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Senate retreat: Confronting Nigeria’s setbacks for comebacks

By Joseph Atainyang

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The recent address of the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio, during the retreat in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, resonates with a resolute call for optimism and belief in the greatness of the Nigerian nation.

The uncommon transformer highlighted the need for a collective effort to address the setbacks that have hindered Nigeria’s economic growth and stability. The harsh econimic realities faced by Nigeria have not been a sudden thing. The protracted issue has been based on a number of policies by leaders from time immemorial.

The removal of the oil subsidy by the President Bola Tinubu’s administration, has been the boldest decision in recent times. This has been so adjudged because of the high level of fraud that a few privileged Nigerians had indulged in, to the detriment of the whole nation.

This article delves into the importance of facing these challenges head-on and proposes strategies for instigating the much-needed comebacks that can bring lasting relief to the Nigerian people.

Of course, no one can think of a solution without first accepting a problem. From the beginning of time, solutions could only be thought of when there were problems to solve. In this case, accepting that Nigeria has a huge challenge, hasn’t attracted any pretence.

Truth is, leadership at various stages in the country was instituted to solve problems. No one could jump from their private homes to attain political relevance, if there were no issues to address.

They first acknowledged peculiar challenges of the various sections of the country, and offered themselves as being competent to handle the situations.

Akpabio was guided by this knowledge when he pointedly announced that the nation’s setbacks were setups for comebacks.

His words: “Your Excellency, my distinguished colleagues, I believe that the doors of the Senate should be open to all Nigerians, except pessimists.

“The Senate Chambers is a place for optimists who believe that no matter the darkness of the clouds which hang over our nation, there are silver linings.

“The Senate has no place for people who whine or do not believe in the greatness of our country. The hallowed chambers of the Senate is for those who believe that every setback in our country is a setup for a comeback.”

Whether it be economic hardships, security threats, or corrupt practices, it is essential to confront these issues with unwavering determination. Of course, Senator Akpabio could have been a secret reader of Thomas Sterns Eliot who went ‘wild’ against the proponents of spontaneity in the assemblage of poetic lines.

Eliot held that writers of poetry were rather guided by intelligence, and not emotions, while crafting the powerful lines of poetry. Indeed, the President of the Senate was guided by intelligence and superior logic when shared his thoughts at the event.

As Senator Akpabio rightly pointed out, “the Senate must be a haven for optimists. We must foster a positive mindset that believes in the potential for improvement, even in the face of adversity.” In other words, each setback should be viewed as an opportunity to learn, adapt, and emerge stronger.

Also, Nigeria’s diversity is a tremendous asset that, when harnessed effectively, can fuel her comebacks. The Senate must ensure that it represents the interests of all Nigerians, irrespective of background or political affiliation. By embracing diversity, inclusivity and a sense of unity among citizens can be engendered.

The next critical area, where comebacks are necessary, is the Nigerian economy. Diversifying our revenue streams, promoting local industries, and investing in critical sectors such as agriculture and technology will strengthen our economic resilience.

From the body language of Mr. Akpabio, it seems the Senate is ready to lead the charge by enacting legislation that fosters economic growth and attracts both local and foreign investment.

Meanwhile, tackling corruption and insecurity is very key to the mission of rescuing the nation. Corruption has been a significant setback for Nigeria’s progress for almost a century. To achieve comebacks, the Senate must intensify efforts to fight corruption at all levels.

Implementing stringent anti-corruption laws, holding public officials accountable, and promoting transparency within government institutions are crucial steps in combating this issue. Insecurity remains a significant setback for Nigeria’s development.

The Senate must prioritize efforts to enhance security across the nation. Collaborating with the executive arm of government, community leaders, and security agencies, the Senate can advocate for policies and enact laws that address the root causes of insecurity and ensure the safety and wellbeing of all Nigerians.

Again, investing in quality education and skills development is paramount for our comebacks. An annual budget for the year 2024 is already announced in the range of N24 trillion. The Senate may have concluded decisions on working out a very comfortable budget for the educational advancement of the country.

The Senate should prioritize legislations that promote access to education for all, focus on vocational training and technical skills development, and ensure that the curriculum equips students with the knowledge and competencies needed for the modern workforce.

Of course, the idea for the training of three million young people in skills is very much underway. As announced by the federal ministry of Communication Innovation and Digital Economy, 30 thousand young persons are being registered for the first set of the training.

The programme tagged, 3 Million Technical Talent Programme (3MTT), is a critical part of the Renewed Hope Agenda, aimed at building Nigeria’s technical talent backbone to power our digital economy and position Nigeria as a net talent exporter.

Furthermore, to facilitate comebacks, investment in infrastructure is crucial. The Senate should work towards a robust infrastructure development plan, prioritizing the construction and maintenance of roads, railways, ports, and power generation projects.

Improved infrastructure will attract investments, stimulate economic growth, and improve citizens’ quality of life. This is part of their oversight function which would definitely be smooth because the federal ministry of Works is manned by Senator David Umahi, one of theirs who has a track record of performance and would be ready to walk the talk.

In addition, effective governance is central to achieving comebacks in Nigeria. The Senate must collaborate with the executive branch to enact laws that promote good governance, transparency, and accountability. Stringent oversight on government agencies and officials will help combat corruption, ensure efficient service delivery, and create an enabling environment for comebacks.

Ultimately, to realise comebacks in Nigeria necessitates collaboration and partnership between the Senate, the executive branch, civil society organizations, and the private sector. By forging alliances and fostering dialogue, we can tap into collective wisdom and resources to address the challenges that have impeded progress.

Apparently, the call by Senator Godswill Akpabio for comebacks in Nigeria, should serve as a clarion call for all Nigerians to rally together in confronting our setbacks.

By cultivating optimism, embracing diversity, and focusing on critical aspects such as economic resilience, security, education, and infrastructure development, we can propel our nation towards sustained growth and stability.

The Senate must lead the way by implementing robust legislative measures and ensuring accountability at all levels. Together, we can overcome our setbacks and pave the way for a brighter future for Nigeria.

Joseph Atainyang is a journalist and a public affairs commentator.

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