All statesmen will be judged by their records long after they exit the scene, and President Buhari’s focus on nation-building and deepening Nigeria’s unity, to lay a solid foundation for the full transformation of our country, will not go unnoticed.
To say that we live in precarious times barely captures Nigeria’s current realities. These realities include a prevalent COVID-19 pandemic that is crippling economies, ravaging global supply chains and obliterating once productive and viable sectors of the economy; Nigeria has not been spared. However, Buhari’s responsive administration has greatly mitigated the devastating effects of the crises, utilising limited resources to secure a long-lasting impact. The Economic Sustainability Plan has earmarked N2.7 trillion in spending to create and sustain jobs, and the livelihood for those who have been impacted the most by the crisis.
Amidst low public revenues, the dwindling oil price and a reduced production quota from OPEC, this administration remains committed to honouring the promises made to the Nigerians across the key areas of Security, Economy and fighting Corruption.
At the just concluded Inter-Ministerial Retreat, the entire Government apparatus was gathered under one roof to review the previous year’s performance, with a singular objective of identifying how to improve the areas where successes fell short of the target, and how to replicate those key elements that led to success in others. During the retreat, an open conversation ensued between the participants and independent assessors, addressing the need to improve focus, coordination and collaboration amongst Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and the importance of rigorous execution, monitoring and evaluation of projects and activities against set targets.
Regarding domestic policy actions, the past week saw the implementation of critical decisions across the economy. Decisions previous administrations shied away from, and as a result, our country lost billions of dollars. These lost funds could have been easily deployed to support millions of Nigeria citizens, as opposed to subsidizing a small percentage of our population. Without change, this path portends an uncertain future for our country.
As most crisis managers state, “Never allow a crisis go to waste.” In crises lies an opportunity to take stock and make difficult decisions. These domestic policy decisions are by no means easy, there are in the best interest of our nation. The impact of this decision is to have an improved allocation of scarce resources, create an opportunity for private sector investment to return to sectors where government intervention had created unfavourable outcomes. The return of the private sector will ultimately promote job creation and provide entrepreneurial opportunities to unleash the genius that is embedded in every Nigerian.
Leadership is about making tough and difficult decisions and not a popularity contest. President Buhari’s commitment to doing the right things in the best interest of our country should never be in doubt. In the regional sphere, Mr President has not shirked from his responsibilities of promoting, alongside other sub-regional leaders, the principle of non-acceptability of change of government other than by constitutional means, and the values of democracy in countries like Mali; ensuring that peace and security are maintained in neighbouring countries, as they have a direct impact on our own security and territorial integrity.
Mr President is also fully aware of the importance of advocating for open dialogue between key figures across the country to ensure longlasting peace. An example is the recent peace dialogue between the warring groups in Kaduna. Their efforts to look at each other in the eye and discuss ways to resolve their conflict is the pathway that is needed to address other internal security issues. Such peace moves, which would be deepened and extended to other parts of the country, are critical to our continued existence as one people and as a nation.
However, what is sad, and most reprehensible is the conduct of those who should know better and should be seen playing a leading role in bridging, or mediating opposing groups, now invest their time in trying to deepen the already existing fault lines and stoking ethnic embers in subtle and manipulative ways.
Given the plethora of challenges that confront our nation, Mr President’s attention is on how our growing youthful population can compete in a world that has no boundaries and barriers. The primary focus is on improving agricultural practices and increase yields per hectare, this way, our farmers can benefit from the sweat on the brows. In the same vein, our attention is equally directed to improving the connectivity between markets and people to foster commercial activities.
How do we deepen technology penetration to ensure that we are not left behind in the digital race? This question is one amongst the many concerns that keep the President up at night. Therefore, he will not be deterred by those whose singular objective, carried out through a veil of deception, is a cocktail of hate-inspired messaging and vitriol intended to distract and undermine our march towards prosperous nation-building.
Femi Adesina is Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity.