The year 2019, to so many Nigerians, promises to be an eventful one. This year is unlike any other. It is an election year, carrying along with it, all the trappings and vagaries that accompany such monumental events. They include anxiety, uncertainties, delayed investment decisions and, in some cases, apathy, among other issues that will impact the economy and polity this year
Apart from the fact it is an election year, there is however the belief among the citizenry that 2018, despite the fact that the nation’s economy finally moved out of recession, was a challenging and difficult year in which several unpleasant events shaped the landscape of the country.
It is against this background that some Nigerians say, beside the general clamour for free and fair election, which begin next month, there is need for the outcome to produce a president and indeed leaders who are genuine, willing to take responsibility for the present situation and conditions we have found ourselves.
They are also demanding for emergence of the man or woman who is willing to accept the challenge of nation-building—to face it head-on with integrity of heart and skillfulness of hand.
According to them Nigeria is blessed with leaders who have only what looks like integrity of heart, but lack skillfulness of hand! To truly move Nigeria forward, we need a president who has both qualities comfortably residing in him, they further argue.
They are also canvassing for a president that empathizes with the masses and works to diminish the huge socio-economic disparities in the country, with a believe in restructuring so as to make the states viable and responsible, rather than depending on monthly allocations from Abuja
Nigeria needs a president that is willing to invest in education and general manpower development, urgently transit from dependence on petrodollars, build national cohesion by investing in collective heritage projects as well as being savvy as its obtainable globally to drive state architecture and resources in collaboration with sophisticated private sector for vibrant economy for the benefit of all.
Adeola Elliott, former Chairman Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Agric and Agro Allied group said, “The global demand for savvy head of government as seen in US, Finland, France, Ethiopia etc, to drive state governance architecture and resources, in collaboration with sophisticated private sector, to produce vibrant economy, that ensures prosperity and well-being of the people has become inevitable in Nigeria.
In the light of the above, Nigeria cannot be an exception. Otherwise, we will continue the downward economic trend witnessed since 1960 to date.
We require a President that is well informed and very articulate to steer Nigeria’s economic ship. Education and exposure are germane.”
Wale Oyekoya, managing director, Bama Foods, says the country needs a visionary leader that will listen to his people and govern with conscience
“Nigeria has been labeled as the poverty capital of the world, overtaking Indians and worst place to do business successfully. Most of our leaders are arrogant and see themselves as emperors stealing our common wealth to other countries. We need a president that will not be sectional or regional leader. President that will tackle youth unemployment with human face, improve on our educational, health and agricultural sectors. President that will believe better infrastructures is our right and not privileges. I don’t expect miracles from any of the two major presidential candidates either APC or PDP because both are old and tired and should go home,” Oyekoya said.
Olusegun Oshinowo, former director-general of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), says whoever becomes the next president must pay a closer attention to infrastructure in order to attract new investments.
Oshinowo pointed out that the Nigerian economy is bleeding from over-regulation, as multiple regulatory agencies created by the government— most of which have duplicated functions and now see themselves as existing only for revenue drive.
He said rather than support and aide enterprise, the agencies have become a cog in the wheel of economic growth, as businesses in many respects are hounded, thereby discouraging investments.
The consequence of this, according to Oshinowo, is that business expansion is hampered by negative impact on employment generation.
The former DG spoke during a valedictory press conference, saying in other climes regulatory agencies play critical roles in the encouragement of growth and sustenance of enterprise. Oshinowo retired from NECA last month after 19 years of service in the association.
“Unlike in other environment where regulation is used to encourage and aide the growth of enterprise, regulatory agencies in Nigeria have actually become killers of businesses,” said Oshinowo at a valedictory press conference last week.
According to him, the continued dependence of the federating states on the monthly federal allocations makes nonsense of the idea of a federal structure that Nigeria had set out to operate.
“Nigeria must restructure to allow states take responsibility for certain aspects of this economy. Even if you have zero-level corruption, best economic policies, if you don’t restructure to allow state create wealth for the people, those policies won’t work,” he added
He decried the present situation where only Lagos and Abuja are the centres of attraction.
“Today, it is only Lagos and Abuja that things seem to be happening. There are no economic opportunities for the citizens in other states. So, what you find is a situation where Nigerians are moving out of those states to Lagos to find means of livelihood. This is not good for the economy. The federating states must be able to create opportunities to engage their citizens and fight poverty.” He further said.
Nnimmo Bassey, an environmental activist and Executive Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) says a president that is emancipated from neocolonial hangups and can inspire citizens to productive action is needed for the country. According to him, he or she should work to enthrone a pro-people constitution, cut down on executive luxuries, promote a lean, part time legislature and provide basic social services and security for the citizenry, among others.
According to Lagos based energy analysts, who pleaded for anonymity, what Nigeria needs now are leaders and not Politicians.
According to him, it is the absence of leadership that is causing a lot of challenges for the country, adding that the country is blessed with resources which are being wasted to poor leadership.
“Most states in Nigeria are rich with natural endowments, but they being administered led by those who are poor in integrity of heart and skillfulness of hand,” he said.
In fact, the New Year poll report by NOIPolls revealed that most Nigerians want the government to mainly focus its attention on education (49 per cent), security (44 per cent), electricity supply (36 per cent) and economy (32 per cent), amongst other sector/areas in 2019.
The report stated that it was not surprising that education topped the list this year given the series of challenges facing the sector. For instance, it noted that poor funding was one of the major reasons for the deterioration and challenges in the education sector, especially tertiary education, which has led to frequent strikes by academic and non-academic staff since the early 1990s.
The federal government’s allocation to education in the last 10 years has been inadequate as only a total of N3.90 trillion or an average of 7.07 per cent has so far been allocated to the sector out of a total budget of N55.19 trillion.
Also, a Demographic Health Survey (DHS) conducted by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Nigerian government, had revealed that the number of out-of-school children rose from 10.5 million in 2010 to 13.2 million in 2015 in Nigeria.
On security, the survey showed that 44 per cent of Nigerians reported that they expected the government to improve on the issue of security in Nigeria as they believed it has not fared well in 2018.
The nation witnessed a drastic breakdown of internal security challenges in 2018, ranging from terror strikes in the north-east to herdsmen and farmers conflicts in the north-central to militants operating in the south-south.
“This crisis comes in several forms such as communal, religious, political and socio-economic with varying degree of casualties mostly civilians.
“For instance, the tension between herdsmen and farming communities saw a dramatic escalation in the first quarter of 2018 especially the attacks that occurred in some local government areas in Benue, Plateau, Adamawa, Nasarawa and Taraba states which involved the loss of lives and properties leaving many people displaced from their homes,” the report added.
The survey opinion on power revealed that 36 per cent of the respondents expected the government to significantly focus its attention on the sector, considering that this sector has faced huge challenges over the years.