Presidential aspirant, Professor Remi Sonaiya, has promised to amend the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Act and turn the programme into a compulsory one-year military service for Nigerian graduates if she wins the 2019 presidential election.
The aspirant, running on the platform of KOWA Party (KP), disclosed this in a statement about her strategy released on the platform of her voter education initiative, Restart Nigeria, earlier in May 2018.
In the statement titled, “Running East, Looking for a Sunset… Thoughts on a viable National Strategy”, Professor Sonaiya listed five important areas where she hopes to improve the country if she ever becomes Nigeria’s president.
She argued that Nigeria has been suffering from decades of indiscipline and disorganisation that can only be solved by a deliberate well-structured system of discipline.
According to her, if she has the National Assembly’s approval, Nigerian graduates will serve in the military for a year and become reservists for the next five years that comes after it. She believes this will be pivotal to an essential system of strict social retraining.
She said, “On Day 1, I’ll forward to the National Assembly an amendment to the NYSC Act that will make it a one-year compulsory military service. For five years thereafter, graduates will be military reservists. I believe that we can benefit from a deliberate well-structured system of discipline.”
Prof. Sonaiya further disclosed her plans to restructure the country, improve education, champion the nation’s renewable energy innovation age and improve productivity.
She remarked that fixing these major issues will ensure that other important issues with the economy, infrastructure and health will fall into place.
The 63-year-old called on Nigerians to not re-elect President Muhammadu Buhari due to the failures of his administration and urged them to also imbibe the same culture of change that they demand in their leaders.
Her full statement read, “Many people have asked me what I would bring to Aso Rock should I win in 2019. My answer is this: just five things.
Restructuring and devolution of power to the states and local government areas as well as security amnd state policing.
“This is essential because the power concentrated in the centre is obviously overwhelming and seriously undermining the effectiveness of the federal government.
“Take the issue of the herdsmen attacks in various places. If the states had their own police network, the president would not have to ask the IG (Ibrahim Idris) to relocate to Benue state and, thereby, abandon the rest of the country.
“The role of the federal government should be to bring in heavy firepower and intelligence capabilities.
Introduction of compulsory military service
“I believe that decades of indiscipline and disorganisation cannot be solved merely by good plans and good intentions. A system of strict social retraining is essential.
“If you look at the most innovative countries by 2018 rankings, the top five are South Korea, Sweden, Singapore, Germany and Switzerland.
“Except for Germany, all the other countries in those top five positions have compulsory military service. Germany, the exception, is, as we know, a country whose national culture is based on discipline and there is even a historical reason for not having compulsory military service.
“On Day 1, I’ll forward to the National Assembly an amendment to the NYSC Act that will make it a one-year compulsory military service. For five years thereafter, graduates will be military reservists.
“I believe that we can benefit from a deliberate well-structured system of discipline.
“I will invest the UNICEF-recommended amount into education and have the Minister of Education equally become the Minister of Innovation.
“It must be emphasised that education is not about amassing head knowledge but about driving innovation to solve real life challenges.
Renewable energy innovation
“The nation has experienced, especially in the last few years, the dire consequences of having a primarily oil-based economy. Indeed, the oil sector became a cesspool of corrupt practices. Recall the mind-boggling scandals over subsidy payments which rocked the Jonathan administration and has continued into the Buhari administration as well.
“The problem is actually not about fuel subsidy; the real challenge is that we’re faced with an opportunity to examine our real energy needs and seek ways in which they can be met in a sustainable manner, that is, also being mindful of our future needs given our growing population.
“Innovation is not a uniquely western idea; as the world shifts to alternative forms of energy, we cannot wait for them to bring it to us. I have often wondered why Africans, with the hot sun on our heads permanently, were not the first to think of solar energy.
“I will ensure that the Ministry of Science and Technology is focused on making Nigeria one of the world’s leaders in alternative energy. In 30 years, filling stations will most likely become obsolete. We have to start today to invent the technology and put in place the needed infrastructure that will take advantage of the huge potential we have in generating green energy, not only for our own needs but for exports within our region as well.
Improved productivity and fair renumeration for work done
“We waste a lot of time as a nation. This means that our productivity is very low. Developed countries measure productivity in terms of how much work is done within an hour, and they pay accordingly.
“We do not even know how much work is expected of different categories of workers and there’s unfair renumeration; for example, the legislators at the National Assembly.
“Fair, just and equittable renumeration for work done is one of the most stabilising factors among any nation’s work force. This is one way that an end can be brought quickly to the constant agitations and strike actions by workers.
“Overall, we need to create a just and orderly society and perhaps, more importantly, we must create a culture of honest and dignified labour for our coming generations.
“In conclusion, definitely, a lot of people would expect me promise to attend to the usual sectors like economy, infrastructure, health, corruption, etc. The fact is that those sectors will most likely fall in place by themselves based on the five areas identified to be focused upon.
“Government’s primary job is to create the right environment which would allow entrepreneurs and investors to thrive in their various areas of endeavour, not to compete with the private sector, micromanaging everything from secondary schools to roads to building railways and generating electricity.
“The majority of Nigerians now believe that President Buhari should not be re-elected. We have performed that feat before in 2015 when Nigerians decided to vote out a sitting president.
“So, the mission this time is not merely to repeat the same thing. We have to show that we can hold ourselves as citizens to the same standards that we hold our leaders.
“Good leadership is invaluable but it will be ultimately unsuccessful if the followers themselves are unwilling to pay the price of change they wish to see in their leaders.”
Prof. Sonaiya’s run for president in 2019
Prof Sonaiya was KOWA’s flag bearer in the 2015 presidential election that she lost to President Buhari, winning 13,076 votes, 0.05% of the total votes cast.
To win KOWA’s ticket again, she’ll have to emerge victorious in the party’s primary election against other aspirants including founding member, Dr Sina Fagbenro Byron, veteran Nollywood actor and scholar, Ayo Lijadu, and at least two others.
According to KOWA’s National Secretary, Mark Adebayo, the party is eager to choose its presidential flag bearer on August 18, 2018, the date the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has scheduled for primary elections to commence.
He also disclosed in February that presidential and governorship aspirants running on the platform of the party in the 2019 elections will be subjected to a written examination before they can contest.