The race is gathering momentum. Attention is being shifted from the current administration to succession and the promise of the future. Who succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari? That is the big question that stares the anxious nation-state in the face as it warms up for next year’s election.
Next year, Nigeria would have been free from military interlopers for uninterrupted 24 years. There is political stability. But, it has not translated into economic prosperity.
The greatest achievement of the Muhammadu Buhari administration will be its ability to hand over to a competent successor, who will tackle the mounting challenges and foster good governance.
The next president will be a burden bearer. There will be no time for tea party or regression to business as usual. The country is in pains. Despite the efforts of the Federal Government, many problems have refused to go.
Fears are rife that the administration may not be able to accomplish much since the cabinet is now at half, as it were. Some ministers are nursing presidential, governorship and senatorial ambitions, although they are reluctant to resign. Their attention is diverted from their ministerial mission. They are entitled to their right to seek elective offices. But, the divided attention is to the detriment of the nation.
The nature of impending challenges should be a core issue that will shape the politics of succession. It should motivate Nigerians to either vote wisely, thereby catapulting the country to the horizon of progress, or vote otherwise and risk the consequence of retardation or setback.
The problems of 2023 may not be significantly different from the challenges of 2015. This is curious. Whenever a sector is down, other sectors may be on their knees. A unit of a system in trouble can spell doom for the entire configuration. That is why every sector is threatened by the worsening insecurity.
Security is elusive in Nigeria. Government has funded the anti-terror war. But, there is a little dividend to show for the concerted effort.
In recent times, government has been celebrating the revival of the rail system. Nigerians started boarding the trains for convenience and safety. The joy was shortlived. Today, the confidence is gone. Road transportation is a nightmare. Air ticket is not affordable to the poor. Railway is now viewed with suspicion and fear.
The next president may still inherit the spate of insecurity, if it defiles solution till the end of the administration. The dimensions are alarming. Many people complain about missing persons. Life has suddenly become short, brutish and nasty.
Banditry is growing in leaps and bounds. Who are these bandits? Where do they come from? What is the motivation?
Kidnapping for ransom has become a lucrative business. Ritual killings and other criminal behaviours have aggravated the atmosphere of insecurity. It is not the best of times for Northern governors who appear helpless. There is no remedy in sight.
The South is not insulated from the menace. If Amotekun has not swung into action, Southwest would have been under seige. But, the region can only sleep on guard to its peril.
The Southeast is not conducive for commerce which it is noted for, particularly on Mondays because of sit-at-home. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has denied its involvement in the prolonged violence. Southeast governments have failed to halt the malady.
On the criterion on security, it would appear that the Federal Government has failed, but again, not due to lack of attempt. President Buhari deserves the support of all and sundry. But, as Nigerians peep into 2023, eyes should be on candidates who can successfully mobilise the country to liberate itself from terror.
Democracy is good. But, economic growth offers great strength to its development. A climate of terror cannot be an incentive to economic development. Peace and tranquility are cardinal priorities. Citizens can only enjoy certain dividends of democracy if the country is peaceful and economically buoyant.
Today, the debt profile is high. Foreign reserve is being depleted. The naira frets before the dollar in the face of devaluation. Foreign exchange is problematic. Foreign investors are livid. They are discouraged by the uncertainties.
The APC government is full of lawyers, according to observers. Nigeria would need sound economists in the next dispensation for better economic management. The nation should listen to the aspirant who has evidently demonstrated capacity for economic management at state level, which is closer to the grassroots than the distant Central Government, and not an ordinary promise maker who will later offer Inexplicable excuses for non-performance. Nigeria should be in a hurry to recover and catch-up.
How can Nigeria overcome retardation, if it is usually import-dependent and off the radar of productivity? For how long can it be sustained by oil, which is largely been stolen, and which proceeds are not judiciously allocated? What about other resources, particularly solid minerals which are stolen by unscrupulous elements in some states?
When the moribund refineries come alive? Nigeria produces oil and sells to foreign powers. The bulk of money realised is retained in the foreign land where refined petroleum products are imported. What kind of economic model is that?
Recently, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu alluded to the import of diversification, lamenting the crazy gas flaring, because of absence of turbine which can generate billions for Nigeria. It is ironical that despite Nigeria’s huge resources and potentials, poverty is growing in geometric proportions.
Youths in this lean and boring period endure serious adversity brought about by the economic sabotage perpetuated by the older generation. Unemployment is the bridge to hardship, which now predisposes idle hands to become the devil’s workshop. Many adults-graduades from universities, who are in their late thirties, sometimes almost 40 years-are still searching for jobs. For how many years would they be on the jobs before they retire? Is this not a wasted generation?
Thriving industries have relocated to other neighboring countries not as endowed as Nigeria. They complain about the prevailing unconducive environment, soaring cost of production, shrinking market on account of low purchasing power and inadequate incentives.
The root of the problem is lack of electricity. Nigerians pay more for darkness than light. Yet, Tinubu had warned about these consequences when he was governor, more than two decades ago. He invested in a rare innovation, Independent Power Project (IPP), which was truncated by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led Federal Government. ERON never saw the light of the day due to the shortage of foresight. The IPP, which is being copied by many states today, is just beginning to catch up with the proposal enjoined by Asiwaju more than 20 years ago. Also, Lagos under Tinubu saw what the Federal Government could not see when it invested in Econet. The state reaps the gains today.
If power is restored, industrialisation will thrive. The manufacturing sector will be revived. This is the key to employment. How many graduates can the civil service absorb? Without jobs, youths have retorted to various acts of negative value. There is a correction between unemployment and crime rate that has been ignored to Nigeria’s peril.
Many youths, who have lost trust in their country, are now involved in deadly migration to unknown destinations abroad. They are also being subjected to inhuman treatments.
Agriculture would have to be refocused. The efforts of the administration are laudable. There was aggressive rice production. Government gave the impetus to farmers, or agric-businessmen as they are called now. But, the price of imported rice was still cheaper than home-grown rice.
Related to this is brain drain, due to what unions have described as poor welfare package. It is peculiar to the health and education sectors. The best medical personnel of Nigerian origin are in Europe and America, fundamentally trained by home facilities, but have gained much exposure outside later. There is a consistent clamour for the defence of the health sector through improved funding. The health sector would have been sufficiently repositioned when the president, vice president, governors, senators and other big people have the confidence to be seek medical attention in the country without constantly jetting out of the country for medical tourism.
Nigeria looks forward to the resolution of the crisis in the education sector. Since the days of former military President Ibrahim Babangida, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been embarking on strikes to press for more funding and education infrastructure. Its polytechnic counterpart, Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP), is also agitated. Tertiary students now stay longer in school because the system has failed; always assailed by disruptions by academic and non-academic staff unions.
For almost three months, the university system has been on its knee. It is not certain that the institutions will reopen until the end of the electioneering. This is very sad. The next president may inherit the burden, if university teachers and government cannot reach any concrete arrangement.
At this critical time, Nigeria is utterly divided. The presidency is not a unifying factor. The country needs a bridge builder who can unite the diverse people. Again, the Lagos example will suffice.
Lagos is a mini-Nigeria. There is hardly a family in the country that is not represented in the Centre of Excellence. They live and prosper in peace. There is no nepotism in Lagos. The ethnic nationalities savour a sense of belonging because they have representatives in the legislative and executive arms of government, at the local governments, and parastatals. Certain presidential behaviours tend to engender peaceful coexistence and unity in diversity, and the baseline is the development of the required national outlook by the President and Commander-In-Chief.
If there is any aspirant who has demonstrated capacity for talent hunt and assembled a team of competent Nigerians from diverse fields, and the team has delivered, that kind of efficiency can be replicated at the centre under his leadership in national interest.
In 2023, Nigeria needs a patriot, a tested administrator, a man of acumen, a meticulous thinker and planner, an economist; someone who can sustain national unity, a man of great courage, a man of mega capacities.
It is up to Nigerians to decide on the type of country and future they prefer.
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Source: The Nation Newspapers