NSCIA unveils expectations from next government, identifies five key areas
The Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has unveiled its expectations from the next Nigerian government.
The Council which oversees the affairs of about 150 million Muslims who constitute the majority of Nigerian citizens identify five key areas that need urgent attention.
NSCIA in a statement released on Friday February 17, 2023, unveiled its expectations from the incoming Nigerian president.
“It is our conviction that leaders should strive to deliver on their mandates and meet the expectations of the citizens, as much as possible and the extent to which our presidential candidates will receive the Nigerian Muslims’ support is proportional to their level of willingness to consider those issues important to the NSCIA,” the statement reads.
While unveiling its expectations on security, the Council noted that “For almost one and a half decade, Nigeria has been traumatised by an unprecedented level of carnage with losses of hundreds of thousands of human lives and millions of displaced peoples and a kidnapping industry that has caused havoc and pauperised both urban and rural communities.”
It observed that the growing and seemingly unending insecurity has crippled agriculture, commerce and education. It, therefore expects that whoever emerges as the next president should prioritise security and deploy the highest political will and resources to bring this menace to a quick end.
“Some of the key lessons to note here include the dismantling of the war economy from which a few officials are feeding fat, the integrity of commanders, the absence of synergy between the different security services, building local trust for effective intelligence and working with local authorities who would know their terrain better than any outsider,” NSCIA said, adding that, “the incoming government must curb the proliferation of small arms and light weapons.”
The Council also noted that all is not well with the country’s economy. It stated in the statement that the incoming government is expected to reconstruct the economy and tackle the grinding poverty, joblessness and severe inequities across the populace.
According to NSCIA, the statistics are frightening, as they suggest that nearly 2/3 of the Nigerian population lives below the poverty line.
“Given the structure of our economy, the greatest sector and one with the capacity to expand and absorb the most in agriculture. We, therefore, expect the incoming government to give it a priority,” it said.
It advised that “The shift to processing will create demands for skills and allow the shift from academic degrees to skills, which China did to emerge as the strongest economy on the global scene today.”
“The enduring truth about economies is that no country gets rich from revenues; countries get rich only through production. There are several other policies that experts have proposed that need to be considered with diligence and discipline.”
The Islamic Body also urged the incoming government to prioritize infrastructure.
It said, “Over the last quarter of a century, our infrastructure has continued to decay and this has affected the economy. One particularly critical sector is the power sector. From 1999 to date, we have compromised our power sector reform, not because of the dearth of ideas but because of the absence of political will and the inordinate greed of government officials.”
It added, “We expect the incoming president and his government to end this anomaly. There are experts with knowledge of the sector, who have what it takes to bring back sufficient electricity to power our industries.
“We expect the incoming government to identify them and work diligently to restore power to this country which has groped in the dark for too long. We also need to have a sustainable energy plan that will unleash our natural resources while protecting the environment.
“Other critical areas of infrastructure include improving roads and rail, recharging the Lake Chad waters to boost agriculture, arresting desertification and boosting digital literacy.”
NSCIA also pointed out the importance of human capital development to Nigeria’s economic recovery and its future.
According to NSCIA, in global competitiveness, this is our area of comparative advantage as 65% of our population is under 35 years of age.
“At the moment, the records show that we have the largest out-of-school children in the world. Our girl-child enrolment presents another worrying statistics, with implications for our development. If we can educate this population and give them basic health care, they alone can be a powerful momentum in our economy.
“About 40 years ago, India built IT institutions.. Today, they make more money from IT than we make from oil, even when oil was selling at $100 a barrel. Today, most of the CEOs of the Silicon Valley like Google and Microsoft are Indians. We expect the incoming government to come up with a plan to educate and skill these nearly 20 million out-of-school children,” it said.
It unveiled that the incoming government should come up with a plan to fund education and to re-invent the public universities so that they can rise to international standards and meet the manpower needs of our industries at home.
“Similarly, our health care, which is currently in a shambles, must be revamped to meet our growing population. This investment will boost productivity and pay off in terms of healthy and productive manpower as well as reduce the use of foreign currency for medical tourism.
“One area that the incoming government is expected to pay special attention to is mental health. The trauma accumulated over a decade of violence across the country must be healed if we are to avoid a repeat of these conflicts shortly. We need to pay attention to and address the trauma therapy need for a healthy society.”
The Body lamented the dismal level of service delivery by the governments.
It asserted that governments exist to protect lives and property and provide for the welfare of citizens.
It said that the first parameter of the evaluation of governments is service delivery.
“Today, no one doubts that the service delivery of our governments at all levels is dismal,” it said.
It, therefore, expects that the incoming government will pay immediate and serious attention to this all-important issue.
“In modern governance, this is usually done by developing what is called ‘Key Performance Indicators’ (KPI) for every ministry and government establishment. This is evaluated periodically against pre-determined and established deliverables.
“One of the greatest challenges to delivering KPIs and government performance is of course corruption. Our country has featured on the wrong side of the corruption index and we must make a firm resolve to fight corruption.
“We want an incoming president who will demonstrate his political will from the quality of people he will appoint and the zero-tolerance he will show for corruption,” NSCIA said.
It added that is important for the incoming president to develop a framework for inclusion which should be both scientific and accountable.
According to the Council, it will promote trust and national cohesion as well as allow the country to focus on the great task of development.
The NSCIA also disclosed its readiness to make available its team of experts for subsequent engagements with His Excellency, the incoming president and his team.
NSCIA which is ably led by its President-General and Sultan of Sokoto was founded in 1973 to cater for, preserve, protect, promote and advance the interest of Islam and Muslims throughout the country.
For about 50 years, NSCIA has been contributing to religious harmony, stabilising the country and collaborating with other stakeholders within Government and non-governmental circles to achieve peace, stability and national development.