The out-gone 2015 gave Nigeria a new Federal Government led by President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress. Buhari and the APC came into power on the mantra of “change.” The “change,” based on their definition, is to change the country for the better in four cardinal areas – security, corruption, employment and economy.
In what can be described as agenda-setting, some prominent Nigerians have expressed their expectations from the Buhari-led administration, while some of them set different goals for the government in the New Year.
‘Cut cost, provide security, employment’
Former Minister of Health and ex-Political Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo, Prof. A. B. C. Nwosu said there are four things Buhari should focus on this year. These include cutting the cost of governance, providing security, employment/job creation and education.
Nwosu said, “When you talk of change and discipline, you expect to see it. Under (the late Gen. Murtala Muhammed), you will remember that all the Mercedes Benz cars that were being used were sold; they were auctioned off and everybody used Peugeot. Governors then — when I served — had a Peugeot 504 and a back-up, while I had a Peugeot 504 as a commissioner in 1986.
“All these SUVs should be auctioned off completely, whether project car or not. If you have a project car, it should be auctioned; you should have military Land Rovers instead. That symbolism is important. We are not into luxury consumption. When people are in charge and you have air charters (chattered flights), it is not good for discipline’s sake.”
Nwosu, who described education as “one-major nation building institution,” lauded the Buhari-led administration for voting a huge capital for the sector in the 2016 budget proposal currently with the National Assembly for legislative approval. He noted that education had been prioritised in the budget to revive major institutions in the sector.
“The Federal Government Colleges and all the famous colleges that Nigeria was known with – from Government College Ibadan to Barewa College (Zaria) to Government College Umuahia to Hope Waddell (Training Institution, Calabar) to Methodist Boys High School Lagos, among others, should all be brought to institutions that are available to the poor and the rich. The children of the poor, whether they go barefooted or not, should get quality education,” he added.
The member of Aka Ikenga, an inner caucus of the Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndi’gbo, also said the government should guarantee the security of the country, especially Boko Haram insurgency and pro-Biafra agitation.
“Boko Haram and other sects should be all out of our system; all agitations for Biafra and other things should be out of our system,” he stated.
Nwosu challenged the Buhari-led administration to be imaginative the way late former President Umaru Yar’Adua handled the Niger Delta militancy. He added that if this was done, people would be able to return to where they ran away from and there would be no more Internally Displaced Persons.
He said, “It is not in anybody’s interest that people are out of school. If they are out of school in the North-East, it concerns us in the South-East, South-West and South-South because they are Nigerian children. They should all be in school. The government should guarantee the safety of lives and properties such that if a teacher is employed – whether the teacher is from Badagry or Nnewi or Akwa Ibom – he or she should be able to teach in Maiduguri or Chibok with no fears.”
The third issue, the elder statesman said, is the most important and dangerous, is unemployment. He said most Nigerians should be in employment.
Nwosu said, “On employment, I want to see what happens to Ajaokuta. The ‘correct’ noise is being made about Ajaokuta that it will be revived. Ajaokuta was conceived as ‘Steel City’ and it can take over hundreds of thousands of people in regular employment and careers, not to talk of transport, shops and other investments growing there. It is a good idea that should not be given up. Employment is key.
“We once had national shipping lines, which had NSSL managers in Liverpool and other places, carrying Nigerian goods. This will build careers and the school of merchant navy in Oron and other places will be producing people.”
‘Stabilise economy, prevent corruption’
A former Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Nduese Essien, urged Buhari to probe past corruption cases and prevent the act to justify his anti-corruption posture.
“I expect the president to stabilise the economy, be more focused in addressing the challenges of governance to bring out the ‘change,’” he said.
Effective implementation of 2016 budget
Former Military Administrator of Rivers and Ogun states, Sam Ewang (retd.), advised that Buhari must holistically ensure that no part of the country is left out in his development plan, especially the North-East.
He said, “I expect the president to ensure effective implementation of the 2016 budget. I am saying this because I know he is not the one that will implement the budget but his lieutenants. They must be made to subject themselves and adhere to every letter of the budget for effective and efficient implementation of the estimate.”
Ewang recalled when Australia was facing a lot of problems in 1977 for two years and the then Prime Minister McColm turned around the economy of the country in two years. He also recalled that Singapore was just a market place in the late 1970s but the country had been turned around to an industrial nation.
Prosecution, punishment of corrupt officials
The Convener of the Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics, Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, said he expected to see more probes, revelations and a better year for the country.
He said, “The government under President Muhammadu Buhari has largely succeeded in halting the nation’s drift downhill. I expect the momentum to be maintained in the New Year. I also expect a cabinet reshuffle early or, at most, at the end of the year; those who show responsibility will step up and those who are either unwilling or unable to deliver will have to be shown the way out.
“The APC and the Buhari-led administration will have to find a way of engaging themselves by discussing issues so that they can be on the same page on policy issues. The President has to carry his party along; how he does it is not clear to me yet because I am not a member of their party.”
The Second Republic federal lawmaker further said he was persuaded that the government had cracked the slush funds in the Office of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.).
“I expect that there will be a searchlight on the activities of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources. Whatever is going to happen to the NNPC, it must first be thoroughly investigated and the rogues and scoundrels who used that agency as conduit must be brought to book. Those found to have stolen money must be tried and, if found guilty, jailed for their actions. I expect members of the National Assembly to be more responsible and take public opinion more seriously,” Mohammed stated.
‘There is hope for Nigeria’
Former Minister of Petroleum and Energy and ex-Minister of Mines, Power and Steel, Prof. Tam David-West, said he was seeing 2016 as the beginning for Nigeria. According to him, Nigerians will be more relaxed about the great future of this country in the New Year.
The Professor of Virology added, “I am a great optimist for Nigeria not because I support Buhari but because there is one thing I am greatly confident about – we are going to have a government that is not corrupt and very hard on corruption. If corrupt people are punished severely as a deterrent, there will be no hand in glove dealing with corrupt people and stealing will be treated as corruption.”
Similarly, a former Member of the House of Representatives in the 7th National Assembly, Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said the President had given Nigerians sound moral leadership.
She said, “I am confident that he will achieve and realise his objectives of fulfilling the promises he made to the Nigerian people. He is a man of his word; he is a man of character. You can even see what has been happening so far; the issues of corruption, insecurity, terrorism are being adequately tackled. I am very optimistic and I have confidence in his leadership.”
Dabiri Erewa, an ace broadcaster-turned-politician, also said the 2016 budget had the welfare of citizens, especially the majority of Nigerians, in mind. According to her, Nigerians now have a leadership that they will like to follow.
Also, a former Commissioner of Police, Abubakar Tsav (retd.), said all Nigerians should expect a better year, with their support and corporation with the Buhari-led administration.
“I expect 2016 to be better in terms of security for our nation Nigeria and that more jobs will be created and agriculture will receive the promised boost for the benefit of all Nigerians,” he added.
In his submission, a leader of the APC in the South East, Osita Okechukwu, described 2016 as a year of great expectations.
He said, “We should all expect to see the best of President Muhammadu Buhari in this year because as a good manager, we will see his effective management of our dwindling oil resources. President Buhari, with the little resources we are getting now, will prove to the world that he can do better than the previous regime which had all the money but could not deliver.”
Sustain anti-corruption war
A former Minister of National Planning, Mrs. Ebun Oyagbola, called on the President Buhari, to sustain the war on corruption, and also bring up programmes that can foster attitudinal change in Nigerians, most especially the youth in 2016.
She said, “Though I am a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, I commend President Muhammadu Buhari for having the political will to spearhead the war on corruption.
“Many leaders in this country were not interested in developing the country but to loot and fleece it. I must commend President Muhammadu Buhari for having the political will to fight corruption. I want to appeal to him to continue the fight in 2016 and he must ensure that all the looted funds are recovered, if not, the country would have achieved nothing.
“Again, I started the Centre for Attitudinal Change when I was in Abuja, but I have discontinued it since I left Abuja. Then I was going to universities to talk to students on attitudinal change. I want to recommend that in 2016, the Buhari administration should start a programme on attitudinal change in our schools, to re-orientate our youths and make them see corruption as a cankerworm against the development of the country.”
Safe return of Chibok girls
The only female candidate in the last presidential election, Professor Remi Sonaiya, of KOWA Party, toldSUNDAY PUNCH that she expects President Buhari to fight to a logical conclusion the battle against corruption.
Sonaiya said, “I am first of all happy about the positive development in the country. I appreciate the fight against corruption by the current administration in view of the ongoing revelations in various corruption cases. I also want to congratulate Nigeria’s Armed Forces on the successes they have recorded in the fight against insurgents in the North-East.”
The don turned politician advised the President not to have any sacred cow in his anti-corruption campaign while pleading for the safe return of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls.
She said, “(In 2016) I will want the President Muhammadu Buhari administration to prove that Nigeria can and will hold people (who are corrupt) accountable no matter how highly placed they are. Everyone who is guilty of looting (or corruptly enriching themselves) should face the full weight of the law. It is not right that Nigerians who are convicted abroad should go scot-free in Nigeria. President Buhari should see to a logical conclusion all his promises. If we are serious about ending corruption in the country that will send a signal to the whole world.
“My second expectation is the safe return of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls. I pray for the safe return of Chibok girls. There is a Yoruba saying that ‘A dead child is better than a missing child’. Parents of the Chibok girls cannot rest until they get to the end of the matter – there is no closure for the parents. It is important to have something definite about their situation. I hope they can be safely rescued and returned to their homes. It is a stain on our corporate existence and morality. How can 219 children be missing in a country? It is my number-one expectation that they should be safely rescued.
“Once we settle the issue of corruption, then we should look critically into education, electricity and decayed infrastructure. Nigerians have long been expectant though the economy is now difficult. Let’s begin to change for the better. I am particularly concerned about the revamping of the education sector. It is of primary concern to me -that’s my field.”