| By Mike Udah |
DURING the 2015 electioneering campaign period, presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari (as he then was) had flaunted the change mantra: he would right all wrongs wrought on Nigeria by the Goodluck Jonathan administration, he had claimed. In specific terms, he would improve power supply, provide employment for the large army of graduates roaming the Nigerian streets; he would give Five Thousand Naira to each of those who would remain unemployed; security would be adequately tackled as Boko Haram would be hounded out of existence; social infrastructure would be provided in good measure, etc., the All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential candidate had promised Nigerians.
Fortunately for the APC and for its presidential candidate, many Nigerians at that time wanted the Goodluck Jonathan (Peoples Democratic Party)- led government to do west (to use the Shakespearean phraseology). The reasons for this were as plausible as they were glaring: non-availability of petroleum products, irregular and very poor power supply, the orgy of crime and criminality with kidnapping being rife, and to make matters worse, the advent of Boko Haram and the abduction of 219 Chibok girls as well as government’s seeming insensitivity and incapacity to deal with the tinder box which the country had turned into.
It was, therefore, a welcome relief to Nigerians when Mr. Muhammadu Buhari was declared winner of the 2015 election and sworn in on May 29th of the same year. One year down the line, has this administration justified its existence? Has it lived up to the people’s expectations or has it become a misadventure as some analysts are wont to believe? What type of change has the Buhari government brought to Nigerians – is it a positive change or a negative one?
On the positive front, the Buhari government realized early enough that the state governments were pauperized and could not pay salaries and discharge other sundry responsibilities. As a sensitive, pro-people government, it quickly embarked on a bail-out policy by providing funds to the state governments. There is no doubt that that singular step helped immensely in rescuing the states from the thralldom of bankruptcy, thereby saving them from a devastating and destabilizing battle which Labour would have waged against them.
On security, it is obvious that this present administration has degraded, nay decapitated Boko Haram. In fact, the government has taken the battle to the enclave of the insurgents – to the much – dreaded, once impenetrable Sambisa Forest, recording a huge success in the process. The numerous internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been taken better care of even as it is not yet uhuru.
The main victims of Boko Haram are Northerners living in the North Eastern part of our country and some other parts of the North. Government’s attention in terms of reform and rehabilitation, expectedly, has been focused on these people from these areas. Thus far, those non-Northerners who died and suffered severe losses from Boko Haram attacks, that is, those from the Eastern and Western parts of Nigeria as well as others from the South-South, have remained unattended to, if not unremembered at all. The Government should do well to support the next-of-kin of dead fellows and wounded ones. Similarly, the soldiers who have been waging these wars against the insurgents do not seem to have been properly taken care of. It does not appear that the families of the deceased ones among them have been adequately compensated. The plight of the wounded is no better. Ideally, insurance covers should have been provided to these soldiers ab initio.
On the big issue of corruption, President Muhammadu Buhari through the instrumentality of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has dragged numerous high profile persons to courts to either prove their innocence or face the wrath of the law. This move has somehow shown the citizens of this country that the era of unbridled corruption and impunity is over. The list of such people is long, including the former National Security Adviser (NSA) Rtd. Col. Sambo Dasuki; the former Aviation Minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode; the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olisa Metuh, etc. Against the accusation of prosecuting only non-APC members, the President has shown non-partisanship in his fight against corruption by not interfering in the on-going trial of the Senate President and APC chieftain, Chief Bukola Saraki.
In the area of foreign relations, the present administration has scored high marks, what with the many useful trips made by Mr. President to the United States of America, Germany, United Arab Emirate, France, South Africa, Chad and Benin Republic. The friendly manner in which Mr. President was received by his counterparts in these countries he visited, the discussions held and the agreements signed showed that not only has the image/perception of our country improved at the international scene; in a few years, our economy will witness significant growth owing to the benefits which will have accrued from the pacts entered into with these countries.
Still on the economic front, this administration is working to modify our tax regulations with a view to preventing tax evasion and improving the generation of revenue which will, in turn, lead to improvement in the quality of lives of Nigerians.
In spite of the foregoing strides, however, President Muhammadu Buhari and indeed all Nigerians have an arduous task to perform to ensure the stability of our country and secure the happiness of the greatest number of Nigerians which is one main reason for the existence of government in the first place.
Thomas Hobbes, that often quoted social contract theorist, would remind us any day that individuals mortgaged their personal liberties to the Leviathan in the state of nature (where “life was brutish, nasty and short”; where there was “war of one against all and all against one”) so that he (the Leviathan) would provide security of lives and property. Here, the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant would add “happiness for the greatest number of people”.
Sadly, this state of stability, of order and of happiness which Hobbes and Kant sought several decades ago, still eludes Nigerians today. With Boko Haram and Shiite Muslims in the North; Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in the East, Niger Delta Avengers, the Red Egbesu, Water Lions and Isoko Liberation Movement in the South-South, Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) in the South-West and a retinue of other relatively unknown clandestine groups in-between, the unity of Nigeria is only but a mere mental phenomenon, which exists simply in the imagination of optimistic persons.
Having demonstrated legendary patriotism through his three unsuccessful attempts (2003, 2007 and 2011) at becoming President (after being one through a Military Coup in 1983), Mr. President must now show leadership by diplomatically dousing the rising tension in the land. He can carefully do this by applying “diplomacy” (the art of telling someone to go to hell in such a nice language that he/she looks forward to embarking on the trip).
The President must critically sieve the advice proffered to him by both his official and unofficial aides some of whom, are bound, by human nature to be driven by selfish, ethnic, religious and or other considerations rather than altruism and patriotism.
Mr. President should meticulously tackle the issue of cost of living in the country because central to every facet of life of an individual or a group is the economy.
This is why in all civilized countries, it is the economy that drives politics. Any candidate who does not demonstrate commitment to superior strategies which will bring about economic growth, does not win an election in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany or France to mention just a few countries.
President Buhari must as a matter of urgency fashion out a blue print and begin the implementation of same with a view to cushioning the poverty in the land – addressing unemployment, determining the appropriate price of petroleum products; ensuring their availability 24/7; tackling insurgency in all parts of the country, stopping the rising spate of kidnapping and giving all Nigerians irrespective of their ethnic, religious, social and economic backgrounds a sense of belonging. This is what statesmanship is all about. He ought to give succor to non-Northern victims of Boko Haram as well.
In Anambra State for instance, over 10 corpses were brought from the North and buried in Adazi in one day during the heyday of Boko Haram. Awka Etiti, another Anambra community had its own fair share of Boko Haram victims and so do a number of other towns in the Eastern, Southern and Western parts of our country.
Whatever the case may be, may I congratulate Mr. President on his first year in office as a civilian number one citizen. I know from the bottom of my heart that no one who truly wants to serve, will envy him. It is only those who want to help themselves who will want to push him away so that they can take over the saddle.
Your Excellency, please remain focused and do not let the dream die!
Udah, a Media consultant, wrote from Lagos
— May 31, 2016 @ 13:20 GMT