AS President Muhammadu Buhari and the various elected or re-elected governors of 29 states begin their tenures of office, we wish to put on their tables the most pressing issues they should give utmost priority to pull Nigeria back from increasing cases of insecurity, economic doldrums and other social problems plaguing the country.
In 2015, Buhari correctly surmised the pressing needs of the nation which he made his priority: the Economy, Security and Anti-Corruption. Four years after, the list has lengthened somewhat. A fourth item – Equity – has not only crept into the list but also demands to be accorded the number one priority.
Happily, of these four items, Equity can quickly be attained, with the appropriate political will, at the outset and sustained throughout the tenure. The visionary authors of our 1999 Constitution, who strongly espoused firm adherence to the Federal Character principle in the distribution of public offices to prevent sectional domination argued that it would give all Nigerians a sense of belonging and promote collective patriotism.
Once Nigerians get the sense that the President has abandoned his “97%/5%” lopsided approach to appointments to top Federal Government posts, it will bring more hands on deck to solve the economic, security and anti-corruption challenges of the country.
The obvious case in the last four years of people from only a section of the country sitting around the table to agonise over our security challenges never produced any useful results. Instead, insecurity morphed in size and number. From Boko Haram insurgency in the North East, the lingering armed herdsmen attacks have almost gone out of control, while a new monster – the North West “bandits” – is now even knocking on the door of the President’s hometown, Daura.
Let President Buhari borrow a leaf from former President Olusegun Obasanjo who, on assuming office for his second term in 2003, realised the need to widen the scope and quality of human resources for his government. He brought in specialists without considering political party affiliations, and was able to create a booming, middle-class-friendly economy after getting Nigeria out of the Paris Club debt which this regime continues to benefit from till date.
The President requires a total rejig of strategy and vision to save Nigeria. The continued attachment to blame game will never help us. The greater challenge lies in internal soul searching, house cleaning and correction of past blunders by this government.
The Governors, in addition to sorting out the financial mess of their predecessors, have a duty to explore new ideas in revenue generation, frugal management of scare resources and the push for state police to secure our communities from armed evil men lurking in the forests.
This is an opportunity for a new beginning.