By Soji Ehinlanwo
The Presidential inauguration is a few days from now and undoubtedly Nigerians at home and abroad are definitely very focused on yet another impending peaceful transition from one civilian government to another. More importantly, Nigerians look forward to how the promise of renewed hope articulated in an 80-page policy document will translate to remarkable growth for the country and a better standard of living for them. While I expect the President elect to seek to pursue vigorously key elements of his policy thrust enunciated in this document with very competent hands and strong political will and determination, I find it imperative, as a stakeholder in the Nigerian project to enunciate my proposals in respect of what I consider should be the key priorities of a President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as he assumes office on May 29th,2023.
- Security: The new President must seek to tackle our insecurity challenges head on. These challenges continue to threaten existing investments and impact negatively the inflow of new investments, quite apart from the devasting consequences of loss of lives and properties. Greater investments in new and sophisticated technology infrastructure are imperative – leveraging on its capabilities to significantly diminish or wipe out the threats that insecurity poses. This is apart from investments in the recruitment of additional personnel, strengthening of border infrastructure, enhancement of intelligence gathering, international collaboration and tackling of the systemic poverty and ignorance that have fuelled the insecurity problem
- Economic growth and Diversification: Nigeria’s heavy reliance on the mono product of oil for revenue earnings continues to make our nation vulnerable to fluctuations in global oil prices and the emerging threats from the search for alternative sources of energy. The stimulation and incubation of new ideas and investments that enables greater and more radical support for an economy anchored on agriculture, MSMES, manufacturing and Industrial services, Information and communications technology as well as entertainment is now an urgent imperative. This will reduce dependence on oil, widen revenue sources and create more job opportunities.
- Infrastructure enhancement or renewal: The outgoing government has achieved reasonable gains in respect of infrastructure developments despite the challenges of limited funds. This is especially in the area of roads constructions and rail transportation. The incoming govt led by His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu must consolidate significantly on these gains. Importantly, we must now fully address the limited and unimpressive growth in the power sector which seriously undermine our economic and social growth aspirations. The outgoing President has provided a great parting gift with the new law that enables states to generate, transmit and distribute electricity in regions covered by the national grid. This was long overdue and should provide an additional impetus to significantly enhance our power infrastructure capacity. Thankfully, the incoming President has, in addition to current strategies, indicated in his renewed hope manifesto support for “further private-sector-led reforms and also the promotion of alternative, green and clean energy, which will help with the climate change conundrum without slowing down Nigeria’s quest for rapid growth…”, as an approach to resolving our power sector challenges. Also, the resolve by the incoming President to leverage on the capabilities of information and communications technology – consolidating on the capabilities built by the current administration and keying into “contemporary knowledge thrusts in Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Everything, Big Data, Robotics, which are already afoot and/or in place” is a welcome development. These aspirations and policy initiatives must be pursued vigorously, backed with the necessary political will. Enhancing significantly infrastructure is crucial for economic growth and these must be pursued with all the needed vigour, as this will attract more investments, facilitate trade, and enhance productivity across various sectors.
- Encourage entrepreneurship and innovation: The government should create a more conducive environment for entrepreneurship by reducing bureaucratic red tape, providing greater access to funding and business support services, and protecting intellectual property rights. Encouraging innovation and supporting start-ups will foster economic growth and job creation.
- Enhance agricultural productivity: The outgoing government has made appreciable progress in relation to boosting the agricultural sector. Yet, much more still needs to be done. There must be an aggressive drive for greater cultivation of lands for agriculture and more support and incentives for investments in Agriculture. A greater investment in modern farming techniques, irrigation systems, access to credit, and much improved storage and distribution infrastructure are imperative and pivotal for boosting agricultural productivity. This will not only improve food security but will also create opportunities for agribusiness and exports – thus diversifying and significantly increasing government revenue earnings
- Investment in education and skills development: A well-educated and skilled workforce is vital for economic growth. The incoming government must prioritize investment in education and vocational training, ICT skills to equip our citizens – particularly the youths and women – with the skills needed for a modern economy. This also includes promoting science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education to meet the demands of the digital age.
- Enhancement of governance structures and tackling corruption: The incoming government must strengthen governance structures, promote transparency, and tackle corruption. By implementing effective anti-corruption measures – especially through the deployment of ICT, ensuring the rule of law, and creating a business-friendly environment, Nigeria can attract more domestic and foreign investments, leading to economic growth.
- Active Promotion of regional and international trade: There should be greater participation in regional trade agreements and better leveraging on our geographical location as a gateway to West Africa. By reducing trade barriers, improving customs processes, and fostering trade relations with other countries, we can increase exports, attract foreign investments, and stimulate economic growth.
- Greater access to finance: A new and more robust credit economy is imperative for economic growth and social inclusion. Access to affordable finance is crucial for businesses and individuals. The government should work on improving the banking sector, providing greater support for microfinance institutions, and expanding financial inclusion through digital platforms. This will enable more people to access credit, start businesses, and contribute to economic growth.
- Focus on social welfare: Addressing poverty, inequality, and social welfare is essential for sustainable development. The government should invest more in social safety nets, healthcare, education, and affordable housing to improve the well-being of our people and reduce income disparities.
Dr Soji Ehinlanwo (DSE) is a Senior Information Technology and Management Consultant and was the Governorship Candidate of the defunct CPC in the 2012 Ondo Governorship election