Read Ojo’s chronicles of tasks before the new CEO
Nigeria’s President-elect, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari must hit the ground running because the task ahead is legion.
To several members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the celebration of their presidential victory would last for as long as the party remains in power. But to the President-Elect, General Muhammadu Buhari, the time to clink glass would soon be over. If he hasn’t already, he will soon realise that there’s much work to be done after his swearing-in on May 29.
Is it in the area of security, corruption, the economy, institution building, infrastructure deficit, unemployment, and the citizens’ disposition towards the roles expected of them, the work before Buhari is tasking; and a failure to improve on the people’s lot on the listed sectors, will affect his now soaring popularity ratings among the people.
Some overzealous party supporters have asked him to hit the ground running by arresting and prosecuting some persons in the administration of the outgoing president, Goodluck Jonathan, for alleged corrupt practices. They are buoyed by Buhari’s principled stance on official corruption, a reputation he gained as a military head of state, along with the late Tunde Idiagbon.
Probably to them, it is by doing this that Buhari can prove that he meant business when several times during his campaign he pledged not to treat flippantly the matter of corruption. But, from the voting statistics, it appears there is one thing the president-elect must do before taking constitutionally required steps in tackling corruption.
The loud votes in his favour from the North-east and North-west, and the dismal number he pulled from the South-east, shows that there is a deep-rooted division between some sections of the North and the East. Anyone with a good knowledge of Nigeria’s history would rightly trace this division to the aftermath of the Nigeria civil war of 1967 to 1970.
Many people understand the importance of unity if a country must make progress, and the best form of unity is not the type that is coerced out of a people, but that which is freely given by the people of their own accord. When the issue of Boko Haram became pronounced, several people knew that one of the challenges the country faced was a disunited political class.
Now that Buhari is president-elect, before him are challenges that require the cooperation of every Nigerian to address if his administration wants to be judged right by history. He should also know that a unity government as proposed by Professor Ben Nwabueze is a good way to start.
Not only a government that is comprised of a majority of the political parties, there must also be a concrete effort in statements and policies to bring every region and religion under one roof. The presidential election has been won by Nigerians, and so his government must be seen to be serving every Nigerian, irrespective of tribe and religion.
This is a time for national healing, and Buhari has an opportunity to rewrite his own history. He has been painted as a sectional leader, and for those who still voted for him, this is the time to prove his accusers wrong.
To successfully do this, he must come up with policies that recognise every Nigerian’s right to aspire to any position they so desire, and in every part of the country. Nigeria must be seen to belong to all.
Campaigns leading to the Saturday March 28 election saw the country’s fault lines played up like never before. Those who feel a sense of loss by the announcement of the Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) proclaiming Buhari as president-elect must be assured that their rights to vote for a candidate of their choice will not lead to vendetta.
When the foundation for this is successfully laid, then he could move swiftly to other matters. The global economy is bad, and that includes Nigeria. Buhari has said one of the ways he will see to redeeming the economy is to plug budgetary leakages, and ensure that quotations for government contracts are never again inflated beyond their original price.
Another way his government could save money which he probably has not thought of is to continue with those policies of the outgoing administration that are considered people-friendly. Although his government is of a different political party, abandoning such already existing projects by the past administration will be a waste of government resources and time. Such a disposition accounted for some failures recorded by the late Umaru Yar’Adua administration.
In the area of plugging leakages as regards the issue of corruption, the outgoing administration has laid a good foundation to solving the problem of ghost workers in the civil service, and getting rid of middlemen in the fertiliser distribution process of the agricultural sector.
In the past, these two sectors used to cost the country billions of naira.
There is no wisdom in reversing the gains recorded in these areas by the outgoing government. To ensure that his fight against corruption has an enduring effect, even spanning into future administrations, Buhari’s government must strengthen the institutions that have been constitutionally empowered to fight the monster called corruption.
He can begin by reforming the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), the judiciary and the Nigerian police force. Buhari should know that Nigerians will support this fight if he’s seen to be fair, unbiased and not favouring his party members.
Corruption cuts across both the PDP and APC. There are several members of both parties that have pending cases with the EFCC. All of Nigeria’s eyes are on Buhari to see what he will do – whether he will turn some persons into scapegoats while allowing others walk free.
Many stakeholders in the media and civil society have focused on corruption at the federal level, but Buhari’s administration must take the fight further down to the states. Several state governors, APC and PDP, are alleged to be corrupt and whichever path he takes to fight corruption, the entire system – whether federal or state – must be cleansed.
In fulfilling some of his electoral promises to the people, Buhari must understand that such task comes with criticism, and will sooner than later realise that those who voted for him would likely form part of his worse critics. Because of the expectations of the masses from his party to change their lot, he may be criticised more than his predecessor.
Will he be able to take this with comportment like the INEC chairman, Professor Attahiru Jega did throughout the electoral process leading to his declaration as the winner? He needs to do this to also prove that he is no longer the dictator that once clamped down on the media.
Even when he has guaranteed that, “the media’s freedom is not compromised in any way”. Buhari must be seen to follow this statement with concrete proof. This is a democracy, and as a former dictator now a “converted democrat”, the only way is to operate under democratic norms.
-Article by Ojo M. Maduekwe
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