By Gerald Onwuka
Nigerians are eagerly waiting for February 2023. Many, I am sure would be wishing for events to fast track so they can hopefully wash away the current tide of hardship, uncertainty, and the fathomless level of insecurity brought upon the citizens by the current APC-led administration. Obviously, promises and decrees made by the country’s past and present leaders, most especially the Presidential kinds, at various points in time, to positively transform Nigeria into a country other African countries would want to be like, have all failed.
Recent events in the country, have been mostly negative, and constantly reaffirm the stance by many, at home and overseas, that Nigeria is on a time bomb and as such needs urgent rescuing. Of course, who else is best to save the country from total collapse than the former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki?
You can tell; can’t you? That as soon as the ex-Kwara governor declared his intention to run for the seat of Presidency, there was an aura of hope that enveloped the atmosphere which was strongly backed by remarks from the man himself who rightly posited that there has been enough talk, blame, and lamentation; “it is now time to Fix Nigeria”.
The country, you would agree, needs a courageous, corrupt-free, and dauntless fellow that would not abandon the people when he is most needed. Without a doubt, Bukola Saraki is not only brave but bold; he has also proven to be goal-focused, even in the face of adversaries.
This is especially as he is no stranger to verbal attacks from other political figures, who have tried pulling him down, even during his tenure as President of the Senate.
To the very surprise of the All Progressives Congress (APC) members, Saraki and ex-speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara defied the APC’s expectations to emerge as leaders of upper and lower legislative chambers.
Saraki’s objectives were welcomed by the Senate’s majority and this afforded him the backing of about 57 Senators who were mostly from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and a few others from the All Progressives Congress (APC); these Senators formed an alliance, and rightly ensured Saraki emerged unopposed President of the Senate.
Surely, this development did not go well with many members of the APC, including political heavyweights like the ex-governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, and other influential party members, who all worked hard to make sure Saraki got removed and replaced. But then, Saraki remained focused in the face of all these trials, such that his tenure as the Nigerian senate president can now be considered one of the most successful ever.
Saraki, as President of the Senate, ensured maximum transparency and was serious with all official affairs as it concerns the National Assembly. He jettisoned feat and favour for individual interests in the discharge of his duty on many occasions. One such occasion was when President Muhammadu Buhari approved a list of ministerial and political appointees.
At that time, the APC had more members in the Senate but it did not hinder Saraki and his subordinates to reject appointees they deemed corrupt or not fit for the position. An example is the nomination of Ibrahim Magu for the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Magu was on three occasions rejected by the Senate over a report of failing integrity test files by the State Security Service.
Despite the disagreements Saraki had with the Executives during his time there, he ensured his administration was one Nigeria would not forget in the nearest future as he accomplished more than what previous senate epochs achieved. He Okayed various bills and cleared numerous public petitions. He also ensured his administration successfully implemented bills that have gainfully improved various sectors of the economy.
Saraki was strong in the face of criticisms and attacks, he remained resilient and did not pay heed to attacks on his person, even when present Senate President, Ahmed Lawal, openly stated that the disunity with the National Assembly led by Bukola Saraki was the reason President Buhari failed as President from 2015-2019.
Saraki, as a governor, has turned lots of doubters into believers, and you can actually tell the sincerity in him when he recently updated citizens on why he choose to run for the Presidency, and the goals he hopes to achieve once he becomes the country’s most significant figure. He made it clear that lack of ideas is not Nigeria’s problem, but good leadership to harness and affect such ideas into appropriate channels.
After paying respects and acknowledging efforts made by past and present leaders, Saraki stated that as long as there is a child in the country that cannot read and write, then the job is yet to be done, and that child is the reason he is contesting for Presidency; thus he will ensure that law on compulsory basic education gets enforced.
He further noted that as long as there exist, old women that cannot afford their prescription for needed drugs, the job remains undone and it is for the woman he wants to become President. In his own words; “I will ensure that citizens like her are covered and, as well, push our health insurance coverage from current 7 percent to 50 in the first two years of my tenure in office.”
“Also, as long as terrorists, bandits, and other criminal groups continue to terrorize our villages and communities, as long as Nigerian citizens still live in fear, as long as our soldiers lack appropriate training, then the job remains. It is for them I want to become President, becoming the President; I will do everything in my might to protect the lives and properties of the people. I would also ensure security operatives are well-trained, well-paid, and well-equipped.
“As long as crude oil revenue remains the country’s main source of income, as long as we continue to suffer the cruelty of the international oil market, then the job is not done; this is why I want to become President, because I will increase the revenue from the non-oil sectors to the same level as we currently earn oil.
“Crime flourishes where punishment is lax! So as long as there are people in the country, who think they can contravene the rule of law with impunity, and think crime has no punishment, then the job is not done, and it is because of this I want to become President. I would ensure strict compliance with the rule of law and guarantee consequences from crime.
“As long as 65 million of our citizens still live in slum conditions in our cities and urban center, then the job is not done. It is why I want to become President; I will deliver half a million affordable housing units every year to low-income earners and in the process, eliminate urban slums.
“Again, as long as Nigeria is not the tech hub for Africa, despite our incredible talents in this area, then our job is not done. And this is why I want to be President because I will invest massively in skills in cloud computing, data, programming, and other such in-demand skills to drive innovation and competitiveness among our youths.
“As long as our huge army of talented youths does not think that the Nigerian government can support their dreams, whether, in entertainment, fashion, or other creative business, the job is not done. And it is for these talented Nigerians that I want to be President because I will create the Nigeria Creative Industry Initiatives to protect our leadership position on the African continent and position us to be a global leader in the economy of the cultural production.”
These are some of the promises Saraki has made on his agenda for Nigeria, and we can all only hope and work towards helping him achieve them.
•Onwuka, a Mass Communication graduate of Fed. Poly, Bida, just finished his NYSC programme.