By - Makinde Ebenezer
President Muhammadu Buhari continue as the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29. This will make him one of the longest serving presidents in the history of the country. It would also mean that he would be among the very few people who had the opportunity to turn the country around, but could not. As a matter of fact, President Muhammadu Buhari would have been the best president Nigeria never had if he had not won the 2015 presidential election after four attempts.
Buharists would disagree with the content of my opening paragraph. For it seems that I have concluded that President Buhari failed in his first term in office. In the light of this, assessing Mr. Buhari first term performance becomes a largely subjective engagement-depending on who you ask. Many Nigerians voted for the president in 2015 because they believed in him. They voted with the expectation that the president would tackle insecurity, improve the economy and of course fight corruption. In fact, in 2015, it was as if all Nigerians including the corrupt ones agreed that ‘corruption’ is the bane of our national advancement. So, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan had to go- the man who lacked the will to fight corruption.
Apart from corruption, Boko-Haram wrecked many havocs specifically in the northern parts of the country. It was so apparent that Nigeria was perhaps collapsing as the terrorist group controlled some local governments in Borno State with Nigeria security apparatuses under President Goodluck Jonathan appearing clueless. Mr. Goodluck Jonathan was unable to bring the bloodshed to an end. While the economy was not bad under President Jonathan, corruption and insecurity were rampant enough to overshadow any gains from the economic front.
It was against this background that many Nigerians voted for Mr. Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 to move the country forward. Four years after, President Muhammadu has done the best he could do. Of course, insecurity occasioned by Boko-Haram activities has been confined to the North East. The presidency on many occasions has claimed ‘technical defeat’ over the insurgent group (whatever that means). But while Boko Haram has receded, other forms of terrors abound. In President Buhari first term in office, Herdsmen have wrecked havocs and bandits have continued to make the country unsafe.
Indeed, little criticism can be levelled against President Buhari first term in office. For the best assessment of his performance between 2015 to 2019 was the 2019 general elections which he won in something close to a landslide victory. When about 15 million Nigerians agreed that President Buhari has done well in his first term, who are we to argue otherwise. Of course, I am aware that many voted for Buhari for absence of better alternatives. For many, Mr. Atiku integrity credential is a turn off. While the third force suffered from its own peculiarities.
Prospects of Buhari`s Second Term
Having won the 2019 presidential election, President Muhammadu Buhari has the very rarer opportunity of become the hero of the Nigerian people. He can either become the first of one of the best presidents Nigeria ever had or join the league of mediocre past presidents including Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan. As the journey of the second term begins in a jiffy, the president has a lot of works to be done.
Like what we experience in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari will not enjoy the opportunity of ‘blending’ into his new roles. There is nothing to ‘blend’ into. He would be expected to kick start his plans and programmes for the second term almost immediately. Nigerians having to wait for six months before knowing their ministers might not be reasonable this time around. Also, there would not be any opportunity for the president to blame the People`s Democratic Party (PDP). It would be recalled that on many occasions, the APC led government blamed the PDP for many of Nigeria`s problems during their first time in office.
The president and the APC led government will have their hands full in their second term. The surprising thing is that what constituted the major focal points of President Muhammadu Buhari in his first term in office will still have to constitute his focal points in his second term. I am talking about improving the economy, insecurity and corruption. Well, this might be the time for consolidation.
But first, the president must get his ministerial appointment right. There are insinuations from some quarters that President Buhari is ready to jettison his current ministers for new and more committed individuals. The first challenge the president will face in this light is how to entrench merit in his ministerial appointments especially in a diverse country like Nigeria where inclusiveness is a concern and a major issue. Besides, what in fact can we say about President Buhari in terms of unity, merit and inclusiveness. It appears Nigeria is more divided under President Muhammadu Buhari than any other presidents. This means that Nigerians will be paying close attention to his ministerial appointments especially in the light of his alleged fulanization agenda.
What does President Buhari second term means for the Nigeria`s economy? In his first term in office, the Nigeria`s economy struggled with lukewarm growth which at some point culminated in a recession characterized by increased in unemployment rate and extreme poverty. On the economic front, the first four years was a big deal for President Buhari and his team. With a new opportunity and a new mandate, the president has the opportunity to rewrite history. As a matter of fact, the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria needs to do things differently to get the economy working.
With Godwin Emefiele, the governor of Central Bank of Nigeria already securing a second term in office, it appears the president is trusting Emefiele`s policies for economic advancement. Generally, Emefiele`s resistance on strict exchange rate and currency policy including his argument that the Naira should not be devalued has boded well for president Muhammadu Buhari hence his reappointment. What this means is that the president`s economic policies will not likely change in his second term.
Since taking over the mantle of leadership, president Buhari has made his plans to diversify the economy known. However, as the second term begins, further efforts must be made to achieve full diversification of the economy. There is still considerable evidence that the Nigeria`s economy is reliant on crude oil. Efforts and resources must be put together towards revamping the agricultural sectors in this regards. Perhaps, maybe we should leave policies for economists and policy makers to debate and discuss, what is important for an average Nigerian is for his or her economic conditions to improve. Buhari therefore needs a fast approach to improve the economy.
For a long time, Nigerians have been treated with a kind of father figure presidency. A kind of condition where everybody looks to the president for a solution to their problems. The trends have tended to intensify under the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari partly due to the nature of Buhari`s emergence as the president of the country and partly because of the nature of our political system. In the light of the latter, President Muhammadu Buhari in his second term in office must further ensure that governance`s structure and expectations in Nigeria are further diversified.
In a federation, it is expected that the federating units should maintain to a large extent certain level of autonomy on certain matters. So the recent move by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) to ban state governments from tampering with the allocations of the local governments must be encouraged. Apart from encouraging such meaningful legislations, President Buhari must in his second term try as much as possible to break the chain of unitarism in the country. It is time to encourage bottom-up approach to development.
One of the major decisive actions President Buhari will have to take in his second term in office relates to insecurity. The government would have to show intolerance to banditry, terrorism and insurgency, kidnapping and other forms of insecurity. The spate of kidnapping and banditry in the country is becoming alarming so much so that everybody is no longer safe. It is infact expected that the president will change many of the security chiefs in the light of their dismal performances in the first four years.
Unlike 2015 when the security challenges in the country were limited to the activities of the Boko Haram, in 2019, bandits, Fulani herdsmen, kidnappers have added flesh to the problem of insecurity. This means that the government must work around the clock for progress to be made.
As President Buhari begins his second term journey in no time, I can only wish him wisdom and personal courage to either improve the country better than he met it, or add his name to the league of men who had genuine and real opportunities to change the country for good, but did nothing meaningful.
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