5 Things Nigerians Expect From Their Next President
It is another election season in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria. There is a state of high anticipation and excitement as Nigerians go to the polls on February 25, to find a person to replace President Muhammadu Buhari, who is on the verge of completing his second term in office, and to also elect Federal House of Assembly members. Nigerian streets are awash with campaign posters. Newspapers are filled with campaign advertisements; television and radio shows are interrupted by the vote-seeking jingles of politicians. But what do the people really want?
In a climate of soaring inflation, plummeting naira value, scarcity of cash, high unemployment rate, alarming insecurity, and crumbling infrastructure, among a host of other bedeviling problems, the politicians have come again with promises that often sound like lines taken out of motivational books or romantic poetry. Against this backdrop of problems, politicians are out again to woo Nigerians with slogans and promises that are all too familiar. But promises aside, what do Nigerians expect from their next president after winning the February 25 election? While there’s a surplus of wishes and expectations, we would like to highlight five important ones.
Here are 5 essential things Nigerians want from their new President…
# 1. Provide Security and Unify the country
It is well known that one of the fundamental needs of Nigerians is security. Insecurity has been a major issue in the country over the past decade with kidnapping, terrorism and other forms of citizen oppression becoming more and more rampant. People do not feel safe traveling by road, in places of worship and even in their homes. Many have little faith in security forces and daily living has become risky business. There is nothing that would improve or change if the people do not feel safe or the country remains unstable. Therefore for Nigeria to grow and for all other sectors to be successful, the new president must prioritize improving security across the country.
With over 250 ethnic groups, Nigeria is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. The languages, music and dances, art, literature, and film from Nigeria are celebrated across the world. But poor mismanagement of Nigeria’s diversity has hamstrung the country from achieving its full potential. Agitations litter the land. Animosities persist and fester. Ignored, some have grown into serious armed conflict.
Yes, no one has a magic wand to end all agitations, but Nigerians expect their next president to be even-handed. The Number One leader must understand the root causes of Nigeria’s conflicts, and commit to equity and justice not only in rhetoric but also in practical terms.
# 2. Create jobs
Jobs, jobs, jobs. With an unemployment rate of about 33 percent, Nigeria is in dire need of a president who will create jobs. Not a handful of jobs. Not a thousand jobs. Not even tens of thousands of jobs, but millions of jobs. Nigerians expect their next president to rescue Nigeria’s ailing economy and bring about a revolution in jobs. Not in one part of the country, but in all six geopolitical zones of the country. Nigerians also want their next president to ensure that job-creating initiatives do not become opportunities for the rich and corrupt to further enrich themselves.
#3. Care for the poor and underprivileged
Nigerians are perhaps tired of the phrase “poverty eradication.” They hear it from politicians, but they never see it happen. Instead, many more Nigerians are thrown into poverty. And the rich few get even richer. Nigerians expect their next president to empathize with the millions of poor Nigerians who have endured untold hardship from one campaign season to another, and to genuinely hold their interests at heart. Nigerians don’t want to hear that Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world. They’ll want their next president to ensure that it is never the case again.
Of course, Nigerians would like to see fantastic GDP figures, but they’ll be happier if their next president can make the GDP figures trickle down into the real lives of ordinary Nigerians. And ordinary Nigerians would also want their next president to make healthcare affordable and accessible. A president might be within his rights to seek medical care outside the country, but Nigerians expect their next leader to provide the best quality healthcare in Nigeria for Nigerians.
#4. Make good education accessible to all citizens
Every Nigerian knows that there’s a problem with education in the country. University students are tired of strikes. Too many school children are out of school. According to UNESCO, about 20 million Nigerian children were out of school as of October 2022. The next Nigerian president is expected to know that and do something about it.
Nigerians expect the next president to care about these 20 million dreams by putting them in schools and ensuring that no Nigerian child has a reason to be out of school. And besides taking pictures with schoolchildren to score a point for another election, Nigeria’s next president is expected to genuinely engage with its 70 percent youth population, and address their dreams and aspirations. Nigerian youths would like to see and hear from their next president more often.
#5. Bring back the pride of Nigerians in their country
Most Nigerians have heard their country referred to as “The Giant of Africa.” Nigeria is the most populous black nation on earth. It is endowed with natural attractions and resources, has a vibrant collection of cultures, and is teeming with some of the world’s boldest and most talented people. But a mix of mismanaged diversity, looted wealth, and squandered opportunities have left a huge number of Nigerians disenchanted with the country, and has driven many away in search of greener pastures.
Nigerians want their next president to spur the country’s over 200 million people to come alive again and be a real Giant of Africa. Not a Sleeping Giant or Chained Giant, but a Giant awake and free, accomplishing big things.
Featured image: @adebayo.sharon/Instagram
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A writer fascinated by humanity and diversity. He is the author of Do Not Say It’s Not Your Country.