It is no longer news that Gen. Muhammadu Buhari has been declared the winner of the presidential elections held on March 28, 2015 and that President Jonathan Ebele Goodluck has against the wish of many, congratulated the winner even before the formal declaration by INEC. The message of President Jonathan is a clear indication of a true democrat who believes in the evolution of a new Nigeria. This is unlike what happened in 2011 when innocent citizens, including members of the NYSC, were killed and properties destroyed when President Jonathan was declared the winner of that presidential election against Gen. Buhari. Nigerians and indeed lovers of democracy will remain appreciative of President Jonathan’s patriotism, maturity and practically upholding his matrix that no one’s blood is worth sharing because of his desire for office.
While we continue to eulogise President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan for his show of sportsmanship, and considering all the commentaries prior to the presidential elections, it is expedient to draw our minds to some pertinent issues that will determine the shape of things to come in the leadership of a new Nigeria. The time to match promises with actions is now! In that case, the incoming government should, in the interest of the country, find a way to harmonize the existing policy direction of the transformation agenda in a manner that will sustain the desirable change for the overall socio-economic and technological advancement of the country.
The outcome of the last Presidential Elections and all the conspiracy theories has added up the history of an emerging new Nigeria. Looking at the pattern of the results along ethnic and geopolitical zones, it is obvious that there is a high level of consciousness among the voters to protect their faith and regional divide irrespective of the candidates. The concern thereof which appears to be instigating cold rivalries among ethnic nationalities must be quickly addressed by the implementation of the National Conference Report with a view to entrenching a virile and united Nigerian State where religious, ethnic and language sentiments would no longer override equality and free access to leadership. Winners and losers at the polls must also learn to accept the results of elections for the sake of Nigeria and peaceful co-existence as exemplified by the outgoing President.
Furthermore, our polity has always been faced with abandoned projects by successive regimes, perhaps because of political differences and pride. We cannot afford to allow this setback again in our quest for development, particularly when the revenue of the Federal Government continues to dwindle due to paucity of fund from the oil sector. Rather than abandoning on-going viable economic projects, it is better to complete. The APC government should take “change” beyond political slogan in our attitude towards governance and sustainable development of the economy.
Nigerians have, by the outcome of the presidential elections, indicated that they yearn for a positive and sustainable change. The APC government should therefore not throw away the baby with the birthing water. I strongly believe that the present transformation agenda can ably support the “change policy” towards sustainable improvement on the reforms of the dilapidated and decayed infrastructures on one hand, and the rejuvenation of the socio-economic spectrum of the country, on the other. The change must reflect in our attitude towards governance, culture and perception among the various ethnic nationalities with a view to encouraging a united and virile Nigerian Nation. It should equally be strategically structured with specific milestones to sustain the current economic status of Nigeria before comity of nations.
The policy direction of the Federal Government has thus far ensured the realization of some of the on-going reforms, including the Road Sector Reforms which will lead to the establishment of Federal Roads Authority and National Road Fund to encourage Private Sector investments. We are witnesses to the vast improvements in many of our arterial roads across the six geopolitical zones of the country as a result of the initiation of the reforms in the sector. The Federal Government has already approved the National Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan (NIIMP) to guide the sustainable development and management of infrastructure in Nigeria. Foreign investors, under the Private Public Partnership (PPP) Scheme, are already trooping to Nigeria. Therefore we should not, because of political differences, truncate the policy and stagnate the process of development.
It is also to the knowledge of all that the Federal Government has put in place National Automobile Council. This unique innovation has already brought in foreign investors – Nissan, Hyundai, etc and also encouraging indigenous companies in Nigeria. Today, Innoson, PAN, Nissan, Hyundai, etc (in collaboration with foreign and local investors) are manufacturing vehicles in Nigeria. The incoming government must quickly resolve all outstanding issues for the commencement of production by Ajaokuta Steel Complex and that at Ovwian Aladja near Warri, to fast-track industrial revolution in Nigeria and reduce cost of importing raw materials in the manufacturing sector.
After many years of frustration, the Federal Government, as part of its transformation agenda, successfully unbundled the PHCN leading to the emergence of Discos, among others. This development has started yielding desirable results in the Power Sector where many Independent Power Plants (IPPs) are now contributing to the National Grid while construction works are progressing on others. This sector certainly needs more attention to enhance power efficiency and meet the demand for both domestic and industrial purposes.
Within the period of the PDP Federal Government, there are many innovations in the social sector. For instance, the JAMB successfully deplored CBT for the conduct of its examinations; the number of tertiary institutions were increased with even spread to all States of the Federation and service improvement at some of the Health Institutions. World-class treatments are being offered by some University Teaching Hospitals in Nigeria. This is the direction to go hence more attention should be given to sustain and improve on current standard.
In view of the challenges occasioned by the low prices of crude oil, the incoming government should embrace diversification of the economy as already started by the Federal Government to bridge the yawning gap in terms of revenue generation. Each geopolitical zone should be encouraged to develop and produce products of their comparative advantage with the overall purpose of growing the economy. We have attained the status of largest economy in Africa and must not allow any slip. For instance, the Agricultural Sector Reforms have drastically reduced fraud in the distribution of fertilizers to the farmers; introduced cassava-bread thereby saving Dollars hitherto paid for the importation of flour; vast improvement in rice production; etc. Nigerians would like to see the era of groundnut pyramid in the Northern part; the cocoa production in the South West and oil production in the Eastern part of Nigeria as well as developing other natural resources scattered within the sphere of the country.
Prior to the presidential elections, the Federal Government made significant progress in fighting insurgency hence elections were held in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States. Nigerians cannot wait to see the complete eradication of Boko Haram, kidnapping and other forms of social vices. Government should make it unconditionally possible for Nigerians to live in any part of the country irrespective of religion and state of origin, language and culture. The original concept of the NYSC scheme should not be allowed to fail but strengthened as a vehicle to promote social integration and cohesion. Our younger generations yearn for a Nigeria where they can associate with themselves without any inhibition to freedom of movement.
Eigbiluese writes from Abuja