As we eagerly anticipate the upcoming administration, I draw my optimism from the track record of the president-elect and the calibre of people he surrounds himself with. Their experience in drafting and implementing good policies has the potential to bring about the change our country is in dire need of. However, experience alone is not enough to ensure success. It is the underlying philosophy of the government that will ultimately determine its success.
As a guiding principle for any government, philosophy outlines the values and beliefs that drive decision-making and ultimately shapes the policies that are implemented. The current administration can be a reference; it is open for debate if the current administration has a defined approach to governance considering the lack of correlation in the activities of different Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, across both the federal and state levels. But a careful look into their activities over the last eight years will leave a fair analyst to infer their approach to be top to bottom one with infrastructure at the realm of their interest.
The fact that the approach of the current administration is still debatable says a lot about the clarity of their vision and how well all corners of the government worked towards the same goal. I am sure that reflected well in the struggle to get the ruling party re-elected. It is now in the hands of the president-elect to ensure an easier election run for the party by the end of his tenure. If I may advise the president-elect, I will emphasise the importance of having a government approach that is decentralised to allow the bottom-to-top approach and a clear understanding and adherence to this principle across all corners of the government.
For policies to align with the overall objectives of the government, a strong philosophical foundation is needed to ensure that the government as an entity is working towards achieving its goals by setting the tone for the actions of government officials and providing a framework for them to work within.
This is particularly important in the current climate, where the country faces significant challenges and requires a unified approach to tackle its challenges.
The former economic adviser to late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, Tanimu Yakubu, was asked on Arise TV about the ideal duration for naira redesign implementation, and his reply was “Let’s say I have N100,000.00 and I have no access to banking facilities; I live in one of those remotes locations that are not served, or underserved where inclusion does not exist. I inherited this money from my father, why should this money expire? What is normal and what should prevail is whenever this money gets into the banking system, it’s redeemed, and you don’t get it into circulation again.”
The highlight for me here is the way of thinking that protects the interest of the poor and the majority. A team of policymakers with such a mindset wouldn’t have allowed such a policy to leave the round table unless the greater motive of the policy is to make the poor suffer more. Mr President-elect needs to imbibe such, or push for this mindset in all his policymakers and make sure they understand the assignment. When they fumble, he must not hesitate to act because tenure is a very short time, every second counts.
Aside from the thinking approach, the approach to governance is a crucial aspect of addressing the most pressing concerns facing Nigeria. While a decentralized approach to governance is not a new idea, it is still largely unexplored in Nigeria. I have always been an advocate of a decentralised approach to governance and that has not changed. That is because I strongly believe a decentralized approach to governance could make it easier for all citizens to access government services and benefits which is paramount in addressing poverty.
Under a decentralized approach, local governments are empowered to play a more active role in governance. This means that local government officials can plan and execute projects that cater to the needs of their communities. For example, a farmer in Safana or Epe local government can easily access credit from the local government to support his farming activities. Similarly, a student can apply for student loans or scholarships from their local government.
It is crucial to note that the benefits of a decentralized approach outweigh its challenges. For example, a decentralized approach could help to reduce corruption and enable a more transparent and fairer distribution of resources.
With a decentralized approach, funds and projects are handled at the local government level, which means that there would be less money at the centre to be shared.
What is certain, a decentralised approach will only increase the president/administration’s popularity as it removes more people out of poverty and expands the middle class.
As we look towards the future, we must ensure that the philosophy of the incoming administration is conducive to the success and prosperity of our country. Implementing a decentralized approach to governance would require significant political will, but the benefits are worth the effort. It is time for the government to embrace this approach and empower local governments to cater to the needs of their communities.
Dr Mujistapha Ahmed Safana wrote via: [email protected]