Monday, 29th May 2023

NSCIA sets agenda for incoming government

By Sulaimon Salau
19 February 2023   |   3:59 am
About 150 million Nigerian Muslims under the umbrella body, the Nigerian Supreme Council For Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) have listed their expectations from the presidential candidates and other members of cabinets that will be forming a new government for the country.

Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, the Sultan of Sokoto

Says Security, Economy, Infrastructure, Good Governance Key To Nation’s Survival

About 150 million Nigerian Muslims under the umbrella body, the Nigerian Supreme Council For Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) have listed their expectations from the presidential candidates and other members of cabinets that will be forming a new government for the country.

The NSCIA in document titled, “The Charter of expectations of Nigerian Muslims from the next government”, urged the leaders that would emerge in the next government to deliver on the promises they made to the electorate.

The charter jointly signed by the Deputy Secretary General, Prof. Salisu Shehu and the Director of Administration, NSCIA, Arc. Zubairu Haruna Usman-Ugwu, made demands on key areas such as: security, economy, infrastructure, human capital development and good governance.

It stated:  “By the United Nations (UN) projections, Nigeria’s population will rise to 300 million by 2030; and by 2050, we are expected to be well over 400 million, which will make us the third largest country in the world, after India and China. We need leaders with the vision, courage and discipline to plan for this teeming population.

“We expect that the discussion around our political circle to be about how to provide food, health care, housing, education and jobs for this population over the next 25 years; knowing very well that failure to do this is a recipe for another disaster,”

It listed the expectations from the incoming president/government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to include security, saying that for almost one and a half decade, Nigeria has been traumatised by an unprecedented level of carnage with losses of hundreds of thousands of human lives and millions of displaced peoples and a kidnapping industry that has caused havoc and pauperised both urban and rural communities.

“This growing and seemingly unending insecurity has crippled agriculture, commerce and education, with all the consequences in its trail. Assurances of successive governments have been to no avail.

“Rather expectedly, this failure has created a huge trust deficit between political leaders and citizens, particularly when experts have proposed various solutions to the authorities.

“The incoming president is expected to make this his top priority and to deploy the highest political will and resources to bring this menace to a quick end.

“Some of the key lessons to note here include the dismantling of the war economy from which a few officials are feeding fat, the integrity of commanders, the absence of synergy between the different security services, building local trust for effective intelligence and working with local authorities who would know their terrain better than any outsider. Besides, the incoming government must curb the proliferation of small arms and light weapons,” it stated.

On the nation’s economy NSCIA said, “all is not well with our economy. So, the incoming government is expected to reconstruct our economy and to do so in ways that will address the grinding poverty, joblessness and severe inequities across the populace.

“The statistics are frightening, as they suggest that nearly 2/3 of the Nigerian population live below poverty line. Given the structure of our economy, the greatest sector and one with the capacity to expand and absorb the most is agriculture. We therefore expect the incoming government to give it priority.

“Here it is important to emphasise the need to make a paradigm shift from production to processing, because that is how value chains are fixed, jobs provided and prosperity created. The shift to processing will create demands for skills and allow the shift from academic degrees to skills, which China did to emerge as the strongest economy on the global scene today.

“The enduring truth about economies is that no country gets rich from revenues; countries get rich only through production. There are a number of other policies that experts have proposed that need to be considered with diligence and discipline,” it stated.

Also the NSCIA, under the leadership of it’s president and Sultan of Sokoto, Mohammed Saad Abubakar, said the nation’s infrastructure has continued to decay and this has affected the economy.

It stated that: “One sector which is particularly critical is the power sector. From 1999 to date, we have compromised our power sector reform, not because of dearth of ideas but because of the absence of political will and the inordinate greed of government officials.

“We expect the incoming president and his government to end this anomaly. There are experts with the knowledge of the sector, who have what it takes to bring back sufficient electricity to power our industries.

“We expect the incoming government to identify them and work diligently to restore power to this country which has groped in the dark for too long. We also need to have a sustainable energy plan that will unleash our natural resources while protecting the environment. Other critical areas of infrastructure include improving roads and rail, recharging the Lake Chad waters to boost agriculture, arresting desertification and boosting digital literacy,” it stated.

The NSCIA said human capital development critical to economy recovery and the future of this country.

It stated: “In global competitiveness, this is our area of comparative advantage as 65% of our population are under 35 years of age. At the moment, the records show that we have the largest out-of-school children in the world. Our girl-child enrolment presents another worrying statistics, with implications for our development. If we can educate this population and give them basic health care, they alone can be a powerful momentum in our economy.

“About 40 years ago, India built IT institutions. Today, they make more money from IT than we make from oil, even when oil was selling at $100 a barrel. Today, most of the CEOs of the Silicon Valley like Google and Microsoft are Indians.

“We expect the incoming government to come up with a plan to educate and skill these nearly 20 million out-of-school children. We also expect the incoming government to come up with a plan to fund education and to re-invent our public universities so that they can rise to international standards and meet the manpower needs of our industries at home.

“Similarly, our health care, which is currently in a shambles, must be revamped to meet our growing population. This investment will boost productivity and pay off in terms of healthy and productive manpower as well as reduce the use of foreign currency for medical tourism.

“One area that the incoming government is expected to pay special attention is mental health. The trauma accumulated over a decade of violence across the country must be healed if we are to avoid a repeat of these conflicts in the near future. We need to pay attention to and address the trauma therapy need for a healthy society,” it stated.

Noting that the governments exist to protect lives and property and provide for the welfare of citizens, it said: “The first parameter of evaluation of governments is service delivery. Today, no one doubts that the service delivery of our governments at all levels is dismal.

“We need an incoming government that will pay immediate and serious attention to this all-important issue. In modern governance, this is usually done by developing what is called ‘Key Performance Indicators’ (KPI) for every ministry and government establishment. This is evaluated periodically against pre-determined and established deliverables. One of the greatest challenges to delivering KPIs and government performance is of course corruption.

“Our country has featured on the wrong side of the corruption index and we must make a firm resolve to fight corruption. We want an incoming president who will demonstrate his political will from the quality of people he will appoint and the zero tolerance he will show for corruption. Another important issue of governance is inclusion.

“It is important for the incoming president to develop a framework for inclusion which should be both scientific and accountable. This will promote trust and national cohesion as well as allow the country to focus on the great task of development,” it stated.

In this article