This dangerous times, with dehumanizing episodes and scenarios that try men’s souls, appear to be sliding deep down into the pit of squalor and despondency. More and more Nigerians are endangered by the day as succor distances itself from our land. Money is scarcer, jobs and gainful engagements rarer, hope on the run and confidence on a flight of fancy.
The dollar rate hovers beyond reason, power outage is resident here, fuel scarcity walks side by side high unemployment, cost of living impoverishes tens of millions, out of school children cross 10 million mark and our population is mushrooming, set to make us the world’s third most populous nation.
Now is not a good time to be a Nigerian. This is not the time to struggle to make ends meet. But patriots believe it will get so hard and difficult and depressing before it begins to get better. Many chorus, but we never thought it could get this bad. It has, and worse than anyone imagined.
How will we tell when it begins to get better. What are the signs that will tell the beginning of real change?
Here are 11 clear signals of a new Nigeria…
- When it is clear corruption will be severely punished and looters are stripped of their ill gotten wealth and are serving terms in prisons.
When this series of trials of corrupt public servants and their cronies get into serious stages, suspects begin to lose their swagger and braggadocio. When their loots are traced and their co-conspirators are made to sing dirges, and they realize that the tune has changed.
Everyone will know that a new regime has started, and we will all fall in line. Our commonwealth will be difficult to pilfer.
- When flamboyance and mindless display of splendor vanishes from public offices.
Those in public office will realize they are servant leaders and stop living large, spending public money on frivolity and run government more frugally and mindfully. Long list of aides will disappear, government houses will become simpler, officials will fly economy or business class, sell the private jets and other nonsensical acquisitions. When First Ladies take the back seat and are not heard and seen.
- When power outages become few and far between.
When all the talk of decades and indefensible expenditure on power stop. And we begin to see real changes in power output. When electricity is on more than half of the day so that enterprises and big businesses can concentrate on their production, instead of how to generate power. When Nigerians can enjoy at home and sleep at night restfully.
- When the refineries are in full swing and we no longer import petrol.
That will be a good sign that our government is now serious. Nothing can explain a major producer of crude oil importing refined products. All the excuses invented by corrupt officials cannot hold water. We must refine our oil and turn the sector around for good. Then, there will be no shortage or scarcity at the pumps. And prices will be stable and reasonable.
- When manufacturing thrives and we stop importing all sorts of things.
Big factories, humming and producing essential items, are the hallmark of a progressive nation. When needed goods are produced here, with majority of the raw materials sourced locally, the manufacturing sector booms. More people are engaged, they oil the economy with their spending and the land becomes colourful and beautiful.
A nation must produce items that its survival depends on. You should not import basic items which will wipe away your foreign exchange reserves. Only specialised items are imported by nations with conscientious leaders.
- When all the noise about being self sufficient in food production becomes more than talk.
A country which spends $22 billion importing food annually should not exist. Once you cannot feed yourself, you are at a big disadvantage. You sway and fall when other countries cough. And with dwindling resources hunger is guaranteed. We have to do more, encourage agriculture and agro-allied businesses. When we grow our rice, eat it and produce other food items, then we can begin to look at nobler preoccupation.
- When we care for the weak and the poor and the old.
How do you measure the standard of living? When the majority of your population, especially the young, weak, poor and old have access to basic things of life such as affordable homes, cheap food, health care, free and quality education and a fantastic welfare system that protects all. There are fabulous amenities for the enjoyment of all on ground. Public schools are as good as private institutions.
- When we reduce the army of unemployed youths.
The alarming rate of unemployment is unbelievable. And when you add the figure of those underemployed, we have a time bomb on our hands. Talk is cheap, government is killing more businesses and dropping millions more in the labour market. Well thought out policy execution to encourage enterprises must be in full swing. The ease of doing business should be investigated and made better. When you see more businesses opening and thriving, your neighbours engaged and happy, we are almost there.
- When we encourage the most brilliant minds with character and integrity to go into politics.
When patriots with brilliant ideas begin to go into politics, and money men are irrelevant, the good times will roll. Ideas will drive the polity, and big strides will be recorded. Our public offices will be dominated by good men ready to make sacrifices. Those with impeccable character, men of integrity will occupy public space.
- When the salaries and emoluments of our public servants are cut drastically.
Don’t forget that we run the most expensive democracy in the history of mankind. When we reduce our over bloated public offices across the legislature and executive, in the three tiers of government, and the salaries and emoluments are cut drastically, we can begin to expect real dividends of democracy. We cannot spend 70 percent of our budget in paying salaries of public officials, maintaining them and expect real change and development.
- When Buhari walks the talk, sells the private jets in the presidential fleet, reduces the money on food in state house and all the nonsensical expenses no one can defend.
Change starts with the leader. He must not only live by example, he must be seen to be an examplary leader. What surrounds Aso Rock, the budget allocated to it cannot be justified. And President Buhari must start now to live in the present, in a country with scarce resources with a hungry populace. He must curb the excesses in the seat of government, and truly live a frugal life rogues are uncomfortable with. That is the true beginning.
-Agbolade Owolabi for encomium.ng