By Tony Ademiluyi
Inauguration days are epoch making or red letter days when great speeches are made. We won’t forget that of John Fitzgerald Kennedy which he made on January 20, 1961 ‘Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.’ These speeches outline what the leaders intend to do during their term in office and what their countrymen should look forward to when they would hold sway. Their campaign promises are usually reinforced in these speeches and the followers can hold them accountable to their pledges when they sought for votes.
As its becoming the norm in the U.S., on some occasions poets are called to render some renditions. Robert Frost was one such prominent poet in his lifetime that at some point he became the nation’s official poet laureate.
I missed the inauguration of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and so scouted the internet for Buhari’s inauguration speech. I wasn’t surprised when I didn’t find any as Sai Baba as he is fondly called doesn’t have a penchant for making speeches as he clearly lacks the gift of the garb which makes him have an aversion for oral communication.
The lack of a speech makes it difficult to hold Buhari on to anything but that doesn’t make him immune from any form of responsibility to Nigerians.
There are many areas begging for critical attention of the President which he needs to urgently address.
On top of the list is youth unemployment. The National Bureau of Statistics puts it at over thirty percent of the population which is dangerously high and a time bomb waiting to explode in our faces if care isn’t taken. The concomitant effect of youth unemployment has given rise to terrorism and other huge forms of security challenges. The current hydra headed monster of the boko haram insurgency has part of its roots in unemployment and the failure of the nation to provide decent jobs for the angry youthful terrorists who have taken to bombs and guns in frustration. A hungry man is an angry man and this has given rise to kidnappings, abductions amidst a plethora of vices. His policies in his first term led to a massive loss of jobs as many companies left the country in droves as a result of public policy inconsistencies. The harsh operating environment didn’t make matters any better. The lack of electricity and the huge cost of diesel and petrol have made Ghana the next investment destination in West Africa.
The next is our educational policy which is highly defective and linked to the massive unemployment which youths now face. The curriculum is extremely outdated and not in tune with modern day realities which makes our graduates neither here nor there in terms of employability. A total overhaul is needed for us to produce graduates who can meet the needs of the 21st century workplace. The government should also re-introduce the vocational schools as not everyone can go to the university at the same time and there is the need to curb idleness in any form. Asides that, some people are more suited to working with their hands than with their brains and the enabling environment should be created for them to flourish and thrive.
There is the demon of the epileptic power supply that needs to be urgently solved. As observed earlier on, we need to attract businesses into the country so as to create jobs, jobs and more jobs. The Buhari government needs to step in and breath the much needed balm into this ailing sector so that some modicum of sanity can be restored as soon as possible. Foreign investments cannot come in when they have to spend a huge chunk of their profits on diesel. It will also act as a disincentive to local businesses as well. The Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was once quoted as saying that he had the opportunity to make money within the twinkle of an eye through forex trading. The lack of power will attract Nigerians to endeavours that provide avenues for quick cash without investing hugely in infrastructure that would create jobs. For job creation to be a reality, there must be heavy investments in industrialization which only power can provide.
Health is wealth goes the age-long aphorism. An apple a day keeps the doctor away goes another. When the late General Sani Abacha announced the 1983 coup that signaled the collapse of the Second Republic, he said that the hospitals had become consulting clinics. Over three decades down the line, they have worsened and become worse than death chambers. Misdiagnosis by disgruntled doctors has become the order of the day. Avoidable deaths caused by the overworked but underpaid doctors don’t make the headlines anymore as it is now seen as the norm. The President’s daughter, Zahra Buhari got the nation alarmed when she drew the attention to the fact that there were no syringes in the Aso Rock Clinic despite the billions pumped in there on an annual basis.
Buhari himself has been guilty of overseas medical tourism despite his pledge not do so in his first coming. The United Kingdom is seen as the President’s medical haven which is shut out of the reach by the man on the street or the masses. There is also the ugly incident of the medical brain drain that has seen a massive shortage of doctors and other medical personnel in the country as a result of the poor conditions of working. The hoi polloi are the ones at the receiving end as the medical joke is on them when they cannot access quality healthcare.
Buhari needs to declare a state of emergency on the healthcare sector and ensure that it is not only affordable but qualitative. In an era where the former war torn Rwanda now uses drones in their healthcare services, we as the ‘Giant of Africa’ ought to have something akin to 911 for medical emergencies.
Nigerian relations abroad have to be thoroughly checked and reassessed. Our citizens ought to stop being killed abroad for offences they may not have committed. We need to critically look at the jail terms that our citizens serve in foreign prisons and see how they can be reduced for their well being.
Buhari just has four years which is fleetingly short to make an impression that would last for eternity. He has another four years of grace save the results from the elections petitions tribunal to salvage his name and etch it in the hearts of Nigerians. The choice to do so or to end up in ignominy is entirely his.
Ademiluyi writes from Lagos