A Letter To Mr President Having Been Declared Winner Of The February 23 Presidential Election by INEC - Franklin B. Onoben

#1
Congratulations Mr President on your victory at the keenly contested February 23 Presidential election. To be candid, I didn’t see it going any other way. Many people had given the contest various interpretation and rightly so. For me, the choice before me was “enjoy now” or “sacrifice for the future” (for my children). I chose the latter. It is my hope that I won’t be disappointed.
As I commented earlier in one of your tweets: “Campaigns are over with victory and a second term in the bag. Litigations may follow but the work ahead is going to be daunting and a must do” as I am well aware that you already know.
Kindly find below, a list of items that you must tackle as a matter of urgency and necessity in the next phase of your administration

1. Human Capital Development
The world most famous humanitarian, Bill Gates, visited the country in March 2018 and made an important call on governments across Africa to invest in Human Capital Development – which in my opinion addresses specifically the issues of Health, Education & Democratic norms.
No doubt, Nigeria has a deficit of infrastructure and your government has been living up to task in bridging the infrastructure deficit. However, it should be noted that there would never be a time when we would never need to add to or upgrade existing infrastructure. Human capital on the other hand is a time sensitive project that cannot wait as they determine both the quality & length of human lives.
In your second coming, kindly do enough to upgrade health, education and democratic norms by necessary policies and investments in the sectors that promote such.

2. Security
This was one of the tripods on which your campaign stood. Truth be told, Nigeria was in a poor state security wise when you first came in and your administrations had made some significant gains in that respect. However, your administration has either birthed or faced new security challenges which in the opinion of many have not been handled with the seriousness and intelligence it deserves.
The Boko Haram that your administration inherited and claimed to have decimated have almost resurged (I will spare the known details). This has not been helped by the fact that you have refused to rejig your security chiefs and the nation’s security architecture. The case of clashes

between Farmers & Herders have marred your first term not just because they are purely security issues but also because your administration did not put intelligence to work to mitigate the narrative that it was an ethnic issue.
Going forward, it is common knowledge that our security personnel have been overstretched and many have been killed without replacement (owing to the slowness in recruiting personnel). Their tactics are also outdated and yearning for attention. The nation is also under-policed especially the hinterlands. It is time to look into security as should be practised in the 21st century and upgrade them beyond just the rhetorics of the campaign promise.

3. Economy – Jobs/Empowerment
This is another campaign tripod of your administration and the report of the jury is not a good one. The question on the street is: “Where are the jobs?” But we are living in the 21st century – an era where more relies on computers than human personnel. A global trend is that people are losing their jobs to computers, machines, robots, etc. So there may need to take a second look at the promise of Job creation and redirect that energy to helping Nigerians develop the skills that are in high demand in the 21st century. This further underscores the importance of human capital development.

However, we are a developing nation and, from my observation, very slow in catching up with what is trending in other countries. In that regard, we may still depend on “job creation” for a while longer. To this end, I call for a return of our industries (many of which have left in the last six years). To aid this, your administration needs to state clearly the kind of economic policy that you would run. Is it a capitalist policy where market forces are allowed to control price or a welfarist economy where government control prices? Whichever method you choose to adopt, there will be investors who may wish to come in but it needs to be made clear where you stand.

4. Fight against Corruption

I am one of those who believes that more than half of Nigeria’s problem will be solved if the corruption monster is killed. And you have made powerful statements in this regard including “if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria”. I also opted to vote for you since 2011 because I believed then, as I still do now, that Nigeria needed a firm hand and you came with all that (or so we thought) and other virtues of frugality, etc. The fact that we are now talking about corruption is a plus.
However, there is a lot that we are getting wrong as a nation in terms of fighting corruption. One of such is that we are yet to define in clear terms what we mean by corruption. It seems to me that we are fighting economic crime (simply put, theft of public funds) as corruption and have neglected all the other forms of corruption that are equally killing Nigeria and may well be the reason why theft is prevalent.
There are also the areas your administration is getting completely wrong in the fight against corruption. In fact, to put it more candidly, the perception on the street is that your administration has become more complicit in corruption that fighting it. Your administration is accused of nepotism, surrounding itself with openly perceived corrupt persons (remember it is said, “perception is stronger than reality”), using agents of the state to hunt down political opponents, etc. The time to change the narrative is now.
Win back the hearts of people like me who voted for you to prosecute those who have fed fat on our national patrimony whether they belong to your party or not. Respect our constitution’s provision for “Federal Character” in appointments across the board. Focus also on other aspects of corruption beyond just financial corruption.

5. National Unity/Inclusiveness

As always, every election comes with the tendency to divide the nation. This last one was no different. But the election is over. It is time to build the nation of Nigeria. There is the popular statement credited to you of 97% to 5% (a reference to the votes you got in 2015 from other region and the South East. Fortunately, this time the percentage went higher than 5%. However, my point is that statements like that that tend to pitch you against certain region should no longer characterize your conversation or engagement with Nigerians.
I hope that you would have learnt from your first term – things to do or say and things not to do or say. It is time to put those lessons to work. I also urge you to employ strategists and communication experts to help you manage engagements with Nigerians across all regions. And if you already have them, they should live up to their billing.
Nigerians, especially of my generation, are already united except during politics. There are lots of cases of intermarriage among us now that it would be hard if not impossible to break Nigeria now. Gone are the days when parents prohibit their wards from marrying people from other tribes or ethnicity. My call on your administration is to latch on to this and build on that. Silence the likes of IPOB, PANDEF, AFENIFERI, etc not with boots on the ground but with deliberate efforts through jingles, appointments, etc that further unite us.

6. Cabinet
This is the first administration in this fourth republic that appointed Federal Ministers six (6) months into the administration and since then didn’t reshuffle them till date. I am not sure if this is a plus or a minus but it is uncommon with previous administrations. Maybe this is one of those promised “change”.
Going forward, I wish to add my voice to the millions who are calling that technocrats and not politicians should be given the opportunity to serve the nation at ministerial levels. Also, whereas we have a “Not Too Young to Run” Act, appointments as ministers are a necessary step to getting the needed experience to operate the highest office in the country. (I am using this opportunity to offer myself for service in the ministry of education). I also look forward to a reduction of the federal ministries with a focus on the critical areas that will promote human capital development & devolution of power to states.
One of the weaknesses of this administration is poor communication. This is also heightened by the accusation by Nigerians that “our president doesn’t speak with us and when he does, it is usually when on foreign tours”. I perceive that prowess of the gab is not one of your strengths, but that should not reflect in your administration. That is where a competent media team comes in. What can you do differently?
Coming out of the campaign with a well-deserved victory, you will agree with me that your campaign team found it difficult to sell your candidacy not because you are not sellable but because your communication team failed to do their job prior to the campaign period. Many of the achievements of this administration only came to light when the opposition challenged your administration to showcase its achievements. This is being reactive instead of being proactive.
I personally follow all twitter handle connected to the presidency so I get timely up to date information whenever your handles tweet. But I usually find it hard to convince people who claim that you do not talk to us or only do so only when you go abroad because they are not lying. I recommend that it is time to do things differently. Comment on issues that affect Nigerian on time, schedule a regular periodic chat with Nigerian media and most importantly, get a young dynamic communication expert to serve as information/communication minister.

8. Electoral Process
You have pending on your table, a bill that is intended to improve the electoral process. But the recently concluded elections have thrown up new issues which the pending bill may not contain. One of such issues is “Electronic Voting” with the hash-tag #electronicvoting2023 beginning to trend.

The previous administration introduced technology into the electioneering process which you have attributed to being instrumental to your victory in 2015. It is time to take that technological input to the “next level” by forwarding an Executive Bill to the National Assembly that will request the inclusion of electronic voting and other innovations into the Electoral Act before you accent to it
I also urge your administration to work to promote or sustain the independence of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). One of the hallmarks of a nation that promotes human capital development is the ability of its citizens to aspire and make choices without coercion. This is a legacy worth bequeathing to the next administration or next generation of politicians. Indeed that is the future.

9. Relationship with other arms of Government
In your first coming, you presented yourself as a “converted democrat” and in many ways, in my opinion, you lived up to that. One of the ways you showed that was by allowing the legislative arm of government (the 8th assembly) to choose its own leadership when you said “you will work with anybody” as against what obtains in our past history where the executive imposes its preferred leadership on the assembly which should otherwise be independent. That may have backfired in a way with many people describing your position as being “politically naive” and have started calling on you to do as we usually do in Africa. Please ignore them and remain a democrat. Of course, the party can take a position on legislative leadership and enforce its wish in accordance with democratic rules of engagement but the executive must not be seen to directly influence the legislature except through lobbying.
Your administration has also had running battles with the Judiciary the excuse being that it is ridden with corruption and the executive wants to clean it up. I am not if sure this is in tandem with democratic norms. Every arm of government must be independent of the other and should exercise its own mechanism of self-regulating and self-administering. Fortunately, our constitution, which is the Grundnorm, makes provisions for all arms of government to regulate their affairs. Interactions between arms of government must be by persuasion and lobbying and never by coercion else it would no longer be a democracy.
Strive to foster a healthy working relationship between your executive and other arms of government because we need healthy synergy and checks & balance to have a healthy democracy.

10. Restructuring
If there was any word that gained global attention from Nigeria and a frequently searched word on the internet, it is “restructuring”. In fact, it is one word that almost took the votes out of

your hands in this last presidential election. Like every astute political party, the opposition saw a yearning in the people and built their campaign rhetoric around it.
It is no news that Nigeria, as presently constituted, is not a federation but a unitary state and destined to fail if urgent attempt is not made to rein it from the direction it is headed and redirect it to benefit Nigerians.
I am not under the illusion that the president can restructure the country. Neither am I calling on you to do so. However, I am asking that you recognize not only the need for the urgent restructuring of the polity but to heed to the call for the same and allow it to happen
I wrote in a previous article that the best time to initiate a restructuring process that will be devoid of political connotation is in the first year of an administration. Also, one way to go about it is to allow young Nigerians to drive the conversation by means of a national dialogue where young people are elected to represent all ethnic nationalities in the country and discuss our collective future in a “no holds barred” dialogue covering all the issues that have held us down as a nation.
The other way to do it without spending extra funds or personnel is to partner with the institution that is already empowered to do so – The National Assembly. Some attempts have been made to review or amend the constitution but unfortunately, the real issues have not been addressed. Issues like Power Generation & Distribution, State Policing, Minimum Wage, Indigeneship vs. Settler-ship rivalry, Place of birth vs. the State of Origin, Resource Control, Sharing formula of national wealth, etc are all due for review so that Nigeria can prosper and progress through its component states. An executive bill covering these areas and more is a good way to start.
In conclusion, I have no doubt that Nigeria is safer in your hands than all the other candidates that presented themselves forward for election on February 23, but these are a few areas I believe that if tackled genuinely, seriously & urgently in your second term in office will not only endear you to Nigerians but will begin the process of ushering in the three Ps – Peace, Prosperity & Progress – to Nigeria and Nigerians.
Once again, congratulations Mr President.
God bless the federal republic of Nigeria.
 

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