By John Shiklam in Kaduna
Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, has said the President has made strides in addressing the challenges facing the country by combating insecurity, building an inclusive economy and fighting corruption.
In a good message at the 11th Sardauna Memorial Lecture which held on Saturday in Kaduna, Gambari who represented the President, said a collaboration with all tiers of government was required to tackle the problems facing the country as the federal government cannot do it alone.
Gambari called on Nigerians to emulate the virtues of the late Premier of the defunct Northern region, Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, for the country to make progress.
According to him, “President Buhari has made huge strides in addressing the challenges facing our country in terms of security, building an inclusive economy and of course the fight against corruption”.
He said, “our ability to collectively address the challenges facing our country today will go along way in unlocking the huge potentiality of of the country and the starting point is leadership by example lived by one of our founding fathers himself, Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna himself.”
Speaking further, he said, “We must not continue for decades to draw attention to the virtues of the late Sardauna, we must practice them – inclusiveness, commitment to quality education, the training particularly for girls and the opportunities for women to develop to their full capacity”.
According to Gambari “This leadership by example, is one in which Mr. President is leading in the front.
“So as leaders of our country, there need to be better and improved coordination and collaboration at at all levels of government – federal, state and local governments.”
“We must not assume that the problems of our country should and can be solved by President Buhari alone or his administration.
“Yes, he will continue to lead by example, but state governors, local government leaders, traditional leaders, religious leaders , civil society groups and even the media have the responsibility to work collectively and put the interest of our country first and foremost”, Gambari said.
He said Nigerians “must not forget the virtue of selfless service which was inherent in all that was done by the late Sardauna.”
“We have no choice if indeed we are committed to the welfare, prosperity, peace and security of our people.
“But to be selfless in service and honour them by making their peace and security, their development as the cardinal point in all our actions.
“That is why, Mr. President’s people agenda of enhancing security, building our economy and fighting corruption are things which he will ever remain committed even beyond tenure of this administration”, Gambari said.
In his address, chairman of the occasion and National leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, said the contributions of Sir Ahmadu Bello to nation building were remarkable and should never be forgotten.
“He laboured tirelessly and with great tact and intelligence. Working together with other shining lights such as the late sage Papa Obafemi Awolowo and the esteemed Nnamdi Azikiwe, this great Sardauna of Sokoto helped establish Nigeria as one indivisible and independent nation.
“He was one of the chief architects and builders laying the foundation for the nation destined to be the leader of Africa and a model for the black race”, he said
The former Lagos state governor maintained that, the lecture entitled: “Reduction of the cost of governance for inclusive growth and youth development in Northern Nigeria in a post-COVID-19 era” is more than timely, particularly, given the serious security challenges that have become one of the primary causes of despair and frustration among Nigerians.
According to him, the frustration and despair are, in large part, caused by chronic poverty and the breakdown in social institutions brought by such longstanding suffering.
He noted that in the midst of local.challenges facing the country came the COVID-19 pandemic, with its debilitating impact on the global and domestic economies.
Tinubu said, “Nigeria, like many other countries, has not been spared the impact of the pandemic.
Commendably, however, President Muhammadu Buhari has been carefully
steering the country through the pandemic such that the negative impact on us and the economy has not been as harsh as it might have been”.
He noted that although the recession in the economy had ended, “but we must admit the economy remains weak with too much unemployment and resources left idle.”
According to Tinubu, “Cost of governance is always a key factor in the socio-economic development of any
“But it is also one side of an important coin. We must not look at the cost alone. We must weigh the cost against the benefits derived therefrom.
“For example, one can pay a high cost on a productive enterprise but reap a higher benefit. Such would be considered a good investment. However, one can pay a low cost but reap no benefit at all because the
endeavour was inherently unproductive.
“This would be a waste. Thus, we must be careful in what we say and truly mean when we talk of the costs of governance.”
He maintained further that the development of any populous nation has always been dependent on the ability of government to allocate sufficient funds to projects and programs that create and encourage enduring growth and employment.
“We must reject that mode of thinking that assumes government expenditure is inherently unproductive as well as harmful to the overall economy.
“It is not the fact that government expenditure is intrinsically wrong any more than one can say all private sector activity is economically positive.
“Government can be wasteful or it can be the key component to growth just as a private sector business can function profitably or spend itself into bankruptcy.
“The issue is not whether government is spending money or not. The real issue is the economic utility and quality of the expenditure”.
According to him, “Fiscal wisdom but not necessarily austerity is required for an economy like ours in a time like this, to ensure equitable wealth redistribution and meaningful use of resources.”
He noted that experience had shown that the private sector was much too weak to spur the growth we need, pointing out that, “if the private sector could manage this feat, it would have already done so.”
He said, “Where the private sector is too weak or unable, the government must fill the void.
“This means government must not be afraid to embark on an activist fiscal policy to create jobs, build infrastructure and develop our industrial sector as well as continue to improve agriculture.
“This means government must spend money but spend it on those things that bring the requisite economic returns for the nation.
“Here, one must make the point about the urgency of the need to think outside of the box in finding solutions to the challenges posed by our unemployed youth.
“Because of the currency issuing power of the federal government, it is not bound to balance budgets like individuals and state governments are.
“Moreover, because of this currency power, federal expenditures are not constrained by federal tax or revenue intake. Just as importantly, what I advocate is something that can be applied to both the common and unique developmental challenges of the north and south so that the nation moves in unison without any group or region feeling left out or estranged from national progress.”
In his presentation, Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF) and Governor of Plateau state, Mr. Simon Lalong, who was the guest lecturer, noted that some of the underlying factors of the cost of governance in
Nigeria include, insecurity and insurgency, stressing that with the escalation of conflicts occasioned by weak security enforcement, several states within the Northern region of Nigeria have witnessed a rapid increase in violence and criminal activities that are linked to insurgency, banditry, communal conflicts, violent confrontations between farmers and herders among
Lalong said in, “In recent years, these conflicts and crimes have been changing patterns and expanding in scope and intensity; from highway armed
robbery to cattle rustling; from community raiding and deadly attacks to abductions and kidnapping for ransom.”
According to him, this ugly trend has severely impacted on interrelations, as perceptions about the identities of the perpetrators in the conflicts or crimes largely remained unclear.