Desmond Mgboh (Kano), Omoniyi Salaudeen and Onyedika Agbedo (Lagos), Timothy Olanrewaju (Maiduguri), Billy Graham Abel (Yola), Stanley Uzoaru (Owerri), Okey Sampson (Aba), Sylvanus Viashima (Jalingo), Abdullahi Hassan (Zaria), Raphael Ede (Enugu), Geoffrey Anyanwu (Awka), Noah Ebije (Kaduna)
Yesterday, Nigerians across the country filed out to cast their votes in the Presidential and National Assembly elections, which marked the commencement of the sixth quadrennial general elections to be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, since the return to democratic governance in 1999.
The presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, President Muhammadu Buhari and his main challenger, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, led a pack of other presidential candidates that participated in the election.
As the collation of results from the presidential and national assembly elections continues, what are the expectations of Nigerians from the new president to be sworn-in on May 29, 2019? Sunday Sun put this question to notable Nigerians. Below is a snapshot of their views:
Implementation of local government autonomy –Sen Adeseye Ogunlewe
The first and the best thing an incoming government can do is to implement the constitutional autonomy of local government. At present, local governments are not autonomous, because we allow the state governments to steal their money. We will never move forward as a nation if we continue like that. Poverty will continue to ravage us. Up to 150 million will be in poverty. All over the federation, money allocated to local governments is being stolen. That is why we have extreme poverty in the country. We should restore the glory of local governments immediately by making sure they are financially independent. That is the only way we can move this country forward. And let me warn Nigerians, unless we have local government autonomy, there will be bloodshed one day. Majority of people in the local governments live in the rural areas and they have nothing to do with government. Autonomy should be the first basis of restructuring of this country.
At present, we are running an undemocratic democracy. One, the majority is not involved in the choice of candidates. Two, in the running of political parties, the majority is not involved. What we must do is to change our laws and allow the Independent National Elewctoral Commission, INEC, to conduct party primaries. We have over 600 cases in court arising from the last primaries and congresses of political parties. Up till now, so many cases are still in court. The only way to eliminate that is to allow INEC to conduct party primaries
We need welfare programme –Senator Femi Okurounmu
Let us go back to the policies and programmes of the First Republic. All political parties then sought how to make life better for the people. For example, the Action Group had a manifesto which was to make life better for the people and that was why the party provided free education, free health services, established industries, farm centres and so on. They saw to it that everybody was creatively employed. They developed people’s mind and people’s body. If the government carries out programmes that are in the best interest of the people, the people will love the government. The people will adore the government. Government should govern in the best interest of the people. Those in power should have the fear of God and always seek to do the right thing. They should stay within the guidelines of the constitution. The problem with us in Nigeria is that we speak out correct things from our mouth but everything we try to do is evil.
Address issue of poverty –Tanko Yakassai
Poverty is one of the greatest problems of this country. This arises from unemployment. Therefore, if the government can place priority on agriculture and industry, you will see that within two years, many Nigerians will be taken out of poverty. For the agricultural sector to thrive, the government should give priority attention to irrigation, to ensure farming activities go on all the year round. Also, to achieve the objective of industrialisation, there must be power sector reform that will guarantee regular supply of power. If these can be done, the multiplier effect of it will take many people out of poverty. When people are in poverty, they are agitated and it creates tension. Agriculture and industries are the areas other countries explored to overcome their difficulties. We can also do it.
Restructuring is key to rebuilding the country —Guy Ikokwu
It is a very simple matter. What we want from the next president, to start with, is to have a trajectory of how Nigeria will be governed. Nigeria must be a real democracy; and the real democracy must be anchored on the rule of law against despotism, against those evils that detract from a holistic and peaceful habitation of people who have different religions and different cultures. And on this basis, I would like to say that international observers who have visited are surprised that Nigeria is still not a democratic country but is still run with a unitary disposition, which is unheard of in any other part of the world where you have multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingual population. In Nigeria, we have over 350 ethnic groups with their own languages, cultures and habitations. How can we be ruled in a way that is unitary? This is the result of over 50 years of military imposition and military rule.
Therefore, we are praying right now that somebody who does not have a militaristic background should be elevated to govern Nigeria. At the moment, although we have many presidential candidates, the only person that has that characteristic is Atiku Abubakar. It’s only Atiku/Peter Obi ticket that qualifies to take over the governance of Nigeria. And more particularly because they agree that the country should be restructured for a better governance system into a truly federal system of government. So, the next president should immediately restructure the country. If they don’t restructure, we would not have a good governance system and if we don’t have a good governance system, all the ills of the past will manifest again.
With restructuring, the system of governance will be decentralised. That will create more jobs, foods and the localities will know what is best suited for them. There will also be inclusiveness in the governance system. The truth we must tell ourselves is that we have the capacity to rebuild this country, but restructuring is just key.
Nigerians want good governance —Ibuchukwu Ezike, Executive Director, CLO
The man or woman who is coming to take over power on May 29, 2019, should focus on the two major objectives of government. One is the security of the lives and property of the people while the second is the welfare of the people. These are the core objectives of government; every other thing is just amplification. We should have a government that respects human rights and obeys the rule of law and due process. We should have a government that provides for the needs of the people — food, housing, good roads and other socials amenities.
Nigeria is one of the richest countries in the world. Why our politicians have refused to use the abundant resources provided freely by God to put smiles on the faces of the people is what one does not understand. All these stories they tell are just meant to deceive the people. It is not a big deal that anybody is the president of this country and is providing good governance. There are other societies that don’t have these abundant resources that God has given to Nigeria. Some countries don’t have any resources at all but they are doing very well. They don’t even have the kind of intelligent men and women that Nigeria has but they are doing well. So, if we have these brilliant people who can turn a forest into a city and we have resources everywhere, why can’t Nigerians enjoy a good life?
So, anybody telling Nigerians that things are hard and all that is just deceiving the people because you see them flying in chartered aircraft; you see them going overseas to build while they cannot even build a good hospital in Nigeria where the people can receive quality medical care. So, from May 29, 2019, what Nigerians want is just good governance.
For instance, there is no reason people should go to bed in the night and be seen as dead bodies in the morning. It means that the government is not living up to expectations. These crises everywhere, whether communal clashes, herdsmen invading communities, killing people and raping women, or political crisis, they do not need to arise in Nigeria. Now, talking about the specifics, Nigeria has one of the most fertile soils in the world. Why are we not producing the food we eat? Why can’t we have electricity from morning till night? If you travel round the country by road, especially in the southern part, you see people’s goods scattered all over the place because of bad roads. The education system has also collapsed.
So, the next government should also focus on rebuilding the education sector of this country. They should concentrate on initiating programmes that put smiles on the faces of the people. And even if they cannot provide all these things, the killings across the country must be stopped.
Prioritise education, social investment –Senator Abubakar Girei, Secretary, Arewa Consultative Forum
Iwant to advise the incoming president to appreciate Nigerians for voting him by dedicating himself to three main things to inspire Nigeria’s men and women of integrity.
The government should employ the latest technology and global best practices to transform the nation to greater height by prioritising education, social Investment programmes, security and agriculture.
Nigerians must see the evidence that the country is moving forward and the improvement in the economy must trickle down to the people.
Give massive funding to vocational education –Prof Bulama Kagu, former Dean, Postgraduate School, University of Maiduguri
The immediate attention of the next president should be how to douse the tension generated by the political campaigns. Nigeria is a great nation and our strength is in the diversity of the nation. Politics shouldn’t divide us. The next president must ensure that all Nigerians are united.
The second pressing agenda elected should be sustainability of the agriculture programme of the current government. The next president should sustain other social intervention programmes for the good of the Nigerian people. He must provide infrastructure that will enhance good living and make the system work.
Education should attract immediate attention of the president. The president should concentrate on providing vocational training and fund for over 1.2 million of unemployed youths in the country. He must develop strategies of taking these youths out of the streets.
The reason this has been difficult to do all these in the past is because of the dishonesty of the political class and policy makers. A leader may have good intention and good programme but the political class and policy makers won’t allow it to work especially when their personal interest is not served. They do everything to frustrate such programme. This is the problem with programme execution in this country. So Nigerians must demand for attitudinal change on the part of the political class and policy makers. Government must be seen as an institution for the good of all not a small section. The next president must be focused and not allow himself to be derailed by politicians and policy makers who will be out to protect their class and personal interest against the collective interest of the Nigerian people. He must be ready to weather the storm of such people, who pretend to love us, but are actually interested in protecting their economic, political and social interest.
Next president should unite country, it’s now terribly divided –Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu
First of all, I must say that I am very disappointed with the turn of events in Nigeria. I thought by now things would have improved but things are not improving, and that is why some of us are talking about restructuring. When you try something and it does not work, then know that something is wrong somewhere. Something is basically wrong with the system we operate, a system where a few individuals are becoming millionaires without much effort, just by having some connections of people in government or by stealing government’s resources; any system that allows for such is a failed system. In Nigeria today, many people are laying prostrate because of hunger; most people cannot feed themselves, many young people who left school cannot get jobs, industries are not working, everything seems to be in shamble. I think it’s a failure and needs to be addressed. I am not even thinking voting anybody in this election would solve the problem; Nigeria’s problem goes beyond that. For example, we have been told the amount of money spent on wages of National Assembly, they have not denied it; if they are earning much in Nigeria, where workers are asking to be paid N30,000 per month, I think there is obvious injustice, inequality and any system is postponing the evil day. People are not going to keep quiet for so long. So, the next president should be prepared. We live in Nigeria today where there is so much insecurity, a proportion we never anticipated in our lives. Today, for example; people in some parts of this country are raided, slaughtered and killed for no just cause; the hatred among certain tribes is getting worse, something must be done to solve these problems, because we cannot continue this way. Whenever the matter comes up, the government says ‘we are on top of it.’ How can you be on top of it and it still happening everywhere, Yobe, Adamawa, Plateau, Kaduna, Benue and even in the southeast (Enugu and Anambra? For the first time in the history of this country, people are afraid to travel by road. In some parts of the north, people are afraid to travel by road, there is no amount of army or police that can protect you because it is just like a military ambush. On the road people just attack you. There is no economy that can survive this; for any new government to survive in this country, it needs massive foreign investments, nobody is going to invest without confidence from the government, they don’t have confidence in the country; security of life and property is the first thing any investor checks in a country. The news here frightens everybody let alone foreigners, so the problem for the next president is going to be much. I am very sorry for whoever becomes the president.
Nigeria has reached a point where we should be honest to ourselves, that is the beginning of forming a strong federation. I get worried because I am one of those who strongly believe that a very strong united Nigeria is very good for the Black Race because Nigeria is a place where you have the largest population of black people. Fortunately for us, Nigerians are gifted and talented but the problem is greed and avarice.
Another problem the incoming president must solve is that the Igbo have played a major role in the development of this country. Igbo have shown more than other ethnic groups that they want a united Nigeria. Sometime ago, a group of rascals came up and said sack Igbo from Nigeria, those of us who are old understand but the younger ones would take it in a different way. Those who said Igbo planned a coup, it’s a lie, it was entirely a military affair, not only Igbo but by other tribes in the armed forces. They should not continue to misinform people about the Igbo and tell such lies like Igbo leaders murdered Ahmadu Bello. Those who love this country should avoid provocative statements against any group because in that coup, everybody knew it was an entirely military affair, even that government they were talking about was the best for the Igbo, they didn’t have any reason to topple it. The people who fought then were not militaries and these are facts, these are the things that worry me about the future of this country, anybody like me and the rest of Igbo leaders want a united Nigeria, where we would love each other, where there would be peace and justice. So, the next president must unite the country, it is terribly divided.
Now on the issue of Boko Haram, he should try to end the insurgency in the country. There are two types of conflicts, internal and external. Where it is external we take our battle to them but unfortunately it is internal. He should deal with it, they know these people; they should call them to order. If your son is fighting you for long time; you don’t need to kill him, they don’t need to bomb this sect; rather they should find a way of calling them to order.
Security remains top most concern for Nigerians –Maigari, former Taraba deputy gov
Without a doubt, the most important area the next president should tackle is security. For those of us in the northeast and indeed other parts of the country as well, insecurity is a major issue that affects all other aspects of our lives including governance itself.
We are contending with the Boko Haram insurgents, who have been degraded to a large extent, and then we have the issue of militants that are killing people in Zamfara and other parts of the country. You also have the issue of armed herdsmen. Therefore the major issue, which is security is in bold relief.
In the past, governments underestimated the impact or extent of this issue until it became so deeply rooted that it is nearly impossible to root it out completely. Now the current president has shown remarkable level of commitment to this and whoever emerges as the next president must consolidate on this effort.
The only way out of this is to first of all change our national narrative and accept the fact that we are one and have no choice but to live as one and then we must keep aside sentiments and face this head on. Once the issue of insecurity is addressed, the economy, which is equally a top priority, would become relatively easier to handle alongside other national issues.
Tackle insecurity, infrastructure problems –Alhaji Umaru Dembo, former Minister of State (Petroleum)
The new president must look at the predicaments, the sacrifices they made to vote for him and then attend to their basic needs. He must fulfill the promises he made while canvassing for votes. So the next president must tackle the problem of infrastructure. A fundamental flaw of past governments was their inability to provide vital and critical infrastructure that would improve the lives of the people. These include roads, hospitals, education, agriculture, railway services provided by modern trains. The next president should continue with ongoing projects and good initiatives that are currently addressing these issues, and resist the temptation to abandon some of these projects to start new ones. The next government should complete ongoing projects. Similarly, the issue of security is very important.
Again, Nigerians are becoming aware of their rights. Therefore, the human rights of Nigerians must be respected. People must be allowed to express and enjoy their human rights.
Next president should tackle, end Igbo marginalization –Chief Maximus Okuta, elder statesman, Second Republic politician
Iexpect the next president to indulge more in equity, fair play and justice. I want a situation where the glaring injustice done to the south east as a zone would be corrected. In our federation, we are the only geopolitical zone with five states. We should have a minimum of six, and nothing is wrong in having seven states like other regions within the federation. We have 95 local government areas despite our population; that should be corrected. And the incoming administration should carry on with the improvement on security. We often leave substance to chase the shadow. I hope that the next president wouldn’t not waste time talking unduly about due process. I remember that the President of Malaysia, a Cambridge educated lawyer, who said that in desperate situations you take desperate actions. The present government has done well in repositioning of infrastructure but we need more infrastructure especially roads, water, and improvement of our educational standard.
It is sad that past administrations did not do well in these areas. Our leaders would always talk about the good things they would do when seeking for votes, but when they get into power, they forget all of their promises for the rest of the time.
Re-invigorate war against corruption –Apugo
Iwant to be the priority of the incoming president is to reinvigorate the war against corruption. The present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is already fighting corruption, but I will not give it pass mark yet because it has not beamed its searchlight on some states, where was massive looting of the public treasury took place in the past.
The reason we are still talking about corruption, 58 years after independence is because previous leaders were corrupt themselves and therefore could not wage war against it. It is very difficult for a corrupt leader to fight corruption because they would not have fought themselves.
Another critical area I want the incoming president to pay attention is the construction of federal roads in Abia State such as Umuahia/Bende, Umuahia/Ikot Ekpene and other roads so that the suffering of the people will be reduced.
Restructuring should be priority to next President, Mbazulike, elder statesman, former Aviation minister
The utmost priority is the security situation in the country. The new president should face the security situation in the country and then the economy. The economy of the country is going down and the naira has lost a lot of value. But above this, peace must reign and the president must give priority to restructuring of the country. He has to make arrangement, not through the National Assembly because they can’t amend something that is basically wrong from the foundation. Nigeria is structurally bad from the foundation of the constitution and so it has to be a total rewriting of the constitution of Nigeria, so that the federation will be a true federation. People will have some reasonable control over the wealth and resources from their area, then there shall be equal partnership in the federation and not one side of the federation being the king and others being servants and slaves under the king.
The incumbent President has declared his attitude towards restructuring and therefore it will be unfortunate for the country if he returns to office but if Atiku is returned by the grace of God, then we should pursue these things because they are part of his promise.
The reason we are still talking about restructuring is that none of the past and present constitutions of the country was put together by the people of Nigeria, except the 1963 constitution, by which we became a Republic and which was made by us. Today I am the only remaining person who took part in the drafting of that constitution. The other constitutions were handed over by the military.
The FRA Williams constitution, which brought about the 1979 democratic government was edited by the military and imposed on the country. The 1999 constitution was done during the regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar following the death of General Sani Abacha. Don’t forget the military heads of state who imposed these constitutions came from one side of the country.
He should deal with unemployment, insurgency, kidnapping headlong –Sani, ACF scribe
The compelling needs of most Nigerians which the incoming president should pay attention to are the consolidation of the campaigns against insecurity posed by the insurgency, armed robbery and kidnappings which are stoked by unemployment. The economy should be diversified away from over dependence on oil. There is need to curb unemployment through a more vigorously and consciously directed effort at generating employment for the youths. This is because unemployed youths are veritable tools as cannon fodder for the dastardly acts.
Given the fact that corruption is the bane of our effort at socioeconomic development, because it collapses national ideals and moral values by distorting societal values and blighting our sense of what is right and what is evil, the fight against corruption should be consolidated through punitive and preventive measures.
All these will require rewiring of the politics in favour of more inclusive democracy and inspire more confidence in government, re-engineering of the nation’s sense of justice, making mercy smarter among the downtrodden, make hope more strategic for the youths and dare the rest of us to follow. That is to say, the leadership should exercise power that is more humane in its spirit, more moral in its purpose and wiser in its uses.
Past regimes could not solve these problems because they were not committed to solving them. Rather, they contributed in creating them. For examples, the Boko Haram saga and the Niger Delta militants are said to be products of transmutation of political thugs whom the politicians used and dumped. The killings of high profile politicians were orchestrated by the politicians who could not possibly be expected to put an end to them. The security challenges reached a level where America that predicted Nigeria would reach a tipping point by 2015.
As to the herdsmen phenomenon, we should know that there is swarm of locust in the land but we do not know the pests. As a result, we are unable to develop the right pesticides.
Since order, justice, liberty, peace, common decency and prosperity for all are never natural order of things, but attained through hard work by both the leaders and the led, the incoming regime should appreciate the situation and note that it is possible to make the most of our God-given diversity and work hard in order to overcome what divides the people.
Somehow, I am of the opinion that the current regime has actually reduced the security challenges substantially. The same with corruption and has put the economy on course; and all that is needed is consolidation. But many Nigerians are impatient largely because of economic imperatives. They do not look at where we are coming from and where we are in order to inform fair and realistic hope.
I therefore plead with Nigerians to note that purposeful leaders can only come about through credible, fair and free elections by voters who should know that bad leaders are elected by good people who refuse to vote, and that those who do not vote lose their own right to complain.