What Buhari Should do to Make Nigeria Great, By Gbenga Akinwande
POLITICS DIGEST – There is no doubt that President Muhammadu Buhari has great vision for this nation, and I quite understand the frustration he faces on a daily over the challenges confronting him as a result of sabotage by unscrupulous citizens. The truth is that democracy, as good as it is, often frustrates leaders, particularly in an evolving democracy like ours in Nigeria. And, I know he will be placed in the league of great leaders such as Tafawa Balewa, Sir Ahmadu Bello, Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe and Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the history of our great nation.
I write this piece based on my patriotism and natural affinity for him, moreso as I have been his loyal admirer since I was 8- years- old during his time as the Military Head of State of our dear country between 1983 – 1985. I still remember the discipline he brought to our nation then, particularly, his war against corruption that had already eaten deep into the nation’s fabric. Unfortunately, those good values he was instilling on the nation came to an abrupt end when his administration was ousted by General Ibrahim Babangida in 1985.
It was based on his antecedents and visions for the nation that led many of us across the country to subscribe to his candidacy as the President of our nation and jettisoned the PDP in 2015, most importantly his ability to form alliance with other progressive members in our country. I belong to the school of thought that for a nation like ours to get it right in democracy, we need a strong leader with military background at the inception of our democratic experiment like the Americans had the like of General George Washington as their first president after liberation from the tyranny of the British and Germans draconian leadership.
At this juncture, let me categorically state that the future of this nation and democracy rest squarely on him. A democracy without freedom of speech and vibrant opposition is a doomed democracy. The beauty of any democracy is a vibrant opposition. The danger in suppressing opposition is that the government of the day herself will fall short of ideas in developing solutions to the nation’s problems.
Secondly, the President should democratically ensure that come 2023, power shifts to the southern part of the country to ensure the north/south harmony and peaceful co-existence and continuity of the nation called Nigeria.
Thirdly, the border closure policy of this administration is having adverse effect on the nation, most particularly communities such as mine (Ogun West) that are closer to the border areas. Though, the border closure has its own advantages on the nation, but the economic and social pains on Nigerians at the moment are severe.
The state of our nation is worse than what it was five years ago, and unless the President as a chief helmsman cordially and courageously rise to the occasion by finding urgent solutions to many of these problems; our great party, the APC might pay dearly for it in the future. If a bag of imported rice before border closure was N12,000 and after border closure, local rice is being sold for over N19,000, then it is obvious that the policy does not make much sense. What the government should do is to control and regulate the price of rice and many other products to the price before border closure or start paying subsidy to the local farmers to lower their prices and thus reducing the burdens on Nigerians.
The state of roads across Nigeria calls for urgent action. Thus, it is imperative to declare a state of emergency in this sector. While, I will implore the President to grant the request of the state governors to dabble into federal roads within their domain if they have financial capacity to do so, but this should be in agreement with federal authority’s evaluation of the costs of such projects for proper reimbursement by the federal government.
Nigerian banks should be made to perform all banking services to their customers. In our country today, it is difficult for most customers (ordinary citizens) to get loans from banks for both private and business purposes because the requirements of the bank cannot be met by ordinary citizens. It is difficult for a nation to develop economically when there are no credit facilities to citizens and small businesses that are the engines of the economy growth and development.
Also worth mentioning is ensuring that our electoral processes is free of rigging and manipulation by introducing e-voting, creating more temporary job opportunities such as the N-Power program to many of our young jobless graduates, encourage more investment in the power sector and most particularly, ensure serious improvement in security of lives and properties in the country. The Nigerian Police Force needs to be overhauled, modernized and be made more professional to tackle the challenges of today’s security challenges.
Akinwande is a public affairs commentator and President of Gbenga Akinwande Foundation (GAF)