I congratulate President Tinubu and Vice-President Shettima on their inauguration as President and Vice-President of Nigeria after a rigorous but no less thrilling electioneering campaign and subsequent election. It was a hard-earned victory, despite the vicious campaign of propaganda that pervaded the last general elections.
It is my fervent prayer that their tenure shall witness tremendous growth for Nigeria and that all Nigerians at home and in diaspora, will always look at their tenure and be glad for this period in the history of Nigeria.
The President must set a new agenda and direction for his administration in terms of security of lives and property (which is the first duty of any government), economic and infrastructural development, effective synergy and harmonious relationship with the Legislature and Judiciary and fostering of unity across ethno-religious lines. He must focus on the following:
Enforcement of local content and quota system, development of manpower in the oil and gas industry and full commercialization and turnaround of the NNPC so it can effectively compete with its contemporaries like Saudi ARAMCO and Petrobras. Development of more production trains for the Nigeria LNG Limited which currently produces about 22 million metric tonnes of LNG per year (mmtpa) so as to boost production capacity. NLNG has so far paid over $18 billion as dividend to the federation account and over $9 billion as taxes, while the new administration should ensure the completion and commencement of operations by the Brass LNG project in Bayelsa State.
Development and implementation of measures that promotes the economic enfranchisement of young people, through a range of measures ranging from micro-credit and entrepreneurship education to the review of existing macro-economic planning and trade regimes. Full implementation of the vision and mission behind the establishment of the Nigerian Automotive Design and Development Council, which is to create an enabling environment for the manufacture of Nigerian made vehicles of international standards at competitive prices using local human and material resources.
A recent report by Nigerian Extractives Industry Transparency Initiative revealed that Nigeria earned only $1.4 billion from the solid minerals sector in 13 years. NEITI projects that if the solid mineral sector is thrown open for investment, it can contribute over 60% to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) that means it has the potential to outperform oil revenue.
Development of agriculture to boost the economy, generate employment and make the country self-sufficient in food production and export in the areas of rubber production, cocoa production, fish and seafood production, palm oil production, tomato production, rice production, cassava production, animal husbandry, millet, sorghum and sugar cane production. Government should either introduce zero tariffs for importation of agricultural equipment and agro-processing equipment or ensure full compliance with existing laws and regulations and tax holidays for investors putting processing plants in staple crop processing zones, increase of tariff or outright ban on the importation of any agricultural commodity that can be produced locally.
Resuscitation and commercialization of government owned enterprises like Nigerian Airways, Nigerian National Shipping Line, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Ajaokuta Steel, Iron Ore Company, Nigerian Newsprint Company and Aluminum Smelter Company etc. via public-private agreement while adopting the same corporate governance and business investment model that has made NLNG Limited a huge success. The Nigerian Railway Act must be repealed as a matter of urgency. This will unlock the huge potentials lying to be tapped by the private sector especially in haulage of goods, transportation of petroleum products and generation of new jobs. The overall effect will reduce pressure on existing highways and road network.
Healthcare: NHS UK has an annual budget of about GBP 180.2 billion and about 1.7 million employees making it the highest employer in the United Kingdom. Establishment of world class hospitals in each senatorial district of the federation will bring qualitative health care closer to Nigerians.
Implementation of a living wage rather than a minimum wage so as to ensure job motivation and satisfaction in the public service. Corruption needs to be tackled by the strengthening of institutions saddled with constitutional responsibility and creation of special courts to handle cases of corruption, economic and financial crimes.
Education is the key to unlocking the wealth of nations. When the creative potentials of the children are unearthed, they are unleashed in various productive ventures. Tertiary institutions must be real ivory towers, fully provided with functional laboratories, learning aids, well-motivated teachers, libraries etc.
Government should as a matter of urgent national importance put in place legislation that makes certain businesses the exclusive preserve of Nigerians. An example is the Indigenous Protection Act of Ghana. The sea ports should be re-organised for seamless operations, opening up and deep dredging of existing sea ports that are underutilized. The concessionaires handling the ports should be compelled to fully abide by the requirements of the concession agreements.
The IMF predicts that Nigeria’s GDP will hit $574 billion in 2023, however, Nigeria is currently ranked 131 out of 190 economies in the world on ease of doing business by the World Bank. Even though the Nigerian government has several policies in place to create an enabling environment, but experts are of the opinion that improving standards will improve the current raking of Nigeria. The regulatory agencies must be re-jigged and rid of inefficiency and bureaucratic bottlenecks to ensure quick turnaround time and achievement of target deliverables in line with global standards and practice.
The President is no doubt a leader with mass grassroots appeal; he is a charismatic, sagacious statesman, bridge builder, mobilizer, detailed organizer and administrator, he owes it as a duty to his supporters and Nigerians to use his long-term experience, avowed good nature and spirit to bear on his Presidency devoid of lethargy but directed by proactive, visionary, altruistic and purposeful leadership.
Ajonibadi, a tax practitioner and public affairs analyst writes from Lagos. [email protected]