GOVERNANCE: ‘Next Level’: What Nigerians Expect From Buhari

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Supporters of Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari carry posters showing Buhari and other party officials during a march to celebrate his electoral win, on a street in Kano, northern Nigeria Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019. Buhari on Wednesday defended his sweeping win of a second term as free and fair and appealed to a "common love of country" as his top challenger vowed to go to court with allegations of fraud. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

By Remi Adebayo
BY May 29, 2023; Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, would have served fully his
constitutionally allowed maximum two term reign as a democratically elected leader of
the world’s most populous Black nation. Whatever value Buhari hoped to inject into
governance would have come to a close and for him, he can only sit back, reminisce
about his time as a former statesman.
When this time come, regardless of his intentions, the president would be left to face
with people’s verdict about the government he led. No more will there be an air of power
around him or praise singing.
For his current re-election, Buhari, as flagbearer of the governing All Progressives
Congress (APC) polled 15 191 847 votes to defeat his closest contender, Alhaji Atiku
Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP). Abubakar, a former vice president
(from 1999 to 2007) scored 11 262 978 votes, according to the official results declared
by the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor
Mahmood Yakubu.
With a margin of 3 928 869 votes, Abubakar alleged that the results were skewed in
favour of the incumbent. He approached the presidential election tribunal with a petition
claiming the figures released failed to reflect the true scores generated on the INEC
server. Abubakar sought to overturn Buhari’s victory and asserted he had defeated
President Muhammadu Buhari by 1 615 302 votes. He said data from INEC server
showed he had polled a total of 18 356 732 votes to defeat Buhari, whom he claimed
managed 16 741 430 votes.
Although the electoral umpire denied the existence of such figures, the decision of the
presidential election tribunal becomes the beginning of a legal battle predicted to spill
into the Supreme Court.
Regardless of outcomes from the courts on May 29, 2019, Buhari will mount the rostrum
and swear to the oath kick-starting the beginning of a renewed mandate.
In his first his election in 2015, Buhari promised Nigerians to address three issues:
insecurity, corruption and revive the economy.
The Assessment
Unarguably, Buhari has fought the terror group – Boko Haram, the gang which since
2009 engaged the state in a battle of wits until the dying days of former President
Goodluck Jonathan.
Although still dangerous, the terrorists seemed to have been weakened but deadlier
conflicts by Fulani herdsman versus farmers; activities of cattle rustlers, growing
instances of kidnapping as well as ritual killings and fury killings by security operatives
accounting for loss of many lives. Such tragedies continue to cast darkness on Buhari’s
achievements made so far against Boko Haram. The administration is plagued by these
and cropping bandits in places such as Kajuru, Kaduna State, Zamfara and also in
Buhari’s home state, Katsina.
A professor and leader of the Northern Elders Forum, Ango Abdullahi lamented on
Nigeria’s state of insecurity and governance saying; “There is serious irresponsibility of

governance in the country, especially in the North; the leadership is not doing enough to
meet up the challenges of poverty and under-development,” he cried out while
addressing reporters in Zaria recently.
“We also demand decisive, comprehensive and fundamental government actions
against poverty, underdevelopment and insecurity affecting North, as well as show
leadership and compassion which are reciprocate expectations of the Nigerian people,”
Ango said.
Ango was also disheartened by recent report compiled by one international organisation
that revealed 90 per cent of over the country’s 13.5 million out-of-school children in the
country were from the North.
Similarly, farmers in the Northern region are confronted with attacks by the remnants of
Boko Haram, forcing them to abandon their trade and seek refuge in places considered
to be safe.
Certainly, all these add to rising job losses, especially in the agricultural sector where
Buhari’s administration boasts it added millions of jobs through the informal sector.
Although Buhari’s fight against corruption gained some leaps seen by the courage to
dock heads of the nation’s legislature and that of the judiciary on corruption related
allegations.
First to be nailed was President of the Nigerian Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki followed by
Justice Walter Onnoghen who until recently was Nigeria’s Chief Justice. Both men were
accused of failing to declare their assets in compliance with the Nigerian Constitution.
While Saraki wriggled himself out of his travails, Onnoghen is still fighting in court
battling to salvage his image and stay free.
In the same vein, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said it
made significant recoveries from treasury looters and financial criminals, therefore was
able to lower the monster of state theft.
Presenting his three years scorecard of presiding over the affairs of the commission,
EFCC Acting Chairman,  Ibrahim Magu, told journalists late last year in Abuja that N794
billion, US$261 million, £1.1 million and 407 mansions were recovered, aside from the
conviction of 703 corrupt persons and institutions in those years.
However, the opposition believes government has made mockery of the corruption fight
by going after its leaders only and shielding members of the ruling party accused to be
corrupt.
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) also accused Buhari of
using security agencies, especially the EFCC, to witch-hunt the opposition and the
media, even threatened to petition the embassies offices of the United States, Britain
and the European Union to call Buhari to order.
The Next Level
Towards the kickoff of his campaign in November 2018, President Buhari told Nigerians
that what he achieved so far was foundational and vital to “achieving the kind of country
we desire.”
He said: “Judging by the prior depth of decay, deterioration and disrepair that Nigeria
had sunken into, we are certain that these past few years have put us in good stead to
trudge on the ‘Next Level’ of building an even stronger nation for our people.”

Just like his first term’s promises, which ends in a matter of days, the Buhari
administration continues to hold dear its commitment to fight insecurity while believing it
can still garner more skills to stir the economy and fight corruption.
What Nigerians really expect.
Economy
No doubt, Nigeria’s infrastructural deficits is humongous, requiring a minimum  annual
investment of US$30 billion (about N9.47 trillion) to bridge the gap, according to  Dolapo
Oni, Head of Energy Research at Ecobank Plc, a commercial bank addressing
delegates at a workshop organised by the National Association of Energy
Correspondents in Lagos.
Therefore, it becomes more imperative that in fixing the economy, Buhari’s
administration has to consolidate innovations meant to stimulate informal jobs by the
revitalisation of small and medium scale entrepreneurship. It is no longer news that the
sector remains a veritable channel for creating jobs and also reducing insecurity.
Pundits suggest that for Buhari’s administration to have more funding to meet its
infrastructural and overhead obligations, a genuine cost-effective government must be
championed to cut down on extravagant lifestyle of public officials and wastage.
This cost saving measures in government will enable authorities to save towards
developing other sectors and pay its bills.
Already, most states have developed cold feet, panicking on how to meet up with the
new wage bills after the passage of the N30 000 Minimum Wage Act signed into law
recently by the president.
In addition, it is expected for the government to stay glued to provision of the Next Level
agenda and leverage on the potentials of each geopolitical zone in order to fast track
development in those regions.
In order to meet this target, the Buhari government may consider tweaking the law for
possible reduction of the 68 items contained in the Exclusive Legislative List to
guarantee that states and local government shoulder more responsibility but similarly
gaining more resources. Solid minerals and onshore mining may also play a good role
here.
Insecurity
In the Next Level, the Buhari government must not have the luxury to blame the backlog
of past decays left by the PDP, as excuses for its failure. Growing cases of violent
crimes and joblessness should compel government to create a suitable environment for
inclusive economic participation in the new political policy phase.
On security, Buhari may have to consider overhauling the obviously exhausted security
chiefs to bring on board, professionals with fresh insights and innovations to make
Nigeria safer.
It is important that widening divisions among various nationalities be addressed by
making sure there is equitable distribution of opportunities and positions in government.
This move may bond Nigerians towards strengthened unity, which is a task for every
government that seeks to embrace genuine peace.

Anti-corruption
Having set such a pace in his first term, Buhari must further expand the scope of
legislation to ease his fight. Recently an online newspaper, Premium Times reported on
the refusal to sign the Federal Audit Service Bill passed by the National Assembly since
July 2018 by the Nigerian leader.
According to the publication, the law sought to empower the country’s Auditor-General
to penalise government agencies and officials who refuse to submit their financial
statements for audit.
The vigour to fight corruption at this point must immediately move to establishing
safeguards to deter prospective looters, as such tactics are often cheaper than pursuing
looters for loots recovery.
Towards achieving these, other arms of government, especially the legislature and
judiciary must partner to make sure corruption does not kill Nigeria. Borrowing   from
Buhari’s words, Nigeria will mobilise strategic and proactive initiatives to rescue Africa’s
largest economy and citizens must be ready to embark onto a four year adventure of a
promised future called the ‘Next Level.’ MA