As part of its contribution to national discourse towards a stable, peaceful and economically viable country, The Muslim Congress (TMC) last week hosted yet another series of its quarterly “State of The Nation Address”.
The address, which is the 10th edition since it debuts in October 2015 is put together by a Tink-Tank of professionals in the fold of the TMC under the TMC Committee on Social Mobility, the Economy & Politics.
The SERIES 10 of the address is hereby presented for the delight of our teaming audience. Enjoy reading:
STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS
13th January – 14th April 2018
by the TMC Committee on Social Mobility, the Economy & Politics
Presented by the Chair of the Committee,
Dr Luqman AbdurRaheem on Saturday, 14th April 2018
THE IMPROVING ECONOMY AND THE RISING FOREIGN RESERVES
The Federal Government needs to be commended for the rising foreign reserve which is expected to hit the 50 billion dollar mark by the end of the year despite the fact that the price of crude oil has fallen from an average of 70 dollars per barrel to 68 dollars in March this year. The reserve, as at the beginning of January 2018 was 39.3 billion dollars before rising to 42.8 billion dollars in February and reaching a new high of 46 billion dollars in March.
The CBN should be commended for its policies as shown by the rising supply of local substitutes for imported goods, the creation of jobs and enhanced the incomes of farmers and local manufacturers. But the government needs to device means that will make the improvements in the economy impact positively on the living conditions and the quality of life of the people.
THE RECURRING LASSA FEVER PROBLEM
It is indeed surprising that Lassa Fever deaths have continued to increase across the nation. The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in its latest report put the deaths at 72 people for just January and February this year alone. The government must do more in its ability to rapidly detect cases of infection in the community and refer them early for treatment as this is the critical step in improving the patients’ chances of survival.
Since many states have been affected, the government must ensure adequate enlightenment so that infected people do not go and seek treatment in hospitals that are not appropriately prepared to care for Lassa Fever patients. If we were able to defeat the more dreaded Ebola virus, the government can win the battle against Lassa Fever.
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY’S BOGUS ALLOWANCES AND THE RECURRING BUDGET DELAY
It is unthinkable to note that the Senators are being uncharitable to the hungry masses who voted them into office. They have shown that the welfare and protection of the citizens is not their priority as they collect running costs of N13.5 million per month in a nation where the minimum monthly salary is a paltry N18,000.
Aside from this running cost, the members of the Senate also have access to constituency project fund of N200 million per year. But it is common knowledge that the money is sometimes collected without any project being executed at the Expense of the suffering masses. This sheer waste of scarce resources must stop.
Despite the fact that the President presented the 2018 budget the National Assembly on November 7, 2017, work is yet to be completed. The embarrassing late passage has continued for three years in a row. We are always inundated with buck-passing between the National Assembly and the executive arm of government.
The Senate should find the template that is workable and which will deliver the budget at the right time. The issues of delay in budget defence with the heads of the MDAs and the slow pace of work of Senate sub-committees no longer tenable. Let the two parties sort out the problems to ensure that the budget is passed in January as it should be.
MOP-UP OF ILLEGAL ARMS, CRIMINALITY AND THE 2019 ELECTIONS
The police must redouble its efforts in ensuring that the recovery of illegal arms is a monumental success. This is because of the inherent danger in allowing armed groups, gangs and criminals walk freely in the society. A case in point is the deadly bank robbery in Offa in Kwara State with the attendant loss of at least 17 lives. When criminals have arms and ammunition with nothing to do, they will simply make use of the weapons for criminal activities.
Though the police need commendation for the recovery of large cache of arms in Imo, Rivers and other states, a lot still needs to be done considering that there is likely to be more bloodshed as the 2019 Elections gets nearer. Deadly competition amongst political heavyweights especially in states that are hotly contested should not be underestimated.
The police should, therefore, be proactive in its security strategy so as to nip the spiralling violence in the bud. The customs service should also step up its efforts towards ensuring that the smuggling of arms and ammunition through the ports and the porous borders are stopped. This will check the violence we usually witness before and after the elections due to the illegal use of criminals by desperate politicians plotting to win elections at all costs.
STOPPING THE KILLINGS BY THE BOKO HARAM GROUP: THE SECURITY FORCES MUST RETHINK ITS STRATEGY
The Boko Haram group must not be allowed to regain its strength even though there are factions within it. The activities to contain the dreaded group should be stepped up because the two factions would mean that the war is being fought on two different fronts. They should be pushed back to the remote fringes near the Niger, Chad and Cameroon borders.
Let the security groups synergise their efforts in order to weaken them such that they are not to constitute serious threats to lives and properties. The Easter day multiple attacks that killed 29 people and injured 84 and the killing of another set of 10 people in separate attacks in Borno State in March this year are condemnable.
It is time we put the nine-year insurgency to an end especially now that the President has consented to a plan to use the sum of 1 billion dollars to equip the armed forces once the National Assembly gives its approval. This money should be judiciously used especially in the area of procuring equipment for quality intelligence gathering which seems to be the bane of the security forces at this time.
THE 2019 CONTEST AND THE ORDER OF ELECTIONS
It is no longer news that the Senate and the House of Representatives agreed on a new order of elections and also passed the bill. Rather than the National Assembly trying to hoodwink the people by saying this change was made in the national interest, it is purely a selfish move that was made to make the National Assembly members the kingmakers once their election is decided first.
They would play larger than life roles in influencing the emergence of the governors and the president. If the National Assembly were truly acting in the national interest, they would have also separated the House of Assembly election from that of the governors because the same logic that applies to the National Assembly members also applies to the House of Assembly members.
The re-ordering would also make the 2019 elections cost so much more because the elections would take place on three separate days instead of the normal two days. Is the additional cost of the elections in the national interest? Is the shutting down of the economy for an additional day in the national interest?
The president has done the right thing by withholding assent and it is good that the matter is already in court. We hope that the superior wisdom and the national interest that prevailed in the National Assembly in 2002 that birthed the present order of elections would also prevail in deciding this issue.
LET THE NATION PREPARE FOR RAMADAN
Since Ramadan is a special event that occurs in the life of the faithful Muslim once a year, we beseech Allah to keep us alive till the month in good health and sound mind and to enable us to diligently observe the fast for His sake. Every Muslim needs to make spiritual, moral, financial and social preparations in order to welcome the blessed month. We can do this by strengthening our relationship with the Qur’an, engaging much in the remembrance of Allah and re-connecting ourselves properly with the beneficial act of fasting.
We should learn about the correct laws of fasting as well as consult our physicians to take care of any health challenge so that we do not fall sick during the period. We must awaken the spirit of charitable and compassionate deeds by extending help to those in need. We wish all Muslims highly rewarding and beneficial fast that is acceptable to Allah and we pray for peace and prosperity in our nation.