Expected Milestones For The Incoming Administration, By Ako Abbah
The coming of a new era in Nigeria with the election of a new president of the federal republic of Nigeria in the person of General Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR brings a sigh of relief and hope for the common Nigerian, who expects a Change in the way the government is run, a Change in the behavioural attitudes of Nigerians and a Change in the way the world see us.
Revamping the Economy: Since the new government is coming at a time that the finances of the country is very low, with a debt profile of over $63 billion, Nigerians expect to see the following in the first few months in office:
Good Governance: There is dire need to reorganize the civil service to curb corruption and inefficiencies. I suggest the incoming government look into the Dr. Stephen Oronsanye and Gen. TY Danjuma’s reports to address this perennial problems and entrench good governance. There will be need to down size the civil service through a competence assessment or given a choice to be deployed to the agricultural sector with take-off grants and monthly stipends, since there is need to diversify into Agriculture and mining to boost our economy. There is need to reduce the number of MDAs to reduce cost of governance. The Servicom Act needs to be reviewed and empowered to improve service delivery nationwide.
Energy: The incoming government should look into building refineries in all geo-political zones and fix the existing ones to provide enough energy to run our vehicles and power our houses. We need to build Modular Refineries, which can be built in six months, to take care of our immediate needs and remove fuel subsidy to halt fuel importation and unhealthy payment of subsidy. We should also look at other alternative source of generating power like solar, wind and bio-fuel.
There is need to probe the oil marketers and bring those involved in ruining our economy to justice.
Infrastructure: Though the economy is on the low, there is need to review some of the infrastructural contracts awarded by the out-going administration special amongst them is the 2nd Niger bridge. That bridge can be constructed under the cost of N15b like the Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge in Lagos of about the same length which was constructed with less funds. There is need to increase infrastructure in telecommunication (broadband) to give access to everyone to the internet and better mobile network. Even though the incoming administration did not get an overwhelming support from the South-East, I will like to suggest that the new administration do what past administrations which they supported has not done for them. This will be completing the Enugu-Onitsha Expressway, Onitsha-Owerri and Enugu-Port-Harcourt Expressways to give the common man in the south-east the dividend of good governance and not by appointments, which is usually to the benefit of the Appointee and his immediate family. This will also change the perception of governance to show the people who didn’t vote for you in the South and Eastern States that you represent their interest as much as the people who voted for you. There is dire need to review our procurement cost, since our cost of contracts is way too high than what is obtainable outside the shores of this country. This will curb corruption and save the country some money.
Education: Our educational system is at the verge of collapse. Our public schools needs to be revamped to surpass its previous glory. Teachers needs to be reassessed and unqualified be redeployed to either farming or other skilled jobs, which will be sponsored by the government. Highly qualified hands, like second class and above graduates, be sent to schools to teach. Private schools should be discouraged and provide free public schools from Primary to Secondary. This will further increase the spirit of patriotism amongst the citizenry and reduce corruption amongst workers. Scholarship should also be encouraged to promote excellence in our schools especially at the tertiary institutions. There is also need to revive the Technical Schools to close up the technical skills gap of the populace and further empower the citizenry to create jobs and sustainable development
Health: I suggest we look at the British model of healthcare to revamp our health system. We need a health system that works for all class. Medical practitioners under government payroll should be stopped from private practice. That is one major way to bring seriousness and hard work to the public health sector. Provision of genuine drugs and equipment is a panacea to bringing life to our hospitals and clinics around the country.
Agriculture and Mining: there are so many people working in the civil service and teaching that are not contributing any meaningful thing to the government should be redeployed to farming and mining. The Mining sector needs to be liberalized and opened up to create jobs and revenue for the country. We have vast lands uncultivated and in the face of dwindling oil prices, we cannot afford to keep depending on one major source of revenue. These will no doubt create more jobs and sustainable development. The Agricultural policy by Minister Akinwunmi Adesina, who just won AfDB Presidency, should be sustained and improved.
Transportation: our transportation system is unorganized and in most cases, run by touts. We should organize our commercial vehicles to load with timings and encourage designated Bus Stops and Phone-In Cabs. Investments in railway will reduce cars on our roads and cost of energy. It will also encourage physical and health exercises as people will have to walk short distance to get a bus or train to their destinations at stipulated times. Traffic rules will have to be enforced to protect lives and time. People can’t be crossing roads anywhere and anyhow. You can’t just stop a taxi anywhere and cause traffic jam. You can’t beat traffic light and go free, a ticket will be sent to your house or bill awaits you during vehicle papers renewal. This can be achieved with a comprehensive data on all Nigerians and the use of cameras not police officers jumping into people’s cars and demanding money.
Niger-Delta: I want to encourage the new administration to continue on the policies of the past administration like the Amnesty programme and continuous development of the Niger-Delta. Community Projects should be established rather than government dulling out cash to them, which they spend on drinks and women mostly. Schools, roads, hospitals and other social amenities should be provided and they should be taught skills that will keep providing income for them and their family.
Security: A reorganization of our security apparatus should be done without delay. Most of the Service Chiefs and Paramilitary Heads including the State Security Department that played partisan politics should be removed and disciplined to serve as a deterrent to others. The Act setting up the EFCC and ICPC be reviewed to reduce the influence of the police in the running of agencies and their leadership be sacked to pave way for new and vibrant bloods to take over. I have no doubt that the military has the capacity to defeat Boko Haram if given the right leadership and this is very eminent.
Databank: Nigeria has been run without proper and adequate data for too long. There is need to harmonise the data with Nigeria Immigration Service, INEC, NIMC with the National Bureau of Statistics to provide institutions with real-time information on all Nigerians and foreigners in Nigeria. There is also urgent need to re-introduce the Addressing and Postal Codes to give everyone proper identity.
Value Re-Orientation: All Nigerians need value reorientation. A change of thinking and character.
Ako Abbah is a Civil Servant and writes from Abuja. He can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org, 08036001627, @akoabbah