FIVE SIMPLE THINGS PRESIDENT TINUBU SHOULD DO TO EASE KILLING HARDSHIP IN NIGERIA
1. Flush out terrorists that have made a soft target of farming communities in Benue, Plateau, Niger, Taraba and Zamfara states. Then facilitate the return of displaced persons, mostly farmers, back to their communities with security and rehabilitation support ahead of the fast-approaching farming season. And ensure the terrorists are prevented from migrating to attack other states. These will boost food production and stem the rising food inflation.
2. Ensure the commencement of refining of petroleum products at the Port Harcourt and Dangote Refineries translate to significant reduction in the pump price of products as openely anticipated by the the Central Bank’s Governor, Yemi Cardoso, recently. Indeed, that’s the anticipation of most Nigerians. Significant price-reduction in petroleum products will have huge, positive multiplier effects on all sectors of the economy in the form of reduced cost of products and services to the Nigerian consumers. Cost of transportation, food, soap, pomade, dresses etc will go down. The President owes us this. Port Harcourt refinery is a public utility, while Dangote refinery was built with huge public support such as $2 billion FG-guaranteed Chinese loan, NNPC 20% shareholding acquired for $2.7 billion, and concessionary forex to the tune of billions of dollars from our Central Bank. Even God Almighty holds the view that: “To whom much is given, much is expected” (Luke 12: 48). Let those paid talkers coming on TV to tell us it’s Aliko Dangote’s prerogative to sell petroleum products to us at his preferred prices shut up and stop being callous and inhuman! Nigerians are co-stakeholders in the Dangote Refinery! If profit reduction is what this will require, so be it!
3. Send an executive bill to the National Assembly on State Police. A unitary police system has failed resoundingly in a supposedly federal state. The failure became noticeable under President Babangida who advised landlord associations nationwide to form Neighbourhood Vigilantes. The problem has assumed a monstrous look now beyond the capabilities of stick and machete-weilding vigilantes. Hence, we have attained a national consensus on State Police. I can consult in this respect, in case the president is encumbered by the so-called dangers of State Police. I have an exhaustive list of such dangers with appropriate counter-measures. Vaccilating further on this subject that borders on life and death only reinforces the skepticism of those who insist the issue of restructuring to President Tinubu was only a matter of rabble-rousing sloganeering while scheming to be president. One uncharitable fellow likened the president to a philanderer who defaulted in his commitment to a band of ladies of easy virtue.
4. Reintroduce fixed exchange rate for sectors that constitute the lifewire of our economy and weigh heavily on people’s welfare in a regime of openness, transparency, and accountability in the allocation of available foreign exchange. The current experiment is destroying our economy and livelihoods. People are being pushed into poverty for no fault of theirs. Their salaries and savings are simply losing value in the floating forex market hourly! We need to ration what we have on a scale of preference. For example, pharmaceutical industries and other manufacturing concerns will be offered forex to import rawmaterials, production equipment and machineries. Round-tripping will be prevented by putting in place necessary safeguards, including EFCC arrest and prosecution of errant bank officials and importers. Those who need forex to import Champagne, Rolls Royce, Gucci wears etc can purchase forex from the parallel market. Unless this is done, the Naira will continue to slide in value. We ain’t seen nothing yet. Those hackneyed arguments about corruption in a fixed exchange rate regime aren’t helping us. Even in its floating state, corrupt manipulators are killing the Naira!
5. Introduce mandatory health insurance for all Nigerians. A N1,000 per each of 200 million Nigerians will amount to N200 billion. That’s chicken feed in your budget. You can double it over time and limit beneficiaries to Nigerians with NIN and let the coverage be total for those above 60 years and below 20 years. The intricacies can be worked out. I wasn’t a baby when the UPN States in the Second Republic ran a Free Health programme in their states: Oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Lagos, and Bendel. The late Bola Ige, my illustrious mentor and boss, once told me that, as Oyo State Governor in the Second Republic, he ensured that, at all times, all public health facilities had enough stock of three categories of simple pills, which, according to him, took care of not less than 60% of records of illnesses: antimalarial, antibiotics, and analgesics. For now, people are dying of common malaria in hundreds of thousand due to lack of money to buy antimalarial, talkless of those with high BP, diabetes and the like! And you and your lieutenants should set a good example by patronising a local hospital. You can create a presidential section at the National Hospital and equip same to suit your needs. We no go vex.
— Olufunmilade is a Professor of International Relations and Strategic Studies; and Director, Buratai Center for Contemporary Security Affairs, Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, Nigeria.
Prof. Femi Olufunmilade
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