The President-elect’s historic burden
After all the tension and excitement that are dominant features of pre-election campaigns, the presidential election has come and gone. A clear winner has emerged as president-elect – Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. There is little surprise that the major opposition parties have sought to challenge the outcome – I doubt if there has been any presidential election in Nigeria whose outcome has not been challenged since the advent of the First Republic.
In any case, in a democracy such as ours, it is within the rights of the major contenders to recourse to the courts if they so desire. But the president-elect undoubtedly now has a clear mandate to start to create the building blocks for the vision of a greater Nigeria which he clearly espoused in his manifesto and campaigned about across the country prior to the election.
One of the first immediate tasks of the president-elect should surely be to bring the country together under his leadership. No election has divided Nigerians in recent years as much as this election has. No thanks to those who have sought to exploit our delicate religious and ethnic divide lines to further political interests. Politics has sadly become the tool deliberately deployed to create needless ethnic and religious tensions. The desperation for power has brought with it the exploitation of our fault lines to a new low, with the consequences of the heightening of mistrust and disharmony.
I have been particularly disappointed by the reckless and irresponsible pandering of a few so-called Christian religious leaders towards deliberate disharmony and silly tensions for selfish reasons via fake utterances and false narratives. Rather than clear articulation of the issues that we are currently confronted with and a robust exposition of solutions, the crazy descent to ethnic and religious sentiments in this election cycle has been particularly sad and disappointing. Now that the elections are over, the president-elect must seek to immediately unite the country around those ideals of nationhood that ensures that our challenges are viewed mainly from the perspectives of the common and best interests of our country rather than from the narrow prism of religion and ethnicity.
It is by no means a small challenge, but I have no doubt in the ability of the president-elect to inspire the country towards the achievement of this imperative goal.
Not many can honestly discountenance the fact that insecurity remains a scourge that continues to undermine our collective march to progress. Admittedly, the current administration has been able to wipe out insurgency strongholds in Nigeria – a problem it inherited from the previous administration. However, kidnapping and banditry remains a menace. The incoming administration must build on the security infrastructure that it inherits from the current administration to tackle these twin evils. The security architecture must be further enabled by cutting edge and innovative technological solutions that have the potential to nip in the bud these security problems (technology solutions that doubles up on and refines existing technology investments).
There must be recruitment and mobilisation of greater numbers of security personnel and provisions of even more sophisticated equipment to tackle the security challenges. A more secure country undoubtedly allows and gives the confidence for a greater inflow of investments and consequently economic growth. Nigerians will be looking up to the president-elect on the fulfilment of this very important goal.
Our youth population constitute a very important and an energetic segment with incredible potentials to uplift our country to unbelievable heights. Yet, the vast possibilities that this segment of our population could offer remain largely unexplored. The Tinubu administration must seek to empower the vast majority of our youths through innovative empowerment schemes, education, digital skills acquisitions and many more initiatives that will ultimately propel our youths to fully unleash their talents for the rapid growth of our country.
We have seen some of the impressive achievements of this segment of our population in entertainment, sports, information technology and other endeavours at home and abroad. This incoming administration will need to deploy a greater investment of capital, effort, thought and time in initiatives that specifically target this important segment – thus significantly reducing the streams of frustrations and anger – that we have seen in recent times, which has unfortunately been exploited by unscrupulous political actors.
The negative trends perpetuated by some within this segment must not be allowed to take prominence through a lack of sharp focus and indecisive policy initiatives. The incoming president must significantly bolster the positive and inspiring achievements we have seen so far with our youths.
A more rapid growth in our economy that translates to much better opportunities and better living standards for all our people is an imperative. The president-elect’s economic agenda promises, amongst others, “significant and heavy investments in infrastructure, value adding manufacturing and agriculture, with a determined focus to build an efficient, fast growing and well diversified emerging economy with a real GDP growth averaging 12 percent annually… translating to millions of new jobs”.
These are worthy aspirations, which of course, should build from the achievements of the present administration especially in the areas of infrastructure and agriculture growth. Add to these, significant investments in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in order to enable our youths unleash the potentials of this country as a major information and communications technology hub. And we would well be on the path to fulfilling the promises of a much better country providing wider possibilities and opportunities for most of our people. However, these fabulous plans must be matched by effective drive, firm resolve and efficient implementation which can only be provided by the best talents that the president-elect can draw on. I have no doubt that the president-elect can consolidate on the gains of the present administration and galvanize a new era of growth which many are anxiously hoping for and looking forward to. We cannot afford to get it wrong.
In all, elections have been won and lost. Now is the time for the country to unite behind the new president-elect for a collective march towards a much brighter future that focuses on and seeks greater security of lives and property, greater economic growth and prosperity in the land, profound social justice and inclusion as well as better political participation and deepening of our democracy.
•Dr Soji Ehinlanwo is a technology and management consultant, public affairs analyst and was governorship candidate of the defunct CPC in the Ondo 2012 election.