THE NORTH AND BUHARI’S DILEMMA

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The bulk of supporters of President Muhammadu Buhari are in northern Nigeria. He enjoys a kind of cult-like followership in the entire region. For example, in the 2015 presidential elections, the north gave him 80 percent of the 15,424,921 votes that he got, in 2019, the region did the same to him with 77 percent of the 15,191,847 votes that he got.

Before and after both the 2015 and 2019 presidential elections, expectations from the north on the president were and are still high, especially in the areas of provision of security, youth empowerment and poverty reduction. President Buhari was and is fully aware of these hopes from the core of his support base. Such a burden gives one some sleepless nights.

To be fair to President Buhari, he has done well in the agricultural sector, provision of new infrastructure and the rehabilitation of the old ones, including the successes in the social intervention programs; especially petty cash distribution to the masses. And, in his attempt to tackle insecurity in the north, especially in the northeast, the president appointed mostly officers from northeast Nigeria to man some of the security agencies. It has worked to a large extent, but there are some areas that need improvement and some strong-willed approach to the current monster – banditry in the northwest – a calculated crime that is as complex as Nigeria. Though, the president said: “We have the capacity to deploy massive force against the bandits in the villages where they operate, but our limitation is the fear of heavy casualties of innocent villagers and hostages who might be used as human shields by the bandits”.

In the area of youth empowerment and poverty reduction, may be in his wisdom to face the issue, the president appointed many seasoned northerners in many positions of authority – but in that area, it has not worked, in fact, this political-patronage strategy has failed. Most of the president’s appointees from the north have not served as a link between the president and his support base. What President Buhari should do is, to do it by himself- identify 20-30 business-people and business enthusiasts in the north and assist them directly in their area of competence or choice. Imagine the impact new billionaires would have in the business sector like new industries in the manufacturing and agricultural value chain etc. For the youth, the president should also do it by himself- by a direct contact politically, in business and in hi-tech, though, few young people have benefited from the president’s appointments but most of them were not influential and direct, like the recent appointment of Abdulrasheed Bawa as EFCC Chairman, which got massive commendation throughout the country. Come 2023, Buhari’s single most important political strategy is to bring onboard a youngster from the north as Vice President – that would be a joker card.

President Buhari’s dilemmas in the north are basically three- ‘Build’ some people who can as well build thousands of others and new businesses. The president should also have direct contact with the youth – that’s to use his today for their tomorrow and his. Thirdly, the President should confront the senseless banditry in the northwest, which is not just a mere banditry.

Zayyad I. Muhammad, Jimeta Adamawa State