Nigeria attaining 50 years, an advanced age of nationhood, is a great attestation to how the peoples of different cultures, languages, beliefs and orientations have been able to knit together their diverse backgrounds to build and nurture a united entity.
Nigerians, therefore, deserve to roll out the drums in celebrating the 59th anniversary of the nation’s independence.
However, the nation has in the recent past been marking the yearly anniversary low keyed with leaders at different levels calling for sober reflections.
This, probably was necessitated by challenges the country and her people are confronted with while striving to avoid dismembering of a once blossoming nation and driving the ailing economy to provide adequate resources to meet the challenges created by our growing population which is among the highest in the world.
Today, economic ills such as tax evasion, smuggling, terrorism and illicit financial flows have continued to deny the nation of reasonable amount of revenues.
The nation faces myriads of problems. In the educational sector, statistics say 11 million children are presently out of school, calling for reformation of our educational sector through legislative intervention. Youth unemployment is yet another challenge we cannot allow to continue. Youths are ideally present and future fulcrum of a nation’s work force.
As a result of mass unemployment, loss of millions of jobs, decay in infrastructure and economic exclusion of certain segments of the society, several millions of Nigerians live below poverty line.
The spate of kidnapping, ethnic conflicts, rural and highway banditry, herdsmen and farmers’ conflict and cattle rustling in the land are at a disturbing rate, calling for a holistic review of our security architecture and additional efforts at finding solutions to the security challenges presently facing our nation.
Several hundreds of thousands of Nigerians presently live in clusters of internally displaced persons camps across the country as a result of insecurity. Nigeria today is one of the nations with highest number of IDPs.
Having come into governance on the mantra of change and getting re – elected for a second term, President Muhammadu Buhari has a lot to do in the next three and a half years to change the narratives and give several millions of the citizenry a sense of belonging by bridging the socio – economic gaps that seems to be festering.
There is the need for President Buhari and members of his cabinet as well as those in positions of authority to rededicate themselves to attaining the goals which they have set for a united, prosperous and purposeful nation in the face of 21st century opportunities and challenges.
To continue to keep Nigeria united and safe, government have to strengthen the capacity of the armed forces to defend the country’s territorial integrity.
The government must be proactive in the acquisition of military hardware as well as continued improvements in the working conditions of service men and women.
Coupled with this, the resuscitated Ministry of Police Affairs must be funded to oversee the development and implementation of strategies to enhance internal security while it is hoped that the ongoing recruitment of 10,000 constables into the Nigeria Police Force will help in arresting the incidence of armed robbery, kidnapping and other violent crimes across our nation.
There is the need for significant increase in investments in critical infrastructure through strict implementation of capital budget to ensure that critical priority projects are completed or substantially addressed.
And to maximise the impact of deficit in infrastructural development, the government needs to encourage private capital for infrastructural development through Public Private Partnerships.
Also, government should intensify efforts to improve the power sector to complement other infrastructure investment projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund.
Though government’s commitment to achieving macro-economic stability and economic diversification has been underscored by the merger of the Ministry of Finance with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, government must remain focused on optimising the revenues generated from the oil and gas sector.
Governments at the federal and states levels must intensify efforts to instill greater fiscal transparency and accountability to ensure greater fiscal efficiency and optimum use of their very scarce resources.
Government must sustain its food security and self – sufficiency policies to further improve on remarkable progress made in almost all segments of the agriculture value chain, from fertilizers to rice, to animal feed production and to ensure additional investments are channeled, thereby creating more jobs in the sector.
Above all, President Buhari must allow the recently constituted Economic Advisory Council to advise him on inclusive and sustainable macro-economic, fiscal and monetary policies to ensure Nigeria remains on track as we strive for collective prosperity.
As President Buhari said in his independence day broadcast that the path of hatred and distrust only leads to hostility and destruction, it is instructive that the vast majority of Nigerians should rather tread the path of peace and prosperity, as we continue to uphold and cherish our unity.