GENERAL Mohammed Buhari (retd.) was elected as civilian president in 2015 after three unsuccessful attempts. When he was sworn in, hedid not mince words telling Nigerians boldly how he met the state of the nation. He met unveiled realities of insecurity, huge youth unemployment, declining economy and uncontrolled corruption at all levels of government in Nigeria. With all these, he never pretended that he was going to solve all these problems within a short time in office, but he was strongly convicted that the problems were solvable.
Unlike the set ofpast presidentsthat passed through Nigeria reluctantly, without the ideological vision to drive their mission, without the strong commitment, compassion, courage and character of integrity, he was the only one who determinedly wanted to be president. He left no one in doubt that he was not relying only on his skills, but depended on the support of the people who are victims of past mismanagement and insidious corruption as his vanguard of support against expected fight-back against governments tough policies and hard programmes.
The multifarious problems he met were accentuated by network of damaging social media practitioners implanted by corrupt legacies. These elementscan see nothing progressive in the style and techniques being adopted to stem the tide of unethical practices, unfortunately, in the face of indiscipline combined withgeneral ambivalence and apathy on the part of the people which prevented the government from taking very strong and hard decision to quell the scotch of avoidable corruption practices in the country. That made the government to appear as not working.
The judiciary stinks to the high heavens in unprofessional conduct. The police that should be in charge of law enforcement often break the law. The legislature has turned itself into an active player in the game of under-developing the potentials of the country. Regrettably, the judiciary, by its status of rot, is fixed to be the impregnable goalkeeper for corrupt players, while the media and the people are cornered to be referees and spectators. Most media houses are allying with the agenda being set by opposition and given their pre-eminence in the ownership structures of newly-established FM Radio Stations, they open daily to castigate everything that the ruling government is doing, exploiting the divisions among the groups thatjoin the coalition that gave birth to the APC.
Against these backdrops, cases of corruption taken through the police or so-called Justice Departmentare compromised by using wrong charges that are easily knocked down by lawyers who do not necessarily know and usethe law to win cases, but only win because they are familiar with judges.
Legaltechnicalities were used most often against substantial justice to win cases. It is, therefore, not surprising that the accounts of judges are loaded with unjustifiable lodgments of cash which in most cases have been traced to lawyers who know them. Monies found to belong to states being laundered from contracts awarded to accomplices are being won back through invidious victory from sales of justice. Unexplained ownership of houses built with proceeds of corruption is left free to their owners.
Above all, unemployment became onepart of the success story of governance. Moniesallocated to generate adequate power are diverted by known persons who are eitherdead or alive as a result of why industrial and manufacturing companies are moving out of the country to settle in countrieswhere the advantages of scale could be enjoyed.
Standard of education was falling steeply, with tertiary institutionsturning out huge student failures in national examinations, foisting consequential threat on our capital development initiatives. These are verifiable reasons which underpinnedrecent recession in the country, factors which the opposition used to undermine the achievements of the ruling party in areas it was expected to succeed in meeting the high hopes of the downtrodden Nigerians within the first term of the Buhari-led administration.
Another election was conducted on February 23 in which majority of Nigerians who believe in the vision of President Buhari re-elected him into office for another term, despite hate campaigns mounted by the major opposition party with the support of not-too-visible political parties who exist on the patronages doled to them by the established opposition.
In this regard,a new government will be sworn-in on May 29 to take Nigeria to the next level. That government, which will run till 2023,will be headed by the incumbent President Buhari. Perhaps, its worth mentioning at this stage thatas Nigeria is transiting to 60 years of age in 2020, its leader cannot afford to be indifferent and apathetic to the genuine desires of the people whose popular votes saw him into office the second time, having laid a solid foundation in his first term in office as civilian president. If he completeshis second term in 2023, he will be the second civilian president to complete full term in office afterChief Olusegun Obasanjo.
President Buharis victory on the February 23 must, once again, set new agenda for earning greatness for the country and reaffirm the strong commitmentof the president to ending corruption and insecurity as necessary impetus to gaining the confidence of local and foreign investors to want to subscribe to doing business in Nigeria,thereby attracting huge direct foreign investment (DFI) in which case he will also assist in choosing a better path for the countrys future development.
To achieve these feat,the president will be expected to set up a multi-stakeholder devoid of looters of public fund; an inclusive government that will engage the best from opposition parties, women groups, labour and civil societies, professionals, technocrats from industries and government, political parties and faith-based institutions, while emphasising result-oriented global best practices in government and private sector, guaranteeing liberty and citizens freedom in the land. President Buhari must start the next level government with the outright dissolution of the present cabinet and boards of commissions appointments to allow him to set up a new cabinet that is inclusive of nominees from parties that contributed to the coalition that form the APC as well as oppositions parties, while reaching out to others in concrete appointments that will make them participate in the government, so as to get the system working for the country, though without prejudice to the ongoing corruption fight which must continue unsparingly.
After dissolution of the cabinet and the boards of the MDAs, a meeting of the old parties that contributed into the coalition that resulted in the APC should be called to discuss and adoptthe sharing of the benefits of the coalition in equitable manner. Also look at the adoption of sharing with the opposition parties and other stakeholders earlier mentioned to form a multi-stakeholder government that ensures inclusiveness and participation.
Anything short of this is a wrong and inappropriate starting and it will not bring the desired peace and progress.
As a follow up, President Buhari should remove the toga of ethnicity and religious bigotry being alleged,from his body, and let the election globally adjudged as very free, fair and credible that retained him in power be followed by new programmes,jettisoning the alleged protection of negative policies that tend to seek selfish protection of narrow interests.
He must strongly resist, from now, those who might want to halt the movement to the next level to bring about a New Nigeria that works.
From here, Nigerians will expect the president to move forward in a short span of time, to achieve more on his three cardinal programmes of elevating the economy, fighting corruption to its knees and letting Boko Haram become history in Nigeria.
All-inconclusive enquiries into how oil money was diverted, misused, personalised and embezzled between 1999 and 2011, particularly allocations for construction of roads, building of rails, airports and the $16 billion meant for power stations, the Second Niger Bridge, should come under special scrutiny, so that the guilty could be adequately sanctioned.
Corruption must be tackled headlong,fought strenuously and unsparingly in a nonselective manner to guarantee non-protection of one side of the polity against the other in which political carpet-crossing will not guarantee the forgiveness of corruption offences of defectors into the ruling party.
The anti corruption Agencies must be reformed to be more effective, proactive in responding to corruption issues in line with global best practices.With the above, President Buhari must continue to demonstrate boldness in tackling corruption in the military, legislature and the judiciary and searchlight must be beamed on the executive in a more visible and confidence-building manner without creating any shred of doubt about providing coverage for anybody however highly connected and placed.
In fighting against corruption, all toes must not only be ruthlessly stepped on, but also the legs that carry the toes must be crushed using the law.
With corruption out of the way of Nigeria, there will be available resources left for the building of roads and bridges, construct power infrastructures which willbe available for the manufacturers, industrialists and for social services towards inducing employment and creating new capacities for better revenue generation.
In all these, education will be brought to its expected level of international standard and the money that would have gone into private pockets of civil servants and politicians will be utilised to fund university research on science and technology and Nigeria will be great from a government that works.
BOKO HARAM INSURGENCY
Concern by the escalating incidence of insurgents activities and general insecurity, we suggest that the President must review his government strategies used in the last four years to combat insecurity and bring about a new measure that will focus not only on the Insurgents but also their Masterminds.
Government must extend its dragnets widely to cover all areas experiencing insurgency namely BORNO, YOBE,BAUCHI, KANO, SANFARA,GOMBE and ADAMAWA to expose and arrest Masterminds and their Agents for unsparing and non- selective prosecution.
immediate measures must be put in place to engage the Book Haram Insurgents frontally and in preemptive manner chasing them out of their cocoons and halt their counter attacks against the Nigeria fighting forces.
Never again must the Insurgents attack any Barracks without counter repelling force on standby to ward off their menace instantly.
Everything must be done to prevent direct Boko Haram insurgency on Civilian targets and Military bases. The heart warming steps being taken by the Buharis Administration must continue to halt permanently, the bombing of people, habitations and destroying of properties.
LABOUR AND UNEMPLOYMENT
The new cordial relationship that will be engendered by the APC majority in both the Senate and the House of Representatives must be effectively used to review past bills that were not signed into law by the President and the Executive bills rejected or not passed by the Legislators for conjunctive re evaluation and Consideration for enactment into law.
The National Minimum Wage Act should be considered for immediate signing by the President to complete the processes of lawmaking.
The President should encourage the State Governors to also pay the minimum wage as signed into law.
The President should seriously consider the review of the Revenue collection and allocation by increasing the revenue accruable to the States and Local Government Councils. This is without prejudice to finding out states that mismanaged the bailout funds with adequate sanction on whoever embezzled the money meant for paint backlog of salaries and pensions.
The President should continue his efforts in reducing unemployment, in addition he should open more space for massive recruitment of unemployed Youths Graduates, that will be paid decent wages in the Agricultural Sector, Oil and Gas Industries particularly in the Service delivery sectors while re emphasizing areas for self employment.
There is need for a systematic short time restructuring of the economy, starting from redistribution and redirection of National Revenue through which the Federal arm of government will be divested of its huge share of National revenue and many of the projects in which it competes with the States and local Governments of the Federation.
Another step will be to recognize the AUTONOMY OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT and encouraging States to invest in areas where they have comparative advantage.
These can be achieved within a short span of time once President Buhari think great and act boldly as this carry no threat to the division of the Country which has been the fear of certain ethnic groups.
Finally, given the confidential trust that subsist between the Poor and the government of President Buhari, it is certain the government of next level should focus more on the less privileged and Vulnerables, creating a qualitative life for decent existence.
New efforts must be directed at abolishing double taxation by which Citizens provide private electricity by themselves, provide Day and Night Security, sinking of boreholes and Well to provide water for their households.
BUILDING A NEW POLITICAL AFFILIATION AND NEW VOTERS
New electoral reforms must be put through to the National Assembly, to unbundle INEC in its activities and work to adopt the reports of local and International election Observers.
A new political system that seeks to change party candidates relation with their supporters must be put in place to create newly oriented voters to begin to sponsor candidates to elective offices instead of taking money from them for their votes. These Voter will see it as their obligation to monitor the performance of elected party members towards delivering on their given mandate.
The President must set up a committee to find out how many of our prisons are overpopulated by Inmates who are suffering injustices under poor prison .conditions, resulting from the incapacity of the judiciary and Prison staff corruption.
Measures must immediately be put in place to ensure that Prison Officers are made responsible and responsive to improve the harsh and life- threatening condition of the Nigeria Prisons for the habitation of awaiting trial suspects and Prisoners, prevent extra- judicial deaths, torture, over crowding, inadequate feeding and shortages of medical instruments and drugs,, living in conducive environment including total stoppage of prisoners extortion and illegal levies
The Police service must be rid of hoodlums who have been mistakenly recruited based on past reports, attitude, character and complaints so as to prevent conscious commission of law breaking, extra-prejudicial killings, rampant torture to extract information from suspects, arbitrary detention and maltreatment of detainees, while nobody engaged in Kidnappings, intra- Community Violence, Robberies, and unnecessary Militancy must be spared from accounting before the law of the Land.
Measures must be put in place to curtail the misuse of ammunitions against public rallies and peaceful protests measurably.
PEACEFUL SOCIAL ORDER
The Leader of the Shia Muslims should be immediately released with strong warning not to commit other offences against the law of the land.
The police should be re- orientated to imbibe a new service order that will prevent long time pre- trial detention, curtail widespread societal disorder from religious bigots and ethnic groupings, protecting the rights and liberty of the the people in all situations.
CHILDREN AND WOMEN SEXUAL MOLESTATION
The Police must breast up against corruption in the service, with strong engagement of the perpetrators of violence against women, the children and the vulnerable. Sextual exploitation must be seriously tackled using the law in all situation to stop raping. and sextual molestations,in the office and at homes.
As Civil Society Group, we shall remain unrelenting in monitoring, evaluating and supporting government programs , issuing scorecards on achievements and against failure to deliver on the given mandate of the people.
We shall remain a supportive vanguard of the government anti corruption and unethical practices, people centred policies and programs towards engendering human rights and Good Governance.
- Comrade Erubami is president, Nigeria Voters Assembly