Want El Rufai, Orosanye reports implemented
Urge FG to approve state police
Decry high cost of governance
Make case for passage of PIB
By our correspondent
National leaders of umbrella media associations in Nigeria have collectively expressed strong concern over the precarious state of affairs in the country that are threatening peace, security and economic development of the country.
The Nigerian Press Organisation, comprising of the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), and the Nigeria Union Of Journalists (NUJ); after their meeting on Friday May 21, 2021 on the State of the Nation expressed the concerns in a statement issued yesterday jointly signed by their leaders.
Signatories to the statement include Kabiru A. Yusuf, President, Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) and President Nigerian Press Organisation (NPO); Mustapha Isa, President, Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE); and Chris Isiguzo, President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
They observed that Nigeria has been embroiled lately in serious socio-economic, political and security challenges that threaten its very existence as reflected in ethnic divisions and separatist agitations in the country, with growing fears that an implosion is imminent.
According to them, criminality – kidnapping for ransom, banditry, arson, killings – define the everyday reality for a good number of our citizens, which is worsened by the high cost of governance; arguments about devolution of powers/restructuring; petroleum subsidy removal; and
accumulation of Foreign debt, among others.
The associations described themselves as leaders of the media and major stakeholders in the Nigeria Project, and that given the responsibility imposed on them by Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, they proceed to make the following statements:
“That we believe in the oneness of Nigeria and that its population of about 200 million people, if resources are well managed, have innumerable advantages – both in economic and soft power, and that this should not be sacrificed on the altar of ethnic or tribal chauvinism.
“That one of the triggers for the current socio-political, economic, and security challenges in the country is high cost of governance, reflected in the outrageous allowances and flamboyant lifestyles of our political leaders. These leaders, rather erroneously, misconstrue public service for primitive accummulation of wealth, instead of its being a platform for galvanising development and satisfying the collective aspiration of our people for quality life in a safe and secure enviroment. One of the consequences of this ostentatious lifestyle is the new craze among a growing number of youths that the end justifies the means in their quest for easy wealth.
“That in a Federal system of government, particularly in a country like Nigeria which is diverse in ethnicity, culture, and religion, an overbearing centre is counter productive to the development of the centre itself and the component units. To leave the Federal Government with 68 items under the Exclusive Legislative List, including policing, is a recipe for unending destructive tension in the struggle for advantage among the federating units. It explains why our country is seemingly overwhelmed by non-state actors engaged in criminality and separatist agitations”
They accordingly call on the Federal Government to:
Immediately take steps at devolving powers to the component units by implementing the El Rufai Committee Report, which among others, recommends State Policing, in addition to other far reaching adjustments to the structure of governance.
The media leaders also said that the continued delay to implement the report after its recommendations have been approved by all the organs of the ruling All Progressives Party, in line with the manifesto for which the party sold itself to win the 2015 election is self-defeating.
“We hold that its implementation will curb the galloping rate of criminality, reduce tension across the country, and reset the botton of development,” they said.
They also called for the implementation of the Orosanye Report, which provides a veritable road map for arresting the unsustainable high cost of governance. A reduced cost of gevernance will free substantial funds to fight insecurity, provide social safety nets for the generality of the people, fund developmental projects, and stem the current penchant for external and local borrowing by government.
They called on the Federal Government to put pressure on the National Assembly to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill, (PIB), which has gone into our history as the longest bill to ever go through legislative processes. It is of common knowledge that the petroleum industry has been long overdue for an overhaul and the passage of the bill will be a major boost. That the bill has stayed this long in the National Assembly militates against improved corporate governance in the oil sector.
And they held that there is need to avoid the debt overhang inherent in excessive borrowing. We are aware that borrowing is good so long as such loans are deployed to funding enduring development projects, within the GDP ratio. However, the current borrowing in the face of the slide in the value of the country’s number one revenue earner-oil remains worrisome., they said.
“We appeal to politicians and state actors to minimise their inflammatory rhetoric in order to reduce tension and ease the growing sense of fear among the people,” the media leaders said.