President Jonathan's Project

There are different views of the assertion that Nigeria's standard of governance should never be compared with that of the United States of America (USA). The reason people give is that USA's governance has evolved over 235 years while Nigeria's is only 50 years. One of the nastiest lines of thought is that there is a misconception here which is being brought before President Jonathan and his team of advisers in order for them to correct this myth and begin to address fundamental issues in Nigeria. Democracy is not a patent of USA (father of democracy) that forbids copying. It's free to any nation that needs it at any time. If it were a patent, then Nigerians would be thinking of developing theirs which could take centuries. This is not the case. All that is required of Nigerians is to photocopy. President Obama and the USA Congress would be happy if Nigerians are able to govern themselves without rancor. Of course this would save the United States some dollars in this era of global economic meltdown. What is not required is to spend decades on the drawing board to orchestrate a strategy of governance. From this perspective therefore, it's imperative for President Jonathan to advance the journey of democracy for Nigeria by copying from USA. Because he is the most educated President Nigeria has ever produced, it's believed he has all it takes to implement the idea in this piece - to place an identity on every Nigerian. Not only would finger print identification curb election rigging, but also assist investigation of crimes. Moreover, the identity of Nigerians is a national issue and should never be a State affair. Indeed any identification project without the 10 finger prints is useless. As one American foreign policy analyst put it after World War 1, "since America was unwilling to use its power that power, for purposes of foreign policy, did not really exist." President Jonathan's parents/community that sent him to school, the Institution that awarded him a Doctorate degree would be proud to see Mr. President put his vast knowledge to use after an election landslide victory in April 2011.

World leaders gave President Jonathan a pass mark for the last election, but the reality is, though it was a step forward, the foundation laid is not solid enough to guarantee the success of future elections because of the mindset of this present generation. The root of election rigging is that Nigerians don't have identity; hence governance is extremely difficult to any expert that may want to exhibit his positive management skills. As energy is to economy, that is how election is to governance; hence this matter should be addressed with all the fiber in the president.

Mr. President, please place identity on all Nigerians whether at home or abroad through finger-printing, and at the point of finger printing, identification (I.D.) number is assigned. It's this I.D. number that can be cross-check against the thumb print when contesting an election malpractice(s). The caveat here is that because this project has multiple benefits, it's expected that there would be attempts to frustrate your efforts, but you should be seen as an embodiment of courage to complete this project at least six months before the end of your first term. This way, you're still able to deal with any hiccups that would arise during the exercise that shouldn't last more than 90 days. Your domain has 774 local governments with a population estimated at 140 million. With this data in mind, there would be 181 thousand per local government on average. As such, with 2010 entries per day, this exercise would be completed in 90 days if 126 persons, mostly youth corpers are assigned to each local government on 8 hours per day job. It doesn't really matter if corpers from even the same region are used because finger-prints differ from person to person. Therefore, any duplication is easy to detect. This is to say that each person would assist people to fill a computer form, ( full names, address, names of children, and date of birth of each person), input this information into the computer for 27 minutes and take the finger print of all 10 fingers in 3 minutes, total 30 minutes. Officers handling this job must ensure that the finger printing and data collection are done simultaneously keeping in mind that the finger printing is most important in this exercise. The electronic finger-printing is desirable (3 electronic scanners per local govt) because of the level of illiteracy and distrust in the society. However, each local government should have one manual finger-print equipment which a team of 3 senior persons can use to take finger-prints of those in hospitals and other places of disabilities within these 90 days. An example of the software is Oracle special security program which can be found easily in California, USA.

The journey of democracy begins with elections at all levels. Truth be told. It's absolute nonsense when court Judges declare winners of election as it has happened on many instances in Nigeria of today. First, that is not the role of Judiciary in a democracy. Second, most Judges eat bribe; as such, they are not better than the armed robbers/assassins operating in Nigeria. The basis on which the Judges establish their decisions are inappropriate because they only look into the ceilings of the court room where there are no facts of election rigging and reach bizarre decision(s) in favor of the highest bidder. How do you establish real election misconduct when there are no data on file to cross-check who voted ten times and all the fraud that are executed at midnight during election days? Where there is no data, the situation is as good as the blind leading the blind. Upon completion of the identity project, the scanning machines and computers would be distributed to each local government office ( to register births/deaths), local government Police offices and each State judiciary headquarters. Nigerians would recall that there was a case of identity that went as far as the Supreme Court. If every convicted person were finger printed, it would have been very easy to settle that case. But because the system didn't have finger printing in place, it's obvious that so many wrong things took place during that trial. Nigerians should be able to copy/procure technology from developed countries so as to make life comfortable for its citizens. If this project is not started and completed within the next 40 months, then when? Indeed, any identification project without finger printing should be stopped forthwith because it would amount to a complete waste of State and Federal resources. Is the forensic analyst really effective without data on file in terms of biometric authentication?

With combined teams of the armed forces, it's easy to secure the nation borders within these 90 days to avoid intrusion. For avoidance of doubt and the effectiveness of this project, this writer opines that commanders from the East are to secure northern borders while northern commanders secure the western borders and no team should be on the same post for more than a week at a stretch. The safety of this data can be done by the controlling office in Abuja and each local government storing them in CDs which are easy to keep.

Because the Mr. President has promised to take Nigeria to a higher level, this is one vital area that would lunch the country into proper governance. On average, Nigerians have done well as individuals when compared with the people from the rest of the globe. But as a group, Nigeria cannot be reckoned with in the comity of nations because very simple issues such as identifying Nigerians which would reduce fraud/malpractices are ignored. Nigeria must begin to walk on the right path of progress by putting basic systems in place.

Tosan Okotie

Lives in Texas, USA