VEXIT: A Different Referendum Tale

TexTheLaw

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The people of Nigeria finally got their wish. After many constitutional conferences with the famous ‘no-go’ areas, where everything could be discussed apart from the things that had any impact whatsoever on Nigeria’s constitutional status as “…one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign nation under God…” there was finally going to be referendum. The people were going to be asked a simple, question – “Should Nigeria to remain in its current geographical state?” – to which they would answer a simple Yes, or No. “If a simple majority of the people vote No,” the President said, “then Nigeria as we know it shall be no more.”

The people were divided into Yesmen and Nono camps and it seemed from very early on that the Nonos had wider support from the public. A date was fixed for the referendum and in addition to strategizing on voting patterns, some groups thought it wise to…

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VEXIT: A Different Referendum Tale

Time to set our stall out

Saying it has been a tough time for Nigerians since President Buhari was sworn in is probably understating the scale of the economic challenge people are currently facing. I agree with Feyi that 2017 is the last year of full governance before election dramatics begin in readiness for 2019. Sadly, I think as explained here by Dr Nonso, the federal government will continue with its bad policies from 2016. The President is clearly statist and can move no further left on the political spectrum so I’m not expecting him to change. Furthermore, his ideas aren’t working because of corruption and unruly Nigerians not because the policies are bad — he believes this. This isn’t the change we all expected from the APC government particularly those that voted and supported this government during the last general election.

Given what we now know about government, policies, governance and how election rhetoric can be markedly different from reality, it’ll be a huge shame if we don’t learn any lesson from the 2015 election. I think it is safe to assume that our biggest lessons from the last election were: a) not asking enough questions, b) not being cynical enough of political rhetoric and particularly c) not matching political rhetoric with demonstrable evidence of prior delivery. For example, when a political aspirant promised to create millions of jobs, the rational question to ask was: where’s the empirical evidence that they’ve done this before that makes us believe they can do it again on the scale they are claiming possible? Or a governor running for a 2nd term claims he will employ millions of youths but is owing salaries and pensions, yet we refused to ask where the salary to pay the youths will come from? That is, before we even consider whether economic conditions are such that such scale of job creation is even possible — are they personally capable with empirical evidence?

As mentioned above and particularly in Feyi and Dr Nonso’s articles, 2017 is likely to be a tough year. The federal government has proposed another ridiculous budget. 2016 budget implementation report isn’t out yet and we don’t know when it will be released. We don’t know if some of the 2017 revenues will be used for the 2016 budget to help improve its performance or implementation report. We don’t know how quickly the 2017 budget will be passed and how effective and efficient implementation will be. The government so far has backed itself into a corner which may force it into some reckless spending in 2017 in order to create the appearance of it doing something to get the economy out of recession without actually doing anything of substance like suggested by Dr Nonso.

Before this recklessness starts, of which a number of Nigerians will benefit, I think it is important we document the questions we failed to ask during the last election. Before we get blindsided or our judgement become clouded by campaign slush fund in 2018, I think we should spend 2017 writing down the demonstrable evidence we need to see from political aspirants in 2018/19 that will make us trust them with our votes. For presidential aspirants in 2019, I’ve written my own questions and profile with which I intend to measure them by. I also expect or intend to assess the legislative agendas of political parties in the run up to 2019 election. I prefer to not get dragged into the jostle for principal office’s foolishness post-election. I want political parties to give their legislators clear marching orders irrespective of who becomes a principal officer.

I believe that if we set out these yardsticks, perhaps even discuss and agree it among ourselves now, we can potentially avoid the diversionary tactics typically employed by useless politicians. We could also avoid the superfluous bifurcation along party lines that makes post-election convergence or reconciliation impossible if not difficult. Please let us avoid the name calling, name tagging and condescension of 2015 in 2019.

I hope and pray for a prosperous 2017 for us all. May God bless our hustle. Be well.

Time to set our stall out