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Panellists at a colloquium organised by Oxford and Cambridge Universities Alumni Network of Nigeria have offered ideas of what President Mohammadu Buhari should do in his second term.
They want President Buhari to take bold steps that would provide direction for economic recovery, a departure from his first tenure that was characterised by poor performance, judging by economic indications.
The panellists, drawn from diverse professional backgrounds in law, economics, business, and bureaucracy include Adeyemi Candide-Johnson, a senior advocate of Nigeria; Rume Aggreh, a lawyer; Ayo Teriba, renowned economist/former adviser to Yemi Osinbanjo, vice president, Diekola Onoalapo, an engineer and Collins Onuegbu, executive chairman, Signal Alliance.
Opening the floor, Adeyemi Dipeolu, a retired civil servant and an alumnus of Oxford University, London, approached the topic from a different perspective. “The issue should not be what President Mohammadu Buhari should be doing differently in the next four years. I think the real issue is what we, as a nation should be doing differently to develop the economy,” he said.
Dipeolu noted that the task of rebuilding Nigeria called for a responsibility on the part of everybody, saying further that the 2019 budget of N8.9 trillion in an economy of about N120 trillion, which is just 7.5 percent, called for all stakeholders to contribute positively towards the development of the economy.
For Rume Aggreh, a lawyer, the judicial arm of government must be independent to allow for checks and balances between the legislature and the executive.
Rume said the weak state of the Nigerian judiciary was responsible for anarchy because when court orders are not obeyed by the government in power it creates a sense of anarchy and lack of trust in government on the part the people.
The lawyer recommended merit as the criteria for appointments to the bench, while respect for the rule of law should be a sacred practice by the three tiers of government.
On the economy, Aggreh wanted President Buhari’s government to present a clear direction and policy of where the country ought to be in the next four years.
Ayo Teriba x-rayed the macro economics of the nation pointing out that Nigeria went into recession because of the shortfall in its foreign reserves. Teriba said the expectations from President Buhari’s first tenure were low because the government met a huge deficit in infrastructure and financing.
Speaking on corruption, Adeyemi Candide-Johnson said leadership in governance had failed in the country because it was not organised on a progressive society. He noted that nation’s elites that should be the high priests of the society had become vacuous and absent in leadership.
For Johnson, corruption appearsed to be the national religion of the country because it seemed everybody was involved. To deal with the menace he said judges should be time conscious in dispensing their duties to make the judicial system efficient.
Collins Onuegbu, executive chairman, Signal Alliance, Lagos, dwelt on economy. He noted that the when the President Buhari’s administration came on board in 2015, it inherited revenue shortfall. The oil money dwindled and affected the country’s foreign reserves; the financial system became very shallow, so the stimulus package that should have provided a hedge for the recession was a challenge.
Onuegbu rated the Central Bank of Nigeria low, describing it as “a toothless bulldog for not taking necessary measures to get the monetary policy right. He wanted the government to take up the challenge to raise capital to fund the economy in the face of revenue shortfall.
Diekola Onaolapo, a businessman, wanted President Buhari to fight corruption using the constitutional means. He said corruption had done great damage to the country thereby eroding the national values.
“In the second term of this government, we must kill corruption before corruption kills Nigeria. Government must change its direction from the norms,” he said.
Participants shared their views on the issues on focus. James Maduekwe, an investment banker, noted that there was lack of incentives to lend money to the small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) and asked government to take a good step to address the challenge. He wanted the government to instil confidence on the country’s local brands to grow the economy.
Another participant who gave her name as Omolola questioned the lack of political will to implement the national policies and called for sensitisation of the civil service to make the system efficient for policy implementation.
Fielding questions from newsmen on the essence of the colloquium, Austen Peters, one of the organisers of the event, said the forum was designed to share ideas and best practices to address the problems of Nigeria.
“We in the private sector feel the need to provide direction for President Mohammadu Buhari’s second tenure so that the government would lead the nation to economic progress,” Peters explained.