By Oluwaseun Ajayi
The verdict of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, affirming the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, has cleared the way for him to settle down to the business of governance without the distraction of a whining opposition. The testiness that had characterised his first 100 days in office can now be done away with while he takes unpleasant decisions that would reset Nigeria for the benefit of citizens.
This assertion does not in any way suggest that President Buhari’s first term in office was of no benefit to Nigerians. Any impression that suggests that must have been borne out of relativity – this is in the sense that instead of comparing his administration against other governments that preceded his, President Buhari is being compared with President Buhari. Consequently, the second year of his first term was compared with his first year, the third year was compared against the preceding two and the fourth year was compared against the initial three. He has only himself to beat for the mere reason of the sixteen disastrous that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), now the opposition, gifted Nigerians.
For instance, President Buhari inherited a Nigeria where roads in Abuja, the nation’s capital were sealed off because of Boko Haram’s attacks that involved successful bombing in the city; the same Abuja is now a place of tranquillity, people now think of bomb attacks only in terms of the north-east, mostly Borno state, which by the way now witnesses fewer bomb attack when the data is extrapolated for year on year rate of attacks.
One can also point to the power sector where installed generating capacity has climbed to 13,427MW as against the less than 3,500MW that the government met on ground. Of course, because ingrained decay in the sector has made it difficult to achieve 24-hour electricity supply, people are scant to recall that they once grappled with day of no commercial electricity supply now that they enjoy 12 to 18 hours supply. Those six to – 12 hours of power cuts are sour grapes that relativity will not allow them swallow without complaining.
Then there are the other acquired problems that are best typified by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) imbroglio. Ibrahim el-Zakzaky, IMN leader’s sons were killed under the Jonathan government yet his group’s angst is today directed against President Buhari’s government and those who do not have the benefit of facts are cheering the group on. The fortunate thing is that the IMN problem, like the other problems he inherited, has been contained.
There have been several lifechanging social intervention programmes in the first term that are set to get even better. These projects have given some families sense of belonging for the first time ever. Those that had in the past believed that government was for the benefit of a select few now know that government has more responsibility to the vulnerable than it has to the strong.
President Buhari’s second tenure, now assured with the Tribunal’s ruling, has now pitched him against himself. He must surpass the achievements recorded in his first tenure so that relativity will not again make people think he has not recorded much.
The tasks at hand are straightforward. Mr. President must now ramp up the war against corruption. He can now ignore the perception that the war is lopsided so that he can go after those that had up till now taken on the status of untouchable because they claim to be in the opposition. This is the one strategy they have used to evade answering for their crimes of stealing the nation blind in the past.
The diversification of the economy aimed at ending the dependency on crude oil must continue unhindered even though some people have remained critical of the trend because it is not giving them access to slush funds. They would rather that they the country continues to run on the business as usual model. But Mr. President must know that the duty falls to him to insist the right must be done.
The same attitude must be extended to the ongoing infrastructural renewal. Nigerians must necessarily be weaned off the addiction to opulence and ostentatious living that does not leave room for savings and subsequent investment in infrastructure.
Security, which has been President Buhari’s strong point, must be improved upon. The greatest drawback of his first tenure was the failure to go after identified sponsors and supporters of terrorists and the criminals that are trying to make life horrible for Nigerians. They had in the past describe efforts at making them give up support for terrorism by various names including alleging a clamp down on human rights amongst others, which they attribute to a desperation to be re-elected. But now that there is no election afoot, anyone caught facilitating the commission of acts of terror.
The President equally have the burden of being firm with his appointees as many of them in the civil sector failed to provide the kind of dedication seen among the military chiefs in his first term. Some of his appointees were known to be openly working for the opposition thereby sabotaging the government and by extension the country.
Thankfully, the Buhari that was re-elected has shown that he can deliver higher than what Nigerians expect of him. If his first term had built the foundation for Nigeria’s prosperity this second term will definitely see him putting the roof, icing on the cake, on this edifice of the new Nigeria that is emerging. Is a task that Nigerians can make more successful by discarding religious, ethnic, economic and political differences to support the man who has made it his life mission to surpass the achievements of his first term.
Ajayi is a good governance crusader and wrote from Abuja.