Security, power supply, subsidy removal, top demands for Buhari’s second term
The first four years of his administration have been very challenging for most Nigerians as virtually no one was immune from the economic malaise that befell the nation.
Unlike in 2015 when Nigerians greeted Buhari’s election and inauguration with great enthusiasm and hope, the mood this time is markedly subdued and indifferent nationwide.
Many are of the opinion that Buhari’s first term did not yield the desired results that Nigerians expected. Thus the experience of most Nigerians under the Buhari administration especially in the last year of his four year first term has tipped the scales of tolerance and expectation invested in him.
While speaking with experts across board, many posited that unless Buhari’s administration is serious about certain basic things in the country, his second term in office might not be better than the first and it would be another four wasted years.
While speaking on his expectations from the new government at Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) Economic Dialogue, tagged: Road to Economic Development: Challenges and Opportunities, former Deputy Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, noted that the president should engage technocrats who have some depth of technical as well as economic weight regardless of political affiliation. He noted that the country is in a desperate situation and needs urgency in tackling the numerous challenges facing it.
He said: “All leaders like to leave a legacy especially during the second term because in our constitution, there is no room for a third term. This is the final term and the president must try to leave a legacy. In trying to leave a legacy, we expect that he will try to do better because within the party political system, the first term was like trying to keep the house in order, and also party hawks tend to have greater say in cabinet appointments.
“Now with this second term, he is now free to be his own person. So logically he will want to put people in place not strictly dictated by the party, the people that he expects will deliver. People want more performance in various key sectors, so that the kind of despondency we are seeing will less.
Especially in key economic cabinet positions, there should be greater commitment to have technocrats, that is, people who are not just politicians, but people that have some depth of technical as well as economic weight should be brought into the government regardless of political party affiliation. I think he himself now realises that the situation is quite desperate.”
Malaifa who narrated how some rural bandits killed his 32 years old cousin and her children in Southern Kaduna in 2017 lamented that the state of insecurity in the country was alarming and needs urgent intervention.
He added that security should be the first thing that the Buhari government must address, bemoaning that no place in the country was safe anymore.
According to him, “Security should be the number one problem to address. Whenever I travel round the country, especially the north, it is a total disaster. We have lost 150 billion dollars due to insecurity alone in the last 10 years.”
Malaifa also mentioned electricity, policy consistency and human capital development among the things that need urgent intervention in the country.
“Without people we can do nothing,” he stated, “ people are the source of the wealth of nations and you will recall that when Bill Gates came to this country, he lamented that we have done very little in terms of human capital and this is the way to go.”
He added that the new executive order of the government that from June 20, all licensed guns must be surrendered would lead to a serious crisis.
“I welcome the idea but I can tell it is leading to a very serious social crisis. People have forgotten what happened in 1900 where they ordered only Christians to surrender their weapons and after they did, a few months more than a million were killed. That is the way people are seeing it. There are deep fears and many Christians are beginning to think the unthinkable.”
Malaifa added that Buhari in his second term in office should remove the oil subsidy, describing it as “big scam” and a waste of money that creates massive inefficiencies. He also called for the unification of the exchange rate, noting, “Let’s integrate rate. The government should defend its currency to a certain level. There must be transparency.
Programme Officer, Public Private Sector Transparency and Accountability Officer, Oxfam International, Mr. Henry Ushie, lamented that the recent trend of kidnapping, banditry, headsmen attack and other vices had taken the centre stage, and therefore called for security reform in the second tenure of President Buhari.
He added that the security sector and anti-corruption agencies must be strengthened to give them the bite they need to stamp corruption from the Nigeria system. He mentioned agencies such as NEITI should be strengthened to carry through with the recommendations in their audit report and be able to prosecute offenders.
Ushie also called for the independence of local governments, saying the need to ensure that the local government system and administration is autonomous cannot be swept under the carpet.
“The recent move to transfer federal allocation directly into local government treasuries should be followed with concrete move by the federal to oversee and supervise elections at local governments where it doesn’t exit, rather than allow it in the hands of state governors who now use it as personal departments.”
Ushie added that government must continue to promote civil society organizations to thrive and ensure that the voices of citizens are heard especially in policy processes.
He added, “There is need for an improved but independent relationship between the various arms of governments. Education, health and agricultural sectors must be prioritized in the current budget.”
Also speaking at KAS Economic Forum, Managing Director/CEO Siemens, Onyeche Tifase noted that the government must have learnt a lot of lessons in the first four years, and expressed optimism that it now has good understanding of what needs to be done.
She added that in the new regime, there is need for the government to get the people to be self-sufficient and to get the country on the path of growth.
According to her, “You need the people to be innovative, well educated, and productive, to be able to add value to the economy and for themselves. We need them to be able to establish businesses and run them efficiently because they have the right knowledge and attitude. There is need for so many types of infrastructure namely: road, healthcare but the most important is power.
We need people who are knowledgeable and innovative, but we also need power, electricity to get to people who need them to produce goods for all sort of purposes.
Without that it is expensive to produce, run a business and there is very limited productivity and diversification of the economy without electricity.
“We need to be able to export goods, inject finance into the critical areas where it is needed. Revitalize the informal economy and also encourage big establishments to be able to run their business and grow it to expand. The government has learnt a lot of lessons over the first four years, and they have a very good understanding of what needs to be done. What we are now waiting to see is who the president appoints to get those things done. It is not just about executing good ideas but having the right vision in the first place. He should engage more of technocrats rather than politicians in the new regime. These are people who should be able to come up with solutions and ideas and proper plans, realistic plans for their areas, and be able to source for the partnership to get those plans executed.”
She added that insecurity was high and getting worst because it was tied to the economy.
As she put it, “As long as there is suffering and increase in poverty, insecurity will linger on. In recent statistics, Nigeria was announced as the poverty capital of the world. If we are not able to grow the economy, enable people, create optimal infrastructure, bring in funding and technology, then we will continue to see an increase in insecurity. If within the next four years, he can do a lot of things, we will definitely see a reversal of the worst situation we have experienced.”
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