“Failure is not an option for us,” said President Muhammadu Buhari. “We will not contemplate it.’’
The President said so at the United States Institute for Peace in Washington DC during his four-day visit on the invitation of President Barack Obama, in 2015.
Then, like today, maybe it can be, arguably, said that Nigeria is not in the best of times. All the sectors of the country’s economy are not in what one can describe as healthy, good state. This situation calls for great concern for the President and all Nigerians because the common goal should be to sacrifice for the future generation of Nigerians and develop Nigeria.
For now, things are bad. For a start, consider the following, the exchange rate is N542 to $1; the rate of unemployment is over 23 per cent; foreign and domestic debt is over $10 billion; rate of inflation is about 17 per cent; rate of poverty is over 70 per cent. How do Nigerians survive these poor economic indices?
Of course, the COVID-19 did not help as most companies are already downsizing in addition to the millions of unemployed youth roaming the streets on a daily basis. Nigeria’s economy continues to be import-dependent with the manufacturing sector struggling to come back to life. Stakeholders in the sector have, over the years, been crying out to governments to come to their aid.
Added to all that, Nigeria is facing an acute form of insecurity. Banditry, terrorism, kidnapping and Boko Haram insurgency have coupled to rock peace in the country and made it among insecure countries in the world.
Graciously, no better than the President appreciates the aforementioned problems and the need to address them, and quickly too. Thus, President Muhammadu Buhari, in Owerri, Imo State, said that he wishes to be remembered as the President who stabilised Nigeria in the area of security, economic prosperity and triumph over corruption.
The President, who spoke at a town hall meeting with South-east leaders during his one-day official visit to Imo State, said with less than two years left in his eight-year tenure, security still remains a major priority for his administration.
“If there is no security, there is nothing anyone can do, no matter how much you try or the initiative you have,” he said. “Security is number one priority and then the economy. When people feel secure they will mind their own business.”
The President told South-East leaders that while fighting corruption in Nigeria had become very sophisticated and difficult, he would continue to fight it and leave a lasting legacy of integrity and accountability in the system.
‘‘Nobody can accuse me of having companies or mansions anywhere in the country and I thank God that I try to keep myself as clean as possible, so that I cannot be taken hostage,” he said. ‘‘I will do my best to ensure that Nigerians that try hard, succeed in their efforts.”
Where else better than the South-east to say all that the President has said? The people from that zone are known for their industry, creativity, resourcefulness and entrepreneurship, making them less inclined to depend on government jobs and patronages.
Agreed, with the government jobs fast becoming illusive, people from the other zones are equally fast embracing entrepreneurship and other self-employment initiatives to sustain themselves.
However, like it is difficult to survive in the private field for people of the South-east, so it is for all Nigerians who are either forced to the private world or chose to cut it there. Either way, that is a challenge for the Buhari-led administration to simplify things for the citizens, especially now that it is becoming increasingly clear and open that the government cannot employ all.
After all, majority of Nigerians, having supported and voted for the President under the scorching sun and thunderous rain and also waited patiently for the announcement of the winner in the presidential election in 2015 and 2019, failure is definitely not an option for the Buhari-led administration.
Like in Owerri, so it was in different places and occasions. The President has assured Nigerians of his commitment and resolve to address the many problems facing Nigeria. And we believe him! However, he needs to come up with stronger policies and strategies that will have direct impact on the lives of the Nigerian people. He must also, like he recently did, when the need arose, rejig his cabinet to get the right team to implement his policies and interventions.
In this regard, the National Assembly must work closely with the President. No doubt, the time has come for the National Assembly to work towards passing bills that will directly impact positively on the lives of Nigerians who do not need to be handed money by government but, instead, need to be provided with an enabling environment to earn a decent living. As clearly stated by the President, Nigerians do not expect governments to solve their problems for them. What they want from governments are good roads, constant electricity and affordable healthcare, among other basic needs. This is neither too much to ask nor it is a difficult task for governments, especially at the centre, to provide.
Members of the National Assembly from all the zones, religions, ethnicities and parties, must cooperate with the President and avoid any attempt at playing politics with the lives of Nigerians in carrying out their duties. This is not to say that they should abandon their constitutional responsibilities of checking the executive arm of government.
But they must support the President to succeed, for, in reality, in his success lies the success of Nigeria and Nigerians. Thus, the National Assembly members will, by helping the President succeed, have the name of the institution written in gold in our nation’s history. The National Assembly must work for the good of Nigerians and in the interest of the vulnerable population.
Essentially, putting the people first under the remaining two years of the Buhari-led administration should be the watchword of every public office holder and politician. All public office holders should put the people of Nigeria first in carrying out the conduct of their offices and Nigeria will be better for it.
All hands must be on deck to ensure that the President succeeds in the onerous task ahead of him and his administration. It does not matter whether you belong to the governing party or the opposition, south or north.
Nigeria would have moved closer to achieving its potentials if public office holders have been responsible, less corrupt, spend common wealth judiciously and were alive to their responsibilities.
Now is the time for the President, leaders and politicians to come up with highly thoughtful and workable plans and actions to meet the needs of the Nigerian people who, in their multitude, elected the President and, daily, pray for him to have good health and succeed as a President.
Now is the time, in fact, for statesmen and elders to, just as the President urged them to do – “honestly educate their constituencies on the need to hold their elected representatives accountable.”