The Atiku dream to make Nigeria work
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a former customs officer, a consummate politician and successful businessman was for eight years, the Vice President of the federal republic of Nigeria (1999- 2007).
Atiku has been a constant feature in all-presidential elections since 2007 but this is the first time l can recall him issuing such an elaborate and detailed policy statement of his dream of making Nigeria work.
The document, perhaps, first of its kind by any presidential candidate is a work of many months by the former VP and his team of advisers and consultants.
It is quiet an interesting document, well-written, easy to read and comprehensive in the sense that it covers or laid out policy objectives on all sectors including and remarkably enough, sports and culture, which are not often government priorities.
Its introduction is a strong compendium or a detailed analysis of the problems confronting the nation.
As it is said in base ball, it is a home run, and l have no doubt that Nigerian desk officials at the IMF, World Bank and the ADB would be glad to read the document and perhaps be comforted that a presidential candidate in Nigeria has shown deep understanding and knowledge of the country’s myriad of problems and indeed supervised strategic sessions to lay out what he would do as president if elected, including identifying the imbalance in the relationship between the Federal Government and the federating units as well as highlighting, the absence of justice, fairness and equity as the bane of the Nigerian society.
Indeed, our refusal as a nation to imbibe and uphold these values remains one of the greatest challenges facing us and perhaps the main source of the many angers and divisions in the country.
About three years ago, then General Buhari, as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, of which Atiku was a major supporter and financier, penned a set of promises all of which began with “We will”. They were all repudiated as soon as he won and became president and for over a year the APC government was struggling to put in place a discernible and credible economic policy. In the process, the economy went into recession.
The clear message from Atiku both from the document and the video launching the document is that he is ready and prepared to be president from day one. His policy document is his affirmation
The document as stated above is divided into various sections dealing with each sector of our national life. On every sector, there is an overview, which summarily and in bullet forms restated the problems facing the sector.
This is followed by the policy objectives and of course, what we shall do. Interested readers are best advised to pay more or greater attention to this section as it states what to expect from the Atiku presidency, at least in term of deliverables.
This is where you find all Atiku’s promises and solutions to the economy including, privatisation, job creation, infrastructural development (including power and roads) agriculture, manufacturing, poverty eradication, monetary and fiscal issues human capital development (education, health and ICT) and of course corruption.
There are about 45-50 on the WHAT WE SHALL segment. This is where l foresee some difficulties in what Atiku proposes to do to make Nigeria work again.
Apart from the familiarity of the promises, to ensure that Nigeria works again would require bold and innovation initiatives on all fronts and a courageous leader with ambitious policies and programs and also prepared to take some hard decisions to move Nigeria forward.
That did not come out strong or clearly enough in the policies outlined in the document and regrettably that’s what Nigerians are hungry for.
In a fast moving world, driven by technology, which changes rapidly and in a world in which we are not pioneers, we cannot wait endlessly to see Nigeria progress to becoming an advanced nation in its own right.
Taking tentative steps is not what is required in a country with very high youth employment and increasing population, high infant mortality, 10 million children out of school, power output about 4000 mw for a population close to 190 million or for a country which has been recently declared the poverty capital of the world, taking over from India, which built 44 million toilets throughout the country and in the process took 20 million people out of poverty and changed Indians sanitation behaviour
I believe strongly that despite our negative feelings about our country, the fundamentals for Nigeria’s greatness are with us.
What is missing is a conscientious leader or a leadership with the right vision to take the country across the finishing line.
This where, the Buhari foundational argument is unacceptable. We need bold and ambitious leaders.
Thus, l urge Atiku and his advisers to revisit the document and engage in some serious critical and out of the box thinking.
Some things are clearly missing and examples abound especially in terms of quick wins or low hanging fruits that could create hope and rekindle confidence across board and within the first hundred days of the administration
Let me highlight a few.
First, the decongestion of the Lagos ports. It appears the team is not too sure exactly what to do when the simple and long term solution is to embark on developing ports in other parts of the country, particularly in the Niger Delta that for years have been deliberately neglected.
As far as l can remember, successive governments in Nigeria since the military have been dredging the Port Harcourt and Calabar seaports with both still not fully operational and functional.
If we dare to do some calculations, it will not surprise us that the amount governments in Nigeria have spent dredging some ports in this country would have been enough to build many more and modern seaports.
Apparently too, the Atiku team did not consider it necessary or important enough to recognise the efforts of the Akwa Ibom State government to build a deep-sea port in the state.
The planning, including the design of the lbom deep sea port are all in place and l believe some funding have been secured to commence construction of the port.
What is wrong with the Federal Government under Atiku investing in the deep sea port to accelerate its completion and insist as well, that the dredging of the Port Harcourt, Calabar and perhaps the Warri ports be completed in the first year of the administration? It is such dynamic decisions and a leader with such mind set and preparedness to act with military precision that will move Nigeria forward and quickly too.
To be continued tomorrow.
Ambassador Keshi wrote from Lagos.
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