As Nigeria approaches the 2023 round of general elections, it is very regrettable that a discomforting surge in civil unrests have once agains stirred all forms of political strategizing that are leading to the repositioning of political like minds towards the control of the power at the centre of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
While the dust is rising through many forms of insecurity challenges across the country, some Nigerians in the diaspora are offering quality advice from their different bases abroad so that political leaders can work with such templates and lift the country out of the bog. One of them is Samuel Iyapo, a well grounded business man who has done his business in the Americas for over one decade and in his current capacity as the Financial Director of the Nigeria Diaspora Network based in the United States, he recently had a chat with a select group of journalists working for .some national newspapers from Nigeria and Vanguard’s Abayomi Adeshida participated in that chat.
Que: It is not news anymore that from different facets of the national life, Nigeria is faced with a myriad of challenges that are making the developmental dreams of its founding fathers seem like a mirage each time successive governments seem to be getting close to a stage where everyone would shout, “uhuru”; , one of the ones on the front burner currently that has fuelled the insecurity and economic challenges is which is youth unemployment and restiveness, how should the government tackle this problem and get a lasting solution?
Ans: One of the reasons for youth unemployment is urban migration whereby everybody moves to the cities looking for white collar jobs and because the cities cannot cope with the number of people migrating to the cities, there is a blowout of population in the urban centers.
To reverse this trend, I will suggest a restructuring of the economy by giving local government areas autonomy to enable them generate more revenues and create jobs. The councils in return should engage the youth by introducing school to land programs.
Economy should be diversified from over reliance on the oil sector to agriculture. There should be programs by local government allocating lands to the use and supply them with high yielding crops. The government should give a monitored soft loan to any youth ready to go into agriculture. Monitored loan in the sense that such loan will be directed to the purpose for which the loan is given.
The government also should make available free rentals of tractors and other farming tools to assist the youth farmers.
Que: In comparative terms, the Nigerian economy has been said by financial experts and renowned economists to be seven times bigger than that of Ghana, but we see that compared with that of Nigeria, the Ghanaian economy attracts more Foreign Direct Investments than that of Nigeria. With your experience abroad and in business, can you explain why this is so?
Ans: It is a combination of factors. First is the problem of insecurity in Nigeria. People, including foreigners, are kidnapped on a daily basis. People can not travel from one state to another without fear of possible attacks or kidnapping for ransom. In these circumstances, it will be very difficult for goreign investors to come to Nigeria where the safety of people is not guaranteed. Several investors have been kidnapped or killed. No foreign investors will establish where they are not able to get returns. Instead, they must pay ransom to free their workers who are kidnapped.
There is also the challenge of inconsistency in policy. Today, the government can make it easy for you to bring your money in only to wake up tomorrow and throw in another policy that will not allow you to take your money out. Policy summersault scares investors. There is also the challenge of multiple taxation. Local government, state, federal and even non state actors will tax you. This discourages potential investors. They will look for a country where they face minimal challenges.
Que: In their bid to make life and living easier for their folks back home and establish small businesses to create some form of employment back home, some Nigerians living in the Diaspora remit billions of naira home every year,, yet they have no role to play in the process that lead to the election of political leaders for the country during the elections. How can these Niegrians participate in the process that leads up to the election of political leaders for the country so they can play better roles in managing the funds they send home as diaspora remittances annually?
Ans: It is long overdue for Nigerians in Diaspora to be given the opportunity of voting in Nigeria’s election; it is one of our goals to work with the federal government so that we can vote in any election through electronic voting including local government elections. In the meantime, we have resolved to put in place a fund to support honest Nigerians who can make positive change when elected into office. Our findings show that many credible people can not participate in elections because they lack the resources. We will identify such people, interview them and support them.
We are also calling on the authorities in Nigeria to discourage godfatherism so that more qualified Nigerians can vie for any elective position.
Que: what do you think is responsible for the recent upsurge in the number of ethnic-nationalities that want to segregate from Nigeria and how do you think this would affect the relationship among Nigerians in several networks abroad?
Ans: In my opinion, restructuring will have been a better alternative, the reason why every person is yearning for independence is the lopsided appointments by the federal government and the none-fair distribution of the national cake. Nigerian is recognized worldwide because of our numerical strength. We can make the country work for everyone, if it does, no one will be asking for independence. In fact our neighbors will seek to join Nigeria. We should make the country work for all of us.
Que: Considering the fact that Nigerian Leaders are taken from among the followers through the democratic process as things stand today, how do you think that the followers should work with their Leaders after the Leaders are chosen?
Ans:: There is enough blame to go around. We all as citizens have faults and can not exonerate ourselves from the issue of bad leadership, we all encourage corruption one way or the other. Our constitution gives room for censuring of non performing leaders, but because of the love of money, we have mortgaged our rights to our rulers. The people’s reactions to prosecuting corrupt officials have been mangle, it is very difficult to prosecute a corrupt Yoruba man because of the response from his people who think he or she is being prosecuted because he is a Yoruba man. The same goes to Igbos and Hausa/Fulani. We are all guilty because of the love for money.
Que: As a matter of urgency and priority, can you suggest steps President Mohammadu Buhari should take to stop the country from drifting into a failed state.
Ans: As a matter of urgency, the President should address the Nation and state the efforts he is making towards solving the security challenges confronting the nation. He must realise that his economic policy isn’t working. He should form an economic team that will steer the country in the right economic direction.
The president should stop digging Nigeria further into debt. It is worrisome that the Buhari administration continue to borrow instead of reducing the cost of governance to generate the needed resources. They say when you are in a hole you should stop digging. You can not dig yourself out of the hole. Nigeria will sink further, if Buhari continues to borrow.