By Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
I used 3rd term deliberately for Buhari had served a term as a military dictator, another term as popularly elected president and now has been purportedly elected to another term. It is purportedly because the tribunal has yet to rule on the petitions filed after the election contesting his election.
A little background. Buhari is a rich man contrary to the image in the heads of many Nigerians. A review of his Asset Declaration form which he recently filed shows that he has several houses, many heads of cattle a some money. He is not a Dangote but he is not poor, and should not be poor. Given that his last meal on this world is already take care of and that his children are grown up, PMB’s focus in the 2019-2023 should be his LEGACY. What he should be remembered for after his last days on earth. This essay will attempt to focus PMB on how he would achieve a worth wile legacy.
The first thing PMB will do is to get rid of all pretenses. One of the pretenses is that he could cure Nigeria of corruption. He cannot. What he can do is to ensure that under his watch he will reduce the incidences of corruptions and any credible allegation of corruption would be investigated promptly and prosecuted. The second pretense that ought to be wiped out is the notion that PMB can do everything. He cannot for he is not a god and besides Nigeria does not have unlimited resources.
There are two routes to PMB creating an indelible legacy. One is to pursue Usman Dan Fodio’s mission to dip the Quran in the Atlantic. The effort has crossed the River Niger in Lokoja and is now beyond Kwara and very close to Ibadan. It will require just a little effort to dip the Quran in Atlantic Ocean in Lagos. The Quran needs to be also dipped in Atlantic in Port Harcourt. This will require a little more work for SE and SS need first to be de-Christianized and then Islamized.
It could be bloody for religious wars always are.
But if Buhari can accomplish this feat he will be forever remembered and Nigeria would become one of the most populous Islamic countries in the world and his name will be golden in the Islamic Heaven.
The alternative route to Buhari’s legacy will be to develop Nigeria in just a few areas after he has cast away the pretense that he can do everything. PMB should target only five areas to bring tremendous changes. I suggest agriculture, education, industrialization, infrastructure, and power.
1. Agriculture. A well fed nation is easier to govern than a hungry nation. Hungry people are unruly and desperate. So the goal will be to put all young people into agriculture in agriculture’s many phases: production, storage, processing and transportation. The products would range from cattle, to fish, to rice, to fruits and vegetables; the whole nine yards. There are white collar jobs here and blue collar too. And even hard helmets.
2. Education. An educated nation is easier to govern than the illiterate one. Education here should include both the Western type and the Islamic variety. The first step will be to establish at least three universities into world class institutions. Ibadan, Nsukka and Zaria could be restored to their old glories such that they could be in the top 50 higher institutions in the world and producing top notch academicians like Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, and Kenneth Dike et al. In other words the new Ibadan would be like the old Ibadan. Most of what is now called universities could he changed to high quality high schools and technical schools to produce the work force needed.
3. Industrialization. Industrialization as used here means low tech investments, not high tech, not auto manufacturing, and heavy industries. But manufacturing things like brooms, like dust pans, like carpets, like tiles, like cement. There are about 100 million Nigerians and about 25 million households. Each household will need these things so demand is not a question and the raw materials can be easily obtained locally. A nation that imports tooth picks is doomed. The small industry will serve as the training ground for the transition to heavy industries. The government’s role here is creating the environment for private citizens to embark on the ownership of these production facilities. The government could provide education, low cost loans, etc.
4. Infrastructure. Production, agriculture, etc. are linked by infrastructure: roads, railways, streets, etc. Cattle farmers must supply consumers in Lagos and Enugu and broom manufactures must get them to Kano, Maiduguri. Storage kilos need to exist in Markurdi and Ilorin as warehouses are needed in Aba and Calabar. Farm settlement ought to be establish very much like Dr. Michael Okpara envisaged and cocoa farms under Awolowo, groundnut pyramids under Sarduana, Palm trees as borrowed by Indonesians etc. would be brought back to life. Ranches could be established. Some of these will need public/private cooperation to achieve.
5. Power. All the above can only be possible if there is enough power supply. A nation that is dark 20 hours a day is not going anywhere in the 21st century. There is abundance of power in Nigeria, oil and gas, coal, dams, sun for modern electricity. So what is the problem but political will and imagination?
We now came to main problem. How is President Buhari going to pay for all this? All developments require sacrifices. We need to forego most of what we think are necessities but are not. One of such is the notion that we need to have state of the art defense. None of our neighbors can defeat and police Nigeria. Our geographic size and population has given us the defenses we need. We should just establish ceremonial military troops and state of the art police forces. So defense budget could be cut by half. And the rest shifted to the five points of focus. Nigeria does not need a consular office in every nation in the world. We just need a strong force in North America possibly based in Washington DC, another for South America based in Brasilia, another in Europe, Russia, China, and another for SE Asia and Australia. Perhaps no more than 10 missions abroad. Africa could get two. The foreign budget could be cut to a third of its current size.
The concept of curing Nigeria’s tendency to corruption is a pipe dream now. It could happen when all the five focus points are in place. PMB should stop all the ongoing probes and digging into the governments of OBJ and GEJ. The resources invested in these would be directed to the five focus areas. And to improving the salaries of police and teachers and to improving the conditions of service for all civil servants.
All the areas outside the five focus points can expect at least 50% cuts to pay for the improvements in the five areas. A little borrowing from both domestic and foreign sources maybe needed, a little tax increase and serious efforts at collecting all taxes will be required and added to cuts from our decreased universities.
These are my views. Yours is as important.
(Aduba wrote from Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A)