By Adedayo Yusuff
The aura of electoral victory that heralded the emergence of General Muhamadu Buhari has the president of Nigeria cannot be waved away with a stroke of the hand. No, it was a victory birthed by a groaning of a people desirous of a change in their livelihood and the leadership of their country. The change movement meant different things to different people. Yet in all the differences, they agreed on one thing – that General Buhari was the man for the job. That agreement resulted in a change of government, installed the General as the president and birthed a new Nigeria with a different political order.
The elections and the inauguration of the new government were only the first steps in the quest for a changed nation. The president, having received the mandate and trust of Nigerians, must therefore display and act with the acumen and wisdom needed to lift the country out of its current and existing doldrums and guide it towards a promising and rewarding future. This is a task that requires prioritization and effective delivery for two reasons. One, there is hardly no part of the Nigerian national life that is not near comatose. Two, the comatose has existed for so long that it had created a convoluted and complex web of mediocrity and paralysis.
Consequently, President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) needs to be tactical in his approach, prioritize his tasks and focus his strengths on sectors capable of creating domino effects on the other sectors with minimum inputs. There are three major sectors capable creating the needed effects in the national life: Education, Agriculture and Power, in that order of importance.
A country’s educational sector is the bedrock of its national life. It is the essential foundation on which every other sector can be built and established. Like a strong defensive midfielder is a key factor for the success of any football team, a strong educational sector is the only factor for a change in our national life. Education drives invention, patriotism, loyalty, competence and excellence. The seemingly failure of Nigeria as a country is deeply rooted in the collapse and ruin of its educational sector.
Most people rush to associate Nigeria’s problems with corruption, yet incompetence plays a greater role in the nation’s woes. Most graduates are semi illiterate and the country has the highest rate of out of school children in the world. Our schools have failed to develop with the trend – they are still deep in teaching the 21st century students with 20th century teaching scheme. Other populous countries around the world, such as China, India, Pakistan and even the US, focus on technical and vocational education. Yet, technical and vocational education is dead in Nigeria. It has been 29 years since the 170 Million populated nation produced a Nobel Laureate and our schools have failed to produce another.
Agriculture and Power go hand-in-hand because they are the root of the collapse of country’s economy. Nigeria’s discovery of petroleum led to a reckless neglect of the country’s agricultural sectors. Before drilling and exploration, we had planting and harvesting. The nation was driven on the inflows from the sale of agricultural produce. Nigeria currently produces the top ten most sought after crops in the world on a subsistence level. We have failed to harness our agricultural prowess and sacrificed its abundance on the altar of sweet crude. We have replaced the pyramids of groundnuts with tank farms, silos and barns with petrol stations and tanker garages. Now, the country is on a food importation binge because our production is low and it is still crude and undeveloped. Where Vietnam has built silos with capacities that can supply rice to Africa for 10 years non-stop, Nigeria’s yam and cassava are either getting spoiled or left for rodents to eat.
And Power!!! Electricity is a key driver for any economy. After the deregulation of the power sector and the billions of petro-dollars sank into it, there appears to be no end in sight for the country. Even though the generating companies seem to have been working to capacity, the discos seem not to have been ensuring that all the watts of power generated are distributed for use due to their own economic advantage. The decadence of Nigeria’s power sector cannot be over-emphasized – our economy is currently powered with diesel generators. Big shame.
Good Education, Agriculture and Power sectors will fix this country, they will combat terrorism, corruption, incompetence, greed, lawlessness, lack of patriotism and other social vices. Revamping these sectors will ensure an equal distribution of development across every region of the Nation and create job for the youth . With the right policies and people, we can combat brain drain and bring Nigeria’s investments in the diaspora to the homeland.
If PMB is going to succeed, his administration must focus on these sectors and make them his priorities. He will need to select the right persons to head these sectors and support them with the political will to drive the change. Obafemi Awolowo’s success in the old western region was driven by an inseparable combination of the premier’s strong political will and the assignment of competent men to drive his agricultural revolution and free education programmes. PMB must also find the same combination.
PMB’s pool for the right hand is already defined – the senate just screened his ministerial nominees.
Adedayo Yusuff is a Public Affairs Analyst.