A 5-point agenda for General Muhammad Buhari
Like many Nigerian patriots, I am confident that Nigeria will attain a high level of development under the incoming government led by General Muhammadu Buhari (GMB). By May 29, 2015, the road will be clear and President GMB will begin to deliver dividends of democracy to the people. I am optimistic that by then, some percentage of the monies diverted into private pockets by members of the outgoing government would have been returned to their places.
The first thing that will add value to the nation’s governance under GMB is a good, reliable and vibrant cabinet that is made up of energetic, talented, experienced, selfless, patriotic and God-fearing (not cultic) Nigerian citizens. First, let GMB discard clustering agenda. The clustering of projects in the past has not yielded any good in Nigeria’s development. A critical review of the past governments showed that embarking on so many projects at the same time end up sharing the people's fortune to a very few individuals. Such monies are often diverted into private pockets and have hardly been accounted for.
President GMB should remain closer to the masses to retain their love, prayers and support. He should remain ever aware as before that God's love and backing are with the just and the lover of the poor and the down-trodden. Nigerian civil servants have been in this mean category amongst all categories of government workers. The welfare of the nation’s civil servants should be a priority. Salaries should be increased and paid promptly because all life components: food, shelter (rent/cost of building), clothing and fuel, as well as children’s demand (education and parental care) have gone up in prices.
GMB should quickly embark on projects that impact on the masses. He has no option than to succeed because he has come at a critical moment when the nation is direly in need of positive change. He has the well withal to distinguish himself from all the past democratically elected presidents.
GMB should reduce the cost of governance. Impunity has remained an unjustifiable acronym in our governance. The lawlessness of government officials, politicians and national security operatives are to be checkmated. The National Assembly should be redirected. All the security apparatuses have to be overhauled. Oil subsidy should be scrapped. Oil theft, devaluation of the naira and indiscipline should be fought to a standstill. Redeeming the nation’s foreign image should be tactically and diplomatically pursued. And the lives of Nigerians must be sacred and defended by the government. The unjustifiable killing of a single Nigerian patriot anywhere around the globe should not be allowed.
I propose to President GMB to tackle one or two sectors every year, and not all the sectors at a time. What I simply mean is that greater attention should be given to the sector of choice due to its exigency to the nation per year. For instance, Mr. President can squarely tackle the power sector by declaring a six-month emergency rule on it; say between July and December 2015. This should be joined with the repairs of the four Nigeria’s refineries: Eleme, Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna. Surely, a positive change will manifest. Fixing these sectors is the bane of development in Nigeria because once Nigerians can have stable power and regular fuel supply, not only that business and industrial activities will thrive, jobs will be created through the birth of more industries and on the other hand, criminality will drastically reduce. A survey has shown that most of the criminal activities carried out by Nigerians are not unconnected to joblessness and
idleness. So whatever this will take President GMB in terms of financial and human resources, Nigerians will not hesitate to give him the needed support.
But before this can work, he should summon all those who import generators into this country and give them ultimatum to stop importation. But he has to give them the assurance of other business opportunities for their legitimate livelihood. Massive importation of generators has partly militated against the fixing of the power sector. In the same vein, oil marketing business must be sanitized.
In 2016, President GMB should take on the education sector. It has been observed that our educational system has become so bad that some Nigerians prefer to send their children and wards to nearby countries like Ghana for studies. Also, it can be attested to that private school proprietors have mortgaged our educational sector. Our public schools have fallen in standards. It is unfortunate that our students of public schools are described as half-backed prepared by half-baked teachers and instructors. Ignorance and half education are quite dangerous to the society. Even within the FCT Abuja and its environs, public schools are nothing to write home about. There are Government Secondary Schools where learning has remained a nightmare for students.
Mr. President should summon all the school proprietors from the nursery to tertiary level to discuss way forward for our education. Some of them should sell their schools to government or go into partnership to save the situation. Again, the Federal Government should attempt declaration of free education for certain percentage of the Nigerian citizens, especially the underprivileged. The 100 billion naira scholarship scheme should be discontinued so that such funds can be used to develop our schools. Mr. President should also mandate every state to collaborate with the Federal Government in establishing a Federal University and a Federal Polytechnic in those states where there is either one or none. All the states of the federation should be mandated to declare effective, efficient and well-coordinated and monitored compulsory free education to the secondary school level. Those states which can afford to extend the free education to tertiary levels
should be encouraged. After one year of complete attention to the education sector, Mr. President will choose another sector of choice.
In 2017, all attention should be turned to agriculture. Under this sector, a lot should be done. The groundnut pyramids should be rebuilt. The cocoa farms should be enlarged. The palm oil industry should come back. Cassava farming and processing should be practically mechanized. All related industries in agriculture whether in stock, fishing and birds with the stability in power supply would have naturally began to grow from strength to strength.
In 2018, there should be focus on transportation and its diversification. Aggressive efforts should be laid on road constructions that link all parts of the country. For instance, there should be express double lane roads linking the North and Southeast, the Southsouth and the North, the Southwest and the Southeast and the North and Southwest. Many of the forests are just occupying spaces that can be used for roads. But before then, there is need to rehabilitate the existing federal roads linking states so that the armed robbery cases and accidents on them can be curbed. GMB should probe those contractors handling the dualization project of the Abuja-Lokoja Road which has taken so long to complete. Also, the former Ajaokuta Toll Gate junction has become a death trap.
The airports and the seaports should be upgraded, maintained and sustained. Many more rivers should be dredged to enhance transportation by water. GMB should re-establish the Nigerian Airways, despite all odds of the past. It is unbelievable that a country called Nigeria does not have a national carrier. Even if it is to be managed by the private sector in order to ensure efficiency and entrepreneurship, the name Nigeria Air is very dear to many Nigerians, including this writer. So, GMB should summon transporters who have made tremendous efforts to link up the whole country in the transportation system by considering the masses even during festive periods as well as employing the teeming youths.
Many Nigerians do not rejoice over Nigeria spending heavily on security. Interestingly, Nigeria has been blessed with world-class security intelligence and defence that can protect her from any external aggressions. Our security threats are mostly internal. Kidnapping, armed robbery and all criminal activities must be tackled decisively. Militancy in the Niger Delta must not return. Boko Haram – a religious fraud - in the far North must stop. MASSOB of the Southeast must stop. Nigeria must remain one under a just leadership.
By 2019 when GMB would be getting ready to conduct freer and fairer general elections, our power, education, agriculture, transport and security sectors would have been highly stabilized. If GMB resists a second tenure, all Nigerians, including the opposition, will demand it for him. God bless GMB’s vision and mission for Nigeria.
Muhammad Ajah is a writer, author, advocate of humanity and good governance based in Abuja E-mail: [email protected]