Nigeria and My Dreams For 2020, By Umar Yakubu

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I was now becoming aware that I was having a lucid dream, meaning I was becoming more aware that I was dreaming, as Nigeria was becoming the true giant of Africa. We were battling with a deluge of other Africans coming to our universities because of the high quality of education driven by technology. We became the medical tourist centre for Africans.

Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning. – Gloria Steinem

Nigeria went through a lot in 2019. On the good side, we had national elections, steady economic growth, a diversified economy, stable monetary policies, less public sector corruption; and substantial investments in infrastructural development in the areas of water, roads, rails and electricity.

On the flip side, there were too many wanton killings and kidnappings for ransom; total neglect of the health and education sectors; weak fiscal policies and unnecessary external borrowing; disrespect for court orders and so many unforced errors by the government when making or renewing federal appointments.

In line with past trends, governance at most state and local government levels were near zero. Save for Borno, Ebonyi and maybe Kaduna, governors have been spending more time on politics than governance, with some burning energy on fighting traditional leaders. For the local governments, it’s the same sad story of decadence and fiscal irresponsibility.

But all these are in the past. We have to plan for a better future, and that should start with big dreams. The 2020 budget has already been passed but I will still dream anyway.

As I watched the clock tick at 11.59.59 p.m. to 12.00a.m., ushering in the year 2020, I fell asleep and started having a series of dreams. My first dream occurred in the National Assembly and I witnessed both chambers of the federal legislature citing Kaduna State as an example in the structure of our national budget. Just like how the creation of new emirates was passed in Kano within 48 hours, I dreamt that they passed a law stating that for the next ten years, our budget must have a maximum of 30 per cent recurrent expenditure. Somehow within the same dream, I saw the Nigeria Governors Forum taking the same position and the passing of this as the same law in all states.

I’m no longer sure of this, but I think I saw even our primary and secondary schools almost becoming paperless. Every kid had a laptop with him, with in-built textbooks, notes, videos, audio and internet links to all subjects. Somehow, 5G technology had arrived in Nigeria before Japan and South Korea and teachers were remotely giving lectures to all formerly out-of-school children.

One governor was even recommending 20 per cent as recurrent expenditure in his state budget and keeping 80 per cent for capital projects. I think all the governors all finally settled for 25 per cent for recurrent expenditure in this dream of mine.

The dream within the dream was too good to be true, and hence my brainstem started sparking out more neurons, which pushed me into season two. I saw the president telling the attorney general to change tactics in the fight against corruption. That he wanted to leave a legacy in that area, and all the arrests and recoveries by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) were not enough.

Somehow, the Communications and Digital Economy minister arrived with technological ideas. I not sure of the details, but I think they all agreed to digitise Nigeria; meaning no more paper at all public-sector levels. Henceforth, all government communication will be done electronically. Paper files were digitised, and there are no more missing contractors’ files. The entire criminal justice system was completely digitised; including court records, prison records, and law enforcement. In fact, all asset declaration forms were filled and submitted online with civil servants uploading photos of all their asset.

Somehow, each citizen received a single card that could be used for identification, banking, voting, medicals, insurance, pension and all government business. Details of property, cars and other intangible asset were all perfectly linked to it.

I’m no longer sure of this, but I think I saw even our primary and secondary schools almost becoming paperless. Every kid had a laptop with him, with in-built textbooks, notes, videos, audio and internet links to all subjects. Somehow, 5G technology had arrived in Nigeria before Japan and South Korea and teachers were remotely giving lectures to all formerly out-of-school children. Every Nigerian were getting access to the same quality of education. I don’t know what happened to private primary and secondary schools or the public ones, but I know everyone had the same and equal access. Some developers even used translation software to ease assimilation for non-English speakers.

Did I see doctors remotely providing access to instant primary healthcare and even conducting surgeries; or was it drones all over the skies operated by the Nigeria Police and Nigeria Immigration? I’m not sure.

But what INEC was doing was not only magical dreaming. With the system they put in place, every Nigeria could use the card that appeared in season two to vote from the comfort of their mobile phones! The foreign election observers were worried about disenfranchisement because most voters were not technologically savvy. No worries. The political parties waded in…

I must have been smiling in that dream when season three just popped in. I read a newspaper headline that the next general elections were going to be credible and 100 per cent perfect! And to confirm that my cortex was confused, the elections were going to cost N10 billion in 2023!

It was confusing because I know that electoral expenditure started at N1.5 billion in 1999 to N29 billion in 2002, N45.5 billion in 2006, N111 billion in 2010, and down to N87.8 billion in 2014. For 2019, INEC requested for N300 billion for the conduct of the 2019 elections. Since 1999, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has received over N730 billion to produce all these leaders! Poor value for money, I think.

But what INEC was doing was not only magical dreaming. With the system they put in place, every Nigeria could use the card that appeared in season two to vote from the comfort of their mobile phones! The foreign election observers were worried about disenfranchisement because most voters were not technologically savvy. No worries. The political parties waded in and promised to buy an iPhone X each for every voter, along with providing a party agent to guide on setting up and voting through it.

The technological platform could be used not only for voting, but for decision-making. There were voices within the dream that saw no need for the current system of the National Assembly! Yes, absolutely no need they argued. Constituencies could send in their decisions on all matters remotely from the homeland — and there would be no need for representatives to be in Abuja for solving problems. If need be, they would meet once a quarter. Now, that wasn’t part of the dream.

I was now becoming aware that I was having a lucid dream, meaning I was becoming more aware that I was dreaming, as Nigeria was becoming the true giant of Africa. We were battling with a deluge of other Africans coming to our universities because of the high quality of education driven by technology. We became the medical tourist centre for Africans. Dubai, Egypt and India started whining about losses of revenue. Our technology could spot a fly that crossed in or out of our borders.

As we all aim to live our dreams, I wish you a Happy New Year and a prosperous dreamful 2020.

Umar Yakubu is of the Counter-Fraud Centre.

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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