In an extensive thread on her Twitter handle on November 13, Obiageli Ezekwesili, presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), outlined her plans to fix Nigeria.
Below is her thoughts on how Nigeria can become realise the dreams of its forefathers.
Let me highlight the economic philosophy of my government, the fundamental principles and concepts that will guide our governance from Day 1.
Dominant belief in the private sector
A strong belief in the dominant economic role of the private sector and a commitment of our government to launch vigorous market economy reforms. Through policy, effective regulation and catalytic public investment in the provision of basic services for people and businesses, we will accelerate and expand the sources of growth in the economy.
A massive programme of deregulation of the Nigerian economy to unleash the depth of competition and efficiencies necessary for higher and deeper economic growth and expansion of the economy.
The division and rebalancing of roles between business and government will reduce opportunities of corruption and bottlenecks that limit the competitiveness of the Nigerian economy.
A commitment to pursuing growth that is inclusive which is a necessity for lifting the poor to an improved state of well-being. Research has shown us that the poor are uplifted faster in a market economy cushioned by relevant safety nets.
A dedication to improving the productivity and competitiveness of Nigeria and Nigerians in every sector of economic activity by removing barriers and providing a menu of sound policy measures.
A deliberateness in easing the Doing Business environment not just for major businesses in Nigeria but for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, which are the lifeblood of our economy.
But the thing is that the government does not have the resources or the capacity to provide these much-needed jobs. That is a settled truth, no matter what any politician says to you.
Therefore, in building our new Nigeria, the private sector will be the engine of economic growth and development. Our philosophy for tackling the challenges we face will be market based, private sector driven and government supported.
Role of the Government
Government has a role to play in enhancing the market, not undermining it. When I am president, we will embrace that role.
We will set the vision; lead on policy; ensure smarter, better and clearer regulations; help correct market failures; and invest in critical areas like developing the human capital to power our 21st century economy and leading the way on big ticket infrastructure.
Now, let us talk about some of our programs; some of the ways we intend to lift 80 million Nigerians out of poverty and propel this country and its great people to their rightful place in the world.
Human capital development
Human Development shall be our New Economy. Education and skills development of healthy Nigerian people shall be our Number One priority. No matter what we do, we would never win the war on poverty without investing massively in human capital development. That is why in our @ACPNHOPE government, education will be the new oil.
Education will be the new economy. My vision for education is one that will nourish the mind and create a progressive society that competes globally. If our current and future human capital is not educated, they will most likely end up in poverty and our economy will lose the productivity that they would have added.
We shall launch a root and branch reform of all the levels and phases of education. Early childcare education, basic education, secondary education, special needs education and adult/informal education will all be systemically reformed to achieve universal access to quality and relevant education by all Nigerians.
Education, training and skills development remain the most potent tools of economic and social mobility in all progressive societies. Breaking the vicious circle of poor education is crucial for promoting inclusive economic growth and decent jobs for all. Just look at the numbers of children out of school in Nigeria: 13.2 million children. That is a timebomb, and it is already exploding all around us. 22 percent of the total number of out-of-school children in the whole world are our Nigerian children.
My government will reverse that. Starting from next year, we would quickly move to improve access. My government would reduce the number of out-of-school children by 20 percent annually. That will bring it down from the current 13.2 million to about 5.4 million by 2023.
And by then, we would have put structures and policies in place to ensure that the progress is irreversible and Education-For-All will be achieved well before 2030. You can hold me to this. Do you know how I know that it can be done? Because I have done it before. I served as education minister for 10 months – which is one academic session.
From the year 2000 till today – that is a period of 18 years – the only time that the number of out-of-school children in this country reduced was when I was education minister. This is fact – the records are there. In just 10 months, we dropped the number by almost half a million, but the moment I left the ministry of education in 2007, the number immediately jacked up by almost two million. And it has never dropped again since then.
Quality of teachers
I believe, and there is enough evidence to back me up, that the most important thing that transforms education in any society is the quality of teachers. We have a serious challenge with teacher quality in this country. In one particular state, only 0.03 percent of teachers were fully competent to teach Mathematics & English language at primary level. The noble teaching profession has been so rubbished that it now only attracts those who do not have alternatives. That is a disaster.
Upon getting into office, my government would immediately launch a Teachers Top Talent (TTT) Initiative. The aim of the program would be to attract top talents into teaching because we really have no option. Teaching has to become the first thing that an academically accomplished and problem solving individual thinks about. We would provide sweeteners to encourage the brightest and best into the teaching profession.
A house for every teacher
One such initiative would be the Housing All Teachers (HAT) program which would ensure that a top talent who chooses to go into teaching would have an immediate chance to become a homeowner. We would provide seed money, state governments would provide the land and we would get developers to come on board. Home ownership is one of the fastest ways of reducing poverty.
When a top talent realises that she has a cheaper opportunity to own her own home rather than she would have while renting in another profession, it would spark interest in teaching. Of course, the other positive of the HAT program is the number of jobs it would create. Just imagine the number of houses that need to be built to house the hundreds of thousands of teachers across the country.
Certification of teachers
Still on the issue of teachers, another initiative that we would be launching is the Teachers Prestige; Teachers Pride. This initiative would include In-Service programs in which teachers would be sponsored on professional trainings and staff development modules where they meet their peers, discuss methods and case loads. It would also include giving a bite to the Teachers Regulatory Council (TRC) to implement adherence to certain milestones which teachers must reach to be rewarded.
If other professions like Accounting, Medicine and Law are so thoroughly regulated, there is no reason why the very important teaching profession should not be similarly regulated. The Teachers Prestige; Teachers Pride initiative would also partner with the teachers’ union, state govts., and other stakeholders to look at the payment package of our teachers in order to agree on the scale of rewards & opportunities needed to attract top talents.
Source: Oby Ezekwesili