In five days, the second term of President Muhammadu Buhari will officially commence. Barring any hiccup, he should steer the affairs of this country till May 29, 2023.
It will be the third time, so to speak, or write, that Nigerians will be experiencing the General, turned politician. Having been Military Head of State (1983 –85); elected president (2015—2019) and now re-elected from (2019 [hopefully] to 2023), Buhari is neither a stranger to the Nigerian people nor are Nigerians strangers to him.
No doubt, Mr President would have noticed that the campaign for his re-election was rather tedious. The opposition to his return was fierce and ferocious. So many people did not want him re-elected. Luckily, a few more people voted for his return. And here we are, at the doorpost of the second inauguration.
President Buhari won with greater ease in 2015, against a sitting president, than he did in 2019, while he is the sitting president. The reason is that in 2015, many of those who voted for Buharibelieved that he is a no nonsense person. That he was coming with a messianic panache, to clean the Augean stable.
But the truth is that, in the last four years, under Buhari’s watch, there has been plenty of nonsense. So much nonsense that it became a mess. A humongous mess.
It seemed Mr President abdicated his responsibilities to some faceless mandarinsotherwise called cabal. They were literally in charge. They dictated what happened. They influenced all the controversial appointments. They defended the oddities with so much gusto and defiance. They literally operated with the attitude of “we-are-in-charge-and-there- is–nothing-you-can-do”.
Those who are quick to adduce metaphysical ends,had accused the cabal of bewitching Mr President,in such a way that they always had their way unchecked.
It was so bad that even the wife of Mr President,Aisha Buhari had had to cry out , stressing that some cabals have hijacked both her husband and the government. But nothing changed.
Agreed, Mr President once had some health challenges, which reduced his grip in governance. Sadly, there is hardly a striking difference in his firmness between when he was sick and when he recovered.
Nothing seems to have changed in his governance style. But all that should change now.
And that is the crux of this piece. The style of governance has to change. At 76, this should be President Buhari’s last chance to write his name in gold in such a way that he will be remembered for redeeming the Nigerian federation from thralldom. He has four full years to change the public narrative and sweeten the experience and memory of Nigerians.
Too many things are wrong with the Nigerian state. Sure, Buhari cannot do everything. Nobody can. But he must identify and define his core areas of focus, beside the anti-corruption fight.
Even on that, it has been anything but thorough. Yes, the fight against corruption is huge, deep and complex, it must be seen as being fought blindly, without deference to certain persons.
Indeed, the cry about its selective nature has been loud. This cannot be wished away. Those serving in government should not use the cover of office to wrap themselves in some kind of illegal immunity. Those whose hands stray into the cookies jar, whether they be Jews or Gentiles, must be nabbed and given the Babachir treatment. And MrPresident has to open his eyes and ears. Those close enough to the seat of power say a lot happens without the knowledge of the president. This should stop. Mr President must not only be in charge d’affaires, he must be manifestly seen to be so. He must own his government. No more proxies!
Perhaps one sore area where Nigerians want a remarkable difference between the first and second term, is security. Nigerians want to have an unassailable sense of security. The spate of kidnappings and killings must stop. Not reduce. It must stop. The security of lives and property caps everything about governance.
And as a nation, we have come to a very worrisome point. Of what use is the fruit of governance when nobody is sure of safety?
Once, it was armed robbers, then Boko Haram; then Fulani herdsmen; then kidnappers, and nowbandits and reckless killers. No country worth its salt survives with this degree of uncertainty and threat.
In President Buhari’s second term, all those, and I mean all, who represent any form of threat to security must be wrestled down. They must be wracked and crushed, even if it means hiring more policemen and soldiers. We cannot surrender the nation to brigandage. Response time must improve. Government cannot be wringing its hands in helplessness in the face of this wild threat to our collective safety. We certainly cannot continue like this. Last Sunday a pastor, his daughter and 14 others were kidnapped during a church service in Kaduna. Nothing can be more bizarre and frightening.
People are now scared stiff to travel. Kidnappers have literally seized our highways.
The incoming service chiefs must work out a winning strategy or we remain in this tragedy.
Another sore point is the economy. The poverty index in the land is damn high. It is not abating, rather, it is worsening. Nigerians have heard enough of how past governments wrecked their past. It is incumbent on this government to rework the economy to get reflated and save our tomorrow. There is too much poverty and suffering in the land. That is why N10,000 Trader’s Money will mean so much to the village people.
The huge wealth of the country is in very few hands. The oppressive political elite are alreadymassing up wealth meant for the common people, in preparation for 2023. And we are all feeling cool. No, we cannot be cool with that! The system must be re-jigged in such a way that access to the nation’s commonwealth is not passworded by the few selfish leaders. Nigerians should have access to the wealth of the nation.
One way of ensuring unfettered access to better life is by ensuring that the notorious problem of stable electricity is solved. The government must break this jinx and covenant with darkness. We have spoken too much grammar around this matter. We have given too many excuses over this issue. We have had too much motion without movement on this issue. Stable electricity is not an enigma. We should overcome all the problems and give Nigerians stable electricity. That’s all that will matter, not the excuses and exegesis of why things are as they are.
Finally, the faith and confidence of Nigerians in Nigeria must be deliberately re-inforced. And this is as it concerns all spheres, especially our health system. Hey, what medical equipment or machine or device is in that British, German, American or Cuban hospital that Nigeria cannot afford? Neither the primary nor tertiary health institutions are equipped to handle our health needs. Why can’t we equip our hospitals enough such that medical tourism, even by the President is stopped? We are not lacking in human medical personnel as many of the great medical facilities abroad are manned by Nigerian doctors. One sure way of boosting this confidence in the Nigerian brand is for even MrPresident, his Vice and all the lawmakers etc., to stop running abroad for their medicals. That is when the Change-Begins-with-Me campaign will make more sen