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Now that Nigeria has decided

By Editorial Board
28 February 2019   |   3:01 am
The Presidential and National Assembly election conducted last weekend was never a process that promised to end peacefully. But despite the anxiety that greeted the exercise, the nation pulled through when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the election. Tension seemed high but all of it…

(FILES) In this file photo taken on August 31, 2018 Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari speaks during a joint press conference with the German chancellor at the presidency in Abuja, – Buhari was re-elected Nigeria’s president, official results showed late on February 26, 2019, after a delayed poll that angered voters and led to claims of rigging and collusion. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

The Presidential and National Assembly election conducted last weekend was never a process that promised to end peacefully.

But despite the anxiety that greeted the exercise, the nation pulled through when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari as winner of the election.

Tension seemed high but all of it was defused when the main opposition challenger, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar asked his anxious supporters to be cool, collected and peaceful, as he would challenge the declared election result in court – instead of recourse to self-help in seeking redress. This is how a truly democratic election should record its denouement.

The countdown to the elections was ominous and replete with forebodings to the extent that the rest of the world riveted their attention on Nigeria.

Indeed, there were historically grounded forecasts of violence and vote rigging. These accentuated the anxieties of the populace. It is however heart-warming that the nation has just passed a major democratic hurdle.

Election day events were not exactly in synch with the predictions of the book makers. Nigerians trooped out to vote against a disquieting and upsetting poll shift in ways that were promising.

The process progressed but there were electronic glitches and poll disruptions.

Card reader machines malfunctioned in several locations while ballot papers were burnt. Besides, there was fatality as some persons were killed due to electoral thuggery.

Whatever matters that may arise from the process, elections held, winners and losers have emerged. But more important, the imperfections of the elections can be dealt with by relevant state institutions.

It is nevertheless encouraging that the elections were successful and culminated in another electoral turnover. Nigerians are to be congratulated on this electoral milestone.

However, we note that the choice of leadership through the ticklish process is about the management of the affairs of our great country.

Actors went into the electoral fray with promises and manifestoes to revamp the country and improve the wellbeing of the people. If everyone loses, Nigeria must win, and victors must prove their victory, after all.

The party, which won at the centre, the All Progressives Congress (APC) went into the electoral contest with plethora of promises.

When it first came into office in 2015, its manifesto had some core issues that the party claimed it would address.

These issues were to redress the constitution, national security, economy, infrastructure and war on corruption, education, among others.

The party promised to deal with skewed federal structures, the basis of agitation in the country.

According to its manifesto, the party would, “initiate action to amend our Constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties and responsibilities to states and local governments in order to entrench true Federalism and the Federal spirit…”

Against the background of an inherited insurgency in the north- east and other security problems in the country, the party promised to deal with the deteriorating security situation in the country by urgently addressing “capacity building of law enforcement agents in terms of quantity and quality as this is critical in safeguarding the sanctity of lives and property”.

The APC added that it would address the issue of community policing among others. Above all, it promised to make insurgency in the northeast a thing of the past. In economy, the party expressed the determination to rebuild the national economy and provide jobs for its teeming population.

Pointedly, it aimed at making the country’s “economy one of the fastest growing emerging economies in the world with a real GDP growth averaging 10% annually…”

On critical infrastructure turnaround, the party promised the nation that it would be anchored on private-public partnership. Particularly, it promised to improve the power sector.

In the wordings of the manifesto, it would “Generate, transmit and distribute from current 5,000 – 6,000 MW to at least 20,000 MW of electricity within four years and increasing to 50,000 MW with a view to achieving 24/7 uninterrupted power supply within ten years, whilst simultaneously ensuring development of sustainable/renewable energy…”

In both education and health, it promised commitment to the Universal Basic Education and improvement of health care delivery in the country.

In particular, the manifesto prioritized “the reduction of the infant mortality rate by 2019 to 3%; reduce maternal mortality by more than 70%; reduce HIV/AIDs infection rate by 50% and other infectious diseases by 75%; improve life expectancy by additional 10 years on average through our national healthy living program” and to “increase the number of physicians from 19 per 1000 population to 50 per 1000; increase national health expenditure per person per annum to about N50,000 (from less than N10,000 currently)”.

Above all, it pledged to, “increase the quality of all federal government owned hospitals to world class standard within five years…” The party also promised to promote national unity and social harmony”.

Nearly four years down the line, there has been no significant transformation in virtually of all these core areas.

The economy has barely recovered from recession in macro terms while unemployment has been on the increase.

The national currency has not fared better while the country is still heavily reliant on imports.

The war against insurgents is stalemated with the continuous attacks of the insurgents despite vaunting about degrading their capacity. Indeed, the security dilemma of the country has been further worsened by the activities of herdsmen.

For the most part, the education sector has been buffeted by industrial action over the demand for improvement in the sector.

Social harmony among the population has been on retreat because of sectarian inclination of the leadership of the country to the extent that the country is badly divided along ethno-religious line. The overall effect is that there is despondency in the country.

Inspite of the obvious shortcoming of the ruling party, it has again won another election, providing it yet another opportunity to make or mar its agenda of development, which during the campaign for the election, it enunciated as its “next level”.

The ‘next level’ is really nothing more than a disaggregation of the 2015 manifesto to specific details comprising restructuring of the polity, war against corruption and national orientation, agriculture and food security, transportation, power supply, mineral and steel development, education, health, industrialisation, human rights, national security and defence, politics and governance, women and gender issues among others.

It is to be noted that the president has demonstrated passion for security, the war against corruption and the economy.

The victory of his party has provided him yet another opportunity to take these issues away from mere rhetoric to action. Politics is over, it is time for serious governance.

In all seriousness, for the president and his party, it is time to turn things around, improve the lot of the citizens and redeem their image through an inclusive government – that can generate enthusiasm in nation building again.