Yesterday, May 29th, 2003, history was made, history that has the capacity of changing the political landscape of the Nigeria as a country and African continent for the better or otherwise.
History, because in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, two former governors and senators, Bola Tinubu and Kashim Shettima, took the oath of office as President and Vice President respectively. History, because, for the first time in the history of Nigeria, two practicing Muslims took the oath of office as President and Vice President. It is also the first time in history that a Yoruba Muslim from the South-West will be sworn-in as Nigeria’s President.
Beyond the history that was made, Nigerians, again have the opportunity to yearn for a workable and working nation and government, a government built on the need to take Nigerians and Nigeria out of the woods and create a liveable society for all to excel.
There is no doubt that there is hope in the horizon for those who believe the coming of the Tinubu-led new Federal Government holds much promise for a new Nigeria in line with Tinubu’s Renewed Hope manifesto.
The excitement and hope for a better Nigeria under Tinubu’s administration is not unconnected with the disappointments and failure that former President Muhammadu Buhari’s Change Agenda became in his eight years in office. For many, both Buhari and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) were monumental failures in delivering the much hyped Change Agenda and the Next Level Agenda propagated for his second term in office. This, of course, brought so much opposition to Tinubu’s ambition for the presidency, an opposition that still subsist till now.
However, for many Nigerians, who closely followed the campaign train of the Tinubu/Shettima Campaign or digested the Renewed Hope manifesto, hoping for a better Nigeria under President Bola Tinubu must not be a misplaced hope after all.
Tinubu in foreword to the Renewed Hope manifesto said, “Nigeria is a unique nation, impressive in its diverse character and composition, resounding and hopeful in unity and collective fate. Home to over 200 million
vibrant people, Nigeria stands as the most populous nation on the African continent and the largest concentration of Black people on earth. It is beyond debate that we owe the duty of national progress to our progeny and to ourselves.
“On the horizon, prosperity and safety await us. Nothing short of this good
destination will suffice, and it is because I know the way that I seek to become the
next president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I ask you to join Senator Shettima and I on this journey.
”Our nation’s history affirms that our people constitute our most valuable treasure. Whether the hardworking farmer, the industrious market woman, the dynamic young entrepreneur or the hopeful child, Nigerian people rank among the best anywhere. They excel in every aspect of human endeavour when given a fair chance.
“Senator Shettima and I have traversed every part of our beloved nation, listening
to the concerns of our fellow citizens. Young and old, poor and rich, educated
and uneducated, Christian and Muslim; all have expressed their views and concerns. People do not seek superficial answers to hard questions. Nor do they want the broken, unimaginative, failed promises repackaged and fed to them again. They want true and innovative solutions which address the challenging realities of today.
“Our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) was founded on the premise that the people of our beloved country are entitled to the benefits that only progressive good governance can procure.
“When I was governor of Lagos, my team and I developed institutions and policies
that changed the face of the state. It became a safe place for its residents and an engine of prosperity for all those willing to work in pursuit of their economic dreams. What my team and I achieved in Lagos, together we all can achieve for Nigeria.
“Our objective is to foster a new society based on shared prosperity, tolerance, compassion, and the unwavering commitment to treat each citizen with equal respect and due regard.
“And, most importantly, establish a bold and assertive policy that will create the strong yet adaptive national security architecture and action to obliterate terror, kidnapping, banditry, and all other forms of violent extremism from the face of our nation. Governing Nigeria is a sacred trust I do not take lightly. I shall give it my best”.
As beautiful and reassuring as the above may seem, the question that is currently occupying probing minds is will this Renewed Hope be a reality or will it go the way of the unrealised Change Agenda?
To be clear, those asking this question are no doubt right in doubting such flowery words and promises, as even Tinubu, himself, realising that Nigerians have been taken for a ride on too many occasions, said in the foreword: “People do not seek superficial answers to hard questions. Nor do they want the broken, unimaginative, failed promises repackaged and fed to them again. They want true and innovative solutions which address the challenging realities of today.”
There are many Nigerians who throw around Tinubu’s much hyped achievements as governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007 and of course, what they call his Lagos development blueprint that successive governors of the state have built upon to make Lagos the most attractive in every indices, to back up their heightened optimism in a Tinubu presidency. For them, Tinubu will simply recreate the magic he performed in Lagos.
Though one may be tempted to buy into this argument and line of thought, it is however important to note that Nigeria is not Lagos. Governing an entire country can never be equated with governing Lagos, which is just one of the 36 years states of the federation.
To be sure that supporters of President Tinubu and those who incurably believe in his famed magic wand, the new president will be confronted with the realities on managing a complex nation like Nigeria, a complexity that is further magnified by tribal and ethnic tension, sectional interests, huge political (patronage) and debts that must be repaid or rewarded and the need to balance things up among the various contending forces and zones in the country.
Importantly, it must be noted that one of the things that propelled the much talked about success of the Tinubu administration in Lagos was his ability or free hand in assembling a team of young people who were ready to work and give their best. This is the more reason he has been dubbed a discoverer of talents by many. How much freedom or free hand will Tinubu have in assembling the same kind of talent that will help deliver his Renewed Hope? Can he go for raw human talents and ignore political patronage? Or will his party, the APC stand by watching as he brings capable hands who never had a hand (so to say) in his electoral success? Time shall tell!
Without doubting Tinubu’s ability to deliver if he has the freedom to operate, Nigerians will no doubt heave a sigh of relieve if he directs his energy in the following areas:
“A Tinubu administration will re-balance the responsibilities and authorities of the different tiers of government. We will collaborate with the National Assembly and State Governments to amend our national governance architecture such that States are afforded the autonomy and resources needed to better serve the people.”
The above is an excerpt from the Renewed Hope manifesto on Tinubu’s plan for true federalism, something he is known to have preached over the years, and which formed the basis for the initial acceptance given the APC when it was first formed.
Tinubu, as the governor of Lagos State, took former President Olusegun Obasanjo to court on the subject of the creation of local councils and the true reading of Section 162 of the 1999 constitution and won.
All eyes will now be on a President Tinubu to see if he will do what he has always preached by allowing true federalism and free the component parts of the country from a system that has kept them in perpetual servitude to the federal government and made them beggars, who monthly, go cap in hand for handouts from the Federation Account.
To do this, President Tinubu must, immediately, support the devolution of powers, give states more responsibilities and make the federal government more compact and effective.
The Nigerian economy has no doubt suffered from the ineptitude of the last administration led by Muhammadu Buhari, suffering from not less than two recessions, unending inflation, multidimensional poverty and skyrocketing cost of living.
Tinubu has been credited with the financial re-engineering that made Lagos the toast of other states in the country, especially as regards the internally generated revenue of the state. He will do well to bring the same to bear on a national scale, as the current over dependence on crude oil has failed to work for the good of the country.
The country needs urgent and real diversification and not the cosmetic one the Buhari administration kept beating its chest about, as the country is still largely a mono product country, import dependent and debt ridden.
Like the Renewed Hope manifesto said “Under our government, our cities and towns will witness a level of industrial activity unprecedented in our nation’s history. In this, our youth shall become a leading catalyst driving the economic resurgence. This goes beyond the provision of decent jobs. It speaks of empowering those who see their future as starting and owning businesses in the new economy. It goes to opening the economy in a way that encourages the best that the modern digital and IT-driven sectors have to offer”, embracing digital sectors as a way to diversify the economy will be a welcome development.
The new administration must also urgently discontinue and divorce itself from the appetite for loans and pilling up of debts, both foreign and local that the last administration was notoriously known for. That the better part of the national budget is used for debt servicing is not the kind of economy that can take Nigerians out of the woods.
If there is any area the Tinubu administration will be hard pressed to make an impact, it will be in the area of corruption. And to be sure, this is one area the new President failed to say much about either his manifesto or on the campaign train.
“We will continue the work of the current administration in reforming the civil
service to fight corruption, reduce bureaucracy, streamline agencies and decrease inefficiency and waste”.
In the Renewed Hope manifesto, Tinubu merely said: “We will streamline the amount that government spends on itself. A cap will be placed on fiscal expenditures for the construction of government buildings and on the salaries and related compensation packages of elected officials and senior personnel in the executive branch of the Federal Government. Such expenditures will have a low priority in our administration.
“Bona fide hard-working members of the civil service are to be commended for
their public service and shall be protected. However, we will continue the process of weeding out ghost workers, as well as ghost projects and expenditures from the system. Our administration will adhere strictly to the principle that public funds are only to be spent on the public good and we shall strive earnestly to reduce the overall cost of the Federal Government.”
The above, to informed minds, falls short of expectations from a government who understands the endemic and destructive nature of corruption. It is also just mundane a policy statement in a country where public officers have been indicted in the past of embezzling billions of naira and where tales of corrupt practices within government circles have become so obscene that the average Nigerian no longer has any trust in government and its officials.
If the Tinubu administration will be taken seriously in the fight against corruption, it must, immediately take steps that will instill discipline and accountability in the conduct of government affairs, strengthen the existing anti-corruption agencies and show leadership by blocking every loopholes through which government officials dip their hands into the public purse.
If there is any area Nigerians have expressed the greatest disappointment with the administration of former President Buhari, it is in the area of insecurity.
Buhari got overwhelming support in 2015 presidential election because of the belief that as a retired Army General, he would have a better grip on security and will be able to take on the rampaging terrorists making life a living hell for Nigerians in the North-East.
Unfortunately, instead of defeating Boko Haram, under Buhari’s watch, bandits, now classified as terrorists, took over the North-West states of Zamfara, Sokoto, Kaduna, Katsina and North-Cenral states of Kogi, Niger, Nasarawa, Benue and Plateau, to the gross disappointment of Nigerians.
Apart from the North-West and North-Central, under Buhari, live in the South-East became brutish, dangerous and unbearable! Unknown gunmen, often branded as members of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its sister group, the Eastern Security Network (ESN) daily have a field day, killing and maiming hapless citizens.
The Tinubu administration will have so much to contend with in the area of insecurity and securing Nigerians, a situation that is no doubt a child’s play but then, he asked for it!
The Tinubu administration must, as a matter of urgency, adopt a proactive and intelligence driven security approach to sufficiently address the nation’s security threats. It must also take practical steps that will instil confidence in Nigerians in the ability of the nation’s security agencies to secure Nigeria and Nigerians. Economic prosperity will remain a mirage without adequate security of lives and property!
For the avoidance of doubt, Nigerians, especially those with critical minds, are waiting in the wings to access and score, based on their areas of needs, the Tinubu presidency.
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