ND Principles and
Agenda for 2010
Democrats (ND) believes that intellectual and
entrepreneurial ballast is the key to success for any
political administration. Recent events in the Nigerian
political landscape clearly shows that a political party and
indeed a government that loses sight of the "big picture"
can easily be swept off course by events, driven by
sectional or sectoral (Zoning) fundamentalism and splits,
and bogged down in administrative minutiae. They risk
becoming little more than exercises in crisis management.
This is why
Nigerians greeted the registration of the New Democrats (ND)
with an audible sigh of relief.More
importantly because the
driving force behind the New Democrats is a collection of
patriotic Nigerian entrepreneurs and intellectuals in
The New Democrats believe in the need "to start building a
common thread between the ideas of academics, thinkers,
entrepreneurs and intellectuals. Nigerian political parties
have lost the philosophical battle regarding party political
engineering and the art of politicking and governance. For
the sake of national
interest there is a need to replace the current “interest
group” politics with a rejuvenated intellectual movement. ND
on intellectuals and entrepreneurs abroad
and at home to
chart its course.
the Vital Center
has assembled an impressive and productive staff of a
coalition of thinkers, including Nigerian intellectuals and
entrepreneurs residing in the Diaspora, and of-course in
Nigeria. Although, Nigerian political parties will want us
to believe that their domination of Nigerian politics is
based on their strength, our research indicates otherwise.
They are merely factional groups which seek to manipulate
parochial ethnic interests.
Challenging Lazy Orthodoxies and Introducing “the right way”
philosophy of governance is "very much a work in progress,"
it is “the right way” of doing politics. The right way
politics will stand in the traditions of previous Nigerian
political parties, it will transcend both "old-style
democracy" and its reliance on voodoo economics and "ethnic
fundamentalism." We will challenge some of the laziest
orthodoxies of current Nigerian politics.
The New Democrats believe that there is a rare opportunity
to identify and move on the big, long-term challenges the
country faces in the new century. We have both the
opportunity and the responsibility to put forth a
declaration here that guides our party and should guide our
nation for the next 10 years. We will do everything we can
to turn the ship of Nigeria around. And with the Nigerian people
support, make sure that it keeps sailing in the right
At the beginning of this new political era we see the nation
in the midst of great chaos. As modernizers of the Nigerian
progressive political tradition, we call for a new politics
for the next decade to reflect new realities.
These new realities include:
technology-driven, and ever more global New Economy that
is changing the wayNigerians work,
live, and communicate with each other.
A population that is
rapidly becoming more diverse, more affluent, more
educated, more suburban, more "wired," less political.
The emergence of a new
social structure, in which the "learning class" of
well-educated and skilled citizens prospers while those
without education and skills are still not left behind.
The aging of the
population, creating new intergenerational tensions over
resources for schools, retirement, and health care.
A generational change
in attitudes as the old gives way to the baby boom
generations that are far more sceptical about politics
and government, even as they crave a "higher politics"
of moral purpose.
A rapidly changing
environment in which Nigerian values
and interests are predominant, but in which we face a
new series of internal challenges based not on a
monolithic threat from another country, but on regional
instability, economic rivalries, ethnic conflicts, rogue
states, and “terrorism”.
In keeping with our party's grand principle, we reaffirm our
founding fathers’ belief in individual liberty and capacity
for self-government. We endorse their credo of equal
opportunity for all, special privileges for none. We embrace
their thirst for innovation and their summons to civic duty.
And we intend to carry on our insistence upon new means to
achieve progressive ideals.
As New Democrats, we believe in a Third-Way
that rejects the old left-right debate and affirms Nigeria’s
basic bargain: opportunity for all, responsibility from all,
and community of all. We believe in free enterprise to
stimulate economic innovation and growth and in public
activism to ensure that everyone can share in Nigeria’s
We believe that government's proper role in the New Economy
is to equip working Nigerians with new tools for economic
success and security. Knowledge is power. The availability
of such knowledge is empowerment. We must provide tools of
empowerment to the younger generation including women.
We believe in expanding trade and investment because we must be
a party of economic progress, not economic reaction. We
believe that global markets demand global rules and
institutions to ensure fair competition and to provide
checks and balances on private power.
We believe that fiscal discipline is fundamental to
sustained economic growth as well as responsible government.
We believe in our mission to expand opportunity. We believe
that education must be Nigeria's great equalizer, and we
will not abandon our schools
or tolerate their failure.
We believe that all Nigerians must have access to healthcare
that balances governmental and individual responsibility. We
believe in preventing crime and punishing criminals and that
Nigeria's criminal justice system should be rooted in and
responsive to the communities it serves.
We believe in a new social compact that requires and rewards
work in exchange for public assistance and that ensures that
no family with a full-time worker will live in poverty. We
believe that public policies should reinforce marriage,
promote family, demand parental responsibility, and
discourage out-of-wedlock births.
We believe in shifting the focus of Nigeria's anti-poverty
and social programs from transferring wealth to creating
wealth. We believe in replacing top-down bureaucracy with
institutions that enable citizens and communities to solve
their own problems. We believe government should harness the
forces of choice and competition to achieve public goals.
We believe in enhancing the role that civic entrepreneurs,
voluntary groups, and religious institutions play in
tackling Nigeria's social ills. We believe in strengthening
environmental protection by giving communities the
flexibility to tackle new challenges that cannot be solved
with top-down mandates. We believe government must combat
discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, creed, gender, or
religious; defend civil liberties; and stay out of our
private lives. We believe that the common civic ideals
Nigerians share transcend group differences and forge unity
We believe in progressive nationalism -- the bold exercise
of Nigerian leadership to foster peace, prosperity, unity
and democracy. We believe that Nigeria must be strong
technologically, and have superior defence to protect our
interests and values only.
Finally, we believe that Nigerian citizenship entails
responsibilities as well as rights, and we mean to ask our
citizens to give something back to their communities and
Based on the new realities on our enduring values as
progressives, we present the following agenda for Nigeria's
1. Expand the Economy While Expanding the "Winner's Circle"
Our first economic priority must be to bring start a "long
economic boom" utilizing global
customized to Nigerian environment:
fiscal discipline, open trade, support for innovation and
entrepreneurship, and investment in the knowledge and skills
of the work force.
Fiscal discipline means
not only balanced federal budgets, but action to reduce the
national debt and to deal with the obligations associated
with the retirement of the old generation.
Open trade is
integral to growth because it creates new markets abroad for
our goods (setting
quality standards in production to meet the global market), and
services, lowers consumer prices, and spurs innovation. At
the same time, we must tap new markets in inner-city and
rural neighbourhoods at home.
The key to lifting wages and living standards for all
Nigerians is to boost productivity by investing
heavily in technology and skills. As the economic
rewards of education rise, we must continue to expand access
to higher education. We should also stimulate the spread of
new technologies and the Internet to every industry, every
classroom, and every family. As e-commerce grows, citizens
must be empowered to control the use of personal information
they disclose online.
As we expand our economy, we must expand the winner's circle
of Nigerians equipped to benefit from the New Economy. This
is the New Deal for economic security in the New Economy:
lifelong learning for everyone, portable pensions and
healthcare, and new opportunities for working families to
save, build financial assets, and become homeowners.
Goals for 2010
Boost investment in
technology and lifelong learning.
Create jobs and
entrepreneurial training programs
Pay down the national
percentage of Nigerians owning capital assets (including
homes) up to 75 percent.
Make access to the
telephone and Internet very common.
Ensure that all
students who make a "B" average or agree to serve their
country can afford to go to University.
2. Write New Rules for Participation in the Global Economy
The rise of global markets has undermined the ability of
national governments to control their own economies. The
answer is neither global laissez faire nor protectionism but
New international rules and institutions to ensure that
globalization goes hand in hand with higher living
standards, basic worker rights, and environmental
Nigerian leadership must actively seek ways to participate
in the rules-based global trading system as well as
international structures that enhance worker rights and the
environment without killing trade. For example, Instead
of reversing privatization, we should restructure the law to
prevent monopoly, instead
of restricting trade, we should negotiate specific
multilateral accords to deal with specific trade issues, and
restructure our industry to be able to compete on a global
3. Create World-Class Public Schools
Now more than ever, quality public education is the key to
equal opportunity and upward mobility in Nigeria. Yet our
neediest children often attend the worst schools without
even the basic educational facilities. While lifting the
performance of all schools, we must place special emphasis
on strengthening those institutions serving, and too often
failing. To close this achievement and opportunity gap,
underperforming schools need more resources, and above all,
real accountability for results. Accountability means ending
social promotion, measuring student performance with
standards-based assessments, and testing teachers for
As we demand accountability, we should ensure that every
school has the resources needed to achieve higher standards,
including safe and modern physical facilities, proper
educational facilities and
well-paid teachers and staff, and opportunities for remedial
help after school and during summers. Parents, too, must
accept greater responsibility for supporting their
We need greater choice, competition, and accountability
within the public school system, not a diversion of public
funds. With research increasingly showing the critical
nature of learning in the early years, we should move toward
universal access to pre-kindergarten education.
Goals for 2010
Turn around every
failing public school.
Make "private" schools
an option in every state and community.
Offer every parent a
choice of public schools to which to send his or her
Make sure every
classroom has well-qualified educational facilities,
teachers who know the subjects they teach, and pay
teachers more for performance.
Create a safe, clean,
healthy, disciplined learning environment for every
education universally available.
1. Help Working Families Lift Themselves from Poverty
The job of welfare reform will not be done until we help all
who can work to find and keep jobs -- including fathers who
must be held responsible for supporting their children. In
the next decade, Nigerian leadership should embrace an even
more ambitious social goal -- helping every working family
lift itself from poverty. ND new social compact will reinforce
work, responsibility, and family. By creating jobs,
increasing the supply of affordable healthcare, providing
training programs to both young and old, promoting access to
home ownership and other wealth-building assets, and
refocusing other social policies on the new goal of
rewarding work, we can create a new progressive guarantee:
No Nigerian family with a full-time worker will live in
Goals for 2010
Start a welfare reform
by moving all recipients who can work into jobs.
Cut the poverty rate
programs to train people to be able to seek employment.
2. Strengthen Nigeria's Families
To strengthen families, we must redouble efforts to reduce
out-of-wedlock pregnancies, and create an "extended family"
of adult volunteer mentors. Family breakdown is not the only
challenge we face. We should continue public efforts to give
parents tools to balance work and family and shield their
children from harmful outside influences. For example, we
should encourage employers to adopt family-friendly policies and
should speak out about violence in our culture and adopt
self-policing codes aimed at protecting children.
Goals for 2010
Cut the rate of
out-of-wedlock births in half.
after-school programs at every public school.
Make every workplace
Promote policies that
help parents shield their children from violence and sex
in entertainment products.
3. Strengthen Nigeria’s Common Civic Culture
We must all work harder to affirm our common civic culture
-- the values that unity us and democratic institutions we
share and what define our national identity as Nigerians,
largely because of our diverse ethnicity and culture,
This means we should resist an "identity politics" that
confers rights and entitlements on groups and instead affirm
our common rights and responsibilities as citizens.
Multiethnic democracy requires fighting discrimination
against marginalized groups; empowering the disadvantaged to
join the economic, political, and cultural mainstream; and
respecting diversity while insisting that what we have in
common as Nigerians is more important than how we differ.
One way to encourage an ethic of citizenship and mutual
obligation is to promote voluntary national service. If
expanded to become available to everyone who wants to
participate, national service can help turn the strong
impulse toward volunteerism among our young people into a
major resource in addressing our social problems. It will
also help revive a sense of patriotism and national unity.
Goals for 2010
based on ethnicity, gender, national background,
religion, age, or disability.
Shift the emphasis of
affirmative action strategies from group preferences to
economic empowerment of all disadvantaged citizens.
Expand the NYSC
program so that everyone willing to serve can serve --
with 1 million participants enrolled by the end of the
education in all public schools.
1. Performance-Based Government
There is a
strong anti-government sentiments at the moment, because
most Nigerians still think government is too corrupted, too
bureaucratic, too centralized, and too inefficient.
Democrats (ND) strategic programs include
a second round of "reinventing government" initiatives which
means transforming public agencies into performance-based
organizations focused on bottom-line results. Many public
services can be delivered on a competitive basis among
public and private entities with accountability for results.
Public-private partnerships should become the rule, not the
exception, in delivering services. Civic and voluntary
groups, including faith-based organizations, should play a
larger role in addressing Nigeria's social problems.
When the federal government provides grants to states and
localities to perform public services, it should give the
broadest possible administrative flexibility while demanding
and rewarding specific results. Government information and
services at every level should be thoroughly "digitized,"
enabling citizens to conduct business with public agencies
Goals for 2010
agencies to measure results and publish information on
federal-state grants into broad performance-based grants
that offer greater flexibility in return for greater
accountability for results.
Make it possible for citizens to
conduct all business with government online.
Create a chief
information officer to drive the digitization of the
2. Return Politics to the People
At a time when much of the world is emulating American
democracy, too many Nigerians have lost confidence in their
political system. They are turned off by a partisan debate
that often seems to revolve not around opposing philosophies
but around contending sets of interest groups. They believe
that our current system for financing campaigns gives
disproportionate power to wealthy individuals and groups and
exerts too much influence over legislative and regulatory
The time for piecemeal reform is past. As campaign costs
soar at every level, re-circling the state funds into
campaign fund, we need to move toward voluntary public
financing of all general elections and press broadcasters to
donate television time to candidates. The Internet holds
tremendous potential for making campaigns less expensive and
more edifying and for engaging Nigerians directly in
electoral politics. We should promote the Internet as a new
vehicle for political communication.
Goals for 2010
public financing for all general elections.
regulated voter registration and voting geared
towards voting online.
education courses in every public school.
3. Modernize Environmental Policies
We face a new set of environmental challenges for which the
old strategy of centralized, command-and-control regulation
is no longer effective. The old regime of prohibitions and
fines levied on polluters is dead, or perhaps not well
equipped to tackle problems such as climate change,
contamination of water from such sources as farm and
suburban runoff, loss of open lands, and sprawl. Without
relaxing our determination to maintain and enforce mandatory
national standards for environmental quality, it is time to
create more effective, efficient, and flexible ways of
achieving those standards.
For example, a system of tradable emissions permits would
give factories, power plants, and other sources of air
pollution and greenhouse gases a powerful incentive not only
to meet but to exceed environmental standards. Decisions
about solving local environmental problems should be shifted
from Abuja to communities, without weakening national
standards. Finally, to empower citizens and communities to
make sound decisions, government should invest in improving
the quality and availability of information about
Goals for 2010
Create a domestic
emissions trading system to reduce greenhouse gases by
agreements for community and regional partnerships to
achieve national environmental goals and standards
through local strategies.
1. Make Nigeria the
"Safest Country" in the World
The Nigerian public remains deeply concerned about the
prevalence of crime rates and religious/ethnic violence in
the country. To continue reducing crime, we need to keep
policing "smart" and community-friendly, prohibiting unjust
and counterproductive tactics such as ethnic profiling;
focus on preventing as well as punishing crime; pay
attention to what happens to inmates and their families
after sentencing; use mandatory testing and treatment to
break the cycle of drugs and crime; and enforce and
strengthen laws against unsafe or illegal gun..
Moreover, we need a renewed commitment to equal justice for
all, and we must reject a false choice between justice and
Technology can help in many areas: giving police more
information on criminal suspects so they do not rely on
slipshod, random stop-and-search methods; allowing
lower-cost supervision of people on probation or parole; and
making it possible to disable and/or trace guns used by
unauthorized persons. Above all, we need to remember that
public safety is the ultimate goal of crime policy. Until
Nigerians feel safe enough to walk their neighbourhood
streets, enjoy public spaces, and send their children to
school without fear of violence, we have not achieved public
Reduce violent crime
rates another 50 percent.
Cut the rate of repeat
offences in half.
of firearms by unauthorized persons and implement
sensible gun control measures.
Ban ethnic profiling
by police but encourage criminal targeting through
better information on actual suspects.
Require in-prison and
post-prison drug testing and treatment of all drug
2. Build a Public Consensus Supporting Nigerian Leadership
What's needed is a new foreign and national security
strategy for a new era. Our leaders should articulate a
progressive nationalism based on the new realities of the
Information Age: globalization, democracy, and the rise of a
new array of threats ranging from regional and ethnic
conflicts to the spread of missiles and biological,
chemical, and nuclear weapons. This approach recognizes the
need to revamp, while continuing to rely on, multilateral
alliances that advance Nigerian values and interests.
Nigeria must strengthen its military to use new technology
and training. This also means undertaking a systematic
overhaul of the military to create a force that is more
flexible, integrated, and efficient.
Goals for 2010
A clear national
policy with bipartisan support that continues to adjusts
our alliances to new regional threats to peace and
security, promotes the spread of political and economic
freedom, and outlines where and how we are willing to
A modernized military
equipped to deal with emerging threats to security, such
as destabilizing regional/border conflicts.
The ideas in this Abuja
not an exclusive or exhaustive agenda for Nigeria in this
millennium. We welcome other ideas based on the enduring
values of opportunity, responsibility, and community.
But we do urge our fellow Democrats, and fellow citizens, to
take heed of the rapid pace of economic, social, and
political change here and abroad; the great potential of new
technologies to transform how we live, work, and interact;
the inequality of opportunity that will emerge if we do not
address it; the dangerous disengagement in public life of
our citizenry; and the fresh needs and perspectives of the
young people who will succeed us.
This is the wrong time in history for politics as usual: for
empty partisanship; for treating citizens simply as members
of contending groups; for divisive appeals based on
religion, ethnicity, or culture; for efforts to encourage
voters to focus on narrow self-interest; and for
perpetuating the issues and ideologies of an
We are firmly convinced that our party, which is more than
ever and must always strive to be the New Democrats, the
New Nigeria, has
the right values, policy goals, and ideas to represent the
new politics our country needs. But we cannot rest. We must
continue to embrace change if we are to engage the
electorate and offer a governing agenda that can produce
positive results. As one great Nigerian said, "New
conditions impose new requirements on government and those
who conduct government." That is why we best honour the true
legacy of our founding fathers, Zik, Awolowo, Sardauna to
name a few, not by acting as guardians of the dead letter of
past progressive achievements but by living up to the bold,
innovative spirit that made those achievements possible.
With this Declaration, we affirm our intention to do just
the Untapped Nigeria Now!