By Hassan Suleiman
Recently, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Laolu Akande said that the Federal Government ‘s revenue fell by 40 percent due to the impact of COVID-19. I believe this is an early warning signal of the impending doom creeping into Nigeria fabric. This statement is another wake up call for our Leaders and even followers on the need for overhauling of the country. Most Nigerians have lost faith in the governance, especially those who hold the executives, legislature and even in the judiciary positions. The outbreak of COVID -19 and subsequently the inability of the government to providing succour for the masses through the palliatives which they claimed are available for every Nigerians further dampened the hopes and aspiration of Nigerians . I am of the opinion that Nigeria is at cross road and urgent drastic measures need to be taken with a view to put it on track.
A media report claimed that if the COVID-19 could persist, only 2 or 3 states (Lagos, Rivers and Kano) are buoyant enough to pay their civil servants. The question now is what does these state do with the resources at their disposal? Are they just sustaining their states based on monthly subventions from the Federal government? What happened to their internally generated revenue?
A look at the three geo –political zones of the North East, West and North Central reveal that these zones are endowed with mineral resources that they can tap from and add the proceed derived from there can to shore up their internally generated revenue . States like Jigawa, Borno, Sokoto, and Plateau are endowed with rocks and warm springs such as Kazaure, Ngeji, Gibadi and Assop hills. These are natural resources that can attract lot of tourists, only if the menace of banditry and Bokom Haram can be addressed. The continuous killing and wanton destruction of property in these areas has led to relocation of indigenes and even settlers in these states to other states in the country Overtime, there had been calls on the need for these states governors to look inward and harness their natural resources. Some analysts are also of the view that Nigeria should revert back to its regional system so that each region can harness its potentials for the growth and development of their states. The former Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido revealed that 25% of Nigeria budget is spent on the payment of public officers, according to him, if the country continue this way, there is doom ahead. Some analysts are of the opinion that part of the overhauling of Nigeria should include disbandment of either the House of Representative or the Senate. The maintenance of these two chambers is rather too expensive for Nigeria’s young democracy.
The Present government should as a matter of urgency implement the Oronsaye report. The key recommendation of the report set up by the former President Jonathan Goodluck address the need for restructuring and rationalization of Federal Government agencies with a view to cutting cost of governance by eliminating wastage through duplicate functions across several government Ministries, Department and Agencies .
The public power is another sector that is putting the country at precipices. Since 1960, Nigeria had always relied on public power generated through hydro station in Kanji, Niger State. More worrisome is the fact that the power sector is highly centralized. Several efforts made by state government like Lagos to establish their independent power were frustrated by the federal government. Ice block making company, textile and fabric companies, cold room, banks, media houses and even telecommunication are writhing under the pain of epileptic power supply. The epileptic power has further compounded efforts to accelerate the growth of Science and Technology which is key to Nigeria economy. In fact, the Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN), one of the leading telecommunication industries in Nigeria has pleaded to government to make public power available as the amount of money being spent on fuel is consuming chunk of their profits.
Since the attainment of democratic governance in 1999, there has been endless promise by each of the successive government on regular power. Before now, Nigeria could boast of Michelin Tyres as well as many textiles companies in Aswani market in Lagos. Virtually all these companies have relocated to neighbouring countries in search of steady power supply. Other sectors such as the oil, the entertainment industry popularly known as the Nollywood the Nigeria debt burden and even the image of the country need to be addressed.
Nigeria has since her independence relied solely on oil as the main source of income. Presently, there has been a drastic fall in the price of oil in the global market. According to media report, many Nigeria ships marketing produced oil for sale abroad are currently roaming around the shore of most countries, with most of them unwilling to buy virtually, the borders of every country are locked down. Thus, the Nigerian government resulted to borrowing loan to meet both its capital and recurrent obligations. There are lots of key sectors of Nigeria that are affected.
Nigerians therefore fervently look forward to a country where everyone is not judged based on his or her tribe, a country where the military are equipped with sophisticated weapon to confront kidnapping, banditry and Boko Haram. The intelligence gathering of the Armed Forces should also be strengthened to conform to the reality of the day. Federal Government need to fashion out a database for every Nigerian. Relevant key stakeholders in Nigeria should come together to address these myriad challenges if Nigeria is to be ranked among other promising nations. Nigeria must be pullback from its quagmire and the time is now.
Hassan Suleiman, Department of Journalism, School of Communication, Lagos State University