari said in 2015 "I take responsibility for whatever happened under my watch". This time around too, President Buhari should take responsibility and stop the blame game. All measures must be in place to check and stop those supposed saboteur activities. Subsidy is not evil, we should embrace and apply what I suggested as quota petroleum subsidy and targeted petroleum subsidy. Refineries must be built and existing ones be in full capacity utilisation. President Buhari promised in 2015 "I will revive and reactivate our minimally performing Refineries to optimum capacity", and this week Mr Kachiku (the state minister of Petroleum) said "the major solution to the fuel scarcity challenges in the country is for Nigeria to fix its refineries", which means those promises have not been fulfilled after 3 years. 

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Dr. Ahmed Adamu
Petroleum Economist and Development Expert,
First-Ever Global President of Commonwealth Youth Council,
University Lecturer (Economics),
(08034458189, 08188949144 ahmadadamu1@gmail.com


Thursday, 28 December 2017

President Buhari Should Immediately Step Down as Petroleum Minister

By Dr. Ahmed Adamu

The huge responsibility of the office of the Nigerian President and that of a Commander in Chief of Armed Forces is enough to weigh down the attention and commitment of a person occupying these positions, and who yet couple as the Minister for Petroleum Resources. What every leader should try to avoid is “Burnout”, which is a situation where a person is overwhelmed by workload, stress, frustration, and the time demands of the positions he holds. Burnout affects a person’s focus on a vision, and this can be severe in old age.

Petroleum sector is sensitive and volatile; it requires absolute concentration and commitment, any gap in the management of the sector will show up in the face and the pocket of the poor. Therefore, it is highly responsive, and as such it requires energy, expertise, commitment, focus and a vision. The minister of state for Petroleum Resources will not be sufficient to oversee the affairs of the multi-segmented and complex sector like the petroleum sector, especially when you say he is just a state minister, he might think he is not enough to be creative and take bolder actions. The state minister will have limitation bureaucratically, and if there is no proactiveness from the substantive minister, the junior minister will be slowed down. Of course, we were told never to overshadow your boss, especially if that boss can fire you in a moment notice. If your boss is slow, you need to slow down too.

The ongoing petroleum crisis and hardship is unnecessary, and like I established in my other article on this issue, it relates to the management of the sector. The NNPC would have been more proactive having a committed supervisory minister. If there was a careful plan and vision, these hardships would have been avoided. Even if there are established bureaucratic departments, the leadership of the sector matters and can influence everything.

I have not heard of a country around the world where the President or Prime Minister is also the minister for natural resources. A leader should be able to trust the ability and sincerity of others, and a leader should delegate not abdicate responsibility. Abdicating responsibility is when you assign a task to someone who is not the best or not competent in terms of capacity, skills and knowledge to deliver the task. If there is corruption in petroleum sector, that does not mean the system should be broken. The best thing to do is to allow the system, but create check and balance to counter the corruption. The resultant repercussion of the broken system is more severe than the one that corrupted system will bring. A corrupted system is easier to mend than a broken one.

The current petroleum hardship is the worst ever, it happened in the wake of high inflation, poverty and unemployment. The hardships are untold, and this was exacerbated by the rushed removal of petroleum subsidy. In my previous article, I have introduced the best petroleum subsidy options that we can implement to make life easier for the poor, and I will do another set of article just to elaborate on them. Anyway, Petrol is the blood of the economy, once it is expensive; everything will become expensive. This crisis should have been envisaged long before it happen, and measures should have been taken to prevent it.

President Buhari was not educated in the field of Petroleum, though he was once the head of the sector more than four decades ago, but that was military appointment, under which anyone can be appointed to any ministry irrespective of the person’s prior relevant education or experience. Despite the remarkable development achieved during that time, such success was possible because the then President appointed a substantive minister. That Minister who is now the Nigerian President was able to be creative, because he was given the complete power to be creative. I remember President Buhari saying these words “the ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo appointed me as minister of Petroleum Resources and tolerated me for three years, and that is why I succeeded”. Therefore, Mr President, if you want this country to succeed, you will need to do the same thing, find someone and appoint him as minister of petroleum, tolerate him, I can assure you he will succeed too. The condition of success is when you assign people roles and then let them to be at their best.

There are many Nigerians who are expert and experienced in the sector, who could do better job and create focus and vision for the petroleum sector. We have to learn to give people benefits of doubt, and there are millions of honest and sincere Nigerians. We cannot achieve efficiency by limiting the cost of expertise.

A leader should not do what others can do, a leader should see himself as a supervisor, a leader should surround himself with competent people and delegate to competent hands. This is what will help reduce pressure, ensure focus, efficiency and productivity. A leader should be able to identify who are good in practical and those that are philosophical. There are people who are good in ideas and creating vision, but they don’t have practical skills to put them into action, these kind of people can be good advisers. There are others who are not theoretical, but they have high practical skills, these kind of people can be good administrators. Leadership is a big responsibility, it has to be exerted with carefulness, and you cannot get it right by chance.

Therefore, Nigerians deserve a new substantive minister of petroleum whose daily schedule and thinking is all about the petroleum sector. This new minister will then be assisted by the state minister and NNPC. This sector does not need divided attention. Nigerian citizen is more important than the office of the president, and what will serve the citizen well is what has to be done. Would this petroleum crisis go if Mr President steps down now as petroleum minister? The answer is not immediately, but this avoidable hardships may not likely to happen again. The new minister will have all his focus on how to avoid it in the future, because his attention is undivided. This minister can be man or a female, so don’t worry for using male gender pronoun.  

Finally, from legal point of view, the Nigerian constitution bearing in mind the overwhelming responsibility of the office of the president, it denied the occupant of the office taking additional responsibility. This is stated in section 138 of the 1999 constitution (as amended), and it says “The President shall not, during his tenure of office, hold any other executive office or paid employment in any capacity whatsoever”. Going by this too, the President should step down and appoint a substantive minister of Petroleum Resources.

Dr. Ahmed Adamu
Petroleum Economist and Development Expert,
First-Ever Global President of Commonwealth Youth Council,
University Lecturer (Economics),
(08034458189, 08188949144 ahmadadamu1@gmail.com) 







Sunday, 24 December 2017

Fuel Crisis or Leadership Crisis?

By Dr. Ahmed Adamu

A leader is someone who looks into the future, and anticipates what challenges and promises the future holds, and prepares and leads people to it. A leader should not have to wait until problem arrives, he should prepare defensive mechanisms to avoid it in the beginning. It is easier to avoid problem than to fix it. Making reference to the ongoing fuel crisis in Nigeria, I would like to pay tribute to Late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua for being a role model leader. When he was on power, he anticipated fuel crisis ahead before anyone realises it, and he created defence mechanisms, he leased filling stations from private owners to ensure adequate outlets, he increased petroleum supply, and reduced the price of petroleum products. President Yar’adua reduced petrol price to N65 per litre, and at that time, international crude oil price was $65 per barrel, and as I write this article today, the international crude oil price is also $65 per barrel, but now petrol price is N145 and above per litre. There has to be a magic done by President Yar’adua to keep petrol price at N65 when crude oil price was equally $65 per barrel.

I felt disheartened with what is happening today. Seeing long queues on filling stations at this demand peak period is sympathetic and disappointing. What is more disappointing is the exploited price charged on poor consumers. At a time when real poverty is pervasive, and life is becoming more expensive, petrol price keep increasing as a result inflation and poor price control. Someone reported on Facebook buying petrol at a price more than N170 per litre, and this continues without adequate check. People now postpone economic activities and travels due to fuel crisis, which ruins the economy more. The torture and suffering people undergo is just beyond illustration, the depression lingers.

Nigerians deserve fuel subsidy; the way fuel subsidy was blackmailed and rashly executed gave no room to look at it from holistic point of view, rather than from narrowed and sentimental lens. A forensic petroleum consumption study was supposed to be conducted to identify actual consumption by Nigerians, and then identify the actual consumption by social classes, so that a targeted petroleum subsidy can be implemented. Targeted subsidy is the subsidy that targets the vulnerable, where a poor man can enjoy subsidy as a social investment. Instead of giving cash or food incentives to the poor, creating easy and cheap life for them is more important. Giving a poor person N5000 in an economy where inflation is 15.90% and fuel price is at least 49% higher is just like a single drop of water in a desert. Though social investment is good, but it can only be impactful given a conducive economic atmosphere.

Another option is subsidy quota, where every private petroleum consumer will be licensed and given a unique identification number (let us say like the BVN) with which every consumer can claim up to 70 litres (for car users)  per month as subsidy, but the subsidised consumption can only be claimed on the registered vehicle and after biometric identification. For motorcycle users, a maximum of 20 litres per motorcycle can be allocated per month.  Any consumption on those vehicles above these quotas will not be subsidised. Any other unnecessary demand will be at the consumer’s costs. What if someone used the other person’s allocation, for example, if I give someone my own subsidy allocation? Someone might ask. That is fine, as long as you agreed to a term to give someone your own subsidised product, and if that happened, two economic benefits have taken place. This subsidy quota will give authorities an idea how much to spend every month constantly for subsidy. The rate of subsidy can also fluctuate based on the government economic condition.

In leadership, a leader cannot use challenges as excuse not to fix issues. A leader is meant to face challenges and fix it. A leader is supposed to give hope to his followers by his actions, not by words. When disaster befalls, it is already too late to seek sympathy with words. Being proactive to avoid a disaster is what will earn a leader trust and confidence, but being proactive only after a disaster has already consumed people is little too late to get sympathy. Work speaks louder than words.
It is good for a leader to trust other’s abilities and seek constructive feedbacks no matter how much it pains. No one is perfect, but deliberately seeking constructive criticism is what will make one a better leader. A blind, confused and ignorant follower is the one that sees constructive criticism as hatred, constructive criticism is love. A360 degree feedback should give a leader all round and sincere feedback on his performance.

A leader must surround himself with competence not acquaintance, and the easiest way to lose control and influence is loose competency for loyalty. Leadership is a serious business, more important than any other, and it is the business that requires competence more than anywhere. A leader must then draw himself closer to different opinions and experience.  A leader must come down and see by himself what is going on at grassroots level, he should not rely on reports or friends’ reports. A leader must be energetic and active to follow things as they evolve especially critical issues that affect welfare and wellbeing of the people.

Finally, a political victory for followers is not just to have their candidates emerged, and wait for another election. Political victory is when you feel the impact and see a better change in your lives, if you can have a better life, it doesn’t matter whose candidate emerged. You may have a winning candidate, but if you are not making any progress, you have lost a political victory.  It is a mere mislead to believe every rich person is corrupt and to think a political victory is when a well-to-do is made poor, a political victory is when poor is made to do well too.

Dr. Ahmed Adamu
Petroleum Economist and Development Expert,
First-Ever Global President of Commonwealth Youth Council,
University Lecturer (Economics),
(08034458189, 08188949144 ahmadadamu1@gmail.com)
Picture sourced from CNN


Thursday, 19 October 2017

Unemployment in Nigeria: The Missing Road

By Dr. Ahmed Adamu

When we had Youth Round Table Discussion with the Nigerian Senate President in October 2017, I made some comments regarding unemployment, which I would like to expatiate below.

As at last quarter of 2016, the Nigerian unemployment rate was 14.2%, which means in every 100 Nigerians at least 14 of them are unemployed, which means they are capable and willing to get a job, but they cannot get one. Policy makers and commentators usually rely on this misleading indicator, which is why most of unemployment policies do not work. The reported unemployment rate is discriminating, misleading, and conservative, because, it left out large number of other people who do not have job.

There are people who are willing to get job, but they are not capable to get one, there are others who are not capable and not willing to get job due to some conditions, and there are others who have a job that is equivalent to none. These set of people could be a liability to the economy and detrimental to the overall welfare of the economy, but many times they are excluded in designing and implementing policies or programmes in addressing unemployment. They need intervention too, and if they are not considered, the resultant negativity from their conditions will outweigh the resultant benefits of the interventions on the narrowed targeted unemployed. And that is why unemployment has continued to be an issue for every administration. Accounting for these three missing set of people, real unemployment rate in Nigeria can reach up to 60%.

Let us start with the first excluded set of people- Those that are willing to get job, but are not capable or qualified to get job. Due to change in structure of the economy and fast paced civilisation and technology, many Jobs became outdated and no longer required, while new jobs suitable for new opportunities have emerged, but due to unreflective school curriculums and lack of willingness to learn, many job opportunities cannot be explored or acquired. The skills mismatch created unnecessary unemployment. So, failure to track structural change or labour market demand has made many employment creation policies unproductive. Therefore, policies must be framed to activate those latent job opportunities.

The second set of people are those that due to their background or societal expectations, they are not willing, neither capable to get a job. These exclude children, but include people like street beggars, widows, elderly people, sick people, physically challenged people, hopeless people etc. These set of people require strategic and special intervention, and they should not be excluded in designing policies or programmes. And this is why many employment policies have not been very effective, because it was not inclusive.

The last discriminated group are those people that have a job that is equivalent to nothing, because, they earn so little that they cannot sustain themselves for a week with their income. When you see these people, they would not look much different from the previous two groups. As inflation increases, these people become poorer due to their static income, as such policies should be in place to accommodate these set of semi-unemployed people. Wages should be proportionate to inflation, and by years spent on a job. Alternatively, these set of people can fall under interventions that prepare them for much more competitive jobs.

In addressing unemployment, we have to look into the root cause of it. Increasing unproductive and inefficient population can make all employment policies ineffective. What economy wants is additional capable and quality population. Adding low quality population will add more burden to the economy. It is important to revisit how we manage our abundant and ever increasing population strategically; otherwise Law of diminishing return will apply or is applicable in Nigeria. To put it into perspective, it is like a manufacturing company employing and paying for labourers that can barely produce one product in a month. The company will soon become bankrupt.

In addition to the growing unproductive population, most people wait and expect from government to fix their problems or provide solutions to their unemployment. Failure of people to take responsibility of their situations made it impossible for government to fix everybody. Therefore, policies must be in place to enforce learning and self responsibility. People must create vision and commit to becoming self reliant, and this can only be possible if people are willing to learn and acquire knowledge and skills. This does not mean acquiring certificates, but relevant information and capacity to make them productive or employable.

Emphasis on certificates when it comes to recruitment in public and private sectors is what led to the chronic and rising unemployment in Nigeria. The competition should be on skills and ability, not just on a paper. People do not carry papers along; they carry their brains and hands. So, invest and appreciate brains and hands, not papers. Leaders and employers should be rewarding skills not just qualification, we shall be asking what can we do, not what qualification we have. How much we receive as income should be based on what we can do, not the degrees we have.

This brings the need for changing values especially among young Nigerians. The young generation should focus on value addition and improving their personal capacity and skills, not chasing for wealth at all cost. If we do that, we will improve the quality of our lives, create jobs and the wealth will come naturally. We will have to go out of our comfort zone, get rid of egoism, take menial jobs, learn little skills, and be willing to acquire relevant education and skills.

Education budgets are also discriminating, because it targets only those that go to school, while education funds are supposed to be for all including non-schooling population. This is the genesis of rising unemployment, knowledge acquisition is for all, and once some groups are excluded from education, they are then prepared for unemployment. Similarly, educational curriculums have been outdated, and schools now produce graduates for the jobs that no longer exist. So, there is need for review of curriculums and a shift from theory based teaching to skills and practical based teaching approaches.

Finally, empowerment programmes should not be discriminated too, they should not be limited to only those with certificates or ability to write convincing language, but to those that have genuine ideas and skills even if they cannot access internet or write an application. Poor infrastructure, especially lack of stable electricity supply will continue to hinder any employment policy. Small skilled labour should be professionalized, so that when people engage in such small skill labour work, it will be counted as part of their professional work experience, and the wages for small skill labour should be standardised and regulated. Most importantly, every individual must commit to work on his/her personal development and improving his/her capacities and capabilities, without this, no policy or intervention will make difference in the lives of the people.

Dr. Ahmed Adamu
University Lecturer (Economics), Umaru Musa Yar’adua University Katsina,
Development Expert, Leadership and Personal Development Coach,
First Elected Global President of Commonwealth Youth Council,

08034458189, 08188949144. 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Should Buhari Contest in 2019 and How Has He Fared in the Second Year in Office?

By Dr. Ahmed Adamu

There is a need to poll people’s opinions on what they think about the governance and leadership of their countries. Based on this, I decided to conduct an annual opinion poll to collate people’s opinions on the quality of leadership and future expectations on the current Nigerian leadership. This gives an indication of the people’s perception or thoughts on the leadership of the country, which can serve as feedback on how to further improve governance and track shifts in the government’s approval ratings. At this year’s poll, the respondents agreed that two years are enough for assessments, and they were ready to give their assessment and they did as follows:

In the first year (2015-2016) of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, 50% of the respondents were extremely satisfied with his administration, but in the second year, this proportion reduced to 23%, where the most of the respondents (42%) in the second year said there were moderately satisfied. This can indicate a possible decline in people’s satisfaction with the administration within a year. One can look back within this one year to see what might trigger decline in people’s satisfaction. One of the possibilities is the increase in the rate of inflation, which peaked at 18.72% in January 2017, the highest inflation in a decade. Between 2016 and 2017, the inflation averaged around 17.59%, with some slow-paced increase up to January 2017, when it started to decline for three straight months because of the fall in prices in housing and utilities and transport. This decline was not significantly contributed by a fall in food items. Another likely reason for a fall in satisfaction can be related to an increasing unemployment rate, which increased to 13.9% in October 2016, from 12.1% in April 2016. There could be many other reasons for the decline of people’s satisfaction of the Buhari’s administration.

Similarly, the respondents were less confident on the choice of political appointees by President Buhari compared to the previous year, where the most of them (39%) said they were moderately confident of the political appointees, which is a fall in confidence, since in 2016 most respondents (52%) were very confident of the political appointees. This could be attributed to the slow pace of government projects in some sectors, even though there is visible progress in some sectors. However, the majority of the respondents are still confident for the future under President Buhari.

State governments were also assessed, where respondents assessed states’ governments poorly on average in the second year. This may indicate low performance of some of the states’ governments. Though some states were assessed good like Borno, Edo, Ekiti, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Lagos, Niger, Sokoto, Taraba, and Zamfara, others were assessed poor. However, none of the states were assessed excellent in the second year.

When asked if President Buhari should contest in 2019 elections, 50% of the respondents said no, he should not contest, while 49% said he should contest, the remaining 1% were neutral about this question. This indicates that some Nigerians would prefer President Buhari not to contest in 2019 elections. This may be related to their realisation of the president personal health concern, and the fact that many expect him to fix corruption in the short run.

In exploring alternative candidates, most (45%) of the respondents prefer a fresh and young candidate for Presidency in 2019; this indicates the possible desire for fresh sets of leaders in the country. In the event of no fresh and young candidates, and people should choose among the existing leaders, most (25%) of the respondents would prefer Senator Kwankwaso, 19% of them prefer Governor El-Rufai, 3% of them prefer Hamza Almustapaha, 2% of them prefer Senator Saraki and Bola Tinubu, and 1% of them prefer Atiku ABubakar and Goodluck Jonathan. This means that Senator Kwankwaso and Gov. El-Rufai may have large following and could likely be preferred alternative candidates for Nigerian presidency in the future.

The question of a fresh and young candidate is still being asked, because Nigerians ask for what kind of credibility, integrity, qualification, or experience may be required of young and fresh candidates. Some believe that it should be someone who never asks or intend to go into the politics, and some think it should be carefully and strategically prepared for. However, another big question is how united and patriotic are the younger citizens? At a time, when people compete for material wealth, and are willing to do anything to acquire it, because it is the source of respect and recognition, and politics is the easy step to acquire the wealth, then we are not ready for better alternative candidates.

Unfortunately, the young generation are groomed to desire for wealth and power, against real leadership of character and responsibility. It is disheartening to see how the young generation are polarised, and they envy and attack each other maliciously. Some of our generation think of themselves and always try to blackmail others to hide their immoralities, and this does not indicate that the younger generation are ready to take over. So, there is little hope for that fresh and young candidate unless the young people of today are prepared to do something different and new, like identifying the credible ones among them and sponsor them into the politics. The less so credible ones must be disowned and rejected. Finally, the easiest way for young people to take over is for them to take real leadership responsibility of making an impact and difference wherever they are. If they can influence a positive development, then they are already leaders, and soon power will come to them. They don’t have to ask for it necessarily, and they should not worry about taking a title, because even without them, the young people can make difference and influence the necessary positive development in our society by working together and supporting each other.

This questionnaire will resume next year on democracy day. However, it is good to note some of the weaknesses of this research, which are: limited sample size, regionally unbalanced sample, being online and restricted to the elites etc. However, it is recommended that the government take up this kind of initiative and expand it to receive feedback from the populace at certain intervals, as it will be useful for improvement.

Dr. Ahmed Adamu,
Petroleum Economist and Development Expert,
First-Ever Global President of Commonwealth Youth Council,
University Lecturer (Economics), Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina.
08034458189, 08188949144, ahmadadamu1@gmail.com


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

THE FLAWS OF OUR DEMOCRACY

By Dr. Ahmed Adamu

This month, Nigeria will celebrate Democracy Day on the 29th of May, but I have concerns about whether the democracy we practice is the best option for us. First, democracy allows everybody above the age of 18 to vote, irrespective of their education, knowledge or political awareness. This is one of the flaws of our democracy, not everyone is informed of the requirement or competence for leadership, not everyone has the skills to interpret information presented by candidates, not everyone has the correct mindset or upright ideology in making the right decision, and if everyone including the uninformed are handed over the ballot, we risk the chances of ignorant choices.

Therefore, casting a vote is a skill that everyone must acquire, and if you do not have the skills, you will not be qualified to have a ballot. It is just like handing over guns to everyone, you will risk giving the gun to an uninformed person, and he may end up shooting himself or shooting the good guys. Just like not everyone should lead, not everyone should vote too. If a child is denied the ballot because it was believed that a child may not be well informed or acquire the necessary knowledge to participate in the voting, likewise even among adults, there are those who are not informed or have the knowledge to guide their decisions.  Some children may have the knowledge, but they will also be denied the chance to vote. So, there has to be clear requirements to qualify to vote in a democracy, especially in developing countries where there is mass illiteracy or unawareness, which reflects in the ballot and can cause the poor selection of leaders, resulting in bad governance.

Uninformed citizens can easily be manipulated and used through bribery, bogus promises, or intimidation to make the wrong choices. The votes of uninformed citizens may not necessary reflect their own opinions, which is against the principles of democracy. So, some sections of society need to be stripped of the voting chance. However, highly informed and educated citizens will have fewer tendencies of being used or manipulated. In some elections, a leader can emerge even with a 1% margin, and it does not matter if that margin was as a result of a vote from an uninformed voter. That one percent will also make the other major 49% voiceless.  Uninformed voters can decide the course of the ship of our democracy. Giving uninformed citizens the ballot is like giving unprofessional the wheel of a ship at the middle of a sea during a storm, how would they steer the ship? But, if you hand over the ship to a qualified person, they will handle the situation and direct the ship to a safer route. Even in courts, we don’t allow every citizen to give verdicts, a select few competent judges are the ones we trust to give verdicts, because we believe they have the skills in making a sound and fair decision, and we accept their judgments.

This also applies to candidates contesting in our elections, once you have a lower educational qualification, irrespective of the quality of that education or the depth of your knowledge (especially political and economic affairs), you are free to contest. It is just like an aeroplane, not everyone deserves to fly the plane, if someone who is not an expert stepped up to fly the plane, no one will agree to that. So, why should we allow those who are not expert to steer a country's direction, candidates must have certain strict criteria to contest. We cannot risk allowing people with shallow knowledge of politics and economics or education to stand for elections, if we do that we put ourselves at risk of voting in incompetent leaders. If a private company wants to appoint a new MD/CEO, they will shortlist those with the best qualification in terms of knowledge and ability to meet the company’s targets. So, why can't we shortlist the best candidates for leading our respective countries, why do we accommodate incompetence in our shortlists? That is why we have to raise the requirements for who we allow to contest in our elections.

To achieve this, we have to change the system of nominations for elective positions; first, candidates must be allowed to stand for election independently without standing under a political party. Political parties must allow every member of their party to cast their votes in the selection of their party’s candidates, instead of few people, i.e. delegates. These delegates are targets of manipulation, bribery, and deception because there is no strict requirement for their selection, and once they are manipulated, the entire country is manipulated too. So, for immediate remedy, parties must open the selection of their candidates to every member of the party. Any party that does that will for sure have more appeal to the people.  Political parties must be forced to reduce the cost of nominations for political positions, to give room for competent candidates who may not afford high nomination fees.

Restricting candidacy to parties is what produces leaders without ideas. Shehu Musa Ya’adua once said, “Our major problem as a country is that we elect people that we know are not competent, and leave out those that we know are competent”. One of our African orators, Harmon Okinyo once said, “the problem with Africa is that those that have ideas, have no power, and those with power, have no ideas. Once Africans are presented with the option to vote between those with ideas and those without, they will vote for those without the ideas”. So those who are the 'good ones' don’t get the chance. The good ones do not have the money to outcompete the bad ones, and the bad ones use illiteracy and an uninformed electorate to find their way, and that is why it is dangerous to give the ballot to the uninformed citizens.

So, let us have an intellectual democracy and not democracy by birth right. Another issue with democracy is the frequent change of leaders, and giving them absolute powers to change the course of governance. This creates inconsistency and the desire to accumulate wealth within the limited span of their tenure, unlike a constitutional monarch, which prevents continued rent seeking from rotating powerful leaders. Frequent change of governments and elections attracts huge costs, which short-change the citizens. Monarchs tend to take responsibility for success or failure of their countries, because their faces or images are at stakes, and they want to command loyalty and love from their people.

To ensure informed choices and better selection of leaders, Islamic, traditional or new systems of democracy can be looked into. We can consider electing voting representatives in each district or ward, who are knowledgeable, respected, experienced and reputable. These voting representatives will cast their votes on behalf of their people, and will undertake by oath to be fair and just in their selections. They will be like judges, who will use facts and evidence to give a verdict without sentiment, fear or favour. All candidates must then present themselves and their visions to earn the votes of the voting representatives. This will give a chance to credible candidates from unpopular parties, marginalised ethnicities or sections of society, because it is about who is more competent. The voting representatives will vote according to their conscience and conviction, and they have to report back to their respective communities and explain the justification for their choices. So, they will be the judges, who make verdicts on our behalf. This kind of system is found in Islamic election processes, where few selected respected members of society are chosen to select a leader. It is also found in the traditional system of democracy, where few selected king makers choose the king on behalf of the people.

Finally, the above system can be merged with direct democracy, where a proportion of the votes can be allocated to the citizens and the bigger proportion to the voting representatives. We can say, voting representatives have a 60% weighted proportion of the votes, and 40% goes to the citizens. If a candidate wins, the entire votes of the voting representatives can emerge. A candidate can still win if he has the majority of the overall votes, combining proportions from both voting representatives and the citizens.

Dr. Ahmed Adamu
Petroleum Economist and Development Expert,
First-Ever Global President of Commonwealth Youth Council,
University Lecturer (Economics), Umaru Musa Yar’adua University, Katsina.

(08034458189, ahmadadamu1@gmail.com)