By Samuel Malik, Abuja
“The good people of Nigeria, your obligation does not end with casting your ballot. I seek your voice and input as we tackle these problems (insecurity, corruption, economic decline)”
President-elect Muhammadu Buhari made the statement above during his acceptance speech and it appears that Nigerians are taking him up with several individuals and organisations offering suggestions about turning around the situation in many sectors.
Major areas where Nigerians have offered suggestions for change include the economy, the size of government and fighting corruption.
Right to Know, also known as R2K, a civil society organisation which advocates openness in government, has said that it is not enough for the president-elect to insist on asset declaration by government appointees, but that the public must have access to such information in order to verify its authenticity.
“This call for public access to the asset declaration forms of public officials ties with R2K’s continuous campaign on ensuring public access to government held records and information, as citizens access will allow for public scrutiny and verification of assets declared by government officials, in order to ensure that they cannot falsify before and wrongfully enrich their pockets after their terms in office thereby promoting accountability and transparency in government,” Ene Nwankpa, coordinator of R2K, said.
The organisation said only three people have made public the contents of their asset declaration forms, listing them as Chidi Odinkalu, chairman of National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, Kayode Fayemi, former governor of Ekiti State and his deputy, late Olayinka Adunni.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo set the ball rolling concerning setting an agenda for the incoming government with his congratulatory letter to Buhari even before the latter was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
In the letter dated on March 31, Obasanjo urged the president-elect to focus on institutional reforms because of the rot that has eaten deep into the system.
“With so much harm already done to many national institutions, in lauding the military which proudly nurtured you and me, you will have a lot to do on institution reform, education, healthcare, economy, infrastructure, power, youth employment, agribusiness, oil and gas, external affairs, cohesiveness of our nation and ridding our land of corruption,” the former president advised.
The power sector is one that Nigerians feel is of utmost importance and on which experts have given their views on the best way to bring about change.
Charles Ofoegbu, chairman of Society of Exploration Geophysicists and former head of exploration in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, believes the privatisation of the sector needs to be reviewed.
“The privatisation of the power sector needs to be reviewed. The incoming government needs to do this before it can get the issue of power supply right, he observed.
“We keep inaugurating power generating plants, but I had warned in the past that power supply would keep diminishing and we have discovered that we are not making progress but rather retrogressing in the sector,” Ofoegbu said.
On its part, the Medical and Dental Consultants Association is worried about the cost of governance in the country and has thus advised the President – elect stop wasteful spending in government in order to make more money available for development..
The association said the reported 11 aircraft in the presidential fleet are too many and that allocations such as meals and diesel for government offices, including the presidency, should be cancelled.
“There must be complete reform from the Presidency to all tiers of government. A fleet of 11 aircraft for Nigerian President, if indeed true, is inexplicable and outrageous when the President of the USA officially has one, and the Prime Minister of UK has none. The outrageous allocations for meals, diesel and sundries should be scrapped because the President of the USA pays for his meals,” it said.
“The incoming government should transform the political landscape and curb the rot in Nigeria, where senators’ annual take-home pay is more than that of President Barack Obama of the United States.
The association said further that governors’ security votes, “make mockery of sanity” and “should be streamlined to reality.”
Catholic priest, Ejike Mbaka’s whose message “From Goodluck to Badluck”, in which he called for President Goodluck Jonathan to be voted out in the last election, caused controversies, also has a few word for the President – elect.
As if feeling vindicated with Buhari’s victory, he wasted no time advising him that he should avoid the mistakes made by his predecessor if he wants to succeed.
“The prayer of Fr. Mbaka is that God will give Buhari wisdom not to surround himself with wrong people – that was the major problem Jonathan’s administration faced,” Mbaka said.
Another clergyman and former chaplain of Aso Rock Villa Chapel, William Okoye, asked the incoming president to focus on “meritocracy” and reduce the cost and size of governance.
“He should endeavour to reduce the cost of governance by taking another look at the remuneration of political office holders, reduce the number of political offices,” Okoye advised, adding that the Stephen Oronsaye Report can be of particular help in this regard.
For the Christian Council of Nigeria, CCN, in addition to uniting the people, it believes that Buhari needs to instil a level of fear in Nigerians in order to get things done.
Emmanuel Udofia and Wushishi Yusuf, president and secretary general respectively of CCN, said: “To have a successful government, Buhari should unite Christians, Muslims and other Faith. There should be no division; his attention will be drawn to that area. He should also tackle corruption which cuts across every sector of the government.
“(We) want to believe that the leaders of the incoming administration should live by example and drive fear into people.”
Also, the council said attention should be paid to the power sector to promote development.
“The electricity sector is still important because in any nation where there is no electricity, there will be underdevelopment. Buhari should beam attention on electricity sector,” it said.
Former minister of finance and presidential candidate in the 1999 elections, Olu Falae, said for the incoming government of Muhammadu Buhari to revamp the country, there is need for the implementation of the 2014 National Conference report.
“I urge him that as soon as he is inaugurated and settle down to initiate action on the implementation of the report of the 2014 National Conference.
“The implementation of that report in my humble opinion is the blueprint for restructuring Nigeria, revamping Nigeria and re-launching Nigeria into a new orbit,” Falae told the News Agency of Nigeria.
The new administration is expected to be inaugurated on May 29.