Election fever keeps rising and Nigerians are taking sides to decide in whose hands the destiny of 170 million Nigerians should lie. We are choosing political parties and debating which candidate is a better leader or should I say rulers? That’s the beauty of Democracy; the freedom to choose.
Personally, I’m not taking sides (not yet). I believe that Nigerians will eventually still have to live with their problems and the same colour of passport after May 2015 and realize that the falling oil prices, moribund refineries and pathetic roads are not all issues that can be waved away with a magic wand.
We must also realize that each and everyone of us has a new role to play post-election. The economy will still be on the brink, and it would take collective effort of both the citizenry and the government to bring our economy around from the edge of financial suicide. We must be vigilant like the mai-guard that watches at night.
We have to discover new ways to diversify our economy not only on a Federal level but also as states and local governments. As citizens, we also must realize that creating an enabling environment also means daring to ask questions and demand answers from whoever occupies the seat of power. We must demand more viable projects that actually contribute towards job creation and prosperity for all.
The austerity measures will continue regardless of whoever ends up in Aso Rock. So we must have a coherent strategy to move forward. If Nigeria was an organization, this would be the time where the Chief Executive would be required to lay out concrete economic plans and proactive policies that would see that Nigeria PLC can effectively cut its costs and simultaneously increase its revenues from alternative sources asides crude oil sales.
Moving forward, every citizen should begin to question what the security votes alloted public officers is being used for. We should ask why churches and mosques can’t be taxed; give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, right? We should ask why Senators earn nearly $3million each year. We should be asking why the immunity clause shouldn’t be scrapped entirely or at least restricted to only civil suits and not criminal offences like money laundry and theft. We should ask why the Petroleum Industry Bill hasn’t been passed and yet no member of the Federal House of Representatives can be seen jumping fences or fighting over its passage. Isn’t it supposed to benefit the masses?
I believe when we start asking these questions and we are backed up by an active judiciary system that is devoid of political influences, we may yet survive the oncoming economic storm.
We should no longer rely on just electoral promises, we should have a Ministry of Planning that should be independent and immune to external politics. A ministry mandated to oversee capital projects over a long period of time, whose Minister or Directors should be appointed technocrats and policy makers with pedigree and vision.
After we have cast our votes and all is said and done in the February elections, we owe our future the need to act right now. Moving forward we must shake off all manner of fear and military hangover that stops us from demanding that the right things be done. We should let the debates continue and not let up!