The President deserves four more years, argues Waheed Alabede

Should Buhari Get Four Plus Four?

That was the question posed by former presidential spokesman, Mr. Olusegun Adeniyi, in his ‘Verdict’ column of January 10th, 2019 where he raised important issues that must be addressed. The goal of this article is to counter some of the observations by Adeniyi. The claim of Eurasia group about the second term of President Muhammadu Buhari will also be discussed.

A good opposition can force the incumbent to adopt specific campaign strategy. In a situation where the opposition demands issue-based campaign, the incumbent has no choice but to campaign on issues. The effort of the federal government (FGN) to engage former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s campaign on issues has been overshadowed by the inane campaign put up by the opposition. Adeniyi should rather put the blame for the current political discussions squarely on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In December of 2018, the same week the government announced that import bills dropped from $665.4m to $160.4m to buttress the point on the need to re-elect President Muhammadu Buhari, and the same week that Dr. Kingsley Moghalu (YPP presidential candidate) was also talking about restructuring, the PDP strategists were busy pushing the story of a cloned president. Atiku should therefore demand a refund from his political strategists for failing to effectively articulate (no puns intended) his position on issues with only about 10 days to the election.

Adeniyi also accused President Buhari of appointing the current ambassador to the USA because as a judge the ambassador had given a favourable judgement in a case involving the president. Available facts revealed that Sylvanus Nsofor wrote a minority opinion regarding the election of 2003 in which he concluded that the police used force against members of the ANPP (Muhammadu Buhari’s party in 2003) during the election. This point has never been contested by anybody, including President Olusegun Obasanjo who handed over to the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua a few years later. The second time he was nominated, Ambassador Nsofor was duly confirmed by the Senate. If the National Assembly had a problem with his relationship with the president, they could have rejected him again, but they didn’t. There is no favouritism. Period!

Adeniyi quoted Eurasia Group, an international security analyst firm that recently published a report on Nigeria election to back up his reason for saying the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari will result in slow progress for the nation. Eurasia Group is a well-respected organization that specializes in forecasting risks around the world. This does not mean their predictions always come to pass. The model used by Eurasia Group for predicting slow progress during President Buhari’s second term is flawed. The Group conducted analysis that looked at Nigeria through the lens of America political system.

The Eurasia Group relies on the American political environment to determine that President. Buhari will be a lame duck president in his second term in Nigeria. In the American political context, a president may be considered lame duck as soon as a successor has been elected. Although not often, a few political analysts also regard presidents as lame ducks in their second term especially during election season. During this period, ambitious politicians often don’t go along with the majority of the incumbent policies even when they belong to the same party. This creates a political environment where the president is not effective towards the end of their final term. It is noteworthy that the only similarity between Nigeria and America political system is the title of the leader.

While the leaders of both countries are referred to as president, the Nigeria president is more powerful relative to Nigeria lawmakers than the American president relative to American lawmakers. A good example in recent memory was the election of President Yar’Adua. If a Nigeria president could be considered lame duck, Obasanjo would have failed in his bid to back President Yar’Adua at the end of his term in 2007 especially after the third term bid imbroglio. President Obasanjo also derailed the political ambition of his vice president during his second term due to what President Obasanjo claimed to be Mr. Atiku Abubakar’s lack of good judgement.

America’s political structure is different from Nigeria’s. Hence, comparing the power of a second term president in Nigeria to that of America is an exercise in futility. Politicians are ambitious to the point that they will do anything to avoid getting in the bad books of a Nigerian president. A lesson Atiku learned the hard way. Lame duck presidency is an American invention that holds no currency in Nigeria political context. Since it is safe to assume that President. Buhari will not be a lame duck as claimed by EuroAsia Group, we can conclude that the next four years will be successful because the hypothesis of Eurasia Group analysis is not supported by Nigerian political environment circumstances.

The group further claimed that Atiku’s victory will create an artificial boost for Nigeria. The artificial nature of this boost is predicated on the fact that Nigeria will be perceived as having successfully and peacefully changed the government through the ballot box and the misconceived notion of a business-friendly Mr. Atiku. This conclusion is based on a flawed argument that suggests the February election will be flawed. If the election is relatively peaceful and adjudged to be free and fair like the 2015’s, Nigeria will still receive a boost regardless of who eventually wins.

Lastly, another important issue worth mentioning is that incoming administrations often abandon projects started by their predecessors in order to claim ownership. In this regard, President Muhammadu Buhari has shown a good leadership trait by diligently finishing projects he inherited from previous administrations. The new administration of President Buhari was interested in finishing all the abandoned projects as well as institute new projects. This has helped Nigeria to stop the plague of abandoned projects that littered the nation. Some of the projects have been abandoned for over a decade due to a lack of political will.

For the first time in Nigeria, the government continues where the predecessor left off. This will build confidence in investors and contractors handling major projects. This week, a section of the Ibadan-Lagos light rail will be tested. Adeniyi should endeavour to test the train out and share his experience with the readers.

The government does not need to engage the PDP in an unproductive campaign because it has a record of achievements to showcase. A few of which are Increase in electricity generation from 3500mw to 7000mw in four years, vigorous investment in infrastructure, farmers anchor borrowers programme that has helped reduced food import bill, school feeding programme, major market electrification, etc.

What Adeniyi should realize is that the PDP is not able to debate the President Buhari administration on achievements or plans hence the strategy of doctored videos that some have dubbed the Dubai strategy. The Atiku campaign has abandoned a plan that was supposed to be the backbone of its strategy. It has failed to muster enough courage and enthusiasm to challenge the ruling party. As the election is approaching, the answer to the question posed at the beginning of the article is unmistakably clear. President Muhammadu Buhari deserves another four-year term.

Alabede is a political, economic and financial analyst