Facing the Stiffest Test of His Political Life

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Muhammadu Buhari

By Onyebuchi Ezeigbo

President Muhammadu Buhari has the distinct reputation of being, perhaps, the only politician in the country who, out of share tenacity, was able to realise his presidential ambition at his fourth attempt. His victory at the polls in the 2015 general election was adjudged a water shed in the political history of the country. It was the first time an opposition party was able to defeat a sitting president.

Born on December 17, 1942, Buhari has served the country in different distinguished capacities including a stint as Military Governor of North Eastern State. He also served as the Minister of Petroleum Resources under the then military government of General Olusegun Obasanjo. He became Nigeria’s military Head of State between 1983 and1985. In the 2003, 2007 and 2011 general election, he ran for the office of president of Nigeria, but was not successful.  The 2011 contest was particularly remarkable because, Buhari defied all odds, having entered the race late with a relatively young party, the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC).

Though he failed to win, his performance was a big surprise to many as he got 12 million votes to place second behind the winner, Goodluck Jonathan.  In all these elections that he fell short of realising his goal, the Daura-born retired General turned politician remained undaunted. He challenged the outcome till the final judicial pronouncement at the Supreme Court. Just as everyone thought that he would no longer contest the presidency, Buhari was prodded to make a surprising U-turn by a coalition of seasoned politicians who saw in him a rallying point to snatch power from the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Once again, the Old Soldier made another bid for the highest office in the land. The coalition of opposition political parties formed a merger with the acronym, All Progressives Congress (APC). In December 2014, he emerged as the presidential candidate of the APC for the 2015 presidential election. Buhari won the election, defeating the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan of the PDP.

He was sworn-in on May 29, 2015. Key promises made by President Buhari and his party to woo the electorate included a willingness to tackle insecurity, corruption and the ailing economy. Almost four years after, Buhari is being tasked to show evidence of his good stewardship to Nigerians. He is facing, perhaps, one of the stiffest challenges ever in his political life, with a rebranded and refocused PDP fighting like a wounded lion to return to power. Buhari and his party have laid claims to several achievements which include, curbing the activities of the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents, fighting corruption and recovering monies allegedly stolen from public coffers by some officials of the previous administration. Despite the view of critics that he has not done well and that he has exhibited gross incompetence, Buhari insists that his administration has surpassed its targets. The President listed his achievements in the area of infrastructure, like rail and road projects, new power generating capacity and economic empowerment for youths. According to Buhari, the APC-led administration met a harsh economic situation, with the price of crude oil going down. These factors, according to the president, were responsible for some of shortcomings in the delivery of his campaign promises. However, the President and his party are very confident that Nigerians are satisfied with their performance in the first term and will vote to return him to power for a second term. Buoyed with this confidence, President Buhari and his campaign team launched the campaign slogan; ‘Next Level’ to highlight major milestones of the administration and targets to pursue if reelected. In the ‘Next Level’ policy document, the president and his party have summed up what they intend to offer Nigerians given another mandate.

Infrastructure:

One of the target areas of the APC-led federal government is development of infrastructural. The administration has recorded and continues to advance its achievements in the revival of rail transportation. In the ‘Next Level’ document, Nigerians have been promised the completion of the Ibadan- Kano phase of the
Lagos- Ibadan-Kano rail line. It also pledged to complete the Eastern rail (Port-Harcourt-
Maiduguri), taking the network through Aba, all South-east state capitals, Makurdi, Jos,
Bauchi and Gombe. The completion of the Coastal rail (Lagos-Calabar) and the link on Itakpe-Warri rail to Abuja through Lokoja are also on the administration’s second term agenda.

Roads and Bridges:

On road projects, the APC government said it will complete the 2nd Niger Bridge connecting Anambra and Delta states and also complete the East-West Road connecting Warri, Delta to Oron in Akwa Ibom State, through Kaiama in Bayelsa and Port Harcourt in Rivers. Another major road project that APC pledged to complete is the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria to Kano Road. The administration also pledged to finish works on all federal roads using Sukuk Bonds in each state.

Security:

As part of his determination to further address the problem of insecurity in the country, President Buhari said he would decentralise funding of police operations and foster true
community policing by Implementing direct transfer of funding to police divisions across the country.

The Agriculture:

Part of the policy actions President Buhari is proposing to end the herdsmen/farmers clash is to execute the second phase of the Farmer-Herder and National Livestock Policy to end the decades-long conflict between farmers and herders.

Anti-Corruption Fight:

The president further pledged to eliminate the scope of systemic corruption, but this time, his party said it will place emphasis on technology enabled e-governance.

Education:

In order to achieve its aspiration of a knowledge-based economy, and to ensure that every child counts, the APC administration hopes to implement a roadmap to make primary and secondary school students digitally literate with ‘an emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM).’
“We will reinterpret the curriculum by imparting functional skills such as coding, robotics, animation, design thinking, collaboration, critical thinking, project management. We will also emphasis civic education.
“All teachers in public primary and secondary schools will be retrained in their primary areas of teaching as well as to deliver digital literacy.”
The APC also said that 10,000 schools will be remodeled and equipped every year, including transforming classrooms, laboratories, workshops and collaboration centres.

Employment:

President Buhari promises to take efforts at employment generation and youth empowerment to the next level by engaging 1,000,000 N-Power graduates, skilling up 10 million Nigerians under a voucher system in partnership with private sector.
Still on job creation, the president said he will pursue an aggressive agrarian policy by providing more funds for Anchor Borrowers Scheme to support input and jobs to one million farmers.
He also promised to pursue a programme of livestock transformation with a plan to create 1.5 million jobs along dairy, beef, hide & skin, blood meal, crops value chain. Another promise made by the president and his party is to put in place agriculture mechanization policy with tractors and processors to create five million jobs.

Promotion of Technological Innovations:

The president promised to provide $500 million innovation fund to technology and the creative sector in order to create 500,000 jobs. He plans to train 200,000 youths for outsourcing market in technology services and entertainment.
In the area of industrialisation, President Buhari promised to establish six regional industrial parks and special economic zones and 109 Special Production and Processing Centres (SPPCs) to spur production and value additive processing.
He also made a pledge to procure tractors and processors in each senatorial district.