2016 : Buhari And The Anxious Expectations of Nigerians
By Taju Tijani
The passing away of 2015 did not go away quietly. At the tail end of that year, Nigerians were entertained with a sad comedy of Abuja profligate monoculture of graft and corruption in high places. We read through confessions of how Nigeria’s petrol wealth was squandered to indulge the appetite of few avaricious and greed-driven elite and their systemic stripping of this nation’s money among themselves. The repulsive evil of corruption was exposed and its fall out of class collaboration and collusion astounded our sense of moral indignation and national pride. It was the first time Nigerians will see a sitting president who took on the fight against corruption, not as a lip service, but as an obsessive cause worth dying for.
The mantra of CHANGE which has remained the slogan for the redemption of Nigeria acquired more force, and along its tortuous journey, nationwide support of Nigerians for the evolving vision of President Mohammadu Buhari. However, the overwhelming support for President Buhari from most Western nations, to Ms Christine Lagarde, the IMF Managing Director, to the man in the streets is not without its own condition: get Nigeria out of trouble and calm the anxious expectations of Nigerians with the fierce urgency it requires.
In 2016, Nigerians expect President Buhari to redirect the cause of our nation’s history by reinforcing the fight against corruption; freeing Nigeria from the narrow and selfish agenda of tiny elites, rebuilding our moribund institutions, bring back the abducted Chibok girls, and the total rejuvenation of our social, economic and political paralysis. Nigerians are becoming impatient and the old appetite for theatrical democratic interventions from our politicians are becoming obsolete.
In 2016, the first task before President Mohammadu Buhari is the deepening of our democracy through the recalibration of the virtues of open, integrity-driven, transparent, honest and good governance as the best hope for the future of our democratic survival. These should be the new ideas that must drive leadership in this country. The president has to understand that retreating into the old essentialism of autocracy, secrecy, superficiality and lies will no longer wash with Nigerians especially in the face of the aftermath of the political tension generated by the arrest and re-arrest of former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki and the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and Radio Biafra Director, Mr Nnamdi Kanu.
The government should experiment with progressive innovations in tackling the socio, economic and political problems challenging Nigeria. President Mohammadu Buhari must tackle our large scale infrastructural deficit head on. In any nation, the provision of infrastructure facilitates the happiness of the greatest majority. This nation faces huge infrastructural deficit and this parlous state of play is negatively affecting businesses and more importantly, the humanity of all Nigerians.
The 2016 budget voted N1.8 trillion for capital expenditure, representing 30 per cent of the total budget of N6.08 trillion. Last year, the capital vote was 557 billion. In fact, a total of N11 billion was budgeted for the Ministry of Works. Giving breakdown of the 2016 capital vote, Mr. Buhari said, “This increased capital expenditure commits significant resources to critical sectors such as Works, Power and Housing – N443.4 billion; Transport – N202.0 billion; Special Intervention Programs – N200.0 billion; Defence – 134.6 billion; and Interior N53.1 billion. He continued, “These investments in infrastructure and security are meant to support our reforms in the Agriculture, Solid Minerals and other core job creating sectors of our economy.” “This is a fulfilment of our promise to align expenditure to our long-term objectives, and a sign of government’s commitment to sustainable development,” he added.
I applaud the deployment of N1.8trillion for capital expenditure in the 2106 national budget. The first capital project for this administration is the urgent repairs of the sorry state of our roads. Statistics indicate that 18% of the 197,000 km of our road networks are in good shape and the situation is worse in state and local governments thereby hampering agricultural and social developments. Secondly, Nigerians must see visible increase in power generation and distribution which currently stands between 3,500 -3,700 kilowatts. Not forgetting the provision of clean, drinkable water which has not been able to meet the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of 75% coverage for safe and drinkable water. Thirdly, our primary health care system needs to be overhaul with the provision of free health care for all Nigerians.
Fourthly, our economic condition is in the intensive unit. Nigeria became the highest economy in Africa and the 26th in the world but with no visible impact on the common man. Standard of living and cost of living are the twin challenges of majority of Nigerians from all work of life except probably those who stole government money. As we write, global oil prices have plummeted and the consequences of such free fall should give us a sober reflection to diversify from our dependence on oil as the chief mainstay of our economy.
Fifthly, by some divine intervention, Nigeria had one the freest and fairest elections in the history of our democratic evolution. We had our epiphanic moment where the sitting president was ousted by the opposition. However, the inexperience of the ruling party nearly caused chaos in parliament and the consequence of such political hiccup is the permanent loss of patriotism to narrow, selfish party agenda. Above all, Nigerians are demanding for a proactive, effective intelligent gathering and the deployment of highly trained and motivated Army to engage Boko Haram and bring an end to the cyclone of disasters that have blighted the North East.