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Sectors Buhari Must Not Toy With

Posted: Jun 4, 2015 at 7:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By William Igenegbai  – Lagos


As the 2015 presidential election has been concluded and the winner, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), has been awarded the certificate of return, Nigerians have been speaking on what they expect from the president-elect after he is sworn on May 29.

In the countdown to the presidential election, indices on the ground had shown that the incumbent president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, was not going to find the process as easy as it was in 2011. Some of them include the fact that a very formidable opposition had been formed. In the history of elections in the country, the ruling party has never had the kind of strong opposition that the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) now has. So it was clear that the opposition (APC) was going to prove a hard nut for the PDP to crack.

Another pointer to the fact that the PDP was not going to find it easy was the people’s misgivings about the Jonathan government’s handling of the security situation in the country. The terrorist group, Boko Haram, had been allowed to hold sway for too long without a sincere and determined effort to fight it.

Also, the unfortunate crisis in the oil sector with the resultant drop in crude oil price and its effect on the nation’s budget was another factor.

Though this (fall in oil price) was not the making of the government, people felt that if the government had been innovative enough to ensure the refining of our crude oil within the country, the situation wouldn’t have been as bad.

The power sector which has been privatised contributed a great deal to the people’s disaffection with the government. While Nigerians were told before the exercise that it would lead to the availability of electricity, it later turned to create an avenue for the investors to rip electricity consumers off, with increasing bills for non-available electricity.

Some Nigerians who spoke with Daily Independent gave these as some of the reasons Jonathan lost the election. They, therefore, urged the president-elect to hit the ground running immediately he is sworn in, as Nigerians have yearned too long for this opportunity.

They spoke on three major areas the president should deploy all in his powers to address.

Elder Femi Owolabi, a former banker, said he would want the president to take a look at the power sector with a view to overhauling it, as what has been done in the sector has not really met the people’s expectation. According to him, those who bought the power sector have continued to milk the people without providing electricity.

He advised the coming president to possibly look at the circumstances surrounding the removal of the former Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, with a view to recalling him. He wants the coming president to ensure that the relevant power firm provides the people with prepaid metres, as according to him, this will check the seeming fraudulent activities in the billing system.

He said that with that power sector working, there will be employment, as those who cannot get white-collar jobs would embark on self-employment. He also said that with adequate electricity, firms which had relocated from Nigeria, as a result of lack of electricity could be lured back. He specifically mentioned the textile sector which was a major employer of labour, which has collapsed due to electricity problem. He advised the coming president to do everything to revive that sector in a bid to generate employment for the teeming unemployed Nigerians.

On his part, a building engineer, Swanzy Oguike, advised the coming president to do a kind of surgical operation in the oil sector. He said that considering how crucial the sector is to the nation’s economy, the president cannot afford to handle the sector with the levity his predecessors did. He said that Buhari should approve the building of new refineries and possibly repair the old ones to put the country in its proper place among oil producing nations, adding that this, apart from generating the needed revenue for the country, would also create employment.

They and some others who spoke agreed that for the whole national system to work, corruption must be tackled headlong.

Johnson Oshionebo, a retiree, said that in line with APC’s avowed promise to fight corruption, the government of Buhari should tackle graft with all its might. He, however, advised it should not get itself bogged down with past cases of corruption but fight new ones with vigour and ensure that cases already in court are pursued to their logical conclusion, with all those found guilty commensurately punished. He said that a situation where somebody found to have been involved in billion naira graft is asked to pay a paltry N750,000 and go free is beyond comprehension.

They all congratulated the president-elect, saying that considering his antecedents especially in the war against indiscipline and corruption, there is no doubt that his government would set in motion the process of achieving Nigerians’ long-desired genuine change.