By Olisa Agbakoba
THIS year, 2020, will be a very crucial one to watch as the economic advisory team deepen work on transforming Nigeria’s huge needs for money infrastructure, schools, hospitals and lay the foundation for welfare to beleaguered Nigerians.
To succeed, it will be necessary for President Buhari to lead from the front in what Nigerians hope will be a new deal for the Nation. Central to the success of all of this is peace and stability as this is the basic building block in successful leadership. I look forward therefore to respect for the rule of law, judicial independence and robust legislative action by the National Assembly.
We need to manage our political and economic affairs more carefully. The policy of massive borrowing by the Federal Gocernment must translate to the benefit of Nigeria. How we want to manage our federal structure will be crucial. There are so many models of federalism and it remains to be seen whether the present model of a strong centre had worked or restructuring to the 1963 model a better option. Federating units are successful when the model allows them space to operate at their unit level and this has influenced the call by many to adopt the 1963 constitution as our model of federalism.
I agree entirely but a middle approach is also to consider what I call cooperative federalism which is a half-way model between unitary federalism and the 1963 model. Ultimately the success of a nation depends on the quality of politics and our politicians,as no matter the quality of these processes, it is the maturity of our politicians that ultimately count. I hope therefore that 2020 will usher in a period of mature politics; otherwise we are unlikely to succeed.
Vital to all this will be the role of the media, civil society institutions, and Labour. These institutions have a strong role to play in political pluralism moderation, fairness, tolerance and good behaviour. I will keenly look out for a much better space allowed by government to social media to operate without fear or favour and in a climate of free space. Nigeria can be, like the late great Elijah Cummins would say: ‘we can be better than this.’
Nigeria has all it takes to be a great country but this will require that government develops a stronger strategy to fight corruption. I give some marks to government on this but more can get done. Our judicial process is so antiquated that massive overhaul will be required to regain public confidence. Investments will not come into Nigeria from foreign or domestic business unless the courts are seen to work. Speed of justice is key to development; so the Chief Justice of Nigeria must undertake a surgery of judicial procedures.
Cost of governance has been a long standing issue. The Federal Government must deal with this in 2020 in a big way by implementing the Orosanye report and limiting the size of Government to release money to the capital and welfare needs of Nigerians. Ultimately, government is about people, so in 2020 we need to see government provide employment.
My hopes for 2020 is simple— we want a government that cares about people, builds up capacity by attracting investments, builds up the capacity of small businesses so that in December of 2020, we can all look back and say ‘what a great year!’