|President Muhammadu Buhari|
At the federal level, 2018 should be the year to end the recurrent exchange of blame on the electricity situation; utilise available generation capacity to the optimum; improve wheeling capacity and let the distribution companies do their work without excuses. Any of the legs of this chain that becomes a drag on others should face deep surgical operations geared towards reforms and greater efficiency. Since the challenges facing the sector are not new and have been well-documented over the years, the challenge of leadership is to take steps to resolve them and not to continue the blame passing game.
Besides, 2018 presents the federal legislature the opportunity to once and for all institutionalise deep-seated reforms in the petroleum industry through various shades of the Petroleum Industry Bill. The Federal Executive should stop stories of having given out petroleum refinery licenses and take simple and pragmatic steps towards getting refineries built through private capital. Yes, private capital with state facilitation can do the work required in the sector. The image of a country that exports crude oil while the largest part of its import bill is spent on getting in refined petroleum is a disaster. The President should give up the petroleum resources ministry and let qualified and experienced Nigerians manage the ministry under his supervision. He should simply set the broad goals of having functional refineries, making refined products available, creating jobs and increasing local value addition in the sector. He should have no business in the day-to-day management of the sector.
The New Year presents the opportunity for the federal government to run a proper budget year; pass the 2018 budget on time, fund and fully implement the same. The implementation should no longer be one that can only be seen in media announcements; we need to feel the impact of government funding and implementing the capital component of the budget. We need to see contractors working on roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, dams, electricity projects, etc. The excuses of lack of funding can no longer be tenable in the face of increased crude oil prices, revenue agencies reporting their capacity to exceed revenue projections, etc.
The Federal Government should rise up to the security challenge occasioned by the clash of herdsmen with farmers. It is a fact of Nigerian life that these clashes were very minimal under previous regimes. They only became accentuated when the current President won the election in 2015. Thousands of lives have been lost in avoidable circumstances that cannot help the welfare of either the herdsmen or the settled farming communities. Clearly, the government has deliberately failed to take any preemptive action and thereby creating the impression that it is supporting one of the parties to the conflict. Nigeria does not lack the human and material resources to turn this challenge into an opportunity to increase livelihoods on both sides. But the political will seems to be lacking. Nigerians expect Mr. President to summon the courage and political will to do the right thing; stop the destruction of lives and property and facilitate cordial relationships across the federation.
We need to see the federal and state legislature conclude the constitution amendment process on time so that the planning for elections scheduled for 2019 can proceed in earnest. The uncertainties of amending the constitution a few days or months to an election cannot be proposed as a best practice. 2018 presents a further opportunity to rethink our system of governance to see if it can be rejigged through a process of decentralisation of powers and greater autonomy to lower rungs of government instead of the current concentration of powers at the centre. The idea that Nigerians cannot peacefully sit down and engage each other in meaningful dialogue after 18 years of civil rule is unfortunate. The fact that Nigeria as presently constituted is not working and may not likely work cannot be denied by any reasonable Nigeria. Thus, the insistence on the continuation of the status quo by a section of the country is baffling.
2018 presents the Nigerian leadership the opportunity to take steps in different directions that will promote development and the general welfare. For governors across the states, the New Year is an opportunity to become more humane by treating state employees as full members of the human family. Salaries and entitlements should be paid when they are due. There should be increased openness and transparency in the management of state resources. Detailed budgets and full implementation reports should be made available to Nigerians. State legislatures should be alive to their constitutional responsibilities. The image of the rubber stamp legislature is too poor for state Houses of Assembly populated by purported elected representatives where you find fairly well educated Nigerians.
The New Year is an opportunity for citizens to get more engaged in governance through asking critical questions; joining civic groups and ensuring that they get value out of public resources. Evidently, our docility over the years has encouraged our leaders to mismanage our resources as it has promoted unaccountability and corruption.
Finally, I wish all Nigerians, especially all my readers across the world, a prosperous New Year. THINK YOUR FRIEND WOULD BE INTRESTED? SHARE THIS STORY USING ANY OF THE SHARE BUTTON BELOW ⬇ PLACE YOUR TEXT ADVERT BELOW:>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>