The New Priority List In Abuja
A common saying goes thus; when one's path is obstructed by a heap of logs which must be cleared for passage, the topmost logs must be removed first in the dislodgment process. Or, as the renowned economic historian David Landes would suggest; whenever there is ambiguity, then the first duty is to clearly define the term in question.
Prioritize is defined as “to organize (things) so that the most important thing is done or dealt with first”, according to Merriam Webster dictionary.
And Nigeria is swarmed by burning issues. It would be trite to begin to list the varied ills that ail Nigeria. Even a grade schooler can count them off his/her digits, proffer insightful remedies and warn you that implementation of the solutions has been the Achilles' heel.
To be sure, corruption, insecurity/Boko Haram terrorism, diversification of economy, unemployment, derelict infrastructure, Healthcare crisis, absence of a manufacturing base, and Institutional decay – Education, Civil service etc., are no less burning issues that are in dire need of attention. If the aforementioned issues are to be prioritize, the question then is, in what order should this administration tackle same?
For the current Buhari's administration in Abuja, therefore, to prioritize in this sense refers to the selective urgency with which some burning national issues are delivered to the “intensive unit” for appropriate attention with respect to others. A drastic downturn the country's earnings purse from Oil (with low prices in the international market), may further count as a motivational factor towards the need for an effective prioritization strategy.
Few would disagree that corruption remains the singular virus that has infected every facet of Nigeria, systemically, and its eradication or at least, reduction of its 'viral load' to the barest minimum is a task that must be accomplished with immediacy.
Fortunately, Buhari administration is right on target on the war against corruption, placing it on top of its list of priorities.
Because corruption enervates, degrade and finally destroys any/all good intentions of any project irrespective of significance, the failures of past administration have their roots in this menace. In “The Real Housemates of Corruption”, I suggested some enablers of the practitioners of corruption that government should take a closer look at, and action against; but the advice obviously meant little to the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration which has now been exposed as deft architects of the temple of corruption.
In the prioritization strategy, certain “vitals” must be stabilized before any measurable improvement in other sector is even possible. Because of their synergetic linkages, issues like Security/Boko Haram terrorism and Power infrastructure (electricity) take precedence over essential priorities; there hardly any point in constructing first class hospitals all over the country for healthcare, if the equipment cannot be powered, or fatalities inflicted by marauding terrorists, and armed gangs that have no use for emergency rooms.
In “With Light Most Things are Possible”, permit me to reproduce a part here;
In the boring spat between former President Olusegun Obasanjo and former military President Ibrahim Babangida, the former waxed strong about his administrations power development achievements;
“Because it was important, you know that power is the driving force for development and for any developing country. But since the building of Egbin power plant, until I came back in 1999, there was not any generating plant for almost 20 years and Babangida spent eight years out of that. Now, he has the audacity to talk about anybody; I think that is unfortunate.”
“I started five of what they called Independent Power Stations which were stopped for two and a half years when I left office. Now the present administration has started building a new power project at Uyo.
“As a country, Nigeria should be adding nothing less than 1,500 megawatts annually. South Africa with a population of 50 million generates 50,000 megawatts. Nigeria with a population of about 165 million we are not generating.
As at 1999, I met 1,500 megawatts before we took it up to 4,000 megawatts. What we started they are now allowing it to go on. I believe if they continue with the programme that we left, in another two years, we will get to 10,000,” he said (Vanguard 19 August 2011)
Sixteen years later, billions of dollars “expended”, electricity generation currently fluctuates between 1,500 and 5,000 megawatts (as at March 13th, 2016), with intermittent nationwide blackouts – situation that emphasize, the time to declare a national emergency on the power sector is way past due.
And even after a temporary relief is achieved in stable electricity, sustaining the growth in the power sector cannot be assumed to be secured in the hands of incoming administrations. Hence, I has suggested in the same article that “Perhaps, time has come for a constitutional amendment that requires any incoming administration to increase the existing power capacity by a minimum of 5,000 megawatts for every 4 year tenure in office. Failure to abide or execute such a requirement should result in impeachment. If our leaders can’t dream, perhaps the constitution can force-feed dreams to them”.
Next up, the industrial sector which touches the entire spectrum of the country's well-being – employment, improved living standards, wealth creation, food security, and global competitiveness. Without a vibrant manufacturing sector, Nigeria continues to engage in the pretense of economic growth without development, and wear the cloak of a developing economy without the substance. Make no mistake about it, “without industrialization, development will not happen” is a well-documented fact both by United Nations agencies, and top researchers worldwide.
Whatever compass the Buhari administration employ to design its chain of priorities, the manufacturing sector is a recurring enigma that should not be ignored. For Nigeria, the old knee-jerk policy responses to socio-economic fundamentals, should be confine to the dustbin of history.
Written by Emma Adoghe.