PEOPLE, POWER AND POLITICS: Re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria.

Nigeria’s Muhammadu Buhari has successfully retained his seat, as President of the Republic of Nigeria after the just concluded elections. His Excellency President Buhari, of All Progressive Party (APC) beat his nearest rival by nearest rival by 3.9 million votes. He garnered 15.2 million votes against Atiku Abubakar’s 11.3 million votes, of People’s Democratic Party. As per the Nigerian constitution, the presidential candidate with the most votes nationwide is declared the winner as long as they garner a quarter of the votes in two thirds of the 36 states that constitute Nigeria, alongside its capital city, Abuja. Buhari met this requirement having secured enough votes thus no need for a run-off, according to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The presidential elections attracted a record 73 candidates, with ages ranging from 26 to 76 years of age.

His Excellency Buhari has had a tough first term in the office, with many people challenging his governance, and this coupled by his long periods of sickness that sidelined him from office duties. Now 76, he took over office in 2015 from former president Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan of PDP, whom he defeated in the elections. His earlier promises after he took office for his first term do not match the results on the ground, with most people describing his rule as underwhelming.  He now faces a daunting task, including revving up Nigeria’s economy which is yet to recover following the 2016 recession. The continuous Islamic insurgency has also been a major headache to his administration, with thousands already killed in the Northeast, a relentless insurgency causing havoc to citizens. Militant have also been attacking the oil fields and affecting economic activities on the most important asset to Nigeria’s oil production. The presidential campaigns themselves and elections have been marred with violence as gangs allied to the popular parties clashed, and have caused a death toll of over 260 Nigerians.

Inset: Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari.

Does Buhari deserve a second term?

According to reports from reliable sources, Buhari through his party APC made lofty and wishful promises to Nigerians when they took over power back in 2015, which are yet to be fulfilled. Buhari promised that the health sector will be fixed, and Nigerians will have no reason to seek medical treatment abroad. This promise is yet to come to pass. On employment, the president promised creation of 3 million jobs a year through industrialization, agricultural expansion and public works. Instead, the government under his rule has thrown 6 million people into the job market, instead of creating jobs for them. Housing is a major problem for Nigerians. Buhari promised to create a mortgage market through reforming land ownership so that the citizens could access title deeds easily. Unfortunately, this has not been achieved. Other than that, the APC government promised provision of electricity to households through n ambitious power generation program up to 40,000 MW between 4-8 years. This promise was to counter the underwhelming 3,000 MW produced in Nigeria that is insufficient for production and household consumption. This noble projection and promise is yet to be realized.

President Buhari chats with the First Lady, Aisha Buhari in his office.

While some see the incumbent president as weak, sickly and incapable of holding the public office to steer Nigeria forward, others view him in awe. He is seen as a man who is incorruptible, stubborn, prudent and strict to follow his path. His honesty and simple ways make many people groan and fault him for lacking the punch and flamboyance a real politician should have. Buhari has been prone to attacks and criticism, yet he has held his nerve and won a second election to the most powerful seat in Nigeria. He has reduced corruption in the country. His government adopted the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy which has enabled recovery of billions worth of assets lying idle and flushed thousands of ghost workers in the public sector.

The government has also done well tremendously to improve the power generation in Nigeria, putting up initiatives such as engaging the French government to facilitate power capacity building and upgrading of power training facilities. Security has no doubt been a pain in the backside for the Nigerian administration. Insurgents and Islamic militants have caused chaos, destruction and unsettlement to people, especially in Northeast. Buhari’s leadership has seen to it that the Nigerian Military commands relocate to Maiduguri, and hence reduced the insurgents’ attacks in the Northeast. The military has also worked hard and managed to re-take control of most of the territories Boko Haram had seized, even as the Islamic extremist disintegrate from within.

Whatever it is, Nigeria certainly provides a unique perspective into African politics. Typically, as in all elections, disputes, violence, division, empty promises, emotional indulgence by supporters and use of public resources by the sitting government rule the day. One can never understand the politics and intrigues involves, unless they are involved themselves and have vested interest. We wish the incumbent president, His Excellency M. Buhari well in his second term. He has a lot of work to accomplish, and finish the projects he had begun in his first term. He just proved another African myth right, that it is difficult to unseat a sitting president from the top seat, unless otherwise. Nigeria needs answers, and as the leader, you have a noble mandate to head them in the right direction to find these answers.

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