Nigeria is an emerging economy, considered as the fastest growing economy on the continent. Yet according to numbers from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), over 61% of Nigeria’s population lives under $1 per day. In the last four years, the country has gone through a steady battering, with raging terrorism in the North east, and a failing infrastructure that means the cost of business and livelihood are at an all time high. In the last couple of years, corruption has also been significantly high and amnesty granted to politicians who were known to have looted from the treasury.
Fast forward to March 2015, Nigerians voted for what has come to be known as change. President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn into office on May 29th, 2015 and he promised in his inauguration speech, to prioritise the tackling of terrorism and the improvement of infrastructure. He has spent his first two weeks in office travelling to some parts of West Africa and to Germany; to discuss the strategy for fighting Boko Haram and to engage with world leaders at the G7, respectively.
Nigerians have very high hopes, particularly given the poverty that is rife in the country. Imagine the shocker today when the realisation hit, that this may be business as usual. The realisation that politics is indeed a quick avenue to rob the country and enrich oneself. The Senators and the Members of the House of Representatives in Nigeria are very well paid. Indeed they are so well paid that the 8th National Assembly which has recently been sworn in will allegedly receive the sum of NGN9billion which is about 28 million pounds for wardrobe allowance. No statement denouncing this has been issued by the National Assembly. Nigeria is spending this much to clothe the members of the National Assembly, yet we receive international aid. This is incredibly shameful.
In other words, the Senators will receive about 21.5 million naira each, while the legislators at the House of Representatives will receive 17.5 million naira each, all for clothes. The question is; how is it that a country which still receives aid from the countries in the G7 is giving about 60-70,000 pounds each to its senators and lawmakers to buy clothes? This is the annual salary of members of Parliament in a country that gives Nigeria aid. Nigerians are waiting and hoping that President Buhari intervenes in this and puts a stop to this wastefulness, vulgarity and mismanagement.
Furthermore, considering that Nigeria’s 2015 budget was approved by Goodluck Jonathan the former President, one understands that this wardrobe allowance was not fundamentally instituted by the Buhari government. However, he is the President and has the authority to dispose of certain wasteful parts of it or to review it, thus we shall hold him responsible.
Finally, recall that Nigeria is heavily reliant of oil and gas for 99% of its revenue. The 2015 budget was laid out using the revenue number of $70 per barrel. Since the price of oil has not risen above $64 per barrel since its crash to about $40-$45 per barrel last year, this government must begin to cut back, it should be running an austerity government. The economy must be run efficiently with as many cuts as possible where feasible. This ridiculous wardrobe allowance is one of such costs which should be implemented. Nigerians are watching President Buhari closely to see what kind of policies, economy and country he will run.
When a man succeeds in winning an election after four times, the expectations are quite high; and rightfully so. Add the fact that he was once a military head of state, add the recent happenings in Nigeria including the episodes of vanishing treasures; millions of dollars and hundreds of children, then what you have is a system in dire need of revamping and reforms.
Buhari needs to treat Nigeria like a a project. Now he has a project mandate. He must develop a viable business case with the main aim being sustainable growth and a state with functioning infrastructure and essential services. In some countries, these are really basic, in Nigeria, it is not. Everyone is a government unto himself in Nigeria. People who can afford it generate their electricity, provide their water supply, provide their security. In terms of Justice, well God is the police and the court. Forget the quest for a second term Mr. President-elect, treat these four years as though they were the only ones you had.
The advantages of running Nigeria like a project is that it cuts out delays, focuses on value delivery and stays on budget. The stakeholders are Nigerians and these are a high interest high power group, we need to see his quality plans, risk plans, budgets, and schedules particularly for the areas which need massive reforms. I am a big fan of the Iron Triangle; governance on time, on budget and on quality. We have seen that the business of government can be handled with dispatch and impact, as many projects went live in the final days running up to the just concluded elections; in the states and at the federal level.
GMB’s government will require an excellent communication plan, spokespersons and social media experts who understand stakeholder management and political correctness. A government is as good as its messages and its messengers. Corruption has literally ruined the country, to be fair, I do not understand how we are the largest and fastest growing economy in Africa. Forget the MINT predictions by economist Jim O’Neil, when share prices are falling courtesy of the impact of terrorism, unbalanced books, and corruption.
There is still a shocking 68.1% of the population living on under $1.25 per day (United Nations Millennium Development Goals report). People are often shocked by these numbers. That is probably because if you have a smart phone or a nice laptop and internet connectivity, and you are reading this article, then you are quite clearly in the minority. You are one of the lucky ones. Why else do you think that you are paying the fees of 20 closet cousins and people are always hassling you for handouts? I am still investigating how this is Africa’s largest economy, I suppose something has to be said for having a population such as ours, and a Havard trained economist who rose to management levels at the World Bank, as Nigeria’s Finance Minster. But I digress.
When May 29th arrives, Buhari’s hand must be swift, quick and firm. Forget lip service to the rule of law, Nigerians would like to see radical implementers and finishers running this show. The burden of leadership is great and I hope he surrounds himself with excellent and experienced people who have integrity. The amount of reforms required is staggering; where do you start in a country where many policemen do not understand traffic rules? Where citizens have to pay to “open a file” in the police station when they are victims of crime?
Falling price of oil is seeing Nigeria suffer the blow of falling oil revenue. It is time to invest more in Agriculture and a hybrid in rural-urban development. While urbanization aids the pull out of poverty for millions of people, if not managed well, can also lead to growth of slums, pollution, and crime. Opportunities must be created across board and investment in infrastructure encouraged. Isn’t this why we have 36 States? Outgoing president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GEJ) invested in Agriculture and youth entrepreneurship through the disbursement of youwin grants. Hopefully Buhari carries on this legacy.
So let me set the scene for you. Nigeria is a 55 year old man who has just had a heart attack. He is overweight, has coronary artery disease and has history of congestive heart failure in his family. Buhari is the Cardiologist on duty. This is a new Nigeria by the way, because in the regular Nigeria, he would be dead. An ambulance rushes him to the hospital. The cardiologist is already there waiting to receive the patient. He has arrived because the paramedics rang the hospital to provide feedback. The hospital team already had news on the patient heading its way. Nigeria will be checked into Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in the period right after that heart attack. In the ICU, Buhari will lead the team of healthcare workers assessing the damage to the heart, preventing complications, monitoring and treating the symptoms.
There will probably be Oxygen to support Nigeria’s heart during this early recovery period. This will come in the form of consequences for the bad eggs in the body; justice through medication given intravenously, as pills, or by other methods (frozen assets put into government coffers, jail sentences, early retirement, public naming and shaming, revoking of so-called amnesty for thieving politicians and civil servants; both existing and suggested).
This will serve as a deterrent to other bad eggs. Buhari will have assigned work packages to other members of his team. Some will carry out constant monitoring of Nigeria’s heart, others will frequently check its vital signs. The laboratory team will draw blood frequently for tests, there will be imaging tests such as X-rays and echocardiograms. There will be electrocardiograms for ongoing assessment of the heart rhythm. The heart otherwise known as budgets will have limited activity and carefully chosen expenditure, alternating with bed rest, as directed by Buhari’s team. After the initial treatment in ICU, the continued length of Buhari’s stay as head would be dependent on Nigeria’s recovery and progress. Otherwise, the care notes are there, another cardiologist will resume.
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Nigeria’s population is set to grow to 440 million by 2050 This number, calculated based on the growth of the last decade, fertility rates, maternal and neo-natal mortality rates, is worrisome. Imagine the state of affairs in Nigeria now with the current population which stands at over 160 million. It is worrisome not just because in Nigeria, people are murdered and the perpetrators are never found. We pray to God for justice, because that’s all we have really. It is worrisome because of continuing state of affairs. Try visiting the Federal Universities or the General hospitals, the stagnation and quality of service will shock you. Try reading through social media to see the venom of ethnic stereotyping and social construct which people genuinely mean, and see why these numbers are worrisome.
So this is Buhari’s “inheritance” at least for the next four years. Here’s wishing him the best of luck, he will be needing it.
Ramblings of a Recently 30 Woman, Project Management Professional, International Development Enthusiast, Globetrotter, Writer and Happy Shutterbug®