At this moment in time, the most cost-effective way of bringing progressive change to Nigeria (in terms of human life and treasure) is through constitutional change. It is a daunting process but, it need not be so; especially not if we remove the unmerited awe from what is after all, nothing more than a document-based version of what we do when we change Presidents and regimes.
Currently, public attention is focused on the unsatisfactory aspects of the Obasanjo and YarAdua Presidencies and, much brain-power has been expended on devising various stratagems that will compel YarAdua to do what is necessary. All good, but what we must do in addition to demanding the best effort from whoever occupies the seat of leadership is look for ways to fix the flaws in the system that enable (and in some cases compel) the existence of dysfunctional regimes.
So how should the presidency be changed?
First, the idea of multiple political parties should be done away with. This idea, like all others, was devised by men and women like ourselves for the purpose of organising/aligning their societies along beneficial paths. In other words, there is nothing natural (and therefore essential at a fundamental level of human existence) about the idea of multi-party democracy.
Knowing therefore that like all other ideas, this one was devised by ones who had assessed their own specific local conditions and, having assessed the unique local conditions in Nigeria, my observation is that allowing different political parties to exist in a society that has no common theme uniting all regions and sectors will merely exacerbate the overwhelming awareness of differences that already exists.
Therefore, all Nigerians who are interested in political participation should have only one choice when it comes to "party" membership. This will compel a type of unity that is not merely abstract but, that has an everyday practical effect.
Membership of this single national "party" should be open at inception to all adult Nigerians though in time, there will be a process that incoming members have to go through before been admitted as members. I will expand on some ideas regarding this process at a later date.
All opposition politics should take place within the "party" and elections based on national suffrage will serve as the process through which voters select what band of articulated policies they find best suited to the times.
The National Chief Executive should be elected directly (and in the most transparent way possible). And once the votes are counted, the incoming Chief Executive and members of the new Councils of State should take office within a week. Some objections to this suggestion will be based on the fear that such a rapid handing over will not allow the new government enough time to assign people to offices but, there is no reason why such assignations should not be made before the election - no reason why the incoming Chief Executive should not have considered the best candidates for each role long before he/she takes office.
Making such officials known long before they take office would also create a situation whereby Nigerians will have the opportunity to assess the suitability of prospective ministers through early exposure to their ideas. It will be expected that the subjects covered will range from alternative budgets to the monitoring of projects (underway and under proposal).
Beneficial consequences of this approach will include constructive criticism on the part of the "shadow minister".
The media shall be compelled by law to allow the "opposition" equal space to examine (and critique by proposing better alternatives if necessary) all policies and endeavors that are taken on behalf of the public.
Also, having become used to untangling the specific intellectual dilemma that are related to their field of responsibility, individual members of a new incoming government will be able to start performing as soon as they take their seats.
To be continued..