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Agenda for the President-elect




THE problem created by the PDP government in the last sixteen years cannot be solved in four years”. The above is a statement General Muhammadu Buhari was reported to have made at a recent interview, he granted the Hausa Service of BBC. After the country returned to democratic rule in 1999, the PDP led government had a proclivity for making such statements, albeit in a different manner each time their stewardship was called to question by Nigerians. We often heard things like the problem which successive military administrations in Nigeria created in the past thirty years, cannot be solved in four years/eight years etc.

Thus, it has become a practice for newly elected political office holders to start on the premise of reeling out excuses why the electorates should not expect much from their administration. This is one trap I would not like General Muhammadu Buhari to fall into. Since government is a continuum, each successive administration should continue from where its predecessor stopped. To this end, what I expect is that General Buhari should articulate specific problems he will address, with timelines, within the four years he will be in office. It is not enough to say that he will tackle corruption and insecurity. He has to demonstrate in concrete terms how he intends to do that and present a picture of success that will translate to benefits for the ordinary Nigerian. Rather than have a wish list, Buhari should focus on a few key challenges that Nigerians are most passionate about. The guiding principle should be: less is more.

During the electioneering campaign that ushered him in as the President-elect, the campaign mantra of his party was CHANGE. In all the political rallies, held across the country, the word CHANGE reverberated. Aside from the fact that the party was seeking a replacement of the PDP-led government, with that of APC-led government which would translate to a change of baton between Jonathan and Buhari, like in a relay race, the content of the Change, APC would bring about was hardly known; leaving Nigerians to their conjecture.

Two messages stood out in all his campaign: fighting corruption and insecurity. Fighting corruption has become a cliché in Nigeria’s political lexicon as successive governments over the years have continued to mention corruption as a social malaise that they would give utmost attention. If we rewind to 1966, Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu, mentioned corruption as one of the reasons why he and his colleagues truncated the first republic. In the Buhari-led coup of December 1983, corruption and ineptitude on the part of Shagari’s government, was also mentioned in the coup speech by late General Abacha as the reason for the military putsch. When Abacha took over in 1993, he also promised to fight corruption, and we all know how he did it. Ditto for Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and President Jonathan.

The second issue that featured prominently in Buhari’s campaign was the pledge to tackle insecurity. Insecurity was not in the front burner in previous elections, but as a result of the insurgency unleashed on the country by Boko Haram, Buhari found it expedient to make it a campaign issue.

What Nigerians expect from the President-elect

Now that General Buhari has won the election, it is time for him to release a road map of the specific things he would do within the next four years as he leads us in this journey to the “Promised Land”. Within the four years he will be in charge, what are the specific things, he would do. We will not make the choice for him; he is at liberty to choose his own KPA’S (Key Performance Areas). Thereafter, he will inform Nigerians, so that we will have things to measure him on. But just some thought starters he could consider.

Thought starters for Buhari

When will the refineries start working and by extension, when are we going to stop importation of refined petroleum products which has been going on since the Abacha days. Nigerians believe that it is because of corruption that the refineries are not working even after previous governments have spent huge sums of money on phantom Turn Around Maintenance. So if the refineries start working, it is believed also that importation of refined petroleum products will stop. If Buhari is able to achieve this and moves a step further from exporting crude oil, to exporting refined petroleum products that will be CHANGE and this will resonate with Nigerians.

How many hours of uninterrupted power supply per day is he promising Nigerians and by what date.
We are not expecting 24/7 power supply from Day 1; he could start from 10 hours a day and gradually build up to 15, 20 and 24 hours. He should not tell us about megawatts, the average Nigerian does not understand megawatts, what he understands is that he has light in his house/office/shop or he does not have. At the end of the day, the megawatts are broken down into how many hours of electricity supply per day. He needs to know that this will have a positive impact on job creation, industries capacity utilisation and jumpstarting of the economy generally. If he is able to achieve this, Nigerians will recognise that CHANGE has taken place and can relate with it.

By what date is he going to end importation of some food items like rice, palm oil etc and what is the plan to build up productive capacity in those areas. If Buhari is able to move us from a position of net importers of food, to a position of self-sufficiency in food production and much later, net exporters of food, that will be real CHANGE and Nigerians will not only see it, but feel it.

Since I advised that General Buhari should adopt the principle of less is more, I will restrict myself to the three issues, I highlighted above as a guide.

One thing that could help General Buhari to be focused from day one is, setting of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time Limited) objectives and following them religiously. If he sets SMART, objectives, it becomes easier for Nigerians to measure his performance dispassionately.

It is therefore advised that he adopts the project management approach in running the Nigerian project. Some of the hallmarks of the project management approach are clear objectives, resource allocation, identification of the key actors required to perform tasks, anticipation of likely risks and the mitigating factors, a start date and an end date for each project.

In-built in this approach is also a periodic evaluation of how the tasks are being carried out, what worked well, what did not work well, key learning, and you track all these using a balanced score card.

For a President-elect whose campaign mantra was CHANGE, Buhari needs to know that Nigerians have high expectations from him. He has wetted our appetite and we can’t wait to reap the benefits of CHANGE that was APC’S value proposition to Nigerians. With the campaigns over, CHANGE, has seized to be a mere slogan. As he takes the oath of office on May 29th, Nigerians will be looking forward to, not only seeing change, but also feeling it, within the shortest possible time. I wish him well.

• Onyia writes from Lagos (

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