In February, Nigeria’s Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Ahmed Bola Tinubu as winner of a controversial election, whose results are currently being challenged at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal. If Tinubu is sworn in next week, there is a lot he needs to address.
From my point of view, the most important is feeding an increasingly hungry country. Nigeria’s food security situation has been a major concern in recent years, and it could get worse. The SBM Jollof Index shows that basic feeding is becoming more difficult for Nigerians. Protein is increasingly disappearing from our diets. According to the 2020 Global Hunger Index, Nigeria ranks 98th out of 107 countries, indicating a serious level of hunger and malnutrition. The report states that about one in three Nigerians is undernourished, and one in five children is stunted due to chronic malnutrition.
Several factors contribute to the food insecurity situation in Nigeria, including climate change, conflicts, poverty and inadequate infrastructure. The country is also facing several challenges in its agricultural sector, which is a crucial source of food for the population. These challenges include limited access to credit and markets, poor infrastructure and low adoption of modern technology.
There is Nigeria’s debt situation. As of 2021, the country’s international debt stood at approximately $33 billion, according to the World Bank, which represents a significant increase from previous years, largely due to the government’s increased borrowing to finance its budget deficits and fund infrastructure projects.
Additionally, Nigeria’s states are largely uncompetitive, and this has slowed the growth of non-oil revenues. Only a few states such as Lagos, cn claim to be among the most economically developed and competitive regions in Africa, with thriving business sectors and relatively high levels of foreign investment, but others grapple with poverty, underdevelopment and insecurity, which limits their competitiveness. The West African country also ranks 116th out of 141 countries in the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Competitiveness Index.
So what steps should Tinubu take to rectify these issues?
For starters, Tinubu would have to deal with Nigeria’s growing insecurity levels by going forward with State Police Reform, which will help with law and order and also supplement the effort of the military against the terrorist problem. The state police would better understand the specific security needs of each state and work with local communities to prevent terrorist attacks. The state police would also be more agile and responsive to threats than the national police force, which is spread thin across the country. However it has to be done in a manner that prevents.
Bola Tinubu would also have to address Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit and the need to improve non-oil exports, especially from the Mining Sector and the Agricultural Sector. Adequate coverage with Railway Infrastructure is vital to both sectors and also helps with the development of viable towns and cities that would help reduce the rate of migration to the key states and state capitals.
The impact of Nigeria’s lack of rail infrastructure on its economic success is strangely underrated. Outside of the Land Use Act, it is a key reason for the failure to attract major investment in mining, agriculture and manufacturing because road transportation is often more expensive, less reliable and prone to theft and equipment sabotage, so the incoming government must prioritise it. Thankfully, the states now have the right to build the rail infrastructure, but the Tinubu government must financially equip states for that.
This heightens the demands for devolution; and while we hope that Tinubu helps facilitate needed constitutional amendments, he could help states take better advantage of the openings that currently exist. For example, according to the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act of 2007, the ownership and control of all minerals and gas is vested in the federal government. However, the Act also allows for state governments to participate in the exploitation of minerals in their states.
While state economy and empowerment is crucial, the next Nigerian president must accept that the Sahelian region is responsible for the violence and unrest that’s threatening its peace. It can irrigation to reclaim land taken by desertification, as this will address some of the underlying grievances contributing to extremism and terrorism.
The incoming administration must also not undermine the contribution of the international community in its oil sector development: The European Union (EU) is Nigeria’s largest trading partner, with total trade amounting to €39.3 billion in 2019. The United States is also a major trading partner, with total bilateral trade of $8.4 billion in 2020.
Finally, Bola Tinubu must accept that he has a major legitimacy problem arising from his pre-election conduct and how the elections were held and judged. He must acknowledge the imperfections of the process that has made him president-elect and work on making the electoral process more trustworthy if Nigeria is to continue with its democratic experiment that has lasted just 24 years and has never been this despised and distrusted.