Aguntasolo 2011: Bye Bye Big Ass Government [Pt 2]

First off, a few pointers to give a better understanding of what my ideological slant will be if I manage to win your votes to become President of the Federal Republic.

a] Government is not some magical body which makes people become better than they really are. If a man is an idiot and he finds himself in government, he does not suddenly lose his idiotic tendencies. In fact, he has now become a powerful idiot which is an altogether bigger headache for the country….as opposed to him being an ordinary citizen where his idiocy can be controlled.

It follows then that if a government is populated by idiots, it is simply a conglomeration of idiots raising their idiocy to the power of x….where x is the number of idiots in the government.

To this end there will be no idiots in my government. I make this a personal promise.

b] The fact that government is the sole provider of a certain type of service does not mean that someone else cannot do it better. Nature abhors a vacuum, so if government is removed from a certain area and civil society is allowed to take over, ultimately that area will become better over time. It is important to note that it’s very difficult to compete against government in any sector of the economy it’s involved in. So we will never know how much entrepreneurial talent is being held back by govt crowding out the space for them to grow.

A perfect example of this was when government, via NITEL, was the sole provider of telephone services in Nigeria. You had to be extremely well connected [pardon the pun] to get a land line in Nigeria in those days which now seem so distant. The moment government was removed from the provision of telephony services, the number of people with access to telephone lines in Nigeria increased stratospherically. 

As the needs and sophistication of Nigerians increases, it becomes almost impossible for politicians and govt to cater to these needs. Our politicians being men of average intelligence in the first place of course doesnt help the situation. I will therefore try to reduce the dependence of ordinary Nigerians on the federal govt as much as I can in my first term.

Since I expect to be elected by the people without rigging or ‘Iwuing’, I expect to have a lot of goodwill from the public to guarantee me a honeymoon period of at least 6 months. It is in this first 6 months I plan to introduce the most radical aspects of my manifesto [see Part 1 here ]. 

Below are a random selection of some of the policies and actions I will take in my first 6 months in office.

Federal Character My Ass

The constitutional requirement that the Federal Executive Council [and other government agencies and departments] reflect ‘Federal Character’ is one of the ways in which the mediocre have managed to keep their stranglehold on Nigeria since the return of democracy. It also helps to keep the government the size of an overfed pig feeding fat on the misery of Nigerians. At any given point during our democracy, we have anywhere between 36 and 42 ministers just to keep the constitution happy. 

On the morning of May 29th 2011 at about 7am while the whole nation is preparing for my inauguration, I will release the names of 36 men and women who will constitute my FEC. 15 of those names will have portfolios attached to them and the remaining 21 wont have any portfolios.

This is to prevent the yeye  traditional rulers and Governors from lobbying and presenting their candidates and of course the Senate working out the price per minister per Senator for ‘bow and go’. 

Once the 36 names have been cleared, the 21 ministers will be named as Ministers in Waiting with no offices, cars, official homes or allowances. They will not even be allowed to attend FEC meetings but will be paid their basic ministerial salary as prescribed by RMFAC. 

Nigeria can function perfectly with just 15 ministers and I plan to run my government that way. Who is the current Minister of State for the FCT? There you go……..

Import Concomitant Directive 

It is fascinating how Nigerians have become a people who import everything from cassava to toothpicks. While it makes sense for some items to be imported where they can be produced cheaper, some things are completely inexcusable.

I also do not think banning things is the answer to the problem of importing goods which kill our local entrepreneurial spirit. Banning stuff is so yesterday.

In my first week in office, I will issue an executive order introducing the ICD [Import Concomitant Directive]. What this directive will seek to achieve is to seek out certain unnecessary items that are currently being imported into Nigeria and make them concomitants of other locally available items. 

As an example, if your daughter is getting married and you feel led to import the flowers to decorate the wedding venues from South Africa, you will not be discouraged from doing so. However flowers will be made a concomitant of manure, so if you are importing flowers, you will need to also import an equal in value amount of manure. Manure is also a concomitant of cows, so you will also need to import cows equal in value. As it will be unfair for you to import cows to come and eat the Nigerian grass meant for Nigerian cows, you will also need to import grass for them to eat. 

Grass is also a concomitant of manure.

Another example is Brazilian weave on. To import this type of weave on, you will need to import an equal in value amount of glue as it’s not fair to use our local glue to glue imported Brazilian hair to your head. To import glue, you will need to import flour and to import flour you will need to import margarine just in case you decide to use the glue to make bread. To successfully bring in margarine, you will have to import whatever animal the fat was sourced from. If it’s from cow’s fat, then you will do well to remember that grass is a concomitant of cows which also requires the importation of manure.

Why would anyone want to import bullsh*t I hear you ask? Well why on earth do you want to import flowers to celebrate your daughter’s wedding in the first place?

As always, there will be incentives for people who find an alternative means of producing what was previously imported. So if you set up a factory harvesting Brazilian hair locally, my government will support you. If you decide to import the Brazilians themselves, the govt will fast-track their expatriate visa applications and provide you with an interest free loan to set up your company locally.

A full list of concomitants will be released within the first 4 weeks of my government and will be constantly updated.

Billionaire Fast-track Programme a.k.a Who Wants To Be A Billionaire?

Ask any Nigerian to name the country’s 3 richest businessmen and it’s not unlikely that such a person will say Otunba Mike Adenuga, Femi Otedola and Alhaji Aliko Dangote. 

I like billionaires. Billionaires are good for any developing society as they have found a way to create wealth while also creating employment at the same time.

But looking at those 3 names I mentioned, you can immediately spot a small problem when you drill down to their core businesses. Femi Otedola makes his money from diesel, he doesnt sell spaghetti or cement which is Dangote’s stronghold. Mike Adenuga makes his money from Glo and Conoil in the main. The core businesses of these 3 men are not in competition with each other….each of them has managed to carve out an area of the Nigerian economy and is now dominating it with minimal competition. 

If indeed this is a problem, what is the solution? Do we send the EFCC after them or seize their properties to destroy their wealth? Aguntasolo believes the opposite is the correct answer.

Nigeria needs more billionaires in direct competition with the 3 men I have named above. We need at least 3 more high profile diesel billionaires to increase competition in that sector. We also need a few more Dangotes selling cement and spaghetti in the country.

I will therefore direct my Minister for Social Mobility and Head of Business to launch my Billionaire Fast-track Programme. The idea of the programme will be to invite Nigerians who are multi millionaires in certain areas of the economy [but not yet billionaires] to submit a growth plan that will make them billionaires over a 4 year period.

As an example if you are currently a diesel merchant and you are making around N100m a year, you will be invited to submit a plan that can grow your business to generate N1bn in 4 years. Once your plan has been appraised, you will then be invited to a series of interviews culminating in a final round of interviews with the President and then a decision will be made as to whether to admit you into the BFTP.

It should be noted that you will not be made a billionaire by being awarded government contracts or simply money being credited into your bank account. You must demonstrate how you will add value to the country by the service or product that will make you a billionaire. So if you think building a diesel refinery in the country will make you a diesel billionaire, then the government will support you with funding, import waivers and cheap land to make this process as quick as possible. The programme will not support a person who is already making N800m a year for instance. The cap for consideration will be N200m in annual profits.

In my first term in office, I intend to create at least 10 new billionaires in various sectors of the economy to increase competition in strategic sectors of the economy. 

Once a member of the BFTP has achieved N1bn in annual profits, he or she must maintain billion naira profits for 5 straight years before he can be allowed to graduate from the programme. If profits drop below N1bn in the first 5 years, then the person will be removed from the programme and jailed for 5 years for fraud.

There will be several other conditions attached to joining this programme such as minimum employment generated and others which will be published in the BFTP prospectus.

 A simple example of the usefulness of billionaires in Nigeria can be illustrated by asking the question; How easy is it to buy the vote of someone who works in Adenuga’s bank or Globacom? Can you offer N1000 to someone who works in Zenon to sell their vote to you on election day? Exactly. 

Sometimes the best and possibly only way to get services to the people, is to allow the service providers do it for a profit.

To whom much is given, even more will be given and much more will be expected.

So Messrs Otedola, Dangote and Adenuga……please support me. I promise my govt will not lay a finger on you but you will work a lot harder for your money.

Local Government Reform

The solution to corruption in Nigeria is not to send EFCC chasing after people. That’s a classic case of attacking the symptoms and not the root cause of the problem. What is the point in exposing a government official to billions of naira and then going after him after he has obviously helped himself to some of the billions at his disposal?

There are also too many people living off our democracy and getting rich at the country’s expense. This number has to come down so that government stops crowding out the private sector and allows it to flourish.

Nigeria currently has 774 Local Government chairmen and a further 774 Vice Chairmen feeding fat on the country and not doing much in return. We also have 8812 councillors for an average of 11 per local government representing their wards. 

Within 4 weeks of my inauguration, I will submit a bill to the national assembly scrapping the office of LG Chairman and Vice Chairman. In my previous note A Is For Allocation, I mentioned that based on the March Federal allocation to the LGs, the ‘poorest’ LG [Bakassi] received N53m for the month while the ‘richest’ LG [Alimosho] received N303m. Now it’s not far fetched to imagine that the Chairman and Vice Chairman of each LG cost us N3m per month in salaries and corruption. Over one year this comes to a staggering N56bn and quite possibly more.

Under my reforms, only councillors will be elected at the LG level. Once the councillors have been elected [ I will also restrict this to a maximum of 10 councillors per LG] they will then have 30 days to elect a Head of Council among themselves by a simple majority. If they cannot elect a Head in 30 days, the council will be dissolved and all the councillors barred from contesting for any office in the country for 10 years. This will be punishment for wasting the public’s time.

Part of the thinking behind this plan is to bring in more quality candidates at the local government level. If you are a professional and you believe you have something to offer your council, to make it easy for you and other good people to come into the system without the need for godfathers, in theory you will only need to win your ward to get on the council and then convince 9 other people to let you be the head of the council. It is a lot less difficult to win a ward which might only be made up of a few streets than to win an LG which might stretch for kilometres. 

The monthly allocation for the LGs will also be paid directly to the LG’s bank account every month as opposed to being channelled through the Governor who will then retain a huge chunk for himself and his wife.

If this is still not enough for you to participate because you are a fine boy or girl, then you will be sent on exile out of the country for a minimum of 5 years if you are caught complaining about your local government on Facebook.

Federalized Downward Integration Programme

Currently every single Nigerian is represented by a Councillor, Member of State House of Assembly, Federal Representative and a Senator. This is ridiculous and is one of the prime drivers of corruption.

I plan to tackle this as well in my first 6 months in office. The aim of the FDIP [this doesnt really mean anything but I have given it this name to make it look like it’s a good thing for the politicians] will be to eliminate the state houses of assembly as currently constituted and replace them with the current House of Representatives. So each Federal Representative will go back to his state and replace the current state house of assembly members. The positions of the current 990 state houses of assembly members will be scrapped and the members will be told to get a life. 

Nigeria does not need 2 legislative bodies in Abuja for any reason. There are simply too many of them hence the fighting going on in their chambers everytime. They also help to slow down democracy and stop it from working for the people due to their crazy behaviour and lack of common sense.

To mitigate this, the Senate will be increased to 4 Senators from each state as I am sure they will start complaining of the extra ‘work’ they have to do now that there is no longer a House of Reps. The Senate thus becomes a 145 member body.

In total my LG reforms and FDIP will remove almost 3500 ex, current and future criminals from access to government money. I fully expect them to become disgruntled elements throwing stones from the outside. If this helps to keep the remaining few on their feet, so be it.

Church And Mosque Non-Proliferation Treaty 

This is another area in which I will like to increase ‘competition’. So under my CAMNPT plan, each church ‘franchise’ will be allowed to open 5 churches/mosques in each LGA for free. Any other church/mosque after the first 5 will attract a one off levy of N10m per branch and an annual charge of N2m per branch above the first 2 free ones.

There can however be an unlimited number of churches or mosques in a LGA provided they are different ‘brand’ names. 

This law will be applied in retrospect. So where we have a franchise with more than 5 churches already in place in one LGA, it will have to either merge the branches, sell them to a competing franchise, close them down or pay the levy as above. Competing franchises will also be allowed to bid for the branches of their competitors using a straight forward merger/acquisition or hostile takeover.

It will be up to the churches or mosques to then decide on the ‘financial viability’ of the branches and make a decision on whether to keep them open.

Government By Texting

Unlike one of my rivals, I will not be using Facebook to interact with Nigerians in the main. I will set up a free number where each Nigerian will be asked to send his name, date of birth and local govt. Once you have sent this free text, you will be registered to receive regular texts for free from the President. This will mainly be a tool for information dissemination and awareness.

For example, once the monthly allocation for your local govt has been paid to them, you will receive a text telling you how much your LG received [based on the LG you registered with] and when and how it was paid. We will also use technology to ensure each text is personalised to the sender e.g ‘Dear Mr Olowoporoku, the President will like you to know that Ado-Ekiti LG has just been paid N100m for it’s August 2011 monthly allocation directly into it’s Skye Bank account…….’

I will direct my Minister for Statistics and Information Dissemination [MR SID] to set up a data bank to handle the information we will be receiving. The mobile phone network providers will also be asked to supply information on their customers to this end.

I will scrap censuses in Nigeria as they are a useless exercise [See P Is For Power] and instead use a wide variety of methods to collate data on Nigerians. The data will be released slowly but surely to the public on a regular basis until such a time as the public’s mind has been fully prepared to receive the news that Lagos is far more populated than Kano from official quarters.

There will be no facility to reply the texts you receive from the President to discourage the sycophants and prayer warriors from responding or liking the text without actually reading the message. 

In the final part of my manifesto, I will be discussing my plans for the economy and how I plan to transfer economic power to the people so as to reduce the influence of money bag politicians during elections. I believe that for Nigeria to fully develop and for people to really participate in democracy actively, they need to stop worrying about where their next meal will come from first of all.

Long Live The Federal Republic of Nigeria

Aguntasolo 2011: Let’s Go There!