Written by Muhammad Ajah
Although I was one of those Nigerians who underestimated the ability of Mr. President to conduct a free and fair election due to his interest in the Presidential race, I have come to realize that it was a misplaced thought. He has done well in that aspect, at least far better than the past since the return of Nigeria to democratic governance.
The road is clear and it is now for Mr. President to start delivering dividends of democracy to the people, especially on the promises he made to the Nigerian people in their geopolitical zones. The first thing that will make him succeed is a good, reliable and youthful cabinet that is made up of energetic (not weak), young (not old or too old), experienced (not inexperienced), selfless (not selfish and greedy), patriotic (not sabotaging) and God-fearing (not cultic) Nigerian citizens.
If that is done, then let him consider this agenda for his first tenure of four years. First, let him discard clustering agenda. The clustering of projects every year has not yielded any good in our developmental stride. A review of the past governments even at the state level has depicted that embarking on so many projects at the same time end up sharing the people’s fortune to a very few individuals. Such monies are often diverted into private pockets and have hardly been accounted for.
So, in the best interest of the country and its good people, the President should get closer to the masses to win their love, admiration and support. He must be reminded that God’s real love is with the poor and the down-trodden. He should embark on those projects that have direct impact on the masses. He has no option than to succeed because he has come at a time when any little positive change will distinguish him from the past.
I so dearly wish Mr. President takes one or two sectors every year, and not all the sectors at a time. What I imply is that while greater attention is paid to the sector of choice due to its exigency to the nation, other sectors would receive minimal attention. For instance, Mr. President should devote greater human and material resources to the power sector this year. By the end of 2011, a visible positive change can manifest.
Although 2011 has only six months to go, I still insist that the first sector whose fixing will give way to development in Nigeria is the power sector. Once Nigerians can have stable power supply, not only that business and industrial activities will thrive, jobs will be created through the birth of more industries and on the other hand, criminality will drastically reduce. A survey has shown that most of the criminal activities carried out by Nigerians are not unconnected to joblessness and idleness. So whatever this will take Mr. President in terms of money, Nigerians would not hesitate to give him the support he needs.
But before this can work, he should summon all those who import generators into this country and give them ultimatum to stop such. This can also work if he can assure them of other business opportunities which they can engage to make legitimate livelihood. But if such importation is contraband, then the Nigeria Custom and Immigration Service departments of the Ministry of Interior must be queried and cleansed. This is part of factors that have militated against the fixing of the power sector. Then, the NEPA or PHCN should be chastised.
In 2012, Mr. President should take on the education sector. It has been observed that our educational system has become so bad that some Nigerians prefer to send their children and wards to nearby countries like Ghana for studies. Also, it can be attested to that private school proprietors have mortgaged our educational sector. Hardly can any public school in any part of the country claim excellence. At the end, half baked students prepared by half baked teachers and instructors are produced from our public schools. Ignorance and half education are quite dangerous to the society. In Abuja and its environs, public schools are nothing to write home about. There are Government Secondary Schools at Lugbe along Airport Road and Aso in Mararaba where learning has remained a nightmare for students.
Mr. President should summon all the school proprietors from the nursery to tertiary level to discuss way forward for our education. Some of them should sell their schools to government or go into partnership to save the situation. Again, the Federal Government should attempt declaration of free education for certain percentage of the Nigerian citizens, especially the underprivileged. All the exchange scholarships between Nigeria and other countries should be channeled to the underprivileged who are definitely smarter, more serious and more patriotic.
Mr. President should also mandate every state to collaborate with the Federal Government in establishing a Federal University and a Federal Polytechnic in those states where there is either one or none. All the states of the federation should be mandated to declare effective, efficient and well-coordinated and monitored compulsory free education to the secondary school level. Those states which can afford to extend the free education to tertiary levels should be encouraged. After one year of complete attention to the education sector, Mr. President will choose another sector of choice.
Preferably in 2013, all attention should be turned to agriculture. Under this sector, a lot should be done. The groundnut pyramids should be rebuilt. The cocoa farms should be enlarged. Cassava farming and processing should be practically mechanized as Mr. President promised many times during his campaigns. All related industries in agriculture whether in stock, fishing and birds with the stability in power supply would have naturally began to grow from strength to strength.
In 2014, there should be focus on transportation and its diversification. Aggressive efforts should be laid on road constructions that link all parts of the country. For instance, there should be express double lane roads linking the North and Southeast, the Southsouth and the North, the Southwest and the Southeast and the North and Southwest. Many of the forests are just occupying spaces that can be used for roads. But before then, there is need to rehabilitate the existing federal roads linking states so that the armed robbery cases and accidents on them can be curbed. Maybe the President needs to query those contractors handling the dualization project of the Abuja-Lokoja Road which has taken so long to complete. Also, the former Ajaokuta Toll Gate junction has become a death trap.
Of equal importance, the airports and the seaports should be thoroughly tackled. Many more rivers should be dredged to enhance transportation by water. Mr. President should think of re-establishing the Nigerian Airways, despite all odds of the past. It is unbelievable that a country called Nigeria does not have a national carrier. Even if it is to be managed by the private sector in order to ensure efficiency and entrepreneurship, the name Nigeria Air is very dear to many Nigerians, including this writer. So, the President should summon transporters like Peace Mass Transit and others who have made tremendous efforts to link up the whole country in the transportation system by considering the masses even during festive periods as well as employing the teeming youths.
I do not attach much interest in Nigeria spending heavily on security. Interestingly, Nigeria has been blessed with world-class security intelligence and defence that can protect her from any external aggressions. Our security threats are all internal. And their architects are Nigerians themselves. That is why it has been difficult to quell, because many innocent citizens would be victims if force is to be applied. But we all know the causes of these civil disturbances and even the brains behind them are known to the authorities concerned. The problem is the lack of political will to face the so-called godfathers, moneybags, politicians, or whatever name to end this menace. Kidnapping is on. Armed robbery is a daily occurrence in one part or the other of the country. When you see the rampaging youths on the screens of television, one is convinced that they cannot have the money to buy the heavy and sophisticated weapons they carry. Yesterday, it was militancy in the Niger Delta. Today, it is Boko Haram in the far North. Who knows the next tomorrow?
Mr. President is the Commander in-Chief of the Armed Forces and thus the Chief Security Officer of the nation. Let him identify those behind the gruesome killing of the citizens in Jos and Borno and bring them to book. He should also ensure that all those behind the murder of Nigerian youths in Bauchi, in Akwa Ibom, in Niger, in Kaduna, among others are exposed after the Sheikh Lemu led-panel must have submitted its report. There should be no dilly-dallying over the loss of innocent citizens.
By 2015 when Mr. President would be getting ready to conduct another freer and fairer elections, our power, education, agriculture, transport and security sectors (FIVE SECTORS) would have been stabilized. I will personally push for his second term. God bless our collective efforts to make Nigeria great.
Muhammad Ajah is a writer, author, advocate of humanity and good governance based in Abuja E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org