Those seeking election (or re-election) to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria must be told that Nigerians are unhappy with the way things stand, and urgently seek quick, but enduring, solutions.
The opposition political parties will be taking advantage of the disenchantment and former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s criticism of President Muhammadu Buhari to try and wrest the Presidency from the ruling All Progressives Congress.
The Peoples Democratic Party is finding its voice, and showing capacity to challenge the ruling APC in the coming 2019 elections. Reincarnated Social Democratic Party, decreed into existence alongside the National Republican Convention by former military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida, is coming up strong too.
Dancing Senator Ademola Adeleke was rebuffed by the Osun State APC, but got the PDP’s ticket to replace his elder brother, Senator Isiaka Adeleke. He now represents Osun West Senatorial District in the Senate.
Those who want to be (or remain) President must remember that the fundamental assignment of government is in Section 14(2)(b) of Nigeria’s Constitution which provides that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”
Therefore, Nigeria’s next President must demonstrate capacity to tackle the Boko Haram insurgency that has killed many, and caused massive damage to the economy, infrastructure, and people of the Northeastern corridor of the country.
In addition to ending the insurgency, a quick and credible plan must be put in place to rebuild the lives and infrastructure of the North-East. Leah Sharibu, the lone Dapchi schoolgirl still held hostage by Boko Haram insurgents on account of her religious belief, and the remaining Chibok girls, must be rescued.
The next President must find political, police, (and maybe military) solution to checking rampaging herdsmen that have overwhelmed Nigeria’s security infrastructure in North-Central Nigeria. He must continue to pacify Niger Delta militants, and clean up the South-South’s scorched earth.
The President must also give justice to the harassed Mohammed El-Zakzaky-led Islamic Movement of Nigeria, whose Shiite Islam is clearly at variance with the Sunni version of the Muslim establishment of Northern Nigeria.
President Buhari’s theory that Boko Haram insurgents and rampaging herdsmen may be renegade mercenaries demobilised after the fall of Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi doesn’t wash. A more cogent explanation must be provided for government’s failure to adequately contain the two terrorist menaces.
Restructuring is something that the next President must work with the National Assembly to resolve to the satisfaction of all Nigerian interest groups. In 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan convened the National Conference to consider the feasibility of restructuring. The APC supposedly weighed in, and made restructuring an election issue.
Jonathan’s gesture was a red herring. In trying to woo Northern Nigeria’s electorate, he dropped the idea. But for convening the conference, he lost the support of the core North, and for failing to implement it, he lost that of South-West Nigeria.
In a clever move to retain Northern Nigerian vote come 2019, the APC claims it didn’t promise restructuring during the 2015 elections. As the APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu, substitutes “true federalism” for restructuring, former Interim Chairman Baba Bisi Akande declared that the APC never promised to restructure Nigeria. His words: “Restructuring is not our language.” Ah!
Something that needs to be addressed urgently is the construction of more roads, waterways, and railways to link every part of Nigeria. Nigerians have heard enough of the history that the British colonial masters laid railway lines from Northern Nigeria to Southern Nigeria just to evacuate cash crops from the hinterland to the ports at the coast.
The Ministries of Transportation and Power, Works, and Housing must coordinate their policies and programmes to facilitate evacuation of agricultural produce from the farm gates to the consumers, agro-allied industries, and the ports (in the case of cash crops that are intended for export).
This plan must effortlessly freight industrial manufactures to the final consumers, or to the ports for export. There must be seamless interconnectivity of roads, railways, waterways, and air travels within the country. As you know, human economy thrives by constantly traversing space over time.
Road works must go beyond repair of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway or the access to Calabar port, to construction of new roads, the speedy completion of the Second Niger Bridge, and the laying of the Calabar-Lagos railway lines. Perhaps, the next Economic Development Plan must coincide with the next four-year political term that will commence on May 29, 2019.
There is no doubt that “triple-man” Babatunde Fashola, who is the Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, is doing a yeoman’s job. But it is not evident quite. The journey to generation, transmission, and distribution of adequate electricity to Nigerian homes and industries is excruciatingly slow.
The next President cannot continue with excuses that the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas Company didn’t supply gas to debtor electricity generating companies; there is low or high water levels at the dams; the national grid is ageing; government agencies owe electricity distributing companies, and prepaid meters are unavailable.
You get no price for guessing that Nigeria’s economy needs adequate and regular supply of electricity. This is the modicum requirement for the giant industrial leap that Nigerians crave for. Electricity is fundamental to Nigeria’s industrial revolution. If you take a look into the Bible, you will discover that the first thing that God did was to pronounce light. He needed illumination for the work of creation to commence.
The next Federal Government of Nigeria must find permanent solutions to the frequent petrol shortages in the country. Nigerian consumers must be able to take the availability of petroleum products for granted, and every effort must be made to make it so.
The next President needs the savvy to get the National Assembly to pass the four petroleum industry governance bills into law, so that the resulting deregulation will encourage the establishment and operation of more modular and petroleum refineries. Now no one quite knows whether the President or the legislature has the bill.
It is embarrassing that Nigeria, a major oil producing nation that at least three of its citizens have served as Secretary-General of the oil cartel called Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, is the world’s largest importer of petroleum products.
The next regime must have a crack team of experts that can swiftly come up with appropriate monetary policies to manage Nigeria’s interest rate, exchange rate, and inflation rate. It appears that the current Central Bank of Nigeria is totally out of its depth.
The next Minister of Finance must be able to evolve appropriate macroeconomic policies that will complement the policies of the Monetary Policy Committee of the CBN. The thinking here is that a plan to reduce exchange and interest rates should cascade to lowering the inflation rate.
In simple terms, the required macroeconomic policies needed must be able to increase the production of the agricultural sector so that Nigeria can feed its citizens, and sell the excess food to the West African sub-region, and beyond.
Also, there must be enough agricultural produce to provide raw materials for Nigeria’s agro-allied industry. If the next macroeconomic plan of Nigeria grows both the agricultural and agro-allied industries, and stabilises the power and energy industries, the country will soon prosper.
These words ought to be the manifesto for the wise presidential candidate.