OPINION: We Must Go Back

By Abolaji Oluwaseun Elesho

President Bola Tinubu

For me, the solution to Nigeria’s present multi-dimensional challenges should embrace an all-inclusive range of stakeholders. Importantly, while the impact of the challenges at hand is felt beyond the sphere of government, possible solutions are indeed not beyond the leaders of government.

However, I believe that until the people, as an important group of stakeholders, find lawfully permissible solutions to their economic hardship by themselves, if one person, one family, one community, one local government, one state government, and one region can find lawful solutions—a homegrown, very organic way out of this hardship—this will result in the overall growth and development of the country, which would now be dependent on Nigeria and not on any external forces.

We do not need to remind ourselves about whether subsidies are gone or not; rather, we need to move beyond this spot to unlock endless opportunities. Imagine for a moment the opportunity cost that the federal government will incur if it continues to defend the foreign exchange and continues to pay subsidies on petroleum products. In that case, the federal government will borrow more, and the capacity of the government to earn will reduce, while the Federal Accounts and Allocation Committee (FAAC) will have very little or nothing to share among states and local governments. Salaries will be delayed, and the government will find it difficult to live up to its obligations. The other way is what is happening now, where the citizen bears the burden of the economic situation but the government would have the financial strength to meet its obligations, which would not appear to mean anything because the economic powers of the citizens have been badly damaged. That is why I said, either way, we have problems. Therefore, either the government bears the burden or the citizens do.

My recommendations: without prejudice to all the programs and strategies implemented by the federal government and some state governments.

I sincerely feel there is a need to communicate to the citizens a more involved way of resolving our challenges. Many are looking up to the government for free bees. While it is not wrong for the government to give freely to its citizens, I am of the view that the citizens should be communicated to on how they can, by themselves, resolve some of the challenges at hand. Our people should be encouraged to look inward. There are several things that we can begin to do as a people and several things that we must stop doing as a people, which would help us out of this unscrupulous situation.

-All members of the federal executive council, including the president, state governors, and cabinet members, should stop wearing Agbada henceforth. – We are in an economic war.

-All travel, no matter how important, should be stopped; the president should join all meetings via Zoom.

-All children of school age must be put in the classroom with a free lunch and free schooling materials. All must be sourced and produced locally.

-As a national policy, all households must be involved in agriculture, either the value chain or the production proper, as the case may be.

-The government, as a matter of importance, must do something about mass transportation.

-The government must deliberately intervene in haulage logistics for some sections of the economy. I.e. Agriculture

-A level of service should be tagged to cash transfers, and while I understand that everybody needs big support, this support may be attached to the service rendered. When people see the money they have earned, they tend to utilize it better.

-The government must also work on controlling all forms of intimidation in the public, both from law enforcement officers and authorized or unauthorized revenue collectors in the communities.

-The people must be carried along in all policies, clearly and unambiguously.

-The government must invite, encourage, and support investment in mass transportation. BRT, train services, etc. must be scaled up immediately.

-The state government must take advantage of the newly signed law on electricity; that is, every state must have a program on electricity generation and transmission. Abi State has shown how possible this can be.

Finally, I also suggest that the national orientation agency be put to work to properly communicate all ongoing efforts of the federal government.

I strongly believe we can come out of all these challenging times stronger and better. I also believe the leadership of the country has the capacity to lead this process through.

Abolaji Oluwaseun Elesho, Founder, REAL Initiatives writes from Ikorodu.

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