Anthony Kila advises President Bola Tinubu on the need for him to embark on some economic reforms and general policies that will stand him out as Nigerian leader.
Dear President Tinubu,
PLEASE correct me if I am wrong, but I doubt you have been president of any other thing before now, senator, yes, governor, yes, leader yes, chairman maybe, but I am not sure you have ever had that title of president prefixed to your name before 29th May 2023. That is impressive, to put it mildly.
Today’s epistle is addressed to you as the new president of a new Nigeria and it is aimed at suggesting some reforms and policies that I believe will be very advantageous for Nigerians and consequentially beneficial to your own legacy.
It is not often said, but one of the perks of being a good leader is that what benefits the country is also good for the leader and where what is good for the leader is not good for the country, it simply means the leader is a bad leader.
To those checking to see if, or wondering why I am not starting my first epistle to the new president with congratulatory notes, let us quickly confess that I have sent you private messages.
This epistle is a public missive for public consumption and presidential consideration. As president, your first act was your inaugural speech and it was more than a good speech. By the way, it is still not clear to me if the best way to address you is “President Asiwaju Bola Tinubu” or just “President Bola Tinubu”. That is just an aside and I am sure once you nominate a spokesperson, we shall take a cue from him or her.
Your speech, I was saying, was not only very impressive in content, it has also turned out to be very impactful. The content of your speech demonstrated a clear understanding and appreciation of your new office, you also used it to show a clear understanding of the socioeconomic and political reality of the country and very importantly you set the pace of how you intend to govern.
In terms of style, relevance and impact, it can be argued that what you delivered on May 29th 2023 was arguably the best inaugural speech of the 4th republic.
That speech will however be remembered for a sentence: “Fuel subsidy is gone” and its consequential effects on the lives and businesses of Nigerians.
I have tried elsewhere to explain that you did not actually do anything to cause the situation but that you simply took note of a situation you inherited and that you just reported a fact to all but, herein lies the rub, you are not a reporter so please do not report again Mr President.
You should tell us your own plan and better still act. Just to be clear, I would have handled that situation differently but then again, vous êtes le président, pas moi …
One of the major features of the time you got into office is the lack of funds available to govern, the country is broke and even in debt, yet govern you must govern.
Money matters no doubt but some of us argue that ideas can be more valuable than money especially when there is no money to spend.
To aid your plans and policies, here are some impactful ideas for your presidential considerations, there are things that you can do at no cost at all and that can yield beneficial effects for the country and your legacy.
Now that you are in office, one of the first and most important things you need to do is to assemble a cabinet, to do such, you will need the approval of the legislative arm of government.
In absolving this function, you need to, unlike your predecessor, avoid wasting precious time. You should also, unlike all your predecessors, go to the national assembly with portfolios attached to the list of cabinet members you want to use. With this singular act you will not only create a useful precedent, you will also show that you are bringing people with a plan and objectives that can be articulated and measured. Attaching portfolios to prospective ministers will allow the national assembly and, through them, the whole country know precisely what to expect and from whom.
Naturally these nominees would have demonstrated to you that they have meaningful things to offer your government and the country.
Once nominated, you can mandate each minister to hold not less than quarterly meetings with operators and other stakeholders in their ministries.
Such meetings, at virtually no cost, will not only allow ministries share their plans, it will allow operators and other stakeholders get update and progress reports on government actions.
You, Mr President should also make it a point to address the country directly at least every month. This way you get to show the country that you are on top of things and that you are making progress.
This zero-cost practice will also make those working with you develop a very high sense of purpose and accountability.
There is an ongoing project causing more than a mild discontent in the aviation industry. It is the Nigeria Air project.
The best institutional response to give in this circumstance is for the government to create an independent and authoritative public inquiry charged to examine the project, its process, participants and budget.
Such inquiry will allow all those who have issues and questions about the project to table their concerns, it will also give those involved in the project to respond without fear or intimidation and for all interested Nigerians to know what really happened and what to expect from the project.
Such zero-cost initiative will not only send a clear signal to the market and other operators that your government takes market and operators seriously but that accountability, details and transparency matter under your watch.
Many Nigerians are worried about the cost of governance and what is perceived as wastage of government resources.
To show that you feel the pain of your fellow citizens, it is advisable to very rapidly identify and put an end to some expenses in a bid to show people that the government that will soon be asking people to tighten their belts has started the tightening by tightening its own.
Let us face it, I do not in knowledge and conscience believe that reducing the amount of money spent on long convoys moving with the president and other members of government will solve Nigeria’s debt but as they say “little things matter…”
I however believe that taking measures to address such perceived waste will show many people that it is not business as usual again.
Whilst at it, I do strongly believe that closing down roads and even whole towns or cities to accommodate visits or journeys of the president is not only an archaic and undemocratic practice, it is also a vexatious waste of potentially productive hours.
Dear Mr. President, a radical reform of the NYSC programme that will make the scheme voluntary will not only save money but make history. Let us consider it…
Join me if you can @anthonykila to continue these conversations.
-Kila is Institute Director at CIAPS. www.ciaps.org.