It’s now time to walk the talk

This morning in Abuja, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the standard-bearer of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 25th February election, will be sworn in as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. While being conferred with the national honour of Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR) by the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari last Thursday, Tinubu said he understood the significance of the occasion and the task that awaits him. “I must run this race and must do it well. On security, the economy, agriculture, jobs, education, health, and power and in all other sectors, we must make headway. The people deserve no less,” he said.  

Tinubu comes to office with impeccable political credentials. Three decades ago, during the transition to civil rule programme of General Ibrahim Babangida, he was elected Senator. He later played a crucial role in the pro-democracy agitation against the military regime of the late General Sani Abacha as a member of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) in exile. When democracy returned in 1999, Tinubu was elected governor of Lagos State where he served for eight years after which he was instrumental to the formation of the APC through which Buhari defeated the then incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.  

However, Tinubu is assuming the reins of power in Nigeria at a very difficult time in our history. With mass unemployment, mounting debts, and fiscal indiscipline, the economy is in a shambles. A significant proportion of the population lives below the poverty line in a country often measured in superlatives. Education is limping. The hurried academic calendars which usually follow the all-too-frequent strikes by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) allow for very little attention to serious studies while under-funding the education sector has had collateral damaging effects. The situation is not different in the health sector where many of our doctors are trooping out of the country in an unprecedented wave of migration.  

The enormity of the crisis at hand is compounded by the reality that several of the 36 states can hardly perform their routine duties. On the security front, Nigeria has practically become a lawless place where armed robberies, kidnappings, banditry, and terror reign supreme. Even though the nation’s armed forces have in recent weeks made remarkable gains against Boko Haram, the insurgents still constitute a grave and potent danger to the polity. From whichever angle one looks at the state of the nation today, Tinubu has enormous responsibilities on his lean shoulders. To run an efficient government, having a competent team and the capacity and willingness to take difficult decisions are basic requirements. But much more important, now is the time for Tinubu to walk his talk on restructuring the country.  

Our system, according to Tinubu three years ago, “remains too centralised with too much power and money remaining within the federal might and this imbalance leads to relative state weakness. We need to overhaul how revenues are allocated between the states and the federal government. This concept is one that has directed the fiscal policies of other nations for several decades. If we are to catch these other nations in development, it is a prerequisite that we match them in the efficiency of governmental fiscal roles and operations regarding the national government and our subnational political units.”  

 When complemented with mechanism for improving accountability, restructuring the country along the line proposed by Tinubu has the potential for strengthening good governance and human development in Nigeria. Now is the time to match his word with action.

We wish him success in his new assignment.  

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