The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and 29 state capitals across the country are agog this morning for the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, 29 state governors and their deputies for another four-year term in office. In spite of pending court cases and misgivings by politicians who lost out in the February and March elections, May 29, since 1999, has been remarkable in the political history of Nigeria. This day, every four years, provides an opportunity for a new beginning on the part of elected political leaders and a ray of hope for the people who may have been distraught with the abysmal performance of governments in the outgoing era.
The Federal Government has announced that this year’s inauguration would be low-keyed, especially as the country’s Democracy Day has been shifted to June 12. It is a wise decision that government does not conduct the inauguration with fanfare, considering the fact that the nation is bedevilled by all sorts of vices that manifest in bloodshed, sorrow, agony and fear. It is definitely not a season of dancing, jubilation and clinking of wine glasses.
For Buhari and Osinbajo, the 17 re-elected governors, 12 brand new governors and their deputies, the oath of office they will take today comes with many privileges but also with enormous responsibilities. Many governors, especially the newly-elected ones, would have the euphoria of their inauguration cut short by the scale of challenges that await them the day after they take the pledge to serve the people in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution.
For one, insecurity from North to South of the country has spread fear all over the land. Boko Haram terrorists, bandits, armed robbers, kidnappers, cult groups and ritualists have so far defied strategies by security agencies to curtail their wild and violent activities. Many rural communities, highways and towns are infested with these blood-shedding criminals. This dispensation provides governments, at federal and state levels, with the opportunity to change the paradigm and to finally put criminals on the run, instead of leaving Nigerians who elected them into high political positions at the mercy of killers.
Apart from tackling insecurity, those taking the oath of office today should come up with economic policies and strategies that would reduce poverty and unemployment. Statistics that emerge from researches by multilateral organisations such as the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund [IMF] and even local institutions such as Nigeria Bureau of Statistics [NBS] and Central Bank of Nigeria all suggest that Nigeria is sitting on a socio-economic time-bomb.
It will be wrong to place the burden of eradicating poverty and unemployment on the Federal Government alone. As governors of the federating units of Nigeria, elected executive governors must devise ingenious strategies to boost production, boost commerce and industries in areas where they have comparative advantages. They should stimulate job creation, poverty reduction, reclaim school-age children from the street and provide the people with better medical care facilities.
In order to achieve the above and more, we encourage elected leaders to shun frivolities, curtail corruption, shun abuse of office, nepotism, greed and self-aggrandizement. The resources needed for boosting the country’s standard of living and human capital development have, over the years, been channelled into these vain lifestyles. Projects allocation and implementation are too often motivated by corruption and the foolish grabbing of wealth to keep for the unborn generations of political leaders. This attitude must change.
On their part, state governors should accept the reality that depending on monthly allocations from the Federation Account is old-fashioned. They should find ways of boosting the economy of their respective states, generate income, provide infrastructure and lay the foundation to create jobs for their citizens. It is only by doing these that they will savour fulfilment as leaders. Today marks the beginning of a new era for Nigerians. But it is also the beginning of a new opportunity for elected political leaders to make their mark on the sands of time.
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