Without mincing words, the second term of Mr President has started on the right note. Every Nigerian is happy, indeed happy with the financial autonomy of the local governments.
It is gratifying that the local governments are getting heir funds directly from federation account without passing through the suffocating antics of the governors.
Every Nigerian knows that the governors have largely suffocated local governments by making away with their funds in a manner that is a heist, clear and simple. Before the Buhari intervention in this regard, LGAs existed only in name, they had no funds, so they had no capacity. Kudos to Buhari administration for returning ability, capacity and viability to the local government areas.
It also gratifying to note that N200 billion has just been granted to the educational sector through TETFUND. The money is for infrastructure for tertiary institutions across the country. This is laudable, commendable and a step in the right direction. The country needs many more such steps.
In his Inaugural Address, President Buhari addressed squarely his plans to tackle poverty headlong. That is commendable because this columnist had written many columns on the subject right from Obasanjo days till now. Indeed, poverty remains a cancer in our country. Too many of our country men and women are poor. Far too many people suffer the consequences of poverty which include poor health, poor nutrition and reduced access to education which is the single most important vehicle of upward mobility. This column commends Mr President on that bold initiative but it must move from things like Tradermoni into concrete efforts to provide training and value reorientation for the citizenry.
This brings us to the expectations of Nigerians from Mr President during his second term. As a columnist, as an influencer, I get around quite a bit. I interact with the high and the low, I often leave my car to use public transport to get a feel of the pulse of the so-called ordinary nan on the street. I go to the barber, I buy papers from street corners, I attend seminars and workshops so I really can say a thing or two about the desires and aspirations of Nigerians for Nigeria at this time.
First on their shopping list is safety! Some call it security, but the essential thing is that Nigerians want to feel safe once again in their country. The situation today is close to panic level. Nigerians, big and small feel unsafe in the towns, in the villages and in their homes. Most citizens feel that the agencies of government are not doing enough to address the daily reports of killings, arson and kidnap that is now the order of the day in virtually all parts of Nigeria.
Next Level should address public safety squarely. Already the President is moving in the right direction with state and community policing, but then, it should not remain on paper, it should be implemented. Whatever needs to be fine-tuned in this regard should be done now and quickly too. We need to restore public safety; this will go a long way in restoring confidence of Nigerians in Nigeria.
Nigerians expect a rapid attack on unemployment. Too many Nigerians have no job and this also fuels insecurity. There are many extended families I know in which not one single person has a job. And such families can be found everywhere in Nigeria. I mean there are families in which neither the mother nor the father can boast of any income whatsoever. Nigerians want employment and they want it now now!
The quickest way to achieve large-scale employment is the return of cooperative societies, genuine skill acquisition programmes and patronage of the citizenry through government contracts and sub contracts. The situation where only multinationals and transnationals win government contracts should be looked into because such companies allow no tickle down effects.
Certainly, agriculture is a major driver of employment. More funds to agricultural expansions and more emphasis on mechanisation will create a huge value chain that will provide employment for vast numbers of Nigerians. Reintroduction of farm settlements and communes will certainly not be a bad idea.
Then power! Nigerians are being suffocated by lack of adequate electricity. Small scale enterprises are being suffocated by lack of power. The migration from rural areas to urban centres is driven by many factors amongst which is lack of power in the rural areas for any economic production.
Power should be addressed holistically. We have proven to the world that we cannot run the infrastructure, while the population is growing; our power per capita is dwindling. There is no point pretending on this power issue. We should invite outside help. There is no way poverty can be fought without getting the power situation right. There is nothing we can achieve without energy.
Clearly our galloping petrol consumption is driven largely by little businesses that rely on petrol generators for their operations. Once power is tackled, subsidy on fuel will go down thus freeing money for investment in infrastructure.
If the Next Level can address these, President Buhari will go down in history as one of the best despite some of the missteps of the first term.
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