The 2023 Presidential Election in Nigeria highlighted deep ethnic and religious divisions. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the candidate of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, was declared winner of the disputed election amid claims of electoral fraud aided by the Independent National Electoral Commission’s inability to transmit results electronically from polling units in real time as promised.
Tinubu faces several challenges upon assuming office on May 29, 2023. Here, I have outlined what I consider the steps the President-elect can take to move Nigeria forward, including uniting the nation, which should be a top priority, addressing the high-level of insecurity in every region, revamping the economy, and rebuilding trust in the electoral process. These issues are interrelated, and addressing them requires a comprehensive approach. A united and secure Nigeria, with a robust and inclusive economy, and a transparent and trustworthy electoral process, can become a continental and global power.
Nigeria is a country with at least 200 million people, rich in natural resources and diverse in culture and religion. However, we have continuously struggled with political instability, corruption, and insecurity, which have hindered the development and progress of this country.
The 2023 presidential election has once more revealed a country divided along ethnic and religious lines. To move Nigeria forward, the President-elect must address some of these pressing issues.
First and foremost, Tinubu must strive to rebuild trust in the electoral process, which the election that brought him to power seriously damaged. The reports of violence, voter intimidation and election manipulation by INEC in the March 18, 2023 governorship election in some states particularly Lagos is, indeed, a grave threat to our democracy. Elections should not be fought as a violent war.
This is important because trust in the electoral process breeds a healthy democracy that relies on the fair and transparent conduct of elections.
When citizens lack confidence in the electoral process, they may become disillusioned with their government and lose faith in the democratic process altogether. This can lead to apathy and disengagement from the political process, as well as to social unrest, civil disobedience, political instability and even violence that could truncate our democracy. This can damage the reputation of a country and harm its relationships with other powerful democratic nations, both politically and economically.
Secondly, the President-elect will also need to ensure a sense of balance and fairness in his appointments to allay concerns of favouritism or nepotism for any of the cleavages of our country. There are very brilliant and smart Nigerians with excellent skills across all the states in the country that can serve and deliver if given a chance.
Uniting the nation is crucial for several reasons. A divided nation is more vulnerable to social and political unrest, which can hinder economic growth and development. A united nation is more likely to work together towards a common goal, creating a sense of national purpose and fostering a positive national identity. A united Nigeria can leverage its size and resources to become Africa’s real powerhouse and one of the most influential nations on earth.
Tinubu could work to promote national unity and build bridges between different ethnic and religious groups. This could involve investing in cultural and educational programmes that promote understanding and tolerance, as well as promoting policies that support national integration and shared values.
Thirdly, revamping the ailing economy and dealing with Nigeria’s unemployment rate, which is projected to worsen in 2023, with inflation skyrocketing as a consequence, is worrisome. The President-elect must focus on accelerated and inclusive, double-digit economic growth to dent poverty rates. A strong economy is the foundation for a prosperous society, with people having more job opportunities, higher wages and better access to goods and services.
Revamping the economy can help to address social and economic inequalities, provide opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation, close the wealth gap and provide a pathway to economic mobility. Revamping the economy can also have correlated benefits for security, creating new jobs in industries that can curtail unemployment and help to stabilise macroeconomic growth when the fraudulent subsidy regime is removed.
The prioritisation of the development of non-oil sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing and services must be emphasised, as this is necessary for the creation of new job opportunities and the stimulation of economic growth. Additionally, Tinubu must implement policies that attract foreign investment, such as reducing bureaucratic red tape, improving infrastructure and providing tax incentives. The Tinubu government must also work on improving the ease of doing business in the country to make Nigeria a more attractive destination for investment.
Also of importance is fixing dollar shortages in the country and shoring up the value of the naira. Tinubu and the CBN must first address the root causes of the problem, which centers around difficulties in diversifying the economy. The foreign exchange problem has been with us for a very long time and only a pragmatic and practical solution with both the fiscal and monetary side working closely can resolve this.
Another area of interest for the Tinubu government should be addressing corruption and improving governance to help build investor confidence and encourage both local and foreign investment. Tinubu could work to improve transparency and accountability in government operations and to root out corruption at all levels of government. These steps will create a more business-friendly environment and spur productivity, which can help to stabilise the currency.
Insecurity, which has spread to all six regions of Nigeria, with Boko Haram, IPOB and ISWAP terrorists carrying out violent attacks and kidnappings, is another major area of concern. The President-elect must create anti-terrorist battalions with Special Forces to tackle terrorists, kidnappers and bandits. Insecurity poses a threat to the safety and well-being of individuals and communities, leading to fear, anxiety and a decrease in quality of life.
Insecurity can also hinder economic growth and development, discouraging investment and tourism, as well as increasing the cost of doing business. Addressing insecurity can promote social cohesion by bringing people together and creating a sense of shared security and responsibility. A government that is unable to provide security to its citizens is unlikely to be perceived as legitimate and may struggle to maintain order and stability.
In addition to these measures, Tinubu could also consider implementing policies that promote economic growth and job creation, such as investing in infrastructure and education, and supporting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). By creating more opportunities for Nigerians to earn income and participate in the economy, Tinubu can help to create a more stable and prosperous future for the country.
Addressing Insecurity and Ethnic Tensions
Nigeria has been plagued by insecurity and ethnic tensions in recent years, with clashes between farmers and herders, ethnic and religious violence, and the rise of armed groups. Tinubu must work to address these challenges and promote peace and stability in the country. This is critical for Nigeria’s future. Insecurity and violence can have a significant impact on the economy, discouraging foreign investment and driving up costs for businesses. In addition, insecurity can lead to the displacement of communities and the loss of life, creating a humanitarian crisis and damaging the social fabric of the country.
Tinubu could also work to address corruption and improve governance, as corruption can fuel insecurity and undermine the effectiveness of security forces. By rooting out corruption and improving transparency and accountability, Tinubu can help to build trust between communities and government institutions, which can help to promote peace and stability.
Reversing the Brain-drain Syndrome
Nigeria has been experiencing a significant loss of skilled professionals to other countries due to factors such as insecurity, lack of opportunities, and better living conditions. To reverse this trend, Tinubu must create an enabling environment that will encourage Nigerians to remain in the country and contribute to its development.
Nigeria’s healthcare system is in a dire state, with inadequate facilities, low-quality care, and insufficient funding. To improve healthcare, Tinubu must prioritize the health sector and provide adequate funding to improve healthcare services in the country. This can be achieved by allocating more funds to the public health sector to improve the quality of healthcare services in Nigeria and also ensure that the funds are judiciously used. His government can also increase the number of healthcare facilities in Nigeria, especially in rural areas, investing in training and retraining of healthcare personnel to improve the quality of care and providing incentives to the personnel.
Nigeria’s education sector faces challenges, such as inadequate funding, low-quality teachers, and insufficient facilities. To boost education, Tinubu must prioritise education and provide adequate funding to improve the quality of public education in the country. He can achieve this by allocating more funds to the education sector to improve the quality of education in Nigeria, investing in teacher training and retraining programs to improve the quality of education, and developing modern educational facilities in Nigeria. Tinubu should also prioritise the development of educational facilities, especially in rural areas, to ensure that students have access to quality education.
One of the key priorities for Tinubu’s administration should be the development of critical infrastructure to attract investment and improve the standard of living in the country. Nigeria’s infrastructure is currently in a state of disrepair, with inadequate road networks, power supply, and transportation facilities. Power supply must be given the most extreme priority. Thankfully, President Muhammadu Buhari just signed the constitutional amendment that allows states to generate and distribute electricity as well as build rail lines.
Building infrastructure such as roads, bridges, airports, and seaports can boost economic growth by making it easier and cheaper to transport goods and services. This can attract foreign investment, create jobs, and stimulate business activity.
Moreover, infrastructure development can improve connectivity within and between regions, facilitating regional trade and integration. This can also lead to a more balanced distribution of economic activity across the country, reducing the rural-urban divide.
Nigeria is in trouble, in a very huge mess. The average Nigerian is frustrated and disillusioned in the hopelessness of things. Nothing seems to be working out well for the majority except, of course, those that have access to our national and state treasury. Our youths are angry because a bleak future awaits them. This year is our last chance if we are ever going to reverse the country’s woes.
The Tinubu presidency must be decisive in handling some of these critical issues and others that I may have missed to accelerate economic development. Tinubu can help to create a brighter future for Nigeria and ensure that the country remains a beacon of stability and prosperity in the continent.