Let’s Talk Governance

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BY FREDRICK NWABUFO

Good governance is the kernel of Nigeria’s development. Effective leadership will address a good number of today’s nettlesome challenges. The vexing problems with education, healthcare, security, unemployment, and electricity can be managed or palliated with responsible leadership. But why are we not giving currency to these crucial and experiential issues in our post-election conversations? Why is the repugnant, the vicious, and the divisive governing the public discourse?

I would hazard a guess as to why. To some, good governance is natively partial; it is selective of candidates based on kinship, religious orientation, or some manufactured puritanism. It must be their candidate as president, or doom and gloom befall the country. So, they constitute themselves into a bulwark of cynicism, scorching conversations and the polity with hate, prejudice, and fear.

This is an unpatriotic and jaundiced disposition to domestic concerns. It is clear that to these ones what matters is not whether the president-elect or the leadership is competent, and sufficiently prepared to fix the country; the grouse is that he does not conform with their bias.

But being patriotic does not mean anyone must like the government or the president, it dictates citizens must commit to the peace and progress of the country regardless of who is president. We must move the conversations away from the crude to the sublime. Nigeria is too important for groundless tropes to be the definers of critical discourses.

We should set the right tone and tenor for the next administration. We should begin to study and review the Renewed Hope manifesto. We are collectively plagued by the same problems; we need food on our table; we need qualitative education for our children; we need security of life and property; we need good healthcare; we need jobs, and we need decent living. These are existential perturbations that should arrest our attention.

We keep going through the same mill every cycle and expect a change. As citizens, we should be more purposive about governance, and less obsessed with thrilling distractions.

I must say Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, even as president-elect, has begun on a pragmatic and winsome trajectory. By seeking reconciliation with those he legitimately, fairly, and squarely defeated in the presidential election, and by re-affirming his commitment to be president for all Nigerians and to run a government of national competence, Asiwaju is endearing himself to Nigerians.

His deportment so far has been statesmanly and nationalistic, confounding the suggestions and assumptions of traducers. I hope he keeps this streak. Good governance will frustrate the expectations of scoffers.

Let us revisit the manifesto. In it, the president-elect delineated his plans for the country. My interest is in a cocktail of prescriptions – federalism/decentralisation of power, national security, economy, power, agriculture, education, healthcare, transportation, and foreign policy. These constitute the critical sectors of government. But I am of the view that the administration, most importantly, will be assessed on how well it manages our diversity, on security and the economy.

The president-elect as started well with words of affirmation, of unity, of communality, which will further help in building national consensus. He should maintain this expansive disposition – as always.

President Muhammadu Buhari recently signed 16 constitution alteration bills into law. Of significance is the bill on financial independence of State Houses of Assembly and State Judiciary and those on the removal of the railway, prison and electricity from the exclusive legislative list to the concurrent list.

I believe this offers the Tinubu administration fecundated ground to drive its vision of more balanced democracy. Federalism and Decentralisation of power is a prominent feature of Asiwaju’s manifesto. There is still a lot of room for decentralisation of power in areas of crime prevention, stamp duties, certain forms of taxation, resource allocation – as enumerated in the manifesto. It is expected that the president-elect will work with the national assembly to motor his vision.

On the economy, the president-elect has a fine blueprint and prescription. He says his administration will improve existing industries and sectors; adjust the revenue allocation prescription to give states greater flexibility to foster grassroots economic development; build an economy that produces more of the everyday items – both agricultural and manufactured goods; bring the national infrastructure policy to life and harmonise it with the national industrial policy to ensure optimal development of key sectors; review federal budgetary  methodology, curb importation of non-essential goods, reform the tax system, as well as implement a naira-denominated monetary policy.

The president-elect says he will tackle insecurity with technology, confidence-building, citizens’ participation, intelligence-led policing, improvement of salaries and welfare of troops, creation of anti-terrorist battalions, bolstering of manpower, freeing the police from VIP security and guard duties, and again, deployment of technology.

In all, the president-elect’s team will largely account for the success of his plan for Nigeria. The president-elect has stated unambiguously that he will run a government of national competence. This is comforting and reassuring. He must succeed for the sake of Nigeria.

We should go back to the Renewed Hope manifesto, to study and review it. Let us talk governance, not this babel of conspiracies and prejudices. Citizenship comes with responsibility. We are evenly plagued by the same problems, of which good governance can palliate or fix. So, let us talk governance.

May the president-elect succeed.

…Nwabufo aka Mr OneNigeria is a media executive.

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