“The end of the state is not mere life” but the “promotion of a good quality of life.” -Aristotle
The elections are here again!! It is the time when the people make a choice on who steers the ship of the nation for the next four years. A nation in the doldrums of underdevelopment and needs much saving. This month’s elections will determine if the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan continues another term, which will be his last or someone else takes over the reins of governance.
Nigeria keeps moving in a vicious circle of one failed government and budgets to another and at every elections, politicians come and offer lies to the people with their unrealistic and clueless agenda to reform and restructure the economy, which the gullible electorates accept hook, line and sinker only for politicians to siphon the country’s resources to their private pockets again. There really is ever continuity of projects or ideas as each administration cancels out its predecessors’ and starts its own. Even this, is a problem on its own as it always leads to a waste of scarce resources on frivolous projects.
The problems facing the nation are myriad and except Nigerians elect a determined leader who is ready and committed to putting the nation on the track to better days, the country may fall deeper into this abyss and never recover. The country is at the bottom of the pit already and any further downgrade may lead to a failed state. The major issue whoever is elected needs to tackle is the economy. Once the economy is sorted and corruption controlled, then perhaps, Nigeria can really boast of being among the top nations of the world and claim its place as the true giant of Africa, because really, what makes a nation great is the stability of its economy and strong laws that guide its citizens.
The first issue the elected president needs to tackle is power. The importance of power can never be over stressed. Any nation that calls itself a nation but cannot boast of a stable power supply like Nigeria is merely deceiving itself. Power is the foundation of development for a nation as it is the bedrock of any serious country. Constant power supply has eluded us for a long time as there is neither adequate skilled manpower nor infrastructure in the power sector. This has kept it constantly poor as due to corruption, the government has been unable to revive this essential sector. Even the privatisation of the power sector and sharing it among the “friends of government” has only seen Nigerians pay more for less electricity. Consumers pay N750 every month as fixed charge whether or not they enjoy electricity. Why on earth would power be reformed when the companies get N750 free of charge off everyone monthly?!?! It can only be imagined the billions that that runs into the account of these private companies for lifting no finger . That is the extent of corruption in the country! Once a single administration can tackle power and others that come after can sustain or even improve upon it, we will be set on the right track.
Unemployment is another troubling issue that needs to be tackled. Bringing down the level of unemployment will bring about a reduction in the vices facing the country as most dabble into illegal activities because of a lack of viable employment. A country where more graduates without prospects are churned out every year and the labour market is not receptive of these graduates, much less those who are not educated. Fixing the power situation in the country will certainly improve the rate of employment as factories that have shut down and moved to neighbouring countries will be attracted to Nigeria again. That also brings us to the rot that has faced education
An educated nation is a nation on the path to greatness. This is because education is the bedrock of development. Use of knowledge and research are important to making discoveries and inventions. Our education sector is not placed on the path of making discoveries. This is because our schools lack well-trained teachers and are also poorly-equipped; we do not even have conducive environments for learning. How are we then to encourage them to learn? Incessant strikes have crippled all levels of the sector as even kindergarten teachers now go on strike! Pfft! Any developed nation worth its salt will never jettison education. It isn’t a matter of building more schools, which is a wonderful idea, most especially in areas where they do not have enough, but building quality schools, that is way more important. Restructuring is needed in the ones we have already so that they can compete with others in the world.
Building and maintaining infrastructure is another problem facing the nation. These are basic necessities that our resources can procure for us, what is so difficult about purchasing something with money? The above mentioned issues are things that money can sort out, even if we are not developed enough to create these things ourselves, we can purchase them and the manpower needed to do them. Even our healthcare system is in shambles, as the hospitals are not worthy of being called hospitals, not to talk about that sector’s incessant strikes too! The only thing that works right now in this nation is corruption!
The diversification of the economy is also another key issue. Our reliance on crude oil as major source of income and on which the budget is based has always been an issue, and now, we are being ridiculed as crude oil prices have plummeted beyond the imagination of everyone and the price continues to fall daily. The benchmark oil price for the 2015 budget is $65/barrel and current price of oil at about $41/barrel. The deficit of $24 precious dollars per barrel will certainly fall on the people. Leakages in government expenditure should be plugged as these are ways through which resources are siphoned, when projects costs are bloated and contracts awarded on the same projects over and over again without accountability for money previously spent. In some instances, some government agencies and parastatals do not remit revenue to the federal government’s purse.
There is a need to get our refineries up and running at optimum levels so they can refine for internal use and probable exportation. We should also make agriculture and mining top priority for the government as these are avenues for job creation and also revenue for the government as well. More jobs mean more tax revenue from the people.
As initially stated, corruption is the bane of our development in this country and the ability of the next president to reduce this would be a great point on his/her scorecard. Corruption has eaten deep into this nation and has crippled every sector. In conjunction with the legislature, stringent laws against corruption should be passed. The people need to force the hands of the executive and legislature to pass these laws, or else, we’ll keep fetching water in baskets. Corruption has prevented the common man from enjoying the benefits of democracy, and this needs to be stopped.
We need the government to put in place policies that will encourage and attract investments. These policies will create a viable and conducive environment to make people want to set up businesses, even small and medium scale enterprises should be encouraged. Some of these things include the cost of, and access to loans or capital, the cost of rent, stable power supply to bring down costs of overhead. Good and motor-able roads and keeping fuel pump prices down. All these for instance affect the smallest of businesses and in turn, the cost of their products or services, which will determine if buyers will come or the businesses will fold up.