I AM one of your most ardent supporters, an APCist to the core, as hard as nails believer of the renewed hope agenda of your administration, and a dyed in the wool official and leader of one of the Asiwaju support groups that toiled with our own resources, to contribute towards making the Asiwaju Presidency a reality.
My support for you was firmly grounded on the belief that you are a leadership maverick, dexterous in building human capital, infrastructure, and ofcourse the economy. The Lagos example is no doubt one of the finest blueprints for economic development, and today Lagos ranks 19th best city in the world, ahead of ‘almighty Dubai’ and Miami!
Lagos boasts of special BRT Buses with dedicated lanes for mass transportation, along with metropolitan rail systems, which makes transportation a lot cheaper, as a huge component of the factors of production. Even if the centralisation of a lot of VAT and income taxes goes to Lagos, it is undeniable that the Lagos Internal Revenue system is the best in country, and probably the 2nd best in Africa. From your Administration’s rebirth of Lagos, to Fashola’s government of continuity, and now Jide Sanwoolu, who is in a league of his own, Lagos is one hell of an example of good leadership. Your name is written in gold in Lagos. That was our yardstick.
My dear President, even though it’s just a few months into your administration, Nigerians, especially the masses, are having the most turbulent times. Mr. President, you see this wildfire of kidnapping and banditry, burning the forest of every nook and cranny of the country? ‘Na poverty dey cause am’ my dear President.
Foodstuffs are beyond the reach of the common man. Bags of rice, sugar, and beans are all in the region of N100,000. Workers’ salaries, and corpers’ allowances cannot take them to and fro their workstations for a month. Schools cannot pay their teachers’ salaries. Food is not on the table anymore, and the vast majority of Nigerians are scrambling for it on the ‘floor’! Cement that was announced by major producers to be at N3,500 ex-depot this year, i now N7,000.
My dear President, while the Finance Ministry and the CBN are finding ways and means of protecting the naira, there is an urgent need to declare a state of emergency on Humanitarian Services if you may, Your Excellency. Billions of naira allocated to the ministry obviously ‘no dey touch ground’ Sir. Someone with a pool of integrity around him, should be drafted to that ministry, to guard the funds into the hands of the intended recipients.
There is Prof. Oloyede of JAMB, whose integrity in government circles is unmatched so far, we hear. He is the first and only JAMB CEO that has raised a million dollars for the government from JAMB alone. That is the kind of person Mr. President, that you can trust with poor people’s money. ‘E go reach them for village, no hanky-panky’!
My dear President, the rapid implementation of the gas powered buses and stations would go a long way in making transportation cheaper, as a means of cushioning the effect of subsidy removal. Mr. President, even the 35,000 wage is few and far between and whispers from the Barracks say military personnel/ retirees are yet to receive the palliative. Please Mr. President, the new minimum wage committee should be encouraged to expedite their work and come forward with figures that would be meaningful and could empower the comman man.
My dear President, there is this ‘Pulaku approach’, as the second prong in fighting banditry, by developing the affected communities, building schools, hospitals and resettlement houses, as well as empowering the youths – providing skill acquisition plants in their communities and markets. So far, 50 billion naira has been earmarked, with Sokoto, Zamfara, Niger, Kaduna, and Katsina States as pivot centres.
Your Excellency, this approach should be expanded to all the States of the country, with a possible fund of 10 billion per State. The Pulaku initiative can go a long way in fighting poverty in these communities, with the people in those communities involved in the massive development projects that would be sited in their domains. A lot of artisans would be engaged and quite a lot of unskilled labour along with them.
The Pulaku initiative if expanded and implemented judiciously, can have the success of the PTF years achievements that were recorded for all to bear testimony. The most challenging aspect of governance in Nigeria now is not government policy or approval, but implementation, which is clobbered down by corrupt government officials.
My dear President, because of your very heavy schedules on matters of state which you attend to on a daily, you may have a dimmed view of the real hardship that is on the streets. The hardship is untold Mr. President and the temperature of the poverty blowing across the country is of a superbly high centigrade. Of all the candidates that contested the 2023 polls Mr. President, we have not an iota of doubt that you are the most qualified and proficient, who came forward with the best laurels and antecedents, having proven your enviable leadership qualities.
If anyone can turn around the fortunes of this country Mr. President, it is you. We have great confidence in your skill and art of leadership, and we are holding on firmly to the belief that you will indeed renew our hopes for a new and prosperous Nigeria.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.