10 things Buhari must do if he wants to avoid a repeat of these volatile uprising in 2021
- As we can all see, Sars was just the catalyst for the uprising we have seen across the nation. It is poverty that has led the Nigerian masses to revolt. Unless the issue of their welfare is addressed, what we are witnessing today will just be a dress rehearsal for a much more violent revolt next year.
- Food is clearly an issue as the minimum wage is N30,000 a month and a 50kg bag of rice costs N31,000. Unlike the middle-class youths at the Lekki Toll Gate who were well fed and were charging their mobile phones there, the masses are hungry and bitter people. About a third of Nigeria’s food production goes to waste due to poor storage and transportation. This government needs to come up with a national food distribution plan to address this.
- As we have seen in several states, there is a total lack of a vibrant private sector. There are no companies that employ young graduates as we see in Lagos and Abuja. President Buhari needs to hold an emergency meeting with the 36 governors to thrash out ways to empower them and make them job creators. When all your educated young people flock to Abuja and Lagos in search of work, it is inevitable that your state will be populated by hoodlums.
- Nigeria currently generates around $30bn a year in crude oil exports. That is not even enough to sustain Lagos State, so this nonsensical federal allocation rubbish has to go today. Each of our 36 federating units needs to be made an economic hub with a mandate to generate at least $30bn each annually.
- What we have seen from those running the security apparatus of the government is clear incompetence. I put this down to the nepotistic manner in which President Buhari appoints people into office. He needs to abandon that stance today and start appointing people on merit. A man who talks about “necessary process” and using an iron fist to address intellectual issues for instance has no business within 100km of government. Has he now seen the outcome of his necessary process and I hope Hussaini Coomasie is now proud of himself. In a saner clime, he would have been charged with incitement, as well as aiding and abetting murder.
- It is totally impossible to live on a wage of N30,000 ($79) a month in Nigeria. In South Africa, the minimum monthly wage is R15,000 ($926). We need to bring salaries up to the level of South Africa at the barest minimum.
- As we all saw, the riots were particularly volatile in Lagos as the daily existence of people there is a living hell. The government should use this reconstruction to radically revitalise the city. For starters, work should be expedited on the Lagos Metro project in the wake of a scarcity of buses. International experts should be brought in if need be to complete the project before December 31.
- As things stand, Nigeria lacks the capital to invest in the large scale industrialisation required to double the size of our economy as is needed. President Buhari simply needs to make an international plan for a special Nigerian Marshall Plan that will involve the investment of at least $100bn a year in the economy annually. His case is easy to sell. All he has to tell the world is: “If you do not invest in Nigeria, she will collapse into another Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Libya or Iraq. If you allow that to happen, the consequences will be devastating for West Africa.”.
- Were I in President Buhari’s shoes I would travel to China to hold a summit with all those international companies relocating in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis. I would get commitments that at least 10% must relocate to Nigeria and set up shop here. Just imagine how many jobs that would create.
- Given that crude oil prices would need to rise to something like $200 a barrel to enable the Nigerian economy get back to 2015 levels and we all know that is not going to happen, I would set myself a target of manufacturing at least half of all our industrial goods by 2021. The reality is we will not have the foreign exchange for imports, so local production has to be given top priority.
Ayo Akinfe, born in Salford, Manchester, is a London-based journalist who has worked as a magazine and newspaper editor for the last 20 years. Ayo attended Federal Government College Kaduna and obtained his first degree in history from the University of Ibadan.