Buhari’s change agenda
By Japh Azubuine
In the build up to the 2015 general elections that saw to the defeat of the incumbent government of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the victory of the All Progressives Congress (APC), one word that electrified the atmosphere then was “Change”. The electorate was so enthralled with the concept of change just to see that the PDP government which was in power for sixteen years was shown the way out.
Many factors combined to dim the chances of the PDP in that election. Yes, PDP had tremendous support in 1998/1999 before and after the election of 1999 which brought it to power,but after some few years, PDP decided to squander that goodwill which the Nigerian populace gave it.
PDP embarked on a lot of controversial and negative policies that annoyed if not infuriated the people. Within the party itself, there was no internal democracy; its primary elections were a mere waste of time and deceit as people would spend their money and time only for a few powerful people to just hand-pick who would contest elections. Of course people endured this for a brief period before they “exploded” by decamping or working against the party.
Another reason why the PDP was shown the way out was because of unprecedented corruption. The type that would make people miss their breath. The corruption that was so manifest and entrenched; the type that was so brazen and daring. The type that really made people think that some of our leaders are heartless. Indeed, the type of corruption that encouraged one to steal in billions and do as if noting has happened. It was indeed exasperating.
Further reasons that saw to the jettisoning of the PDP was the poor handling of Boko Haram insurgency. Whether true or false, the claim then was that some people “raised” or “designed” the Boko Haram problem to undermine and remove the government of the day. But life is all about frictions and obstacles. If some people had deliberately planned to undermine you and bring down your government, your duty as a legitimately elected government was to thwart their plans and move on with your government. But the Jonathan government prevaricated initially on tackling the Boko Haram issue and that was why it was part of the issues that consumed that government.
Again, even when it started to fight the insurgency the amount of money being mentioned that were budgeted for fighting insurgency was enormous but as we later heard and saw, those monies were never used appropriately but rather became conduit pipes for corrupt government officials.
Yet again, the international community considered that Nigeria being the most populous black country in the whole world, allowing it to have political turmoil would spell doom.That was why they waded in and saw that the election was hitch free to allow for a smooth transition.
So people of Nigeria saw it as a relief when the leaders of some of the opposition parties championed by ANP, AC, CPC, and APGA decided to coalesce into a party to challenge the PPD in the 2015 general elections. More importantly or fortunately, they selected the then Gen. Muhammadu Buhari to be their presidential candidate.
In spite of some of the perceived minuses of the president like being accused of hard line posture and being a sectionalist, his positive attributes were glowing enough to subdue these minuses. He is a well-known anti-corruption crusader and a stickler to rules and regulations. These qualities therefore made Nigerians to clamor for him. The foreign leaders also, based on his past records as an anti-corruption crusader and principled man supported him and went all out to give him diplomatic edge. He therefore won convincingly and Nigeria skipped a crisis.
The question now is,has he lived up to his billing?
. What are the indices? What would have happened if he did not win? Obviously by my own assessment and from samples of critical opinion molders, the Buhari government has done well to earn a good mark, if all the variables and factors are considered.
For insecurity, he has won substantially, at least degrading Boko Haram to a point that displaced persons can go back to their communities. On anti-corruption war, he has fought the type of fight against corruption that no government ever in this country has succeeded in fighting. On the overall image of the country, he has won respect again for this country that nearly slided into a “Banana Republic”. On government affairs, I think he has done well following the constitution in most of his actions and delegating authorities when necessary.
It is true, there have been strident calls for re-structuring. This is the area he has to critically look into. Re-structuring for me does not mean separation but just to touch some areas of the composition of the country and we move on as one country. There are obvious areas of injustice in terms of the configuration of some of our national structure that should be touched for a more unified nationhood.
The number of states in the South East zone,for instance, which is five while some zones have seven is unfair. He did not create it, the military juntas did. But he has a golden opportunity to right these wrongs, maybe through a process of re-structuring so that he could be the Abraham Lincoln of Nigeria.
If he can handle the national question very well, indeed with what he has achieved so far, he would be remembered as that leader who desired to lead and make positive impacts and who succeeded.
Dr. Azubuine writes from Bayero University Kano