The President And His Dream Team (2) By Segun Tomori
Items such as the railways and power have no business being on the exclusive list. It should be put on the concurrent list while the Federal government’s allocation in the revenue formula should be reviewed downwards. A situation where the Federal government sits atop 52.8% of our revenue while 36 States share a meagre 26% is an anomaly that concentrates too much power at the centre. We will continue to have challenges if states continue to go cap in hand to Abuja to collect monthly oil revenue without which they can’t exist. Diversifying our economy will achieve more results if we practice true federalism. Addressing this obvious structural imbalance will give every section of the Nigerian state a sense of belonging; address diverse agitations and take the sail out of the wind of separatist movements like the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).
The new ministers must begin to justify the huge public confidence reposed in them. Focus will be on Super-Minister, Mr Fashola to literally turn water to wine in transforming the moribund power sector; delivering sustainable, and constant power supply. The challenges in this sector are herculean but not insurmountable. Fashola should thank his stars for working under a President that has the political will to take tough decisions. The way to go is to diversify our power generation sources, decentralize distribution such that States can distribute what they generate for instance instead of lumping all on the power grid. The small Independent Power Projects (IPPs) that Fashola implemented to power specific government institutions and facilities in Lagos should be replicated on a large scale across Nigeria. Upgrading the obsolete transmission infrastructure is also crucial. Ending the perennial epileptic power supply will be tasking, will require unprecedented innovation and spadework. Fashola’s performance in this regard will determine how Nigerians will rate this administration in 4 years.
Nigerians are anxiously waiting for the Buhari administration to start fulfilling its electoral promises. The conditional cash transfer of N5, 000 for 25 million poorest Nigerians; the one meal per day programme for public primary school pupils; creation of 20,000 jobs per State annually; massive investment in large-scale public works; one million low-cost housing in four years amongst others are major highlights of the APC manifesto that citizens look forward to. The administration seems up to the task with the recent announcement by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo that government is setting up a $25b infrastructure fund to invest in the transport and energy sectors. This is a step in the right direction which if faithfully implemented will create jobs; reduce the huge infrastructural deficit and fast-track economic development. The President’s men must therefore provide the requisite leadership to bring these lofty programs to fruition.
If this government must however succeed in impacting the lives of the people, corruption must be dealt a fatal blow and people must see the capacity of the State to inflict severe consequences on culprits. Urgent reforms that will lead to the merger of the EFCC and ICPC for effective investigation and prosecution must be considered. The current judicial system that has continued to hamper the anti-corruption war through frivolous injunctions; delay in adjudicating corruption cases; inability to get convictions for high-profile cases must be addressed if we are to make a headway.
Special courts for corruption with a time-frame for disposing off cases is the way to go. Other courts should be barred from issuing stay of proceedings or interlocutory injunctions for cases being handled by the Special courts. Once the Special courts deliver judgements, its execution should be with immediate effect even if the accused choose to go on appeal. The Supreme Court should be the only court the defendants from the Special courts can appeal to and there should also be a time frame for the apex court’s verdict. To get the required legislation for these far-reaching reforms, President Buhari should partner with the National Assembly to enact enabling laws that will herald these stringent measures.
The President and his team have their work cut out for them. They cannot afford to disappoint Nigerians. It’s almost 6 months off a 4 year tenure, the time to hit the ground running is now. President Buhari has started well, he has laid the solid foundation this past few months; he has plugged leakages and now has the full understanding of the State of the nation. It is therefore expected that he and his cabinet are fully poised to kick-start their programmes and jumpstart the economy. We can only wish them good luck, encourage them with our support and chastise constructively when they go astray.
Public Affairs Analyst
Twitter: @seguntomori; 08062672869