As Muhammadu Buhari Steps In, Nigerians Want To Be Sure That He Means Business

By Uche Igwe

Anyone who was in Abuja a few days before the presidential inauguration will appreciate some of the reasons why the then -elect now President, , indicated that he was getting nervous as May 29 approached. The city stood literally still for that singular event. From the to the prestigious , it was a beehive of activities and a cocktail of formalities.

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It was like everyone defied the fear and suspicion of bomb blasts that hung over the city before now. Curiously, there were about two sets of people. The first set wore long faces because they were apparently leaving the City. The second set wore bright and personable faces because they were returning into the city to stay. Both sets were seen in clusters discussing both at the airports and lobby of the hotel. For every transition in Nigeria, as soon as one set of politicians and their hangers-on get displaced, another set is ushered in.

I chatted with friends till very late in the night and so I was awaken by the morning light that shone through my windows. It was an unusually bright Friday morning. I was worried that I would be late to the event so I quickly tidied up and headed towards the venue.

The crowd outside was simply tumultuous. Many people especially from the northern part of Nigeria were in jubilation. Many of them were racing at very high speed on cars and motorbikes in celebration. Many of them lost control in the process and that led to some accidents. As I meandered my way through, I momentarily imagined the level of reserve energy available in Nigeria. You could almost touch it. We are just an irrepressible lot and whatever that will move Nigeria forward must tap and harness that energy.

I stood next to the podium, with some visiting journalists from far and near, where I could fix my gaze at the outgoing President, , as he stood to await the handover formalities. He had a commendable composure although he lost in temporarily and became impatient. However, I noticed that his wife was conspicuously absent from the event. There are many versions about Jonathan’s style of politics and a colleague described him as someone who is too much of a politician and too less of a leader. Many of the actions he took during his era may not be due to incompetence but, rather, in pursuit of political self-preservation.

The was well delivered and full of positive substances although the text misspelt a few notable names like “Macualay” and “Osadebey.” It set an important high tone of the political will of the incoming government to tackle the nation’s problems. The President reiterated his desire to tackle the problems of insecurity, criminality, power shortage and pervasive corruption in the country and suggested that some time would be spent in interrogating the nature of the underlying economic and sociological backgrounds of the problems. One of the aspects of the speech that appealed to me so much was when the President promised not to allow anyone abuse public trust under his watch. What a tall order! For the problem of corruption, for instance, there are political realities, class contradictions and the social structures that inspire and sustain corruption that need to be understood. There is a need for a social system that makes primitive accumulation from office less attractive.

The whole process through which people access political power needs to be reviewed and the murky arena of political financing needs to be tightly regulated. If corruption must be fought and won, the particularistic benefits that come with public office must be pruned to ensure that only those who are interested in rendering service get appointed or elected as the case may be.

Another important aspect of the speech is ’s plan to tackle Boko Haram insurgents who he described as “a mindless and godless group who are far away from Islam.” Let me play the devil’s advocate here. There are some sections of this country who still allege that both President Buhari and his All Progressives Congress reaped political benefits from the Boko Haram insurgency. From the tone of his speech, evidently, such an allegation is nothing but a fallacy. However, when I arrived Nigeria sometime ago, I expressed some fears that there may be bomb blasts even right at the Eagle Square. However, when I confided in some of my friends, they were very sure that there was not going to be any because, according to them, “they have got what they are looking for.” Now, the question is, who are the “they” being referred to? Was it that Abuja was well policed during the period or what? Had it been it was President Jonathan who was being sworn in for a second term last Friday, would there have been bomb blasts in Abuja?

Meanwhile, it is now three working days after the inauguration and the President has yet to announce his key appointees like the Security chiefs, Chief of Staff and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, ministers etc. For someone who contested his position on three different times, one would have imagined that the President should have prepared extensively for the challenges of such an exalted position.

To many of his admirers, the President is merely taking his time to consult before taking any decision. Shouldn’t he have done all the consultations as the President-elect and made major changes in his first day in office? There are others who fault the delay and attribute it to a probable evidence of post-election political horse trading, intrigues and clash of interests which may be going on within the ruling party.

As much as political parties are important ladders that every politician must climb on to power, it is the politician, in this case President Buhari, who will be held responsible by millions of expectant Nigerians who supported him. Buhari should roll his sleeves and get to work. He must not allow key decisions to linger further. Nigerians want to be sure that he means business!



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