“Failure is not an option for us. We will not contemplate it’’. These were the words of President Buhari at the United States Institute for Peace in Washington DC during his four day visit on the invitation of President Obama. Nigeria is not in the best of times. This is no longer news. All the sectors of the country’s economy are in a state of near collapse. This calls for great concern by both the governing party and the opposition party because our common goal should be to sacrifice for the future and future generation of Nigerians.
Here is a food for thought for everyone: exchange rate is N241 to $1; the rate of unemployment is over 23 per cent; foreign and domestic debt is over $10 billion; rate of inflation is about 10 per cent; rate of poverty is over 70 per cent. How do Nigerians survive these poor economic indices? Most companies are already downsizing in addition to the millions of unemployed youths roaming the streets on a daily basis. Nigeria’s economy continues to be import dependent with the manufacturing sector struggling to come back to life. Stakeholders in the sector have over the years been crying out to governments.
When will these tough times be over? After 16 years of PDP misrule, a progressive political party with a credible candidate have taken over power and his job is cut out for him, to use his powerful force for progress to help the Nigerian people and put them first while being on their side by addressing the issues of unemployment, weak health care system, low wage, high level of poverty among others. These were some of the promises made by President Buhari and his party, the APC, during the electioneering campaign but Nigerians expect the president to turn these rhetoric to reality and that explains why some people are accusing President Buhari of being too slow besides they cannot wait to begin to experience the change that the APC and President Buhari promised during the campaigns.
Having campaigned, supported and voted for the president under the scorching sun and thunderous rain and also waited patiently for the announcement of the winner in the presidential election of April 28, 2015, failure is definitely not an option for the present administration. President Buhari has assured Nigerians of his commitment and resolve to address the many problems facing Nigeria. However, the president needs to come up with strong policies and strategies that will have direct impact on the lives of the Nigerian people. He also must get the right team to implement his policies and interventions. The 8th National Assembly must assist the president in achieving his change agenda.
The National Assembly has so far failed to impact the lives of the common man with no single bill passed since the return of democracy in 1999 aimed at alleviating the suffering over 70 per cent of Nigerians who are living below the poverty line and as recently confirmed by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo. But the time has come for the National Assembly to work towards passing bills that will directly impact the man on the street who do not need to be handed money by government but rather, need to be provided with an enabling environment for him to earn a decent living. Nigerians do not expect governments to solve their problems for them; all they want from governments are good roads, constant electricity, and affordable health care among others. This is not too much for them to ask and neither is it a difficult task for governments to achieve.
The National Assembly must cooperate with the president and avoid any attempt at playing politics with the lives of Nigerians in carrying out their duties. This is not to say that they should abandon their constitutional responsibilities of checking the executive arm of government. But they must support the Buhari administration in his change agenda so that he can succeed. The 8th National Assembly will by so doing have its name written in gold and leave its footprint in the sands of time. The National Assembly must work for the good of Nigerians and in the interest of vulnerable populations. Putting the people first under this dispensation should be the watchword of every public office holder and politician.
Members of the 8th National Assembly must distinguish themselves among others as well as their predecessors. Both the lower and upper chambers must work on and pass bills that will directly impact the lives of poor Nigerians who are having a hard time on account of the poor state of the country’s economy. They cannot afford to fail Nigerians again. Nigerians deserve bills aimed at alleviating their sufferings and improving their standard of living. Bills such as the Expansion of NHIS bill; Deficit reduction bill; Balanced budget bill; Jobs creation bill; Child’s right bill; Disability bill; Elderly and Pensioners bill among others should be worked on and passed speedily and without delay.
The passage of these bills into Acts and their signage into law will help address most of the challenges that face poor Nigerians on a day to day basis and provide a new lease of life. Nigerians would be proud of their country once again after many years of hardship and suffering occasioned by dysfunctional leadership. Future legislators will have to follow the precedence of passing legislations that will directly impact Nigerian people. Nigerians want action now from the 8th National Assembly. Maintaining the status quo is not an option for the legislators. It’s a shame that the House of Representatives is proposing to further increase the number of House Committees just to create an avenue for siphoning money by the boys. Nigeria cannot afford wasteful spending at this juncture. All public office holders have to be responsible, meet their responsibilities and do something about the situation of Nigeria. Our politicians in Abuja and around the country need to take steps that will improve people’s lives. Nigerians do not have the luxury of time besides politicians are elected to serve and work for the people. With the exception of our founding fathers, the people before the 8th National Assembly failed to deliver the dividends of democracy and that is why Nigeria is stagnant.
Some political elite are beginning to advise the president on how and how not he should carry out his agenda. These are some of the people that negatively influenced the Jonathan administration. All public office holders should put the people of Nigeria first in carrying out the conduct of their office and Nigeria will be the better for it. All hands must be on deck to ensure that President Buhari succeeds in the onerous task ahead of him and his administration. It does not matter whether you belong to the governing party or the opposition party. Nigeria would have moved closer to achieving its potentials if public office holders have been responsible and spend our common wealth judiciously. Now is the time for politicians to come up with plans and actions to meet the needs of the Nigerian people.