For the change agenda of the Buhari administation, the secret of the actual change needed is to focus all our energy not on fighting the old but on building the new society of our dream.
That Nigeria is dowered and endowed with diverse resources is an over flogged point that needs no debate. It is also unarguable that the giant of Africa has over the years been struggling to ensure there is an equitable distribution of these available sources of wealth to facilitate inclusive growth and promote national development. This takes its seat of truth in the current experience of economic recession which is not only a global problem but much more a national crisis and disaster as far as our country is concerned. The most brilliant question any critical observer of the national state of affairs will possibly ask is how beet can our resources be converted for swift growth and equitable development amidst the ugly recession trend? This is my blueprint and burden of proof.
The turning point to the identified crisis and seeming logical answer is not farfetched but embedded in the strategic eight-point agenda of the government which when synchronized with my submission will not only result in a comprehensive growth of the economy but also, a steady national development process.
With a population of over 170 million people, Nigeria has a promising future. We have a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $339 billion, and a per capita GDP of $2,300. Since 2011, our budgets have ranged between $21.8 billion and $30 billion annually. Our exports are $48.5 billion and imports $35 billion by 2013. According to the World Almanac and Book of Facts for 2013, our annual GDP growth is 6.1 percent and fifty per cent of Nigerians are literate.
To go by the Federal Government’s change agenda, the following facets and sectors are said and expected to be given utmost sense of importance. Security, corruption, food, power, transportation, education, affordable healthcare and devolution of power. All these obviously are poised to ensuring accelerated economic growth. As it popularly opinionated that it is change and not chance that brings about progress, every-one agenda item only tend to thrive well and get accomplished when inclusive growth is ensured via the judicious conversion of our resources to bring on progress and development.
Inclusive growth as it implies, is a comprehensive growth which encloses the rich, the poor and the middle class. It is most possible in line with the change agenda when the management of our resources is built on our strength of big population and highly placed ethical values. The Federal Government should ensure policies capable of being channeled by the rights hands are in place. Policies that will curb unemployment and lack of skills in information and communication technology. To achieve this, we should maximize our potentials through a Committee of Development Advisers (CDA) which shall comprise experts in various fields with membership of up to thirty. However, members of its executive and decision making board should be more than ten.
The mandate of the CDA shall be to ensure full employment of a reasonable number of Nigerians. Consequently, to achieve its mandate, it shall industrialize Nigeria within 15 years through the establishment of import substitution industries and small and medium scale enterprises.
It is penultimate to ensure that the CDA constantly advise the president by identifying our lapses, supervising the implementation and financing of SMEs and Import Substitution Industries (ISI). The ISIs should be managed by the National Full Employment Plan (NAFEP). SMEDAN (Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria) should continue to develop SMEs in Nigeria.
On security, the Federal Government should establish the Federal Reconciliation Administration (FERA) to resettle and ensure the re-organization of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and rebuild the schools, roads and houses of the crisis-riddled North East Zone of the country.
The FERA and NAFEP should be charged with the task of identifying the urgent needs of the citizens and ensure their satisfaction. The six geo-political zones shall have their needs regularly tabled through their representatives. From the general view, our urgent needs are constant power supply, infrastructure refurbishments, provision of refineries, deregulation of state ownership of airports, railways and the universities. In regulating education, our human resources will be utilized as much as we try to optimize our mineral resources. The Federal government shall pay for the tuition and sports charges in our primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions.
The presence of an interest free, collateral free development loan, perhaps named for Muhammadu Buhari should be instituted as a Central Bank product available in every financial institution in Nigeria. This will curb the establishment of such banks as infrastructure, industry and shipping banks.
In a bid to ensure a steady national development, some issue are however germane to Nigerian development. One, our bloated civil service; we should have 720,000 civil servants at the peak, meaning 2,000 people per each of the 360 federal constituencies. The remainder should be pensioned, trained and financed for self-employment and sent away. In the same way, we should upgrade the number of our policemen to 720,000 but our 800,000 soldiers are adequate. They should be equipped with modern and efficient weapons including drones and other sophisticated ammunition capable of combating the plague of terrorism that is upon us.
The Manufacturing Import Substitution Industries and our industrial infrastructure as promised recently by the new management of the African Development Bank (AFDB) can be and should be ensured by the assistance of the AFDB and the Islamic Development Bank.
To ensure our educational institutions are inclusive enough to contribute to the anticipated national development and growth, we should concentrate on providing new institutions to manage our resources in order to eradicate illiteracy which; on World Literacy Day last September, UNESCO disclosed is 56 percent of Nigeria’s adult population, the largest in the world. Literacy which is an arbiter of development can be taken care of when the Federal Government allocates 26 percent of our annual budget to education in accordance with the UNESCO recommendations. Laws protecting citizens from being ejected from schools on account of incapacity to pay school fees and charges should be made.
We should march on with the change agenda, realizing that adequate electricity is crucial to development with the new institutions including a privately owned solid mineral development company where government owns 30 per cent. On a final note, a council of Presidential Advisers whose duty shall be to monitor, supervise and streamline all the projects in the country should be in place. The appointment shall therefore be in accordance with the change agenda of the Federal government under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari void of bias, sentiments and nepotism.
Administering Nigeria in line with the transparency mantra of this administration, would ensure that we shall congratulate ourselves for a remarkable recovery from an inequitable growth and slow national development to a new one of inclusive growth and speedy national development with the optimal utilization of our resources.
This way, we can see positively, a boost of actualization in the policies of President Buhari as the points above will ensure a total simplification and close provision of the lasting solutions that have been sought via occasional travelings abroad and sliding of the naira for the dollar.
On a final note, President Buhari should personalize these policies and couch them ‘Buharinomics’. By this, we are not just finding a way out of our current economic woes and recession but much more, enlightening other countries who are in dire economic situations as they will adopt the Nigerian policies.
Samuel O. Ajayi
Faculty of Law,
University of Lagos
Published By Hosanna William and Great Opara