Was it four years ago that we inaugurated the Late President Umaru Musa Yaradua? A child born on that day would have made considerable progress in life than our dear country Nigeria. The past four years can be defined as an eclectic mix of power play, word rehearsals (with little action) and yes news feast. Hardly did one day go by without Nigeria having a major event or act to talk about. Unfortunately, many of them were not good news…. Could not have been good news anyway with the combination of humans tagged as our rulers.
Non-the-less, we should be exceedingly proud of the last few months in relations to the 2011 elections. Although full of its own upheavals, the elections opened a new chapter in the history of Nigeria: Who would have thought that in a country like ours, elections would go beyond the choices of a few individuals and families to the choice of the majority. Democracy they say allows us to live the fruits of our choices for four years. Truly, the elections were a “fair” reflection of the choice of the people- good or bad choices, we are stuck with those choices for four years and had better make the best use of them.
We must all realize that governance is a continuum and thus, it is not about what a government does in a span of four years but about the viability and sustainability of such in years to come, the impact of the projects it carries out generations after ours and indeed the problems it has solved. It would be a great joy to see a coalition of minds forming a transformational unity government. Leadership must go beyond political parties and symbols to what can be and should be done. Policies and strategies that have been adopted and proved to work in great organizations and bodies should be adopted in our own country. There is nothing wrong in GEJ working with the likes of Buhari, Ribadu, Sekarau and even Momodu. Nigeria ought to move beyond the regular rhythms of light, water, education and poverty to much more important issues. This next four years may be the time to achieve that.
I would expect that Sunday the 29th will witness a shift from the regular rhetoric’s our men in agbada entertain us with. I am certain that GEJ is aware of the shift of Nigerians from their regular comfort positions to a more active involvement in their own government and hence would not be satisfied with a figure point agenda that holds no real weight. Goals to be achieved should be realistic with set timelines. They should be categorized into long, medium and short term goals, showing how they will be achieved, stakeholders that would be involved and progress reports should be given from time to time enabling the society to be involved in their own government.
Apart from the obvious and pressing issue of power and the economy, I hope that this government will take a serious look into the issue of education. Education here does not just mean getting children into school, but a holistic approach to mind and skills development. I am of the opinion that although getting children into schools is a positive step in the right direction, the content of what is being taught should be of equal importance. This of course would mean a total overhaul of the system and a shift in the focus of the system from advocating certificates and grades to advocating the acquisition of skills that are geared towards solving of identified problems. Certificates should not be the goal of education but rather an evidence of skills that have been impacted over a period of time. The importance of this sector to the economy is of great importance as it is only through it that we can guarantee for ourselves a future.
Providing infrastructure and conditions necessary to engender the growth of businesses is another area of focus. Nigerians have proved to be a highly creative and entrepreneurial people all the government really needs to do is provide the conditions necessary to put creativity to work and the economy allowed to move in its natural cause. This inevitably requires fixing the issue of power and of course investing in SMEs. For a while now a lot has been said about agriculture yet little is being done to promote this highly crucial sector of the economy. This next four years should be a time for action and not words or paper passing. Strategies must be identified and executed led by individuals who are experienced in their specific fields.
This brings me to state the importance of having the right set of individuals working with the government. Gladly, the April elections have put a considerable bridge to the “great” influence of godfatherism. GEJ must understand that success in governance is relational to working with qualified and capable persons. Ministerial positions should not be seen as compensatory tickets but rather a call to serve. Since the president cannot be a jack of all trades, brilliant minds that have proved their worth in their chosen fields should be engaged in handling the affairs of the country in different offices and agencies.
It is important that the President-elect and governors-elect work with and for their people. One cannot lead a people without hearing the voice of such a people. The media should be engaged as a tool for development and a means of communication between both sides. Feedbacks, report systems and two-way communication must be adopted by the people and the government.
Sunday May 29th 2011 brings us a new dawn. We have all paid a price for this chance to begin a new page in the story of Nigeria. Let’s get it right this time.