Mallam Mohammed Lawal
The late strongman of Kwara politics who installed governors, senators and almost all elected officers, during his lifetime initially in Kogi and Kwara states and later in Kwara state once taught his jubilant precious daughter Sen. Rukayyah Gbemi Saraki, who came to thank him after being announced as the winner of Kwara Central Senatorial district, a lesson about time. This is what transpired between the two in the presence of some of his political followers. He asked her to close her eyes for four seconds later he directed her to open them, then he told her that the four years for her tenure are just like the four seconds she closed her eyes. This is my focus today, but in this case, my message is for President Muhammadu Buhari.
To convince you that four years can be equal to four days, let us start with the first tenure of President Buhari from 2015 to 2019. Many of the actors especially the principal ones must have surely lamented some weeks to the 2019 presidential election about how time flies. President Buhari has during the last four year gone through a very eventful period, with enormous challenges on security and economic wellbeing of Nigeria. One aspect that we have not been talking about is the character content of the country, that is, the morals and attitudes of majority of the citizens vis-a-vis patriotism. He did his best to bring back the country to its senses in view of the 16 years of PDP’s brigandage in governance.
Now for his second and last tenure, he is not going to run against anybody but most importantly against TIME and HISTORY. PMB must leave a legacy in view of the circumstances that made him to join politics; the three attempts for the Presidency, the final victory and how it happened. The episodes leading to the above circumstances are very well known, discussed and documented.
The next four years, which I strongly believe are like four days require President Buhari to not only triple efforts but to also think and act outside the box in all ramifications: vis-a-vis quality of lieutenants, associates and time space for work and focus areas etc.
The tasks are Herculean and whatever needs to be done must be accomplished within the first two years, that is to say by the end of 2021. It must be crystal clear to even the enemies and adversaries alike, that the country is on solid paths of irreversible economic growths; peaceful coexistence between and amongst Nigerians, guaranteed food security that shall not only feed the country but competitively export to west and some African countries; adequate and stable power supply, well established foundation and in most cases take up of cottage/medium scale industrial bases across the country; unemployment and poverty reduction by say 50%.
So, within the first two years, President Buhari must lift at least 50% of the poor population to the next level of at least middle class or the level of those on the edge of the cliff. And as he consolidates towards the final exit, more and more shall continue to join the alright bracket of the rich.
On the unemployment issue, similar statistics and reasoning shall follow;
There are straight forward universally accepted feasible plans and strategies to achieve these. President Buhari has done it before in PTF, he still can do better now with reasonable amendment to that concept and strategy.
I will highlight some of these plans and strategies.
On the educational and health sectors, the quality of primary education and medicare must be dramatically improved within the first two years. The tertiary institutions (colleges of education, polytechnics and universities) must be refocused, rationalized and streamlined (few should be selected and worked upon to achieve the desired result within the four years while others continue with the normal procedures with affordable amendments in funding etc. This applies to the remaining primary and secondary schools. Other key areas like water resources, transportation, environment etc should have a solid plan and secondary increase in budgetary allocation and attention.
Some areas to focus for exit strategy
Establish an agency under the office of Mr. President with slim and focused structures (whose staff must be committed, loyal and competent) in the following areas: agriculture, education, unemployment, power sector, industrial parks (cottage/SMEs), human resources development, Poverty alleviation (skills acquisition) and startup businesses. It is not like establishing new government agencies, but collaborating with already existing ones to make them more focused, down-to-earth, that must implement decision within time frame, proper use of funds etc and exercise authority (as the coordinating agency under the President’s office will have the authority to ensure things are done). Example of these collaborating agencies are: NDE, SMEDAN, BOI, BOA, NIRSAL and CBN etc.
For massive agriculture recruitment and drive.
• CBN, Extension services providers, BOA, tractors, units, fertilizer blending plants and projects, NIRSALs, recently formed Agric Cooperatives etc.
• Unemployment: SMEDAN, BOI, N- Power, Ministry of Education. This is a very brief framework that if put into operation can enable Mr. President to leave a lasting legacy within the first two years of his second and last term. By the end of the term, if religiously implemented Mr President shall be a very proud person in terms of what history shall record for him, happy and content with his achievements for Nigeria.
Mallam Lawal who is a member of the Board of NNPC, writes from Abuja