“What is wrong with the president’s agenda?”January 18th, 2017
As a new year begins, Oluwafemi Ogunjobi, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Nigeria, takes a look at the successes achieved and the challenges still facing a president who was elected on a wave of expectation for change.
It is now close to two years since Nigeria’s President, Mohammadu Buhari, came into power with an entrance that had high hopes and expectations.
The former military dictator defeated the Bayelsa-born Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after six years of being in power – the first time a sitting president lost an election in Nigeria. Mr. Buhari’s win put an end to PDP’s 16 years of rule and dominance at the centre. Buhari won 2014 elections – adjudged one of Nigeria’s freest and fairest elections – after the fourth shot at the Presidency. His manifesto was hinged on fighting corruption, tackling unemployment and promoting good governance. But little seems to have been done since Buhari took over, and the majority of the populace has lost faith faith in his administration.
Though President Buhari has been praised for getting to the root of corruption and crushing Boko Haram, little success has been recorded in other areas. The economy has continued in recession with persistent oil prices and weak currency exchange. Falling sales and rampant levels of inflation are putting increasing pressure on businesses as the fourth quarter report emerged. According to World Economics, business confidence reduced steadily for four years and is now at the lowest level recorded in the survey’s history.
Since the inception of President Buhari’s administration, the economy has been directionless, with no sound policies in place. The conditions in the country remain challenging, with little sign that the economy will exit recession in the next few months. This has left unanswered question in the minds of the people of what exactly could be wrong with Nigeria’s 74-year old President.
Unpreparedness or misfortune, perhaps? President Buhari’s administration seems unprepared, as it took him six months to announce ministers. Even though we are almost two years down the line, there is nothing productive from the majority of the ministers yet. Eight months after the death of Kogi state minister, James Ocholi, the post has remained vacant.
In November 2016, Mr. Buhari admitted that at a point after he was inaugurated as Nigeria’s President in May 2015, he felt like running away. He said he would have taken the decision because of the myriad problems his administration inherited from the previous governments. He said consecutive administrations since 1999 realised unprecedented resources because of the high price of oil and the number of barrels being produced per day, and yet the party in government during the period had nothing to show for it.
‘The Change’ should now begin with the people? Early September 2016, the Federal Government launched the ‘Change Begins With Me’ campaign. It said the programme is aimed at educating and enlightening Nigerians to appreciate the values of accountability and inculcate positive attitudinal change. Aside from the wrong timing that the scheme was launched, it further places doubts on the sincerity of the Buhari’s administration – with Buhari saying that before Nigerians demand to see changes he promised them during 2015 elections, they must first change their ways, by doing away with corruption and other social vices. The Presidency demands change from Nigerians when his government has failed to promote change through transparency, accountability, and evident developmental programmes.
Recently, amid the recession that the nation is enveloped in, his government has decided to buy N400m worth of vehicles for seven former Heads of States and Vice Presidents in 2017. According to the details of the 2017 appropriation bill currently before the National Assembly, obtained by journalists, N280.099m was budgeted for the purchase of those vehicles and N120.090m would be used to procure vehicles for four Vice-Presidents and ex-Chiefs of General Staff.
This is as the economy bites harder on daily basis. The leadership of the country has not shown the right example to justify the Change Begins With Me campaign.
Aisha Buhari’s outburst: The decision of the President’s wife to go public with her concerns of her husband’s government shocked the nation. Aisha, in an October interview she granted BBC Hausa, said her husband’s government had been hijacked by a ‘few people’ who were behind appointments. She also said the President did not know most of the officials he had appointed. She warned that she may not back her husband at the next election until he shakes up his cabinet. According to Ms. Buhari, people who did not share the vision of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have been appointed to top posts because of the influence a few people wield.
Mr. Buhari was quick to dismiss his wife’s claims of his government hijacked by a cabal. Instead he said: ‘I don’t know which party my wife belongs to, but she belongs to my kitchen and my living room and the other room. So I claim superior knowledge over her and the rest of the opposition because in the end I have succeeded. It is not easy to satisfy the whole Nigerian opposition parties or to participate in the government.”
If President Muhammadu Buhari fails to find lasting solution to these issues, the Nation would become worried about his mandate.
About me: I am a purpose-driven Nigerian, student, freelance writer, and youth development advocate. I am continuously involved in productive activities that affect human lives, purpose and dignity.
I am passionate about writing. I seek to bring global headliners together through it, and equally to demonstrate how passionate commitment to excellent reporting and storytelling makes a difference in the lives of people everywhere. I also love travelling and playing soccer.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
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more worrisome about his mandate, and afraid that it is going to be ‘business as usual’.