Aguntasolo 2011: Loving Nigeria All Over Again [Pt 1]

That’s it.

I am fed up of worrying about and seeing so many things wrong with Nigeria….and all I can do is write about it.
I have decided to run for President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2011 as an Independent candidate. Wish me luck.

Now that you know, please spread the word among your friends and family….surely I can get at least 300 votes? [I have just under 400 friends on Facebook but I am being prudent and adjusting for the fact that not all of them will vote for me].

Anyway here’s my manifesto…..if it offends you, please vote for Umaru Yar’Adua/Goodluck Jonathan or Atiku Abubakar.

Personal Promises
I promise not to sleep a single night inside Aso Rock throughout my presidency. Nigeria is not a rich country where the president should live in unnecesary opulence.
I will move the office of the presidency across the country every 3 months for 6 weeks at a stretch each time. For example from December 2011 to February 2012, the office of the presidency might be based in Gbaramatu Kingdom, in the heart of the NIger Delta.
My plan is to demystify the presidency and make it a part of the lives of ordinary Nigerians.

I will also live in a 3 bedroom duplex in Abuja as my official residence. This house will have no generator and will be connected to the national grid. If the lights go out, then the lights go out.
Aso Rock will be turned into a tourist attraction and will charge N1000 for a tour or N15,000 for a guided VIP tour. You want to spend a night in Aso Rock? Be my guest……starting price is N80k per night going up to N250k per night if you want to sleep on the same bed Abacha slept in.

I wont work for free. I will pay myself, subject to RMAFC approval, a salary of N24m per annum.
Too much? Well that salary comes with a guarantee that I wont steal one naira of the government’s money.
If I do so, castrate me….publicly.

I wont be accepting any useless chieftaincy titles or dodgy doctorate degrees during my tenure.
Just call me Feyi Fawehinmi, the president prefix is optional.

Every minister will sign an undertaking not to complain about how difficult the job he has been given is. If a minister or government official complains privately or publicly, he will automatically have to resign.
The job is big and hard…..I dont want no wimps in my government.

Fiscal Policy
Broadly speaking, I will run a tax and spend government….but with a time lag built into it.
I know Nigerians dont trust government and are totally cynical about the way the state is run.
I feel your pain and I am willing to meet you halfway.
What if I build a hospital and ask you to pay for it’s maintenance and day to day running while I move on to something else? Would that be fine with you?

We will borrow money by selling long dated gilts tied to specific projects. For example we might sell a gilt called Lagos-Ibadan Expressway 2040 with a 4% coupon. Whatever it will cost to build the road, I will raise it by selling that gilt and then put a minimum of 2 toll gates on the road.
The revenue raised will go directly into servicing the debt.

Just so I dont waste your time by making you read this, I am big on taxes.
I will collect taxes anywhere I can collect them.
But I promise to collect taxes only AFTER I have provided a service, never before.

What about the oil money I hear you ask? Well my plan is to change the current derivation formula to ensure that a minimum of 51% of the revenue generated from a state goes back to that state.
By the end of my first term in 2015 [ I dont think I will get elected for a second term to be honest] my plan is to raise this to 60%.
Oil has become a nuisance to Nigeria and it makes us lazy and very crooked.
If your state is an oil producing one and all the roads are bad, please shoot your governor, dont disturb me.
Nigeria is a Federal Republic, therefor we shall be practicing true federalism.

One of the new taxes I plan to introduce is the Special Church Tithe Tax, SCTT for short.
We will collect 10% tax from churches everywhere in the country. I am sorry, but the days of churches not paying taxes are over…at least during my tenure.
For the record I am a born again christian and a proud member of the RCCG….but the job of rebuilding Nigeria is so great that everyone needs to be involved.
Mosques will also pay taxes under my regime. If you are collecting money from people coming to worship in your mosque or church, I want my share.

Social Thrust
I strongly believe that a lot of the problems in Nigeria today can be traced to our behavioural patterns and the general decay in the body politic.
Even if you build a brand new hospital somewhere, can Nigerians, in their current mindset, be trusted to maintain it?
Ergo, I will be attempting to achieve what no other Nigerian leader has done before…altering the behaviour of Nigerians using a careful combination of policy sticks and carrots.
I promise you, no one will be beaten by soldiers on the streets for not obeying a law.
I will instead be hitting you in the pocket every time you step out of line.

Nobody loves Nigeria anymore…..my plan is to make as many people as possible fall in love with her all over again. 
As an example, if you are caught driving the wrong way on a one way street you will be fined N40k plus 1 year part time work unpaid for the Foad Safety Corps. However you can buy your way out of this 1 year work by paying the equivalent of the national minimum wage for 1 year. I am going to set the minimum wage at N50k per month…so that’s N600k on your ass. 
Receipts will be given.
We will also ask for your passport and if we find evidence that you have lived abroad in the past, the fine automatically doubles to N80k and the community service goes up to 18 months or N900k fine.
Yep, you should know better and you wouldnt have tried that in London would you?
‘Abroad’ is relative though….if we find that you have lived in India, we will actually reduce the fine.
If you dont like the policy, please emigrate.

From the day I am sworn in [May 29th 2011], every child born in Nigeria will automatically be given free baby food and milk for the first 6 months of their life.
This policy will only apply to the first 2 children in a family. After your first 2 children, if you agree to stop childbearing, you will automatically get a grant of N400k and the government will pay 30% of the child’s university costs if he or she chooses to go and study abroad once the child completes secondary school.
I dont want people turning the offer of free baby food into a licence to give birth to football teams.. Nigerians know how to take a mile when you give them an inch.
If you do not return to Nigeria within 2 years of leaving for study abroad, you will automatically fall under my D.R.I.P plan which I will explain later.
I want to invest in kids….maybe when they grow up, they will be reminded that their country did something for them when they were younger…..and it wont be too hard to convince them to give something back to Nigeria.

Like I said, I am willing to make the first move on behalf of Nigeria….heaven help you if you dont give something back to her…I will tax your ass to kingdom come.
This love for Nigeria is going to be by force and non-negotiable.

Electricity
On May 29th 2011, I will declare a state of emergency in Nigeria’s power sector.
I will also get rid of the National Control Centre in Oshogbo [please read my note titled ‘The NCC Oshogbo Conundrum for an explantion].
Electricity will be used wherever it is generated. If there’s no light in your state but your cousin in Afam, Delta State tells you they havent had a power cut for 1 year running, it’s because you dont generate any electricity son.
Surely you dont want something for nothing?

I will break up that PHCN and transform it into a body whose job is to act as a middleman or electricity trader selling unused electricity.
Let’s say Egbin in Lagos has generated 10MW of electricity but based on current usage, it only needs 8MW, the 2MW difference will be sold to PHCN.
PHCN will then look for a state that hasnt got jack electricity and sell the 2MW to it for a profit of course.
That should teach them to generate their own power.
Obviously PHCN owns the distribution network so it can move the electricty around the country.

By the end of my term in 2015, the plan is that electricity trading will be reduced to a minimum and only in emergencies….maybe in cases where a state where is repairing it’s power plants and needs to buy electricity to plug the gaps in the short term.

Once we have achieved 6 months of uninterrupted electricity around the country, I will sign legislation that will make it a criminal offence to plunge any part of the country into darkness for more than 24 hours without prior warning.

I am staking my reputation and my entire presidency on electricity generation.
If I dont get it right by 2015, I will go away quietly and apologise to Nigerians for being an abject failure.
If I do manage to achieve stable electricity, then I will automatically pay myself a N50m bonus.
If you dont like it, go and jump in the nearest river.

Justice
I know Nigerians dont believe in the justice system. Fair enough, you have good reason not to.
In line with my overarching theme of social change, my priority will be to restore faith in the justice system and make people believe it actually works.

I will immediately reopen some high profile cases that have never been succesfully concluded in Nigeria.
Dele Giwa, Alfred Rewane, Bola Ige etc…..the evidence will be put on the internet for anybody to download and where possible, the cases will be reopend and tried on national TV.
If we cant convict anybody, it wont be for lack of trying.
But again, I promise to make the first move.

I will renovate all the prisons in Nigeria under a programme called ‘National Prison Restoration and Upgrade Initiative’… or The P.R.U.
Nigerians dont like to go to prison for any offence so we will make it a habitable environment with decent food.
If we are going to house you in a decent environment and feed you for running over and killing someone while you were driving under the influence of alcohol, should you really complain?

The overall plan is to make prison fashionable again…..a place where big men and big politicians can go to cool off for a few years while they pay their debt to society.
As always there will always be an option of a fine for any offence which will be charged on a sliding scale.
N1m for every year you are supposed to spend in prison for the crime you committed.
So if you have been sentenced to 3 years imprisonment but you only have N2m, we will collect the money [plus VAT] and you will only serve 1 year in jail.
It’s your call baby.
Nigerians dont like going to prison….well now, you dont have to feel guilty about it.

Diaspora Return and Integration Plan [D.R.I.P]
It bears repeating, the overarching theme of my government is social change and behaviour modification using government policy.

Under the DRIP programme, any Nigerian returning from abroad will be restricted to a salary of N3.5m per annum for the first 2 years after they return.
This salary will be taxed at 40%. 
If you have had the opportunity to live and study abroad, you are already extremely priviledged.
Why should you come back home to get a job paying N20m per annum? Because you are who?
Infact under my plan, the standards for loving Nigeria are much higher for returning ‘Andrews’.

You will not be allowed to change jobs in the first 2 years after you return home and you will not be promoted in this period.
12% of the tax you pay will however be returned to you once you have been back in the country for 5 years meaning you only pay 28% effective tax on the N7m you would have received over the 2 years you were under the DRIP plan.
Call it the DRIP Cashback if you like but read my lips D-E-L-A-Y-E-D G-R-A-T-I-F-I-C-A-T-I-O-N.

Nigeria is not your b*tch….it’s not a place where you return to so you can cream off the best of the land.
If you have lived a certain lifestyle abroad and you want to maintain that lifestyle, why dont you go back to where you came from?
Your first job on returning to Nigeria, is to make it a better place based on what you have learnt abroad.
Treat her right first, take her out on a date…then you can have your way with her.

There are waivers and conditions to this plan though. 
Doctors will be exempted from the N3.5m restriction…sometimes you have to hold your nose and use a toilet that’s really smelly if you get what I mean.
We need the expertise of doctors and experience cannot be gained in 2 years.

If you have only been abroad for a maximum of 2 years, this plan does not affect you.

I understand that companies need the best talent they can find to grow their business.
Well, under the DRIP plan, you are going to have to make do with what you have.
If a company wishes to send a good member of staff abroad to do a Masters for instance, my government will pay 30% of the costs.
If the person doesnt return after 2 years, then the company will have to return this money to the government plus interest.
We expect that 1 year will be for studying and another 1 year for work experience or sightseeing.
If you spend 1 day more than 2 years, will fall under the DRIP N3.5m maximum salary plan.

However if you are returning to Nigeria to start your own business, this plan does not affect you.
If you start a business that employs a minimum of 5 people [excluding drivers and cleaners and your house helps], you will qualify for the DRIP Tax Free incentive where you dont pay tax for the first 2 years of the business.
You must also pay at least the minimum wage to your staff and register them with the government, so we can ensure we collect the PAYE tax you are deducting from their salaries.

Also remember that any traffic offence committed by anyone under the DRIP plan attracts double the normal fine.
Any Nigerian who has lived abroad will also not get the option of a fine if you have been convicted of stealing from the public purse.

Other Taxes
Aso Ebi Tax – You will pay a 10% tax [calculated on the value of the aso-ebi] on each aso-ebi you sell to people attending your wedding. It’s not my business if you are not making a profit on the sales.
If you cant afford the tax, let people come wearing their own clothes.
However this tax will be waived, if the aso ebi is a material 100% made in Nigeria.
There is a seperate gele tax charged at 5%. This is to give people the option of only buying geles instead of the aso-ebi and gele which will attract a combined 15% tax on your sorry ass.

Party Tax – My government will collect a 15% tax on any wedding held in a public venue. This will be calculated based on cost of the venue.
So if you are planning to use the Civic Centre for your wedding and they charge N1m, please set aside N150k for me.
We will not tax any wedding or party held in your house up to a maximum of 4 a year. This venue tax applies if you hold more than 4 parties in your house in a year. 
If there are 8 people in your house, you will be advised to combine the birthday parties you are planning to hold during the year to avoid this tax.
This tax will be reduced to 2% if the party is for a 1 year old’s birthday provided there is no alcohol served at the party and at least 40% of the attendees are children under the age of 5.
This is to prevent people throwing parties for themselves disguised as children’s parties.

Big Car Tax – So you wanna drive a hummer? There’s a 40% annual tax on that. This will be calculated on the value of the car when new. It doesnt matter if you bought it second hand, we will collect the tax every year based on the car’s value when new.
I know this seems unfair especially for a depreciating asset but remember this a behaviour modification tax not an excercise in fair play.
This tax will be reduced by 10% if you live in area with unmotorable roads and flooding problems like some places in Lekki.
However once those roads are repaired, if you still own the car, then you will pay the 10% difference with interest and VAT for however many number of years you have received the discount.

Alcohol Tax – All alcohol sold on Fridays and Saturdays in a public place will attract a tax of 10% on top of the normal price.
If you dont like the tax, go home and think about ways to make Nigeria a better place where you dont have to drink to shut out the madness.
Or you can do all your drinking between Sunday and Thursday. If you can drink on those days and still go to work the next day, then good on you.

In Part 2 of My Manifesto: Loving Nigeria All Over Again, I will discuss my plans for Education, Healthcare and Food Production and also a plan called Mekunu Advocacy.
Please bear in mind that these policies are not meant to be popular. I dont have to win by force, in fact I am very happy to lose because quite frankly, we Nigerians are the most selfish and mental people on the face of the earth and this job will never be easy.
But if you vote for me, I promise to roll up my sleeves and hit the ground running.

Aguntasolo 2011: Let’s Go There!  

Great Nation, Sick People….

Many many years ago during a routine medical check, the doctor noticed an irregular murmur on my chest and referred me to another doctor.

The second doctor saw me and managed to diagnose it as one of my mitral valves being prolapsed.

It’s never been a life threatening condition and can be easily corrected without the need for invasive surgery.
The doctor who saw me said at the time the best heart hospital in Nigeria was the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital [UNTH], Enugu.
After speaking to a couple of doctors, they all had various suggestions ranging from open heart surgery to all manner of things that frankly scared the life out of my dear mother.

We decided to give the UNTH, Enugu option a shot and headed out there from Kaduna.
On reaching Enugu, we got referred to Dr [now Professor] Martin Aghaji
Dr Aghaji at the time had a larger than life reputation being the only expert in the country on open heart surgery.
We were told, incorrectly, that he had the envious record of having performed the 1st open heart surgery in West Africa and by extension Nigeria.
He was, by a country mile, Nigeria’s premier heart surgeon.

This was at the height of the brain drain when Nigerian doctors were leaving the country in their thousands.
Dr Aghaji’s reputation had been further burnished by the fact that he had decided to remain at UNTH despite receiving mouth watering financial offers from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

I will never forget the day he first examined me…my mum was trembling with fear waiting for his verdict…fearing that I’d have to undergo surgery to correct the prolapsed valve.
He removed his stethoscope from his ears when he had finished, looked my mum square in the eyes and said ‘Madam, dont let anyone lie to you, dont let anybody touch this boy with a knife….he will be fine’.

The relief was too much for the woman to bear of course and she started to cry.
Dr Aghaji wrote out a prescription for 2 drugs and asked us to come down to Enugu every 6 months for a routine check up.

He promised that when we returned in 6 months time by God’s grace, the ECG machine would have been installed in the brand new Nnamdi Azikiwe building being constructed inside the medical school.
We went back there 6 months later and verily verily, the ward had been 90%+ completed and was already in use.
Impressive building it was…working lifts, clean spacious wards all well lit.

Crucially the ECG machine had also been installed and was working fine.
These days you can buy an ECG machine on eBay but in those days it was a very big deal and the one in Enugu was the only one in Nigeria.

I stripped and was examined with the nurse pointing out exactly what the mitral valve prolapse was all about on the large screen….basically one valve being slower than the other….as serious as the matter at hand was, we were in awe of the technology in front of us.

She said based on what Dr Aghaji observed 6 months earlier, the medication appeared to be working and the correction was already taking place.

We went back to Enugu 6 months after the ECG examination and, you guessed it, the ECG machine had packed up. Apparently NEPA’s habit of turning the lights off and on at random intervals had messed with the machine and it had refused to work anymore.
Of course no one there had an idea how to take apart the machine never mind fix it.
It had apparently been donated to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Building by some wealthy bloke who had since sauntered off.

The first open heart surgery in Nigeria was performed in 1974.
Today you cannot have keyhole surgery done anywhere in the country.
What this means is that a condition as common as Appendicitis can only be treated by cutting up a person for a full surgery…..in Nigeria.

From being a pioneer of ground breaking heart surgery in 1974, today we import chalk as paracetamol and someone can market a teething drug for kids that ends up killing over 30 children.

I cannot count the number of horror stories I have heard in the last couple of months alone about the shambolic state of healthcare in Nigeria.

These days I always ask myself the question; what is that one thing that will frustrate Nigerians enough to take their destiny into their own hands and say enough?
What will eventually break something in the Nigerian spirit that will make people get up and say they have had enough?

There has been plenty of talk aboout the legendary Nigerian spirit….the one that is indomitable and can never be broken no matter the adversity it faces.

But is this necesarily a good thing?
Is this a good thing for Nigerians to keep just fighting and morphing like a hydra headed monster?
Would it hurt to stop and just say enough?

A Nigerian looks at the problem of healthcare and thinks to himself ‘If I make more money I wont have to worry about healthcare in Nigeria….I would go abroad if the situation ever arises’
That’s how we ‘solve’ our problems in Nigeria….we dont produce nothing but hey, we can import whatever we need.

I cannot think of how many times someone I know has been flown abroad for medical treatment and the person gets told if only the treatment had been done within 24 hours, the results or recovery could have been different.
Or how someone with cancer was being treated for pneumonia for 8 months in a Nigerian hospital.
Or another person who was ‘quoted’ N4m for a heart transplant she couldnt afford.
Or how about a situation where the person cannot afford to go abroad for treatment that is not available in Nigeria?

The funny thing is that healthcare is by no means cheap in Nigeria….it costs a fortune to have a doctor see you in a ‘decent’ private hospital in Nigeria.
There is no independent way in which hospitals are assesed and rated….so a hospital is ‘good’ based on word of mouth….someone you trust told you it’s a good hospital so it must be good.

But if you speak to even educated Nigerians, the first thing you hear is how people are getting million naira jobs back home or how ‘people are making money in Nigeria o’….or how you can find all the latest cars in the world on the pothole filled roads of Nigeria.

Our value system is now so warped that the only measure of success we recognise the monetary one…..nothing else would do.

I recently heard the story of a lady who was trying to hire a house help to look after her kids.
She ‘interviewed’ 3 different girls in a row and all of them tested positive for HIV [these days you’d be mad to hire a househelp without conducting a full medical check on the person…especially if the help is going to be around your kids].

How is this not a social time bomb ticking away under us?

It’s all well and good for people to make massive amounts of money in a society with decaying infrastructure and a failure of leadership…that is afterall a characteristic of failed states.
But at some point we are going to have to be honest and stop feeding bullsh*t to ourselves about us being the giant of Africa or a great nation with many many good people.

We now go to India to seek medical treatment for all manner of ailments…..it is not inconceivable that we would be going to Ghana in the near future.

In 1990, I was treated by a brilliant doctor who knew his cardiopulmonary bypass from his open heart surgery….and I didnt even have to leave the country.
In less than 2 years, there was no sign of any heart problems whatsoever and nearly 20 years later, nothing has happened to ever make us doubt that we were given excellent treatment.

Today in Nigeria, we are diagnosing cancer as pneumonia.

Nuff said.