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AfDB President, Adesina Speaks on How to Restructure Nigeria

President, African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, has lent his voice to the contentious topic on the need to restructure the nation.

The AfDB president made his views known, yesterday, in a lecture, titled, ‘Nigeria, a country of many nations: A quest for national integration’, during the 80th birthday celebration of General Overseer, Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye.

He said: “As a way out of the economic quagmire, much has been said about the need for restructuring. I know the discussions are often emotive. Restructuring should not be driven by political expediency, but by economic and financial viability – the necessary and sufficient conditions for political viability.”

Adesina bemoaned a situation where, after one year, participants in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme are often unable to gain employment in governments where they served, because they are not indigenes of those states.

He said: “That in itself, is an irony! The young graduates are often strangers in their own country. A country they pledged to serve. Opportunity is denied just because they were not born in those states! Even if they were born in those states, they are told to return to the states of their origin.”

He also lamented a situation where Nigerians, regardless of how long they have resided in any place, cannot run for political offices in those states or locations, just because they were not born there.

“State governments, therefore, largely reflect nativism not residency, which further sends a message to non-indigenes that they do not belong.

“Over time, this has created greater insularism, splintering, a lack of inclusiveness, the promotion of ethnic and religious chauvinism, instead of promoting national cohesion, trust and inclusiveness.”

He urged governments to be open to representation based on nationality, not on ethnicity, and build a society of mutual trust, where diversity is well managed.

“Unless someone can live in any part of the nation, work within the laws, and not be discriminated against, based on religion, race or culture, or place of birth, they will always be strangers in the nation.

“For Nigeria to be all that it can be, the youth must be all they can be. The future of Nigeria depends on what it does today with its dynamic youth population. This demographic advantage must be turned into a first-rate and well-trained workforce, for Nigeria, for the region and for the world.”

He stated that AfDB is exploring the establishment of Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks — financial institutions for young people, run by first-rate young bankers and financial experts, to drive youth-wealth creation.

“Nigerians deserve wealth, not poverty. There cannot and should not be a Nigeria for the rich, and another Nigeria for the poor. We must build one Nigeria, where every citizen has the right to a decent life,” he said.

He said it’s time to create a movement of hope from the hardworking street vendors and small businesses to the largest business conglomerates.

“We must create a movement of hope. Hope for a better Nigeria! Not a Muslim Nigeria. Not a Christian Nigeria. Not Eastern Nigeria, South-South Nigeria, Western Nigeria, or Northern Nigeria. But one Nigeria – a New Nigeria, created by a renewed commitment to use our diversity as our strength.”

He said further that it is time for Nigeria to embrace national cohesion and shun ethnic nationalities.

He also called for change in economic, financial and business opportunities for young Nigerians, saying the old must give way to the new and there must be corresponding generational transfer of power and wealth to the youth.

He said the popular folk saying should no longer be “the young shall grow,” it should, rather, be: “The young have arrived.”

He noted that it is time Nigerians managed diversity for collective good, saying that by this, the country will forge incredible economic growth.

Adesina said it is time to address fundamental reasons of agitations, by listening, understanding, removing prejudices, and allowing for open, national dialogues, without preconditions, but with one goal, which is to build one cohesive, united, fair, just and equitable nation for all, not for a few or for any section of the nation or religion.

Adesina said for the country to thrive, the constituent states must be more financially autonomous through greater fiscal prudence.

He said if states focus on unlocking the huge resources they have, based on areas of comparative advantage, they will rapidly expand wealth for their people, adding that with increased wealth, they will be able to access capital markets to secure long-term financing to fast-track their growth and development.

“States that adopt this strategy would have less of a need for monthly trips to Abuja for grants. Instead, part of their federal revenue allocations can be saved as internal ‘state sovereign wealth funds’. This can then be used as guarantees against borrowings from capital markets. They would be free from needing to exclusively rely on the Federal Government.”

Also, speaking on the president Nigeria wants, the lawyer and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), said: “We need a president who has vision and understands what it means to be president, who understands that the executive power of the president must be exercised in the interest of the people. We lag behind in all the critical indices around the world.

“We are ranked as low as countries in civil war. So, we need a president that can turn these around. We don’t want a president who comes in and begins to ask, what do I do? We need someone who knows what to do, a president who is ready to harness the wasting and viable rich resources of Nigeria.

“I want a president who sees the big picture, who will sell all the wasting assets and the money paid into the federation account. And when it goes into the federation account, everybody has more. It is not a case of Nigeria being poor, it is a case of policy challenges, not utilising all the tools available to be utilised. Our gas policy for instance, is a disgrace. Nigerian gas policy master plan was inaugurated in 2009. And if you read the master plan, we should have, by now, become a net exporter of gas to the world, exactly the way Putin did.”

Agbakoba said the reason Putin is holding Europe to ransom is gas alone and that if he decides to cut supply, all Europe would be in trouble.

“We can generate $50 billion from gas. That is more than our external reserve, but this is coming from gas, one resource alone, not to talk about solid minerals, hydrocarbon, crude oil and the 34-value chain.

“So, there is a lot that a good competent visionary leader, who comes in as the president, whether they are from the North, South or from my village, I don’t care. What I am interested in is a president, who delivers and removes 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.”

According to him, the country needs “A far-thinking president, who would look at critical laws to rake in money. The president should also understand that there are various economic models. Chinese model is that the government owns private sector businesses. In Nigeria, we can use the LNG model to run enterprises. For example, government owns 49 per cent of LNG, but government doesn’t control it. So, that model is also possible, assuming government is interested in having interest in the private sector, but I don’t think they should.

“A Nigerian president in 2023 has a lot of work cut out for him to do, because he needs to turn around Nigeria and stop it from declining. We need to catch Nigeria before it crashes. The possibility of crashing is not far-fetched because across the six geopolitical zones, we have banditry, kidnapping, Boko Haram, stealing, insurrections, wars and all sorts. Right now, I don’t think I want to go to Onitsha and get kidnapped in the process.”

PROFESSOR Maduabuchi Dukor, Department of Philosophy, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, is of the opinion that the president should “show a Nigerian personality embodying Nigerian-ness, that is, detribalised, non-sectarian, visionary, cosmopolitan and ideologically conscious. He should have knack to weave religious sentiments and ethnic royalties into nothingness and one indissoluble nation- state that protects life and property, equitably allocates common good and resources for the benefit of every individuals and component units of the federation.

“Nigerians wants such a statesman and must search for such personality from non-partisan and bipartisan approaches beyond party formations and partisan considerations. Factoring zoning the presidency to any region is imperative for equity but not to the negligence of the presidential personality enumerated above. In other words, the search for a Nigerian president, irrespective of political party and the zone he or she is coming from, must put into consideration the Nigerian-ness and socio-economic ideology of the president to be.”

Kenneth O. Nwuba esq, Prof. of Public & Private Law and former gubernatorial candidate, National Conscience Party (NCP) Anambra State gubernatorial election, 2010, said Nigerians are earnestly searching for the president who will uphold and protect the providential and symbiotic co-existence of all Nigeria’s heterogeneous ethnic groups, with the essential elements of equity, equality and fairness, a president who mounts the saddle of leadership through the power of secret ballot and not through selection or manipulation of electoral process.”

President, Nigeria, Nigerians,
AIHS 2022

For former national and African tennis champion, Dr. Sadiq Abdullahi, Nigeria needs strong, caring, committed president in 2023. “Whoever becomes president must be someone with a strong character and empathy for the youths of the country.”

He said: “The new president should familiarise himself with the critical issues and problems facing the sports sector. He should maintain and expand the scope of the newly created position of Special Adviser on Sports to the President, currently occupied by Daniel Amokachi.

“The new president should encourage other sports to grow. President Buhari started the reformation of National Sports Federations through former Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, and nothing significant has been seen in this area. The new president should do what has been done in football and basketball. The presidential intervention is unprecedented.”

The Olympian, who also represented and won medals for Nigeria in the Africa Games and Commonwealth Games, advised Nigerians to ensure that whoever becomes president in 2023 must not only have the capacity to continue the re-classification of sports as business, but also possess the courage to sign the proposed National Sports Industry Policy into law when it reaches his desk.

According to Abdullahi, the designation of sports from recreation to business will be a turning point. The National Sports Industry Policy has now gone through the Senate and it must now scale through the House of Representatives.

“The new president should be one in tune with our current realities and, therefore, be capable of appointing a highly qualified, knowledgeable and committed sports minister, who will put development ahead of competitions and who has either represented the country at the All Africa, Commonwealth and Olympics Games. Education and experience matters.”

Abdullahi admits that corruption has been at the core of the country’s underdevelopment, saying for Nigeria to get it right, it must elect a president that abhors the malaise.

He added: “The new president should be able to address the issues of corruption in our sports. The alleged corruption cases in court that emerged after the recent national sports elections should be curbed.

“We must look for a president that will insist on sustainable sports development, inclusion and diversity, Diaspora contributions, and encourage sector investments, provide incentives to the private sector to develop the sports industry through market-based policies, incentives, and protective legislation.

“Finally, the incoming president should organise a town hall or Zoom meeting with selected ex-internationals in the Diaspora, who continue to make Nigeria proud through their patriotic work.”

Senator Alex Kadiri represented Kogi East from 1999 to 2003. He spoke on the president he will want in 2023.

“My first requirement for the next president of the country, the person must be well educated, healthy and he must not be under the yoke of any God father, he must not be naive. He must not be a regional or tribal champion and must be able to crush the bandits and restore security to this country.”

On the electoral process, he said, “As it is today, if anyone stands as an independent candidate, he will not win. So, the next president must belong to a political party. If any person is in the contest with a baggage, he will spend all his time defending it. So, the right person must not have any baggage so that he will not have any thing to be defending himself against.”

On the corrupt Nigerian system, bedeviled by money politics, he said: “It should be a situation where we look at individuals and invite them to run this country. If you leave it to the parties and the money circulating within the parties, this country will not move forward.

“The next president should ensure that this country moves forward by force. This country must unite, because, right now, it is not united. We must get that president who is clear upstairs, who is not a sectional leader, who is not a tribal leader and a religious bigot.”

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