The daunting task before the President-elect

By Olalekan Odewale   |   30 April 2015   |   5:45 am  
Buhari

Buhari

THE presidential elections have come and gone, the postponement had initially caused some panic and deepened the mistrust among the political elite with suggestions of manipulations, undemocratic invasion and possible rigging.

However, things seemed not to have been what some thought they were likely going to be.

Nigerians have elected a new leader to steer the affairs of the nation for a period of four years terminating May 28, 2019. The opposition (who have now become the ruling party) need to set their agenda and commence policy drafting, developmental targeting and strategise on economic revamping.

It would be foolish of the opposition to assume that the battle was between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), when in reality the battle is between the government led by the APC and the collapsing economy in a failing nation.

It is pertinent to note that some key areas require special and urgent attention in order to ensure that the President-elect holds the reign of the nation beyond 2019. Some of the key areas, though not limited to the under listed, includes:

The Economy: In the last16 years, the economy has witnessed its own fair share of ups and downs.

The economy witnessed the near collapse of the financial sector during the bank recapitalisation period and the stock market collapse and it also saw the rebasing of the economic index which saw the Nigerian economy as being the largest economy in Africa.

The revenue boom occasioned by high crude oil prices resulted in Nigeria building up its national reserve and maintaining an excess crude oil account to the decline in oil revenue which is at present causing a deficit in financial projections for the current year.

The economy is at the moment faced with a lot of challenges which can make the efforts of any President seem insignificant.

The rebasing of the economy has generated some controversy, many have argued that the rebasing has not accurately reflected the GDP of the economy, likewise is the per capita income not a true reflection of the earnings of the average Nigerian.

Though advocating the total rejection of the rebased figure will amount to throwing the baby away with the bath water, it is important for the incoming administration to review the rebased index and ensure the validity of the index before using it as a planning tool.

The focus of crude oil export as the major revenue source for the economy has greatly incapacitated all other available sources of revenue.

For this reason the incumbent administration’s agricultural effort should be sustained and consolidated to ensure massive development of the cash crop segment of the agricultural sector.

Agriculture, globally is a major source of revenue and raw material base for industrialisation.

Jettisoning the incumbent administration’s agriculture effort would mean a restart of the revamping of the sector which will in turn slow down the revenue drive for the president elect and also impede the industrialisation drive.

Developing a master plan for non-oil mineral revenue is imperative to boosting our precarious income base and the dwindling fortune of our National currency (Naira).

Given the infrastructural decay, poor revenue drive and urgent development programmes in the economy, neglecting non-oil revenue can be considered suicidal.

The economy requires all available financial resources that can be annexed within the economy in order to deliver their economic campaign promises.

Youth development and entrepreneurial drive: The incumbent administration was able to put in place programmes that are commendable in the entrepreneurial drive of the nation. A notable example is the “youwin” initiative. The programme aims at bankrolling business ideas of youths via business plan development, entrepreneurial knowledge acquisition (using the LBS) and start-up capital provision. The programme itself had its shortcoming, the major one being the selection process via ballot.

I believe, the President-elect should provide standby funds managed by a trustee, who will continuously ask for business plans. They will in turn review submitted business plans and make selection based on set criteria.

The business idea originators will be exposed to business training for periods ranging between six to 12 months.

Upon completion of their entrepreneurial class, funds from the “Trust pool” will be disbursed to the youth with the trustee providing mechanism for monitoring and further evaluation of the expected milestone progress to be made.

The scheme will be a “modified you win” programme which will eliminate ballot system and increase the number of beneficiaries and also be a continuous programme not an annual ballot competition. It is in the best interest of the country to support business creation which will have its value chain benefit and lead to reduced unemployment and social vices.

Power still remains the biggest challenge since the advent of the Fourth Republic, enormous is the power challenge that the last two Administrations have failed in the delivery of their power promises. Power is a vital key to industrialisation.

The President-elect can do better if the power sector is totally deregulated, with the government paying subsidy on quantum of electricity consumed.

New investment in power plants should be encouraged to start from nearness to the gas supply points. The failure of previous PPP and licensing in the power sector should be revisited and reviewed and a better framework put in place in the power sector such that it is attractive to would-be power investors.

Stabilising the power of the nation currency is also a function of the state of the power sector. Nigeria today is an import based economy thus putting pressure on the available foreign exchange supply in the economy.

The revitalisation of the power sector will encourage the setting up of more factories and rediscovering our industrial hubs in Agbara, Kano and Ikeja. It will also facilitate the opening of new industrial centers in strategic locations around Nigeria.

A lot has been said about the economy and its related subsector, other non-economic issues that the President-elect needs to focus on are:

Ethno-religious and socio cultural reconciliation: The 2015 presidential election was characterised by hate campaigns centered on religion and ethnicity. This has caused a lot of mistrust within the Nigerian society, with her citizens holding on to wrong beliefs and notions about each other.

The regional voting pattern in the March 28, 2015 election was a reflection of the level at which the knife of hatred has cut through our unity.

The President-elect should, as a matter of urgency, address the mistrust by ensuring a balance in religion and ethnic orientation when making political appointment choices.

Reconciliation should be continuous and ethnic or religious tensions should be quickly defused before they escalate.

Tackling insurgency is now paramount. As a retired General in the noble Nigerian Army, a lot is expected from him. The current effort should be improved upon and the return of peace to the North Eastern part of Nigeria should be priority. The President-elect should as a matter of urgency ensure the return of all abducted Nigerians being held by the insurgent group.

Education: In the last four years, the incumbent administration has succeeded in establishing six new federal universities. Many have seen this as laudable. However, given the below capacity infrastructure development in the existing universities, it would have been better that the funds for creation of new universities be used to develop the deficit in the existing educational institutes.

This would have greatly increased the admission intake and reduced the pressure on the Joint Admissions Matriculation process where 1.6 million vie for fewer than 400,000 admission slots.

Expanding the educational capacity of educational institutes to meet our rapidly increasing population is a great tool for managing youth restiveness. Universities should be equipped with modern lecture tools (Audio-visuals) that can dispense knowledge with minimum effort as obtainable in developed economies.

Fighting corruption has being the bedrock of the APC campaign team. However, it is noticeable that fighting corruption with executive powers is now outmoded.

The President-elect should invest heavily in the judiciary with the aim of strengthening the judiciary and enhancing their capacity to dispense justice.

The court infrastructure should be improved upon, with the provision of more courtrooms and employment of qualified personnel to man them. The welfare of judges should be enhanced to ensure that they would not be easily compromised in the discharge of their duties.

Expectation of Nigerians for the incoming administration is high; delivering on the expected task is now germane on the APC-led administration.

The precarious nature of our income base will not be considered as an excuse for non-performance. Reintegrating Nigeria is a necessity to fighting the mistrust already planted in the hearts of Nigerians due largely to the campaign of hate undertaken to woo the hearts of the electorate.

Unveiling a new Nigeria with economic prosperity, cultural and religious unity is an uphill task that must be achieved within the shortest possible time, the next four years must lay the foundation for a better tomorrow.

• Odewale, a trainee accountant, lives in Satellite Town, Lagos. lonelake2001@yahoo.com, 08060787730

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