“Every generation out of relative obscurity, must discover its mission , fulfill it, or betray it” – Franzt Fanon
At the beginning of this ‘new’ democratic journey, many Nigerians would recall with nostalgia, the hearty celebrations that marked another end of obnoxious military era. For the most populous black country, May 29, 1999 marked the grand finale of a year-long transition from military domination and international isolationism. On this “historic day”, it seemed as if Nigeria had begun a new democratic voyage after sixteen ferocious years of military autocracy. The military had governed the country for twenty-nine years out of the then thirty-nine years of the so-called political independence. This military rule was in two phases: from January 15, 1966 to October 1, 1979 and from December 30, 1983 to May 29, 1999. Indeed, many saw May 29, 1999 as proof of Abraham Lincoln’s affirmation, that “the ballot is stronger than the bullet,” and they celebrated it because every beginning is a promise of opportunities and worthwhile challenges ahead. The frenzy was vividly captured by the former Governor of Nassarawa State Alhaji Abdulahi Adamu when he acclaimed that:
The collective will of the people and the support of the international
community had freed our country from the grip of its internal colonizers and restored to the people the right to freely choose their leaders at all levels of government. As it was on October 1, 1960, so it was on May 29, 1999.
Indeed, he was right! As the rancorous joy which greeted Nigeria’s independence on October 1st 1960 soon paved way for ravaging melancholy due to failed promises; so also was the crazy ecstasy/fantasy that heralded May 29 1999 soon was consumed by pervasive despondency. What did the people expect from the “nascent democracy”? In very simple terms, they expected it to deliver equal national opportunities in economic, political, education and employment to all Nigerians. To heighten the situation, the political leaders aggregated these expectations and coined a handy phrase for it, namely, dividends of democracy. In summary, people expected democracy to make life better for them as individuals, as members of various ethnic groups and as members of the geo-political zones. Evidently, life has become more miserable for most Nigerians and the apparent failure of democracy to relief the people from their grief have led to pervasive negative reactions and agitations across sections of the country.
But the outcome of the 2015 general elections that saw the emergence of President Mohammadu Buhari as the President and Commander in Chief of Armed Forces has somewhat rekindled the hope of millions of Nigerians that future will be better! It is an undisputable fact that, on the road toward the elections, Nigeria was a country at cross roads. And to rescue her from imminent collapse, we needed a leader with unblemished track record, moral rectitude and the patriotic zeal such as President Buhari! According to Femi Falana “Buhari stands out to be the most DEDICATED and PATRIOTIC leader. We want the President who would confront both the foreign and local enemies of democracy.” Never in the recent history of Nigeria, has a former Head of State, as noiseless, humble and as ready to serve as he has been endeared himself so much to the hearts of the masses. He is neither a defeatist nor a pessimist. He knows himself, he knows Nigerians and he knows how to overcome difficulties and make Nigeria a better place for all. We, the Buharists, believe that with General Buhari occupying the office of the President, our money is safe because he will not steal or mismanage public funds. With this, he will serve our humanity with humility and dignity because of his unwavering belief that ‘selfless service to humanity pays more than materialism and wealth.’
With the modest achievements recorded by President Buhari in his first term in office, one can safely say that, the confidence reposed in him was not misplaced at all. In an article titled “Looking back, and looking forward” Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, recalled what his principal promised and fulfilled.He asserted that: “When the government took the reins of power in May 2015, the security of the country was in tatters. Insurgents ran riot, and bombs went off like firecrackers in many parts of the country. North-west, North-east, North-central, including the Federal Capital Territory, were beleaguered. The insurgents were on their way to the southern part, and the whole country would have become history. But the tested retired Army General took the war to Boko Haram. Stressing that you can’t efficiently manage a country until you have secured it, he relocated the command centre of the war to Maiduguri, which is the epicenter of the insurgency. Steadily and progressively, the insurgents were beaten back, till they got circumscribed in Sambisa Forest.“Other theatres of insecurity like kidnapping, armed robbery, attacks by violent herdsmen on farmers, and other civil strives, are also being addressed. Eventually, calm will suffuse the entire country.
He stressed further that “The economy was comatose in 2015, and it was no surprise that it went into recession the following year. Throw up the hands in resignation and bemoan the tough luck that saw oil prices plunging from above 100 dollars per barrel to below 30 dollars? Not the Buhari administration. It rolled its sleeves, and set to work. “Massive investments were made in agriculture and infrastructure, so as to jumpstart the economy. And truly, it roared to life, and recession lasted for only a year. The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) was enunciated, launched and vigorously executed, and by the fourth quarter of 2018, things were looking positive.“Inflation had dropped for more than eleven consecutive months, and the impact was beginning to be felt in the prices of commodities. Importation of rice and other grains had almost stopped completely, and millions of dollars were being saved daily.
“On corruption, there was a new reality in the country. There was a time we’d been told that stealing was not corruption. But behold a new dawn. Every form of stealing was being punished, and all malefactors, both high and low, were being hurled before the courts, and thrown into jail.“What shall we say of massive infrastructure works round the country? Roads, bridges, rail, power, and many others. Nigeria had never seen it in that fashion.
Despite the achievements enunciated above, Nigeria is still plagued by a number of excruciating maladies, some of which must be speedily addressed by Mr President immediately as he starts the journey to the much touted NEXT LEVEL. However, we quickly remind ourselves that President Buhari and his Party- All Progressive Congress (APC) cannot do it all alone without the contribution and cooperation of all well meaning Nigerians through active and constructive political participation. And as part of our little contribution towards ensuring survival of democracy and development at both personal and national levels in Nigeria, we have come up with this write up bothering on the expected responsibilities of the government and contribution of Nigerians during Buhari’s second term.
EXPECTATIONS OF NIGERIANS FROM THE PRESIDENT BUHARI’S GOVERNMENT DURING THE SECOND TERM
The presence of many challenges confronting a developing economy like Nigeria notwithstanding, the people have every reason to be optimistic about the future and support of Mr Integrity as he is assembling his new team for the second term ,starting from Wednesday May 29th 2019.Now, going forward, I am sure that the question on the minds and mouths of most Nigerians now is what will the Buhari administration do in its second term? As expected, the government has promised us “a basket of goodies, a term of consolidation, a term of legacy building, as encapsulated in the Next Level road map that will translate to “Progress and prosperity for Nigerians at many levels.” But let us examine some specific areas needing quick intervention or further attention.
On the Political front, a lot much is expected from the People’s General during his second term in office towards transforming the political landscape of Nigeria. But charity must begin at home for the President, as a matter of urgency PMB must begin the process of transforming is party All Peoples Congress from its present position as a mere political association to a real political party with sound political philosophy and binding political ideology. If this is vigorously pursued, we strongly believe that with all the innate virtues of President Muhammadu Buhari, all other public office holders from Presidency to ward levels will have no choice than to imbibe, extol and practice those norms in the discharge of their duties. This will definitely lead to ethical cum social revolution- a great precursor to positive political change and economic transformation. Some of the virtues of that we believe that PMB will seek to entrench into Nigeria’s much battered/degraded political landscape and public life include: DISCIPLINE,ANTIMATERIALISM;WELFARISM; ZERO-CORRUPTION;CONSISTENCY; PRUDENCE; PATRIOTISM; SINCERE SERVICE TO THE NATION; SOUND MORAL AND ETHICAL STOCK; COURAGE, just to mention a few. If this is done, his second term in office will be free of unnecessary Executive-legislature face-off and fight to the death within the APC especially the ones in Zamfara, Rivers,Sokoto and Ogun States
We believe that if we encourage, challenge and persuade young people, leaders and Nigerians to imbibe this characters and virtues as shown by Muhammad Buhari, we can build a nation where the resources will be used for the good and welfare of the people.
It is true that Nigeria is out of recession but to average Nigerians, the economy is in a very bad shape because there is still a near all pervasive poverty, mass unemployment, rising cost of living and other sordid economic realities. But considering the available statistics, our worst days are behind us but much more still must be done to improve the economy. Although much have been accomplished in the expansion of non-oil sector of the economy especially in agricultural and mining sectors, Nigerians still expect the government in its second term to continue its bold diversification of the economy for there lies the salvation of the country. According to a writer, before Buhari, Nigeria had solely depended on crude sale for all its needs thus neglecting the rich natural endowments the country is blessed with. Since the advent of the Buhari government, however, bold efforts have been made to tap other sources of revenue like solid minerals, agriculture, taxation, etc. Peter Claver Oparah further claimed that, this largely accounts for why Nigeria was able to exit from a recession imposed by the crash in oil prices and the megalomania of the past regimes. Nigerians expect that more impetus should be given to the exploration and exploitation of many other fonts of revenue in the second term of this government. Among these new fonts of revenue, the massive investment and output from agriculture in Buhari’s first term is laudable and has accounted for the rich harvest from the stoppage of food importation as well as the food sufficiency the nation is achieving with its policy of near-total stoppage of food importation.
Adequate power supply and further infrastructural development are key to economic development of any nation. This is why we are totally in support of Next Level Power reform. According to Jack Obinyan-Buhari , this should include :Decentralisation of National Grid; production and ownership of power by each state; Sacking of underperforming DISCOs;-Subsidization of renewable energy; supply of prepaid metres to all Nigerians; appointment of a Minister solely for power portfolio and massive investment in the sector
As mentioned earlier, there is still grinding poverty in the land. Therefore poverty reduction should become a deliberate policy. The Social Investment Program, already described as the largest and most successful in Africa, should not only be strengthened but also be widened to cover and lift more people out of extreme poverty. The Government should also fulfill its promise of the introduction of Monibank for traders and artisans, while an Entrepreneurs Bank should also be established to take care of small and medium scale enterprises. Federal Government must also ensure the continuity and expansion of other SIPs such as Home Grown School Feeding Program, catering for the needs of about ten million pupils now; engagement of unemployed graduates, and conditional cash transfer to the poorest of the poor. With all this, Millions of Nigerians would be taken out of grinding poverty in the next four years
Education should also be refocused, with the curriculum tweaked to place more emphasis on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths. Health care must also given be a pride of place it deserved, with the intention of building a healthy populace, who can hold their own in different areas of endeavour. Infrastructure development must also continue in the areas of roads, rail, bridges, housing, and many others. The country must become one giant construction site, so as to further unlock economic development, and improve the quality of lives of the people.These will surely launch Nigeria into a new realm, positioning her with the developed world in the not too distant future.
Nigerians would also expect PMB to be more firm and decisively strategic about the security of the country in his second term. Although, he has done so well to tame the scourge of Boko Haram, which clearly took parts of the country and was firmly challenging the rest when he came, Nigerians would, however, want the president to tame the wave of banditry, terrorism, killings (especially the Fulani Herdsmen /Farmers imbroglio) . In the words of Peter Oparah, “the government should, in the second term, show clear decisiveness and intolerance to both the perpetrators and sponsors of insecurity in the country to send clear messages to all that life would not be allowed to be cheapened for the ulterior interests of a few selfish bloody hawks in the society.”
As mentioned earlier, there are many other expectations Nigerians have of President Buhari in his second term but the success or otherwise of his eight years in office will largely be measured by the success or failure of his war on corruption. The ordinary Nigerians who bore the brunt of the rampaging corruption that reigned before he came, massively voted him to take Nigeria back from the few kleptomaniacs who had held the country as their private estate with the power derivable from their ill-gotten wealth. So, the fulcrum of Nigerians’ expectations of President Buhari in his second term is summed in the hope that the anti-corruption battle would not only be sustained but given institutional foundations to ensure it becomes a part of governance in Nigeria even beyond his tenure. Nigerians expect that after Buhari, it would be impossible for another regime to come to take us back to the bacchanal era that reigned before him. For this to happen, anti-corruption war must taking to our public and private institutions. As Suggested recently by EFCC’s Boss Magu, anti-corruption should be engendered into our school curricular from Primary to tertiary levels and the current JAMB’s efforts at sanitizing its system should not be supported but should replicated in all our institutions especially the educational ones
According to Peter Claver Oparah,Buhari should know that his resolve to stick to bold, revolutionary decisions, from which his predecessors shied away, is yielding positive gains and should not be deterred by the predictable angst of those that benefit from the tardy past to buckle. He should continue taking bold and historic decisions to re-shape the country and stand it firmly on the paths of productivity and progress in his second term. .
EXPECTED CONTRIBUTIONS OF NIGERIANS
Eternal vigilance is said to be the price for freedom/liberty! In order to derive maximum benefits from this benevolent Federal Government of Nigeria under President Buhari, all well meaning Nigerians must be alive to their civic responsibilities through constructive participation of politics and governance. They need to change the attitude of ‘going to sleep’ after elections only to be awaking by the politicians on the eve another elections. Through Civil Societies, Political parties, Trade Unions, Youth Organizations, Religious Outfits, Community Associations, Individual efforts and many others, Nigerians must be asking questions, demand for their rights, engaging in protest against bad decisions in order to put governments at all levels on their toes always, be prepared to collaborate with government on national development, eulogise good deeds from government etc. This is the only way democracy can work for the interest of the majority of Nigerians who are most neglected by the elected officials.
Most importantly, Nigerians should be extremely wary of the fifth columnists, oligarchies, ethnic- jingoists, religious bigots and power profiteers who have been exploiting our cultural, ethnic and religious diversities for their political and pecuniary advantages over the years. Diversity is the spice of life: if there is no death, humans wont appreciate life, for the rich to survive, the poor must be; engineers are worthy because of engines; teachers are nothing without their students; who will heal the sick without the doctors/healers; can you imagine the world with animals without plants or vice-versa; the of size elephant is valuable because there is an ant. Despite our diversities, we all have our distinguishing features and functions: like one sage rightly observed, the optimists invented the airplanes; the pessimist created parachute! But self -discovery is key to self-actualisation. Rather than listening to these evil manipulators, Nigerians should strive vigorously to discover themselves, open their minds, work more on their strength (those things that are uniting us) rather than dedicating our lifetimes to fixing our weaknesses (those things that are dividing us).This is because we may spend the entirety of life trying fixing those shortcomings without achieving anything. We need to get up, get it right now for a well deserved profitable future for us and the unborn generations. Road to salvation of any nation is always under construction. Now that we have discovered of our mission of ensuring our collective survival as a people, we must be constructively involved to fulfill that mission.
I will like to close this piece with the immortal words of the late Sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo on how to safeguard democracy and future of Nigeria:
I say unto you, that there will be no genuine peace in this country, unless, in the main, the war against grinding poverty, hunger, preventable diseases, squalor, and ignorance among the masses of our people, is waged throughout the land, with the same united purpose, patriotism, and grim determination as we had waged the war against secession. It is, perhaps, not generally realised that, in all history, the root causes of rebellion and violent discontent are evils which I have enumerated. We have won the civil war. Yes, Indeed. But to win the war for peace, we must recognise the real enemies. Otherwise, all our efforts would be totally misdirected and dissipated. As far as I can discern, the aggressors against peace and stability in Nigeria are abject poverty, hunger, diseases, squalor, and ignorance. They are more devastating in their ravages, more insidious ,more thorough, and more resistant in their operations, than any armed rebellion. They are the enemies which must now be crushed, and crushed totally….
Obafemi Awolowo,(public lecture,May 1970 in Ibadan)Quoted in Tekena N.Tamuno, Stakeholders at War in Nigeria,from Lord Lugard to Goodluck Jonathan,Vol.2,Ibadan,Stirling-Holden Publishers Ltd.2012.p.65
Dr Soji Oyeranmi is a Lecturer at the Department of History and Diplomatic Studies, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State,Nigeria and Coordinator of Friends of Democracy and Development (FDD), an advocacy Group