Nigerians will pause today for the inauguration of Bola Ahmed Tinubu and
Kashim Shettima as President and Vice President of the country, respectively.
It will mark the end of one era, the Buhari-Osinbajo era, and the beginning of a
There are understandably mixed reactions or verdicts on the Buhari era.
President Buhari entered office in 2015 with solid political capital, enormous
goodwill, and public approval; he is leaving against the background of
widespread discontent and a low popularity rating.
Fortunately, the ultimate verdict of history is incorruptible. Buhari’s successes
and failures are left for posterity and historians to articulate and pontificate on.
Nigerians lived experiences, left in the sands of time during his administration,
will form the ingredients of such historical evaluation.
It is now time to put behind us whatever views, disenchantment, or even
praise we have for the Buhari era and build on whatever successes he
achieved and fix the areas he failed, mindful of the fact that no leader is
infallible. Moreover, Nigerians romanticise past administrations when current
administrations dash their hopes and aspirations. Little wonder, people
reminisce and glorify the days of former presidents they felt were terrible
before leaving office when faced with the harsh realities of the new
In Tinubu-Shettima, we are not expecting a perfect president and vice
president, but at least it is a new dawn – a new beginning for a country in dire
need of unity, peace, and progress. All Nigerians are beckoning on the new
administration to create a new vision of Nigeria and work hard towards
actualising that vision.
Nigerians are holding on to the renewed hope this administration promised
during elections – an audacious hope of a better Nigeria built on our strength
in diversity, harnessing our great human and natural resources, and
leveraging the successes of past administrations in creating the Nigeria of our
We recognise that the road ahead is bumpy and rough, but we trust the
instinct of Nigerians who gave Tinubu-Shettima the mandate to drive them
through this rugged terrain and their undeniable belief in their ability to take
them to safety and progress.
Most Nigerians, suffering from adverse economic hardship, poverty, insecurity,
and poor living standards, view this new dawn as a good situation, a ray of
hope and an opportunity to start afresh. As Tinubu- Shettima assumes office,
they must recognise the enormity of the weight of the hopes of millions they
Millions of Nigerians are not asking for much from this administration; they
want a better life for themselves and their families, and they believe that brick
by brick, this new administration will create the enabling environment that will
make life good for many people.
The inauguration marks the end of politicking, and all opposers to the
administrations are left with the judicial process to seek redress for any
perceived electoral maleficence. As the Tinubu-Shettima administration is
sworn in, they are now the president and vice-president of Nigeria. As advised
by ex-President Uhuru Kenyatta in the pre-inauguration lecture in Abuja, they
must rise above party politics and assume the leadership position of the
presidency entrusted to them. “The contest is now over and the hardwork of
building a prosperous and United Nigeria begins,”enjoined Kenyatta.
But we know that managing victory is even more complex than securing it.
With electoral victory comes the laborious act of managing the expectations of
multiple stakeholders, managing claims and counterclaims of people who
participated in securing the win, managing politicians and your party, and
managing the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians. While it is legitimate to
expect new energy and new approaches to familiar problems, let us be
conscious of the fact that we are dealing with the same party platform so there
will be some level of continuity.
The past few months have seen the justling for positioning, the bravado of
close allies to the presidency, and the intrigues and shenanigans of power
brokers ever ready to hijack the political system, structures, and processes.
This administration’s success depends significantly on managing these
complexities while focusing on what is best for Nigeria.
This administration must overcome these challenges and start from day one to
show Nigerians and the world that it is ready for business – the business of
leading Nigeria in a democratic way to give all dividends of democracy.
It is imperative that from day one, this administration is perceived as serious,
focused , and dedicated to improving the quality of life of Nigerians. The first
time is always the best time to create a lasting positive impression, and this
administration must shape public perception of what it wants to project from
today and maintain that.
This inauguration is a significant milestone in our democratic consolidation . It
is the 7th consecutive inauguration. Although our democracy has its faults,
this is a feat worthy of celebrating. Nigerians are celebrating and hopeful for a
better future. Ordinary Nigerians want a government that works from the new
sheriffs in town. Let us consider three agenda items the government may
focus on and three roadblocks we must contend with immediately.
The first agenda item is that the government must create a clear roadmap for
Nigeria’s critical issues. They must have definitive roadmap on energy
subsidy, insecurity , fixing the economy, food security, power, technology,
education, health, corruption, unemployment, and others. These roadmaps
should be clear for all Nigerians to see how the government defines the
problem and its strategies and definitive action to solve the issues. Nigerians
are expectant, and rightly so and want to know ab initio that the government is
serious about dealing with the myriad of problems they are encountering
The second agenda item is that government should articulate critical policy
statements on many contentious issues the past government shied away
from. These issues include the removal of fuel subsidies, parallel foreign
exchange regime, debt profile, national census , public workers’ agitation for
pay increases and improvement of service, approaches to tackling poverty
and health inequality, insecurity (successionist agitations, farmer-herders
crisis, terrorism, kidnapping and armed banditry), and environmental
degradation inclusive of climate change.
The third agenda item is inclusiveness. Given the prevailing perception of
marginalisation by some groups in the country and the divisive nature of the
last general elections, the critical job of this administration is first to create
unity in the country.
The need for national unity and viability is more important now than ever in our
history. Without a substantive Nigerian nation , all our best efforts and fancy
programmes will come to nought . Now is the time to pull the country together
by being inclusive in the government. Thankfully, the Vice President-elect at
every occasion has insisted there is no islamisation or ethnic dominance
As good as these agenda items are, their success depends on how the
government navigate the many roadblocks that are evident in truncating them.
These roadblocks are the quality of the cabinet, money to finance the
government, and national reconciliation.
The quality of the president’s cabinet can be a roadblock or a source of
strength. Acknowledged there are political IOUs to be paid; however, it should
not be with the country’s future and the government’s reputation. It is not in
dispute that whether a president succeeds or fails, or whether he is
remembered by history or not, is determined
by the quality of his cabinet. A cabinet of mediocre, failed former political office
holders, inexperienced, ill-informed, without character
and dishonest persons will be a terrible roadblock to the success of the
A cabinet of knowledgeable, honest, competent, and experienced persons will
shore up the profile of the government and its acceptability. A core cabinet
team of professionals of ten persons around finance, economic planning, law
and order, education, infrastructure, power, trade and investment, ICT and
innovation with a clear vision and mandate will send strong signals that this
administration is ready to deliver service. A competent chief of staff to the
president will strengthen the coordinating capacity of the presidency.
It is no more news that Nigeria is in a deep financial crisis. The Nigerian
external debt is more than $40bn plus domestic debt of over N41 trillion and
Nigeria spends most of its revenue on servicing debts. Nigeria’s primary
source of foreign exchange earning is crude oil. And Nigeria’s finances follow
the fluctuations and instabilities of the price of crude oil in the international
The outgoing government borrowed heavily to improve infrastructure, and the
dividends of this infrastructural development to the economy
are more medium to long-term than short-term. The money to run the
government and provide the dividends of democracy promised to the
electorate may not be there to achieve all the promises. This takes us to the
urgent need for diversification of the economy as a solution .
The need for the government at all levels to creatively raise revenue without
putting new tax burden on the people is urgent. This new administration must
look for ways to increase revenue and cut down on waste, corruption, and the
cost of government. It must make revenue mobilisation a focal point of the
The third roadblock is national reconciliation. The success of this
administration depends on how the constituent parts of Nigeria come together
in peace and unity. Government must douse the tension in the country and
address all secessionist tendencies, and it must intentionally heal the wounds
caused by actual or perceived injustices.
This administration must pursue total national reconciliation as a critical
building block of nationhood, law and order , and progress.
There is no doubt that Nigerians today are revelling in the new dawn of a new
era. Tinubu-Shettima’s presidency carries the hopes of millions of Nigerians
who feel that this is the beginning of a fresh start, and that this administration
will get things right this time.
I implore the presidency to live up to the essence of these hopes and
champion a genuinely united Nigeria where millions of Nigerians will look to
the future with happiness. Today is the first day of the first four years of your
administration. Let the ride begin!