President Muhammadu Buhari on 29 May, 2019 took oath of office for his second term following his victory at the recent polls. The first tenure tagged ‘Change’ was characterized by some stringent policies including banning of a number of commodities especially agricultural produce to boost local productions. As a result, many businesses suffered. Likewise, all monetary dealings in government MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies) strictly followed an unusual procedure of the Treasury Single Account (TSA). Though, corruption hasn’t been totally knocked out, however, there is seemingly encouraging degree of sanity in government circles. Irrefutably, it has not been business as usual.
Nonetheless, by the renewed mandate, President Buhari owes the masses so much in terms of service delivery in the new phase he tagged ‘Next-level’. Expectingly, the first major task is to slash jumbo allowances in the National Assembly. Without it clearly done, no meaningful achievements can take place considering the mass of lawmakers in the government’s payroll. It is grossly awkward and exploitative to allocate to a lawmaker unaccountable monthly-running cost of N13.5million amidst agonizing unemployment ratio and hardships in the society. Sensibly, there’s no basis for a legislator to even earn more remunerations than professors, permanent secretaries or ministers let alone the inexplicably additional monthly-running costs. Without doubt, blocking such leakages or outrageous expenditures is fundamental in conserving funds for government’s meaningful capital projects for the masses.
The Economist; a UK leading source of analysis on international business and world affairs in its July 2013 review of lawmakers’ remunerations globally, reported that Nigeria’s federal lawmakers earn more that their US, UK, German, Brazil and South African counterparts. Meanwhile, according to world poverty clock, Nigeria has more than 40% of its population living in extreme poverty which is much higher than Ghana’s 12%, Zimbabwe’s 26% and South Africa’s 24%. Furthermore, a report by Brookings Institution about a year ago rated Nigeria as the nation with the highest number of extremely poor people. These are inconsistencies. Hence, the excesses in the legislative arm must be checkmated this time.
Next is reform of the electoral system which is critically indispensable. All the electoral malpractices and violence leading to scores of deaths of citizens are traceable to excessively attractive financial benefits attached to political offices. Inadvertently, it has gotten to the point that not one person wants to return to primary vocation after feeling the juicy packages. As panacea to recurring violence during general elections, the government should plan to migrate to digital voting system in conventionality with other countries. If not, the ugly situation may worsen in the next general elections in 2023 due to increased political interests. To put it straightforward, the population is excessive for manual ballot system vis-à-vis security, administration, supervision and logistics alongside financial implications. The banking automated teller machines (ATM) system is a practical model for general elections if voters must vote at designated places.
Instructively, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) could configure the new digital National Identification Number (NIN) card to also serve as voter’s card for digital elections in provided electronic devices. Emphatically, enough of manual or printing-paper voting system with its concomitant vulnerabilities. By migrating to digital voting system, the huge budgets for quadrennial general elections will be curtailed and channeled to significant people-oriented capital projects demanding attentions.
Furthermore, the Executive Order No 7 of 2019 on Road Infrastructural Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme through Public-Private Partnerships must be translated to a reality as soon as possible. By the policy, numerous projects should be running simultaneously across the nation unlike the protracted defective system, thereby creating employment opportunities for citizens.
Equally, the numerous challenges facing education and healthcare sectors should be addressed. This will curtail lavishing of public funds incessantly for overseas patronages by public officeholders. Our public hospitals can be improved to meet international standard. Essentially, government must devote sufficient resources in its fight against illiteracy by ensuring that education is affordable and efficiently reformed to meet contemporary needs. Government’s existing scheme; Open and Distance Learning mode should be substantially, advancingly promoted. This is germane as in most cases, people without education or skills at any slightest pressure become vulnerable; always willing tools to be used as terrorists, kidnappers, political thugs and bandits to measure up.
Another critical issue that cannot be overemphasized is child neglect in the society. Child-Rights Act deserves premium attention. By the number of vulnerable children in the streets, Nigeria is practically, heading towards a tsunami of disasters except addressed. Possibly, government should organize periodic census on children for adequate planning and care as a remedy towards capturing all unregistered children in the society. Interestingly, such actions will systematically help in tackling age cheat that is prevalent in the public sector which has lasted for ages. Obviously, investing in children particularly through child education is fundamental. Any nation with premium value on its children is robotically secured for a thriving future and serene atmosphere. Commendably, pupils’ feeding scheme should gather momentum.
On power, although there are reportedly significant improvements, nonetheless, citizens want nothing else but uninterrupted electricity supply. If it requires review of the previous privatization exercise, needless to waste time. Whatever it will take, the bottom-line is that Nigeria must, in reality, be the giant of Africa by 2023 in all ramifications. Ghana and other African countries determinedly achieved improved electricity. The Next-level must be distinctive with exploits and significant attainments.
By substantial improvements in the healthcare, education, infrastructural development and power sectors, certainly, the economy will automatically be stimulated for citizens to, with ease, afford the bare necessaries of life. With that, insecurity will technically be reduced to the minimum. By meeting these targets, Buhari will write his name in gold while embarking on political retirement in 2023. Meanwhile, congratulations Mr. President and wishing you a remarkable new tenure with giant strides.
Umegboro is a public affairs analyst and Associate, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (United Kingdom). 08173184542-SMS only Https:www.carlumegboro.com
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