Buhari’s victory and the burden of expectations
Political pundits observe that the “change’’ slogan adopted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in electioneering seems to be one of the ideals that gave the party popularity resulting in its victory during March 28 presidential election.
They note that the slogan was used effectively so much that most Nigerians somewhat expect instant changes as soon as President-elect Muhammadu Buhari is sworn-in as president.
However, Buhari has said it required some time to make change, insisting that nobody should expect him to perform “magic’’ the moment he takes over on May 29.
“We are trying to dampen the high expectations, there is no way we can perform miracles because the damage took 16 years, especially on the economy and unemployment.
“It will take time for us to put the infrastructure right and help revive the textile industry which employs a lot of people but today, they hardly have employees except those that keep watch over their properties.
“We are betting on Agriculture and mining for immediate employment of Nigerians, so that we can do a detailed study on the other sectors.
“I told the governor-elect and other elected members to help tell members of their constituencies to exercise some patience when we are sworn-in,’’ Buhari said when Bauchi governor-elect, Mohammed Abubakar visited him on his victory.
His expression notwithstanding, Vice-President-elect Yemi Osinbajo, admits that the incoming administration is aware of the enormous responsibility on it.
At a programme in Abuja recently, he expressed his views about Buhari’s desire to bring positive change in governance to better the lot of Nigerians.
“During one of electioneering, supporters gathered around our campaign vehicle chanting Sai Baba.
“Then Buhari said, can you see these people, look into their eyes, they have high expectations and hopes on us.
“They expect us to turn Nigeria around positively the very first day we get to office, Yemi, we have got a lot of work to do,’’ he said.
Observers note that, Nigerians, on many occasions, have desired an administration that will solve challenges of insecurity, inadequate power supply, unemployment, corruption, fuel crisis and unstable economy.
In his view, former President Olusegun Obasanjo urged Buhari to realize that Nigerians were expecting a lot from him.
Speaking recently in Sudan as an AU observer in the country’s presidential election, he noted that Nigerians had passed a message to Buhari by asking for a change.
Also, in a letter he wrote to Buhari after he was declared winner of the election, Obasanjo asked the president-elect to pay more attention to institutional reforms in Nigeria.
“With so much harm already done to many national institutions, including the military, which proudly nurtured you and me, you will have a lot to do on institution reform — education, healthcare, economy, infrastructure, power, youth employment, agribusiness, oil and gas, external affairs, cohesiveness of our nation and ridding our land of corruption,’’ he wrote.
But Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, the Chairman of Partners for Electoral Reform, Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation, called on the incoming administration to meet the expectations of Nigerians in good time.
He said that the incoming administration should demonstrate leadership by example by reducing the cost of governance.
“The power station in the country are old, there is need to show more response to power by building new power stations through competitive bidding.
“If the incoming administration tackles the issue of power headlong, the textile industry will be back and will generate employments.
In his view, Mr Bode Towoju, the Coordinator of North Central Zone of Muhammadu Buhari Legacy Foundation, said that one of the significant changes that the Nigerians called for was fight against corruption.
He said making a change in other aspects of socio-political activities could be a difficult task without fighting corruption, insisting that corruption in the power sector had almost brought the country to its knee.
Highlighting specific areas of Nigerians’ expectations from the incoming administration, Mr Ayo Thomas, the Director-General of Forum of Emerging Young Socio-Economic and Political Leader, a non-governmental organisation, said that Buhari anchored his campaign on education, employment, corruption and security.
“If you see him throughout the campaign, he never ceased to mention these four cardinal points which he said were the programmes most Nigerians would want him tackled without delay,’’ he said.
Thomas opined that if the challenges in education sector, employment and security are identified and addressed, it would provide a clue to tackling other challenges.
He advised Buhari’s administration to reform the nation’s public service — the engine for executing any government programme.
According to him, politician may not be directly responsible for corruption but the civil servants that are willing to aid and abet.
He also observed that there was need to assess political and economic situations in the states and local governments for a realistic plan of action.
Thomas agreed with some Nigerians that the incoming administration should probe former political office holders.
He solicited attitudinal change through reorientation of national consciousness to put the country back on track and achieve the desired change.
All in all, observers note that the incoming administration will bring the desired change if Nigerians are ready to make the change work.