The Challenges Before Nigeria’s New President

After a long wait, the election day has finally arrived. After much violence and rhetoric that has been rampant in the build-up to this election, the “E-Day” has finally come.

But how truly free & fair can today’s election be? After the earlier postponement, and the previous trackrecord of the post-1998 Nigeria, no one can really guarantee the elections to be free nor fair.

But whether the elections are free and fair, it is important to note that the incoming president (incumbent or not), will have a lot of issues to address. If the incumbent wins, for one thing, he will have justify his reelection, and try to do what he could not do in 6years, within 4years; na him sabi. And if the candidate of the strongest opposition wins it, that is Buhari, he would have a lot more to answer to. Paramount will be for him to deliver on his “change” slogan, and justify the faith, or rather gamble, a lot of people have surprisingly placed on him. As one citizen declared: “if Buhari does not deliver on his promises, I and my family will organise prayer vigil against him.”

Aside from these individual issues, there are many more issues that will need to addressed by whoever wins the Presidential election today.

Economy: A major issue for the New President is the diversification of the economy. Since the 1970s, oil revenue hav accounted for 80% of the country’s foreign exchange, and it has also raked in more than half of the government revenue. In the 1980s, despite the economic problems caused by reduced oil revenue and the debt problems, the country’s government failed to diversify the economy. Thus, other sectors, such as agriculture and manufacturing, have not being given much consideration in the taxonomy of government policy, despite loud cries for it.

However, the most recent crash of global oil prices comes at a very strategic time. Escalating with the November decision of OPEC not to scale back production, oil prices have dropped drastically to less than $47 per barrel. No doubt this has hurt Nigeria. The Naira now trades at N220
to the dollar; seriously depleting the countries foreign reserves.

Likewise, the new president will need to shore-up policies that will attract investments; both foreign and domestic. The country’s unimpressive corruption track record has done much to scare foreign investments. The new president will need do much work indeed.

Restoring Confidence In Governmemt: The new president will need to show and convince the populace that Government is for the people. For a long time now, Nigerians have had to endure incompetent leaders in all tiers of government. The new president will need to instill a very disciplined fiscal regime, and pursue very realistic policies.

However, the most important way the new president can change people’s perception of government is by tackling corruption. No doubt corruption has been a pejorative recurrent in the Nigerian state for a long time now. As the current EFCC chairman said recently, corrupt leaders have looted $20trillion from the country’s treasury. The new president would need to present and implement a wholistic approach to tackling corruption, if he really wants to restore confidence in government.

Insecurity: Insecurity in the country has risen high levels since 2010. For instance, news of terrorist suicide bombing is now a regular feature on Nigerian newspapers. However, the new president will need to address this threat to our existence.

Although the current administration in the past 6weeks, has done much to quell terrorist activities in most, if not all, parts of the North-East. Still, whether the current president comes in or not, the new president must consolidate on this victory and address the root causes of terrorism and insecurity in the country.

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