After decades of missed opportunities, dashed hopes and unmet expectations, it is quite understandable that Nigerians in great numbers are now furiously angry and disappointed at what could have been, for Nigerians and Nigeria.
Nigerians are therefore famished for a renaissance, a renewal, restoration, rebirth and as the brand new President Yar‘Adua puts it, Nigeria is an age of restoration.
Care must now be taken, to manage these expectations carefully. Managing expectations is a good strategy for achieving or obtaining good governance. The key to success for this new administration, among other things, is to manage people’s expectations, it would be wise to have another good strategy, which entails, getting the message out and staying on the message. Letting the electorate know what policies are being pursued and what the challenges and successes are.
The new administration must take Nigerians along the journey of reconstruction and rebirth. It is of crucial importance, that media is actively sought as partners in all of these. The president’s media and press handlers must be keenly aware of the importance of informing the populace of all the challenges and the efforts government is making to address them. This government must so define itself.
It is my strong belief, that it is probably best, at this point, not to heighten expectations. Instead, it is better to focus on deliverables. The new administration should refrain from making any extraordinary promises. It is infinitely more beneficial to under-promise as in promising less, but, performing and delivery more. Nigerians who have suffered expectation fatigue over the years, will appreciate deliverables, performance and delivery, above and beyond and in preference, over promises as usual, grand but broken promises nonetheless.
In the past, I have pointedly mentioned that unfettered, unmitigated and pervasive structural decadence, permeated Nigeria for an extended period of time, the onset was at least two decades before or prior to 1999, and the relatively new democratic dispensation have had their hands full as a consequence.
Those who took the reigns of power in Nigeria in 1999 clearly inherited the wind! They inherited over twenty years of severe economic, political, social and structural malaises and decadences. They inherited the understandable angst and bitterness of long-suffering Nigerians. In Nigeria, when a sense of hope dissipated a sense of disconnect settled in. That must change now!
As I write this, it occurs to me, that the next president of the United States will be in a similar position, of inheriting the wind, angst and political decadences, as did Nigerian democrats taking over from the military 1999. Such an American president would be inheriting the burdens and liabilities of President Bush’s neo-conservative government policies. Policies that have held sway for the preceding eight years!
Imagine inheriting the wars in Afghanistan, and then the debacle and quagmire of death and destruction in Iraq? Imagine inheriting such loss of lives and treasures? Imagine taking over the reigns of power from a government that squandered the budget surplus in billions of dollars that was left by former president of the United States Bill Clinton? And, imagine that Bush was the guy who plunged America into trillion-dollars deficit spending, and so quickly, especially, considering that Bill Clinton left power with American budget perfectly balanced!
Imagine further that Bill Clinton led America into prosperity for all and left America there! But Bush? He is Margaret Thatcher the milk-snatcher of Britain! The American economy under Bush, has come under a lot of stress and recessionary pressures! Imagine if you are the next American president who inherits all these negative factors, as you take over from Bush in 2008?
Those who took over the affairs of Nigeria in 1999 met a train wreck-like disaster, the met situations akin to multiple tsunamis with multiple variables of tragedies in public infrastructures in Nigeria. They met abandoned roads and bridges. They found electricity generation less than you would find in Somalia or Iraq in their current war ravaged conditions or situations. They met decrepit and damaged Nigerian psyche!
There was and still are, high unemployment, galloping-inflation and hyperinflation, spiraling crime rate and general insecurity. Nigeria’s national currency, the Naira, has been in free-fall and depreciation, coupled with official and unofficial devaluations!
The best leader, even without distractions, would have a tough time, tackling all these long abandoned projects and long neglected priorities and the likes that we have seen in Nigeria. And add all the familiar politicking and political shenanigans, any leader would still have found it an uphill task to make Nigerians smile, or become upbeat and forward-looking again! It, still remains a very daunting task, even after 8 years of the so-called nascent democracy.
But some progress has undoubtedly been made and Nigeria has been steadied and balanced for takeoff. Consider the fact that, at the inception of democracy in 1999, Nigeria owed both external and internal debts (foreign and domestic debts) the foreign debts alone were near a whopping $40billion dollars! But, voila! This has changed for good, all such debts are gone and no more, it has all been paid. Nigeria now has a clean slate. Nigeria is now attractive to foreign traders and foreign investors. Nigeria is now, once again trusted to have the ability to pay for what Nigeria consumes, both tangibles and intangibles.
Happily, the Central Bank of Nigeria reported on June 6, 2007 that Nigeria’s reserve is now $43.3 billion dollars! I make bold to suggest that time is nigh and right, to spend some of these savings or foreign reserves, in order to bring direct positive impacts on all Nigerians. It is time to make Nigerians feel the benefits of improved economic prospects, since the successful elimination of Nigeria’s debts, debts that were enormous and simply crushing!
What remains to be done is by no means small, but, Nigeria is now free of her debts. Nigeria can now concentrate on rebuilding and repairing both physically and psychically, in effect, Nigeria is on the way to the age of restoration as President Yar’Adua has said.
Nigeria is debt-free, and instead of debts and deficits, Nigeria now has foreign reserve savings or surplus in excess of $43billion dollars! Nigeria has a new government and this is a chance for a fresh start for our country.
All Nigerians must now contribute, support and inspire President Yar’Adua in his efforts to create the age of restoration in Nigeria. All hands must be on deck to create a marvel out of Nigeria. It is time now, for all of us, to join hands in polishing our Nigeria, which is currently a metaphorical rough diamond, into a fine, sparkling, dazzling diamond for display to the entire world.