Buhari and the people
NIGERIA has just had a historic election in which the general will of the people prevailed and a new social pact has been signed with Muhammadu Buhari.
With their votes, the people have identified with his battle cry of change. It is now time for him to put politics aside, rally the people, roll up his sleeves and get the job done for Nigeria’s future.
Again, with their votes, the people have expressed their desire for a better quality of life and their expectations are now the heavy responsibility of the elected President. Nigeria must rise and Nigerians must live better. Muhammadu Buhari has his job cut out for him. And it is no tea party.
For 16 years, Nigerians have been at the receiving end of elite infamy manifested in misrule and a consequent pauperisation of the people, majority of whom live on less than $2 per day. It was in this dire circumstances that they yearned for change.
A warped political elite had stood in the way and mainstreamed their privileged for private interests to the detriment of the people. The result has been a people whose growth has been stunted by poor leadership.
For a change, Nigerians expect a more purposeful and honest leadership from Buhari.
His election is meant to give the people hope and liberate them from abject poverty.
The weight on Buhari’s shoulders is heavy and the hope is that he can carry it. Nigeria needs Buhari at this time and they voted for him because he is deemed a man of integrity with the gravitas of leadership whose mere presence should signal a shift in attitude. He stands on a firm and high moral ground to prosecute the much-desired war against corruption and bring about change in governance in ways fundamentally different.
To this job, he must recognize that he has been made by the people and he must be one with the people, make them his base. He must pay heed to the fact that he may be in power, but the legitimacy he enjoys will evaporate without the support of the people.
He should hit the ground running and lose no time with tardiness as though ignorant of his direction. The point must be made that Nigerians voted for his character not any programme, as there was little discernible, and certainly, not just his party.
While it could be taken for granted that Buhari has a vision or a direction in which he wants to take the country given his single-minded, tenacious run for the presidency a few times before securing this mandate, it is important to state that the new President must, first and foremost put Nigerians to work.
This does not necessarily mean pumping more barrels of oil into the international market, but investing in actual production, wealth creation through agriculture and manufacturing. It is a well-known fact that all industrialised nations of the world went from farms to factory.
Nigeria has the land and the crops and must feed herself, even prosper, by re-tooling agriculture in ways that can make it provide employment to many of the unemployed Nigerian youths.
This can be achieved through liberalisation of the Land Use Act, deployment of modern implements, building of more silos, establishment of produce banks and structured extension services. Basic infrastructural and energy problems must be solved in most fundamental ways.
The incessant fuel crisis must end and the hiccup in energy supply can be dealt with through a policy of energy democratisation in which the nation’s teeming population would not have to rely on a so-called national grid. Given the paucity of resources, Buhari must think through and act decisively on how to cut the cost of governance.
The bleeding of the country through corruption, of course, must stop in order to free resources for revamping the national economy.
It is unfortunate the incoming administration sometimes appears groping for policy direction after the elections when such ought to have been the basis upon which the electorate rallied in support of one candidate or the other. Nevertheless, Buhari must emerge with a central vision for Nigeria. And soon too.
A President Muhammadu Buhari must flow with the tide in a most creative way. His style must be different from that of a military president even as he goes about the job at hand in a hurry. Buhari needs to be reminded that he is now where Olusegun Obasanjo was in 1999 and Jonathan in 2011, riding a crest of popular will and support. Expectations are high and people are brimming with confidence.
It therefore bears repeating that with expectations so high, he must ponder where previous leaderships got it wrong with a view to avoiding their pitfalls.
Nigerians are deeply polarized now and are in need of a uniter. The Buhari Administration must not be a presidency imbued with the mentality that ‘this is our turn’. He is the leader of Nigeria, not a regional leader and must keep his door open to all. He must therefore, recognize and impute the diversity of Nigeria into his government.
He must be able to take responsibility for his actions and must connect with the people who voted him into power. The people of Nigeria have expressed faith in Buhari. They are his base, a base which he must guard jealously with genuine service delivery.