Editor’s note: President Muhammadu Buhari is the first Nigerian to oust a president through the ballot box – putting him in charge of Africa’s biggest economy. But one year into his administration, its seems uncertainty has begun to cloud the much desired change the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government sought to champion in Nigeria.
The unprecedented victory
The charged political atmosphere had come to a climax, the day of reckoning was here, and the most defining moment in the history of Nigeria was playing itself out. Never had an event polarized the country the way the 2015 general election did. The contest was between the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and erstwhile head of state, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, of the All Progressives Congress (APC) who was making his fourth attempt at the Aso Rock.
The elections had been interpreted by the international media as a contest between Goodluck Jonathan who represented the Christian dominated south and Muhammadu Buhari who represented the Muslim dominated north. In fact, pundits had predicted that there was going to be wide spread violence which made those who could afford international travel, jet out of the country to escape the impending doom.
But the doomsday prediction that characterized the elections were quelled when Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday, March 31, 2015 put a call to his opponent at about 5.15pm and conceded defeat to Buhari as the presidential election results trickled. Then, only Borno state was yet to return its results, at that time, Buhari was already leading by 14,932,385 to the 12,638,310 votes scored by Jonathan.
While Nigerians expected the worst but hoped for the best, their fears almost played out when the announcement of results at the international conference centre in Abuja was interrupted by the former minister of Niger Delta affairs, Godsdey Orubebe and other PDP officials who stampeded the process for several minutes, accusing the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega of bias.
After the Orubebe debacle was over, the announcements of the results commenced, the final results declared the chairman of the INEC showed that the presidential candidate of the APC defeated President Goodluck Jonathan, the flag bearer of the PDP by 15,405,928 votes to 12,663,950 votes.
Buhari’s victory against Jonathan made history as Nigeria’s first switch of power from a ruling party to an opposition.
Jonathan’s PDP which lost in the presidential election had ruled Nigeria since 1999 when the country returned to democracy.
It was also Buhari’s second time ruling Nigeria since he seized power through a military coup in 1983 and was toppled by another coup in 1985.
But this time, Buhari had returned to power as a democrat, haven championed the change matra which Nigerians eagerly sought after years of suffering in the midst of plenty. By faith or design, Buhari had become a symbol of renaissance for a nation that had been battered by mismanagement and unprecedented corruption.
Though the expectations of Nigerians on Buhari was high, the citizenry could not be blamed, Nigerians wanted a better life at all cost, even if it involved voting in a former tyrant who once ruled the country with Iron fists.
But no sooner had the Buhari administration began than the PDP began to pass a damning verdict on the state of the economy under President Muhammadu Buhari.
The party described the state of the Nigerian economy under Buhari as shambolic, adding that the first three months of the APC led administration represented the worst in the nation’s contemporary history.
The opposition also accused Buhari-led administration of creating uncertainty in the nation’s economy by failing to name ministers to chart a clear-cut economic policy for the nation.
The opposition also revelled in the mounting criticism of Buhari’s pace of governance by disgruntled Nigerians who tagged President Buhari as Baba go slow.
In addition, the APC led federal government come under fire for backtracking on some promises it made during the campaign, chief among these are the social safety net programmes, the free and universal healthcare, a nationwide feeding programme for children in public primary schools and a conditional cash transfer that pays N5000 – N7500 monthly to 25 million of the poorest Nigerians over the next four years as long as they send their children to school and get them immunized.
The ruling party was also criticised for walking back from another batch of promises, which were contained in two documents—My Covenant with Nigerians and What Nigerians should expect from Buhari’s first 100 days in office —both documents were widely circulated during the presidential campaign.
However, the APC urged patience, arguing that the previous administration of Goodluck Jonathan left the treasury “virtually empty,” and that Buhari is struggling to reinvigorate an oil-dependent economy weakened by the halving of crude prices since 2014.
The ruling party has also pleaded with Nigerians to stop complaining and believe more as the president cannot perform magic to facilitate the ‘change’ he promised.
The special adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on media and publicity, Femi Adesina, in an interview with Radio Continental sometime in March said the president cannot perform magic to facilitate the change he promised, adding that it would take a minimum of 18 months to revive the economy.
The honeymoon is over
What the APC led administration must understand is that the expectations Nigerians have on this administration is high, and they can’t blame Nigerians for expecting too much because the people bought into the change agenda of the party.
The fear some Nigerian have is that if this administration fails formulating policies to address numerous security and economic challenges facing the country, then all hope is lost because much was expected of Buhari and the APC.
The current administration should realize that in addition to the counter insurgency war and the anti-corruption crusade which has been described by the opposition as being biased, it has to find a way of meeting up with the basic needs of Nigerians.
The current fuel crisis, the poor electricity supply and the downward slide of the Naira on the currency marked are the most pivotal areas which could make of mar the current administration.
Understandably, the party seems to be struggling to uphold some of its campaign promises such as the feeding programme in schools and the 5000 stipend promised to some unemployed persons. But Nigerians never demanded for these in the first place, what Nigerians expect of the administration is to improve the economy, put a lasting end to episodes of fuel scarcity, improve the power supply among other basic things. These are what would serve as indices for judging if this administration has failed or not.
Having set up ministers in their respective portfolios and passed the 2016 budget, there remain little or no more excuses for this administration not to perform.
The blame game is over, President Buhari has to figure out a way on delivering on his messianic campaign promises or be forever tagged as the president who failed to deliver when the stakes were high.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Legit.ng.