Beyond the euphoria of the swearing-in of Nigeria’s new President, Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Friday the 29th of May, 2015, lies the more important matter of the tasks and challenges ahead of the new administration.
In sum, the challenges are enormous, even daunting but surmountable. It will require the patience, diligence and most of all, support of all Nigerians at home and abroad, rich and poor, working-class and unemployed alike. Why such a national support is imperative at this time is not far-fetched.
First, the President and his team have taken office at a time of dwindling revenues accruing to the country from the main export product-crude oil. Secondly, expectations of Nigerians, especially the vast population of unemployed youths and poorly-remunerated public servants are at an all time high and thirdly, utilities such as electricity and fuel, have dropped to critical levels, with attendant disruption to businesses and the running of public institutions.
In addition, there are the hydra-headed challenges of corruption and impunity, as well as the insurgency in parts of the North-east of Nigeria. With the relocation of the military command to Borno state, which has become the epicentre of the insurgency, hope is rekindled for a decisive resolution of the conflict. Significantly, the deployment will also serve to boost the morale of the officers and men fighting the Boko Haram insurgents.
While the President Buhari-led government should and must be held to his campaign promise of “positive change”, Nigerians must however, temper their expectations with a good dose of reality-check. As the adage goes: “Rome was not built in a day.”
Globally, there are no illusions about the tasks ahead of President Buhari’s government. Former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan put it succinctly when he noted that Buhari’s administration was assuming office at a difficult juncture in Nigeria’s fortunes and stressed that he will need the support of every Nigerian and the international community to steer the country through the turbulent times. Other leaders from near and far have equally reiterated the imperative of global support for President Buhari’s administration.
At the just concluded Group of Seven Industrialised Nations-G7 Summit in Germany, leaders unanimously pledged to partner, engage, co-operate and collaborate with President Buhari’s government in its efforts to tackle the serious problems before Nigeria. The heart-warming goodwill and support from the international community are as key as the support that the President will need at home.
On several occasions since assuming office, President Buhari has also persistently called for support for his administration’s success. In one interview, he asked Nigerians for their co-operation and urged his fellow citizens not to expect miracles in a couple of months, pointing out that he was inheriting structures that had been weakened over the past 16 years.
The irrefutable reality is that in all sectors of the economy, the enormity of the tasks ahead are poignantly glaring. Nigerians cannot wish away the rot in the electricity generation and distribution chains, or the dilapidated state of public infrastructure, dwindling petroleum resources and other critical production sectors. Restructuring these sectors and restoring them to optimal performance will necessarily take time.
In recognition of this reality, the Nigerian media must once again play its statutory role of galvanising, guiding, influencing, informing and shaping peoples’ attitudes, opinions and perceptions to elicit the right support, premised on the realism that change is not a magic wand. It takes time because Positive change will take even more time, if it is to be sustainable.
The onus therefore, lies with the media to positively influence public, professional and political responses to appreciate, understand and put these issues in perspective, especially given the country’s prevailing financial circumstances. This is essential if the larger society is to positively key in behind articulated policies to constructively move the nation away from its present drift.
The media must also act as social mobilisers at this critical time, by exploiting their traditional and digital platforms to garner the needed support and constructively guide discuss on social media platforms. They must serve as credible umpires in the rapidly growing engagement between the citizens and the government, as well as consciously manage their platforms for the good of the nation, without extraneous distractions from the political class.
For a fact, relations among players in the political class have been known to be frosty, with divisions and rancour as was witnessed in the drama that ensued in the run up to the election of principal officers of the National Assembly. In point of fact, such power-seeking antics do no more than distract attention from graver issues of national importance and impede cohesive work for common goals. Nigerians expect the political class, no matter their political leaning, to support the new administration to execute the tasks of rebuilding the nation and improving the living standard of ordinary citizens.
The private sector, which drives 80 percent of the Nigerian economy, also has a crucial role to play. It must key into government policies by driving and supporting carefully-planned programmes that create employment and wealth for all. A visible sign that the private sector will align with the government was the jump in the Nigerian stock market by two percent to a three-month high, hours after the inauguration of the new President. The hope is that this early indication is sustained and deepened with the appropriate zeal and right synergy.
Change Nigerians voted for and in time, change they will get but the steps to attaining that change must be enduring, sustainable and positive. Indeed, for meaningful development to be achieved, patience, loyalty and positive participation of all is not negotiable.
Without a doubt, Nigeria is enormously blessed with the human, material and natural resources to thrive. With hard work, good policies and more importantly, genuine nationalistic support of all Nigerians, Nigeria can and must engineer and actualise the desired sustainable development. The journey may be long and hard but the goal must be to keep hope alive in the prospects of the final destination.