By Gidado Ibrahim
The indicator to determine if a society is developed or developing does not depend on the number of tarred roads, steady electricity or water at the turn of the tap. In practical sense, the first indicator for measuring the health, strength and resilience of any society is the viability of state institutions.
In a democracy, good governance is anchored on operationality of good laws. For Nigeria, the race to strengthen state institutions had been at a snail speed. Leaders show lackadissical attitude and play politics with issues of empowering state instutions to function as they should.
However, the paradigm has been shifting steadily since May 29, 2015, when President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office. Buhari sees wisdom in the words of Barack Obama who said Africa don’t need strong men but strong state institutions. Such principled stand by Buhari climaxed in his recent signing of six (6) bills into law at once.
In line with his avowed commitment to enshrining governance with human face, the Nigerian leader increased the retirement age of public schools from 60 to 65 years. This is sterling leadership, a governance with human face of no mean grace. The wisdom in this action is that no more will government spend money to train teachers only to retire them a few years later even when they are still strong to continue making contributions to the educational development of our children.
This action demonstrates Buhari’s commitment to educational advancement of Nigeria. Before now, it is widely said that a teacher’s reward is in heaven. With this move, Buhari has dymistified that unjust belief. Teachers can teach long enough before retiring to a life of fulfilment at the good old age of 65.
With this development, the provision of Section 3 of the Act provides that the public service rule or any legislation that requires a person to retire from the public service at 60 years of age or after 35 years of service shall not apply to teachers in Nigeria.
It is expected that soon, the issue of recurrent industrial action by the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) will be permanently laid to rest and normalcy returned to the academic calendar. The Buhari administration has extended bumper olive branch to ASUU. It is my sincere hope that ASUU will see reasons with the federal government, as they are critical stakeholders in Nigeria’s development. If not for anything, ASUU should consider the plight of the students whose future is at stake if our universities are closed for too long.
In pre-government era, the Hobessian theory of ‘the state of nature’, propounded by Thomas Hobbs says that the life of man in the state of nature was nasty, brutish and short. In a bid to provide collective security for themselves, men decided to come together to surrender their natural rights to a leviathan (government), which will in turn guarantee the security of their lives and property.
The foregoing supposes that the first priority of every government is security of lives and property. Hence, since assuming office in 2015, President Buhari has spared no spanner in the bid to fulfil this primary purpose of government. The recent signing into law, of a bill that “establishes and provides legal framework for the Nigeria Police Academy, Wudil, Kano State, as a degree-awarding institution to provide academic and professional training” climaxed such efforts.
With the new enabling law, the Academy will be headed by a Commandant not below the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police, and shall be appointed by the Police Service Commission (PSC) on the recommendation of the Inspector General of Police as stipulated in Section 8 of the Act. These are the kind of institutional empowerment initiatives that strengthens good governance and that is one of the areas President Buhari is etching his name in gold.
It is important to note that the signing of six bills in a democracy is a positive sign of the prevailing healthy and matured working relationship between the Buhari-led Executive and the National Assembly. This is unlike in the past when personality show and power tussle stiffle government machinery.
As highlighted ealier, the development is in the enactment and implimentation of sound laws. In a bid to empower the Nigeria Law Reform Commission to function optimally, President Buhari enacted into law the Nigerian Law Reform Commission Act, 2022. This Act repeals the Nigeria Law Reform Commission Act, Cap. N118, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. There is no doubt that this new law will facilitate the effective implementation of the commission’s Law reforms proposals and enhance its performance and bring the Law in conformity to best practices. This also is testament of Buhari’s unwaivered commitment to transforming Nigeria into a nation of strong state institutions.
Hitherto, the enabling law on animal disease prevention was not properly focused. In his determination to empower that sector of the economy, Buhari signed into law an Act that repeals the Animal Diseases (Control) Act, Cap. A17, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and enacts the Animal Diseases (Control) Act for the purpose of prevention, detection, control and eradication of infectious and contagious transboundary and zoonotic animal diseases, prevention of antimicrobial resistance through the control and regulation of the use and administration of veterinary biologics, veterinary medicinal products and chemicals in animals, animal products, medicated animal feeds, sales and distribution of pet foods, veterinary medical devices, other veterinary products, and for the enhancement of animal welfare and food safety.
In order to create a proper legal framework for National Biotechnology Development Agency to enable Nigeria to effectively harness the benefits in Biotechnology, especially in food production, President Buhsri also enacted an Act which provides legal framework for the National Biotechnology Development Agency to carry out research, create and develop public awareness in biotechnology in order to encourage private sector participation in biotechnology industry in Nigeria.
To empower the country’s health system and increase accessibility of tertiary healthcare, the president signed the Federal Medical Centre, Hong (Establishment) Act, 2022. This Act establishes the Federal Medical Centre, Hong, Adamawa State to provide Legal framework for its due management and administration.
The Medical Centre will be headed by a Medical Director who shall be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Minister of Health, and shall be the Chief Executive and accounting officer of the Medical Centre as stipulated in Section 9 of the Act.
President Buhari’s strides in governance cannot be overemphasized. He has set a legacy which, if sustained and strengthened by a competent successor beyond 2023, will wriggle Nigeria out of the economic, social and political morass it had been enmeshed in by past administrations before Buhari came as a game changer.
- Ibrahim is director, Communications and Strategic Planning, of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC).