President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election and his inauguration on Wednesday for another term has given him the final chance to deliver on his promises, correct certain negative impressions about him and amend the inadequacies of his administration and style of governance, TUNDE AJAJA writes
For unambiguous reasons, the 2015 presidential election was one many Nigerians would not forget in a hurry; it was significantly different from all the four before it.
Not only because it was the first time an opposition party would defeat the party that had ruled since the nation went back to democracy in 1999, even though that was significant, more importantly, the aftermath of the election was characterised by a matchless level of expectations from the citizenry.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory at the 2015 polls was like the coming of the Messiah as many citizens hoped that an end had finally come to their decades of suffering.
From the time it became apparent that Buhari, who was the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, had defeated the then President, Goodluck Jonathan, the mood in most parts of the country had become celebratory with wild jubilation across many states; the excitement was huge and the expectations almost became frightening.
Testifying to the unrivalled expectations from the citizenry, Mrs Aisha Buhari told AFP shortly after her husband was declared winner that his government would likely not be an easy ride with the level of citizens’ expectations.
“We are working towards a new Nigeria as my husband promised. It’s going to be tough because expectations are high,” she had said.
Interestingly, Buhari’s cardinal promises during his campaigns – security, economy and fight against corruption – were issues of topmost priority to most Nigerians.
Thus, many believed that the President had all he needed – including massive support – to actualise his lofty promises and set the nation on the right path once and for all.
But after his first four years in office, findings and interactions with many Nigerians showed that those expectations, including his three key promises, had largely been greeted by disappointments. Interestingly, not even some of his teeming supporters and party men felt differently.
Speaking on the President’s performance in the last four years, a professor of Strategy and Development, Anthony Kila, said that in the mind of many people, things should have been better than they are at the moment.
“Objectively speaking, I think it is right to say that the expectation people had on May 29, 2015 has not been met, whether or not those expectations were real,” he said.
Perhaps, being aware of the feelers across the country, the President said on Monday during a media chat aired on the Nigerian Television Authority that people who described him as ‘Baba go slow’ during his first administration would be in for a shock during his second term.
On a cursory look, the concerns of Nigerians over the level of insecurity in the country – armed robbery, kidnapping, banditry and insurgency in the North-East – coupled with corruption across all levels and the economic challenges facing the country, all of which the President promised to tackle four years ago, have yet to abate.
Therefore, following his inauguration for a second and final term on Wednesday, experts in various fields and public affairs analysts say the President has been presented with another golden opportunity to right some of his wrongs – occasioned by some of his actions and inactions – in his first term.
Expressing his views over what the President needs to do differently and urgently to tackle the alarming rate of insecurity in the country, a professional in security matters, Mr Chigozie Ubani, said he should ensure strict border control measures and engage fresh hands in the security services.
“To tackle this insecurity, what he needs to do first and foremost is to overhaul that entire management system so that a new impetus would be employed in the management of the nation’s security.
“The new people would see things from a different prism and adopt a different approach to identify a better strategy, because no matter what we say the people there still believe in the same approach they have been deploying.”
Speaking further, he stated, “He also has to whittle down the influence of a few people within his government, who in local and common parlance are called the cabal.
“Whether we like it or not, it exists; these are people who understand government and they have their own way of holding government captive and in the process apply the Machiavellian method to achieve either selfish, group or sectional interest. He has to whittle down their influence and give the new security chiefs more robust leverage to exercise their duty.”
He explained that the President would set a mark if he could see to the issue of community and state policing, especially as the Vice-President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo, had said at different times that state police was the way to go.
“We have been clamouring that they should break the management of security; from central to community and state policing for effectiveness and with that, we would have a better result and many other things would fall into place.”
Asked about the perception that the President is more disposed to one section of the country than the other, Ubani advised the President to make sure he is seen as a national leader by instituting enduring systems that will address issues like the farmers-herders clashes.
Also speaking on what the President needs to do differently in his second term, Kila, who is an international director of studies at the European Centre of Advanced and Professional Studies, said Nigerians had always been concerned about the issue of insecurity, power supply education among others.
Thus, he said the President should seize the opportunity presented by his second term to deliver in these areas.
“Barring any contrary pronouncement from the tribunal, which is still a proviso, the big issue the Presidency needs to deal with is insecurity and I carefully used the word Presidency to show that it goes beyond the President alone. They need to solve it and be seen to be doing so because perception is very important.
“But, if the President wants a legacy he can leave behind, he needs to do everything possible to solve the problem of power. Beyond issues of megawatts, Nigerians need power. In addition to that is improved education; we need the schools to be upgraded and teachers to be trained.
“And this time round, he needs to be seen as more of a national leader, whether truly or falsely. People see him to be the leader of a part of the country, which is not a good legacy. Therefore, he should do things that would show that he is not biased about Fulani or Islamic issues.”
While commending the government for declaring June 12 as Democracy Day, he advised the President to communicate with Nigerians, be deliberate, proactive and lead with ideas and vision.
“On a very selfish note, I would push for a special status for Lagos given the burden the state carries, its peculiarity and the huge revenue it remits to the federation account,” he added.
On the issue of the economy, a popular economist, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, who is the Managing Director, Cowry Asset Management Limited, highlighted four things the President should do differently in his remaining four years.
“He has to appoint a strong economic team that would come up with an economic blueprint and set a timeline for the implementation of the policies.
“There is need to identify and come up with strategies on how to explore some sectors in the economy where Nigeria has comparative advantage. Let me give you a classic example. During (former President Olusegun) Obasanjo’s government, he came up with cement industry master plan, which moved the country from two million metric tonnes of cement production to more than 30 million metric tonnes per annum and Nigeria is now a net exporter of cement. There are several sectors that are yearning for similar policy direction.”
He also called on the President to address the leakages and wastages in the economy, particularly in the petroleum subsidy sector. “It would help to stimulate investment in the mainstream and downstream sector of the petroleum industry and create jobs,” he added.
Chukwu therefore stressed the need for the government to come up with a different strategy for financing investment on infrastructure apart from budgetary allocation, which he said was neither sustainable nor feasible.
“This time round, they need to come up with a legal, regulatory and commercial framework to attract private capital into critical infrastructure, particularly those commercially viable ones,” he added.
In his assessment, Lagos-based lawyer and public affairs analyst, Mr Liborous Oshoma, said the President already acknowledged that he was slow in taking decisions with his “baba-go-slow” comment, noting that it was clear the President needed to increase his speed.
“The time it would take him to appoint his ministers would say a lot; if it takes time, then it means the next four years would be the same.
“Secondly, in the fight against corruption, there shouldn’t be sacred cows because once it is selective, there is a problem and nobody should begin to cite selective cases of Babachir Lawal, because it came after all the pressure.”
“Also, in the next four years, he needs to change that attitude of complaining and giving excuses instead of providing solutions. This time round, he would have no other person to blame again because he headed the previous administration.”
Oshoma said the President should not make disobedience to court orders one of his legacies.
“Disobedience to court order is something he needs to adhere to seriously; you can’t disobey court orders and expect foreign investors to come,” he added.
In the area of agriculture, he tasked the government to pay attention to value addition to agricultural produce than increased participation in farming alone. He cited rice and cocoa as examples.
“Agriculture without value addition would end up in poverty, because what brings the huge revenue is the value you have added. That is why Code D’Ivoire would make $3.7bn from the sale of cocoa but Switzerland that is processing cocoa to chocolate would make $72bn from it.
“So, when we discuss agriculture without manufacturing and power to add value to it, then there would still be poverty.”
While advocating creative ways to fight corruption, the legal practitioner said more judges should be employed for speedy trial.
According to Oshoma, the police should be empowered to take some burden off the EFCC and that the Federal Government should adopt the model used by Lagos State instead of waiting for constitutional amendment to create special courts.
He added, “In Lagos State, without any amendment but by virtue of practice direction given by the state Chief Judge, the courts are now segmented, so you have probate division, criminal division, general/civil division, commercial division, etc. This can be replicated at the centre.”
“Also, prosecution starts from investigation and the police is the first agency when it comes to prosecution of criminal matters, but we are so fixated on the EFCC, which now seems to be overwhelmed.
According to the legal expert, this and the quest to impress the government makes the EFCC to do hasty investigations, which often makes some of the accused persons to be discharged and acquitted by the court.If you appreciated this article, perhaps you might consider making a donation to The Gazette Nigeria. Our contributors and editors are unpaid but there are inevitable costs associated with running a website. We receive no independent funding and depend on our readers to help us, either with regular or one-off payments. You can donate here. Thank you.