By Temitope Ajayi
With the return of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, President-Elect, to the country on Monday after a month vacation abroad ahead of his inauguration on May 29, 2023 as the 16th President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he must be ruminating by now on how he will discharge the huge burden of expectations of Nigerians.
The President-elect campaigned on the theme of Renewed Hope for A Better Nigeria. There is no doubt that many Nigerians currently feel disenchanted and even disillusioned about their country and what the future holds. While the outgoing Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has done very well in many sectors, the economy still remains precarious with over 21% headline and food inflation, unemployment rate at over 40% according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), persisting security challenges and sundry other maladies ailing the country.
While the President-elect has many things going for him from his record of performance as the governor of Lagos State, the confidence of the global business community in his capacity to turn around the fortunes of the country, here are the six things that should be the priorities of the incoming President as he prepares to take over leadership of the country from May 29 to fulfill his Renewed Hope Agenda:
- Asiwaju Tinubu must immediately work with the leadership of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) to resolve the lingering leadership question of the next National Assembly. The President will need a stable 10th National Assembly to work with for his legislative agenda to go unhindered. He must ensure the Senate President, Speaker of House of Representatives and other Principal Officers reflect national diversity and inclusion. The current agitation is that the President of the Senate who will be the Chairman of National Assembly should go to the South Eeast. I align with the position of many Nigerians that an Igbo person should be on the list of top 3 positions since the President and Vice President in the next political dispensation are from the South West and North East. The imperative for religious balancing too dictates that the head of the legislative arm of government should be a Christian. We already have a head of Judiciary, Supreme Court Justice Kayode Ariwoola, that is from South West and a Muslim too. I agree with the view that the Senate President should come from the South. This opens it up to SE and SS. My preference will be a Senate President from the South East. The President-elect must work with the party to quickly resolve this
and agree on Zoning of Principal Officers. The repeat of the Bukola Saraki fiasco of 2015 that bogged down the Buhari administration must be avoided.
- To rekindle the hope of Nigerians, the people expect the President-elect to do things differently and as we say, morning shows the day. In forming the cabinet, Nigerians expect competent and vibrant people, similar to the cabinet that governed with him for 8 years in Lagos when he was the Governor. The good thing is we have competent people all over Nigeria and among Nigerians abroad. Asiwaju Tinubu should assemble a crack team because we are almost in a national emergency. I personally will want him to announce his cabinet and key personal staff immediately after inauguration on May 29 while just waiting for National Assembly to sit for Senate confirmation.
Flowing from that, Nigerians will also like to see portfolio attached to each Ministerial nominee’s name like they do in United States and other places. During Senate Confirmation Hearing, such nominees can be grilled to know if they are really suitable for the position.
- National Reconciliation and healing: elections by their very nature generate emotions and we know a lot went down in the last election along ethnic and religious fault lines. The President-elect needs the entire country in an atmosphere of peace and stability to be able to make any meaningful impact. Nothing can be achieved with strife and agitation. He should immediately set machinery in motion to calm fray nerves everywhere and make every segment of the countryside trust him. And good enough he has reputation for fairness. He accommodated shades of interests, tribes etc well in government of Lagos as Governor. Till date,
Lagos State is probably the only state with people from every part of the country in senior government positions and civil service. I expect him to ensure balance and good spread in appointment into key Security Service positions. A major sticking point for the outgoing Buhari-led administration is the seeming lopsidedness in appointment of Service Chiefs and Heads of Security and para-military agencies. Major political and ethno-religious actors, in the country, consider appointments into the security sector the purest reflection of power configuration.
- Economy: the global economy and that of Nigeria is bleeding at the moment with almost no immediate respite. Nigerians expect the Tinubu administration to, at least, lessen if he can’t totally remove the current asphyxiating economic burden. Nigerians expect the next President to deal with galloping food inflation, rising energy cost in the face of possible fuel subsidy removal and generally high cost of living. The people expect immediate relief on the economy. The President-elect and his team will not have honeymoon. It will be work, work and work until Nigerians begin to see results.
- Managing debt overhang: This is a big elephant in the room. With over N47 trillion debt and using more than 80% of national revenue for debt servicing, Nigeria is on a cliff. This is one area Nigerians expect the President-elect to perform his magic like he did in Lagos. I will say in this area, Tinubu has a record and experience to fall back on. He re-engineered Lagos finance and moved the state from insolvency to buoyancy. Nigeria actually has chronic revenue problem. During the campaign and in his Renewed Hope Agenda for A Better Nigeria’s document, the President-elect highlighted how he will mobilise revenue from many untapped and dead national assets and resources. I trust him to deliver on this.
- Industrialisation: Nigeria’s economy can not progress and create the millions of good paying jobs we badly require without industries. With bulging youth population and tens of thousands graduating every year from higher institutions, it is a ticking time bomb. We can’t remain a consumption and import dependent economy and hope to get out of the hole. What this means is that the incoming government must deal with electricity supply problem and deploy huge capital investments to expand roads, rail, ports, broadband, gas and petrol pipelines and many other critical projects that will make local manufacturing competitive and profitable.
Asiwaju Tinubu should know he is not coming to a tea party. He has his job already cut out for him. The good news is he possesses the aptitude and the fortitude required to deliver on this once-in-a- life time job and he must do it well.