In another week, Nigerians will be hitching on to the Next Level train of the Muhammadu Buhari administration. The president will be sworn in for another term of four years at a low-key ceremony on May 29, while the major celebration of the occasion will hold on June 12, which was last year declared the nation’s Democracy Day. The inauguration of Buhari’s second term is expected to usher in a new era which the government has declared “The Next Level.”
After taking the Oath of Office and Oath of Allegiance next Wednesday, the president will expectedly tell the people what he has in store for them at this next level. Also from that day, Nigerians will expect greater fillip in government’s service delivery. The country will then hopefully move away from whatever ills have been constraining it from achieving its true potential, and move to a new level that will take the people closer to their aspirations.
The various bus stops of the promised next level train are not yet all too clear, but one thing the nation has been told is that the journey will be tough, especially relating to the war against corruption. This promise of a difficult journey ahead is bad news for many Nigerians who have not found things as easy as expected in the last four years. It is no wonder, then, that the suggestion of even tougher times, in whatever sector, is scary.
So, beyond the numerous activities lined up to celebrate this august occasion, the government must quickly rethink its strategies and double up on its efforts to fulfill its many campaign promises to the people. There are so many areas in which much is expected from the Next Level government.
The Boko Haram insurgency which has been a problem for the country since 2007 has not abated. The terrorists are still very much in their elements, launching sporadic attacks in both the rural areas and along some of the nation’s expressways in recent times. Kidnapping and banditry have become such major issues in many parts of the country that insecurity is now widely recognised as a serious problem threatening the lives and wellbeing of the people.
The terrorists are still waging a war against the state and the people in spite of claims that they have been technically defeated, and the two deadlines given to the military chiefs to stop the attacks, by the President. The Next Level of the Buhari regime must put the current security nightmare behind Nigerians. The people deserve to live in peace in the country and move around as they wish, and not have their movements dictated by the fear of terrorist attacks.
The economy, (especially job creation), is one of the areas in which the people also expect a next level intervention by the Federal Government in a way that will boost employment generation and ensure the profitable sustenance of businesses. The economy, in recent years, has become a reason to make a whipping boy of the Buhari administration, as so many businesses experienced headwinds while some have even gone under and, therefore, unable to create the jobs that are badly needed by the nation’s teeming unemployed youths.
In the next four years, the government should be more creative on the employment crisis and ensure greater support for industries to thrive. Apparently, the government has to rejig its job creation initiatives and those charged with their execution. So far, the past four years have not witnessed any radical action on job creation and, as is required in the area of security, it is time for a charge of guard in the country’s economic management team. There should be a high level Coordinating Minister for the Economy who will be responsible for the general direction of the economy and lead the team charged with the strengthening of the economy. The poor exchange rate of the naira should be addressed through massive support for the increased production of goods for local consumption and export, to reduce the pressure on the naira. Our current over-dependence on importation of all manner of goods does our economy no good and the government will need to do whatever is required to reduce it. This is the time to embrace new ideas in moving the economy forward.
The electricity sector is one area in which all our governments have been long on promises, but short on performance. Beyond the performance figures rolled out by the government from time to time, there is very little indication of a significant improvement in power supply, with the attendant negative implications of the situation for industrial production and quality of life of the people.
It is also necessary for the government to make a greater impact in the health and educational sectors. There is hardly any significant achievement in both sectors in recent years as the Federal Government-owned medical institutions, including the National Hospital, Abuja, the university teaching hospitals and even the Aso Rock Clinic, continued to have records of poor services to the people, with no less a person than the president’s wife publicly complaining about the lack of drugs and necessary medical equipment at the Aso Rock Clinic.
The government will also need to work harder on reconciling our fractured polity. There is, today, so much division in the country. A cursory look at the social media reveals a seriously fragmented nation that needs to be reconciled if Nigeria is not to become an orphan state. The level of animosity among the nation’s ethnic groups is worrisome. Unfortunately, this situation has not been helped by the claims of the government’s neglect of the Southern part of the country to the advantage the North, especially on the issue of political appointments. It follows, therefore, that appointments into offices in the coming dispensation should reflect the diversity of the country and the need to ensure unity by ensuring a fair spread of appointments into critical government offices.
The president’s penchant for aloofness on critical issues is not helping the country. He needs to be firmer and more decisive in handling certain issues, both at the government level and even in his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). The country is now only a few steps away from a re-enactment of the problem that put the legislative and executive arms of government asunder in 2015, with its negative impact on the government’s performance. Instead of both arms of government working together to move the nation forward, what Nigerians were saddled with were endless bickering between the National Assembly and the Federal Government, with the former oftentimes appearing to undermine the efforts of the latter, including on the issue of the construction of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.
The ongoing accusations and counter-accusations between the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the APC should also be stopped henceforth, as they are distractive. Let Atiku and the PDP pursue their case against Buhari’s election in the courts with all sense of decorum and restraint, while the presidency and the APC undertake their defence in the same manner. What should be of the greatest importance to the two leading political parties in the country is the best interest of all Nigerians. And the Buhari administration has the greater responsibility to demonstrate leadership in this regard.
Above all, it is necessary for all well meaning citizens to join the Next Level train. It is only when we have all hands on board in the effort to build a great country that we can have a good chance of success in the enterprise.