By Ebele Orakpo
Brigadier General David Buba Shaljaba is a retired officer of the Nigerian Army. He worked in various capacities in the Army and was one time Commander, 34 Brigade, Owerri, Imo State. He is the CEO, Sha-Tess Nigeria Enterprises Ltd.; Chairman/CEO, El-ShalWamdeo Nig. Ltd, a security consultancy firm; Chairman of Triune Built Group; UBA Emirate Development Association; Network for Sustainable Development and Empowerment, Borno South; National Social Secretary, Alumni Association of National Defence College; Secretary, Retired Army/Navy and Air Force Officers’ Associations, RANAO, among others. He was a senatorial aspirant for Borno South Senatorial District in the February 2019 elections. In this chat with Vanguard, he said nobody, no matter his religion or tribe, would want an insecure environment. Excerpts:
Brigadier General Shaljaba …our immediate challenge is centred on lack of commitment and patriotism to our country.
Tell us a little about yourself I am Brigadier General David Buba Shaljaba (rtd). I served the Nigerian Army for 33 years, five months and 19 days. I attended Yawa and South Marghi Primary Schools and went on to Jimeta/General Murtala Government Secondary School and on to Bauchi Teachers College where I obtained Grade 2 Certificate. I have a Diploma in Administration and Management from Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, Accra; Certificate in International Peace Support Operations from the Koffi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre; Certificate in Internal Crisis Management from the Ghana Armed Forces Command and Staff College; Master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the University of Ibadan. I am a Fellow of the National War College, Nigeria and I attended various courses in and outside Nigeria which include Internal Crises Management Course in the universities of Cranfield, Bradford and York; Command and Staff College, Jaji-Nigeria; Artillery Staff Officers Course, Nigerian Army School of Artillery, Kontagora, among others.
My belief in one Nigeria under God has guided my actions. I want to remain an integral part of the making of a new Nigeria. I have served and will continue to serve Nigeria to the best of my ability, knowing full well that my dear country; Nigeria, is undergoing a transformation in which equity, justice and sincerity/purposeful leadership are required to move her forward.
State of the nation
Nigeria is in a transition stage. Development is in stages, and every stage comes with its challenges. We may not be able to perfectly pre-empt the future or determine what will happen as humans, but we can only deal with, or handle the challenges and not shy away from them as they come. This is not the Nigeria of my dream looking at it from the aspect of Nigeria’s greatest asset.
Nigeria’s greatest asset is her people. Nigeria is the most populous country on the African continent. The population is estimated to be about 200 million persons and this places it as the 10th largest population in the world. Consequently, continuous and aggressive investment in human capacity development and provision of quality and functional education is the key to unlocking the doors to national development and greatness. Women and youth constitute the backbone of the economy. No fewer than 70 per cent of them are engaged in the informal sector of the economy so their inclusion and empowerment is paramount for development.
Our democratic experiment is a continuous process, especially in the Third World countries where there are lots of socio-economic and religious challenges which to an extent, determine or influence the electoral outcome.
How did we get to this sorry state?
Nigeria got to this sorry state because of the numerous challenges facing her.
Security is a major issue confronting the economy as evidenced in the rise of insurgency and terrorism in the North-East, the Niger-Delta militancy, kidnapping and other social vices.
*Power transmission and supply capacity is below global per capita consumption standards. Ninety million Nigerians are without power, a perennial problem in Nigeria with devastating consequences on the economy.READ ALSO: Terrorism: Army acquires Mine Resistant Armoured Personnel Carriers
*Massive unemployment which currently stands at 23 per cent, plagues the country, with youth unemployment at 47.9 per cent, along with weak real and social sectors, which have been on a steady decline for decades and lack of sustainable infrastructure development.
Underutilisation of human capacity through an education system that ill prepares youth for national growth and development.
Finally, endemic corruption compounded the economic and security challenges facing Nigeria.
Restructuring can advance equality, equity, justice and development. But l think our immediate challenge is centred on lack of commitment and patriotism to our country. It is not restructuring that caused the abandonments of various projects across the country. It is not restructuring that led to the emergence of Boko Haram or Niger-Delta insurgency, but greed and corruption. Development is security and security is development. When you don’t develop, you will experience insecurity, and when you have insecurity, you cannot develop. The two concepts work together. Can you imagine the amount of money being recovered every day from our leaders? Is it as a result of restructuring? The answer is no if you ask me.
The parliamentary system is less expensive than the presidential system. It also reduces the friction between the arms of government. But we were there in the first republic and some of the pitfalls led to the collapse of the First Republic on 15th January 1966. The alternative was the best for Nigeria. Remember, Nigeria is a plural society, a multi-ethnic country with diverse people, religions, languages, among others. It is only a federal system that will accommodate diverse societies like Nigeria if well practised like the United States of America. The problem is not the kind of democratic system, but our attitude which had shaped our political culture over the years.
The level of national integration and nationhood is nothing to write home about. Over 50 years of political independence, we still see ourselves as different people, we vote based on ethnicity or religion, among others.
The way forward
Government at all levels should prioritize sustained national dialogue and conversation involving the government, private sector and civil society to address Nigeria’s most threatening challenges – growing poverty and widening social and income disparities – in order to promote inclusive and equitable growth.
Nigeria’s planning processes and resource allocation should be gender-responsive to stimulate economic empowerment at community and family levels.
Peacebuilding processes should involve traditional and religious institutions whose capacity for conflict mediation and peace-building must be continually enhanced.
Nigeria’s educational curricula need to be reviewed to give more visibility to vocational training and entrepreneurship, to provide youth with requisite skills to build a new generation of entrepreneurs and stem the tide of youth restiveness.
Considering the strategic importance of the agricultural sector to the resuscitation and diversification of the Nigerian economy, reform of the sector to improve productivity, access to credit for women and youth and maximization of the value chains, would lift a significant section of the population out of poverty. The leadership of the present government at all levels should meet the public expectation of providing an inspiring vision and leadership and instilling in the mindsets of Nigerians a compelling need for change, whilst strengthening the institutional framework and demonstrable political will in the fight against corruption and impunity.
The growth of any nation is bound to its ability to maintain peace, foster unity, eradicate poverty and build on the successes of each developmental phase of the country.