EXACTLY the same period 18 years ago, precisely May 29, 1999, Eagle Square, Abuja was agog not only with transition razzmatazz but with voluptuous expectations from Nigerians from all walks of life and her good friends who have one reason or the other to wish her well.
From Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the first chiefs beneficiary of the current Nigeria democracy construct, having been confered the president of the Federal Republic with an oath of office that signaled Nigeria’s journey into the deep contours of democratic life, to citizens both within and outside Abuja; the feelings had one common trait- hope for the rise of the country after prolonged military tinkering that dwarfed the giant.
From then on, Nigeria has not looked back on her choice for democracy, having successfully completed six democratic transitions without glitch.
So, when the incumbent president, Mohammad Buhari stepped out yesterday to renew his oath of allegiance, having won the 2019 presidential election to rule the country for a second term, a déjà vu of the great memory of 1999 forced its way into the consciousness of many Nigerians.
To some people, it has been momentous so far with unfulfilled promises, rough and tough journey, to others, it had been eventful with much accomplishments of set goals, meeting expectations and putting the country on the right track for sustainable development. Different strokes for different folks.
Critics on one part find it difficult to accept that huge progress has been made in democratic Nigeria in the last 20years, anchoring their reservations on the unmet expectations of the people in many areas. They argue that government must serve the wishes of the generality of the people, fulfill their expectations in practical terms and must not mount on propaganda mechanism to deliver on its mandate. To them, the product of the current democracy is much embellished in subterfuge than convincing achievements that endear trust and respect from its subject.
On the other part, apostles of current Nigeria democracy believe that it had not been any better in Nigerian history than now, with many concrete developments to show for their claims. The emergence of new improved communication system (GSM) in the country, the sustained corporate unity of the country, despite divergence views, culture and background all signposts the country on a forward march. Indeed, Nigeria is moving foward.
Each occasion of inauguration of principal (s) on whose shoulders the responsibilities of moving Nigeria foward, the urge for circumspect on the journey so far and hope for the future hold the mind to ransom. President Mohammadu Buhari was in his elements, beaming with conviviality yesterday as he swore allegiance to the service of the country for another four years and when he said, ‘so help me God’, the tone was that of optimism borne out of humility and commitment. Nigerians should mirror the life of its country on the president himself, believing in patience and resilience as critical in winning major crowns. From 2003, Mr Buhari has contested for the president of Nigeria, only to win it in 2015. His inauguration yesterday for another four years term affirms that Nigerians believe in him to deliver on critical areas that positively affect them (masses), even with the first four years not much to cheer about in some quarters.
The journey from 2015 terminated yesterday and march toward 2023 with Buhari on the lead has begun already yesterday. The administration’s much celebrated feats are on fight against corruption and insurgency. Mr President has attributed his first drabby term to inefficient cabinet, and other institutions, singling out the Senate and House of Reps leaders as responsible for the slow manner his government had been run as budget bills passage had often been greeted with glitches. In a statement during special media chat with NTA, he aired his reservations, ” when the Legislative arm goes around like the Executive, there is a problem. I asked Saraki how he feels holding the country to ransom, so I rate him low in patriotism.”
The President insisted that those who refer to him as Baba go slow or whatever, should hold the leadership of the National Assembly into account, noting that for seven months, the budget was not passed which prompted his calling the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and his counterpart at the Reps, Yakubu Dogara to discuss the issue and chart a more robust way of harmony between the two arms of government, for optimum performance.
He took a swipe at the police for inefficiency. “My frustration is that their fight against corruption is taking too long.”
Reacting to whether he will be ruthless in his second term, he said, “those who call me ‘Baba go slow’ will see whether I am slow or fast.”
Nigeria in the next four years should move beyond sentiment and compel full responsibility for actions and inactions. Whatever may have stalled expected progress in the first term should not be allowed to resurface in the second term.
Nigerians long for improvement on all sectors. They are not thrilled by the fact that the GDP as at 2015 when the current president took over the reigns stood at 481.1billion dollars, only to stand currently at 375.77 billion dollars in 2019. The energy sector has shown positive growth with a total energy generation of about 5000megawatts in 2015 but now has risen to 8700mw according to available statistics; this should reflect in distribution and utilisation for the economy to take pacey run. Naira still exchanges with dollars at a dismal 360 points gap, while inflation rate is in two digits level of 11.37 percent as at Aprils 2019 . Many sectors need attention now more than anything. The successes so far recorded in fight against corruption is very commendable and should be sustained even beyond the next four years but the dividend should be measured by its impact on the overall wellbeing of the masses.
The President’s hard knock on the police for failing to live up to expectations in the fight to route out insecurity should serve as a wakeup call than any other implied interpretation. “The police have failed this country.” The president had insisted, but his hope to engage them in a more result oriented way with synergy amongst the officers, is reassuring.