…After weeks of campaigns and followed by a keenly contested election, President Muhammadu Buhari was on Wednesday, this week, re-elected to pilot the affairs of the country for the next four years. Shortly after he was announced as the winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Nigerians across the divides have speaking on what the president should do for Nigerians in his second term. ABDULLAHI M. GULLOMA, TAIYE ODEWALE, BODE OLAGOKE, TOPE SUNDAY and ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU write on these expectations.
Across the country, the recently concluded presidential and national assembly elections appear to be the most discussed issue and has thus gained unprecedented dominance on the social media space, which in return, has caught the attention of the international community.
In preparation for the polls, which were earlier scheduled for February 16, but later shifted to February 23, over what the county’s electoral umpire called “logistics problem,” the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, described President Buhari and his government as “a monumental failure.” This somehow formed the fulcrum of his and the incumbent’s electioneering.
Tension was very high in the build-up to the presidential and national assembly elections. Even though there are at least 71 political parties, the contest was tactically narrowed down to President Buhari and his war-chest rival, Atiku.
Exactly eight days ago, Nigerians in their millions trooped out to the designated polling units across the country to cast their votes for candidates of their choice in the elections from which President Buhari emerged victorious in the presidential segment of the elections with a total of 15, 191, 847 as against 11, 262, 978 garnered by his closest rival Atiku of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
To this end, the ethnicity card played a major key role in the election as shown by the criticism against each of them and the final results.
The breakdown of the result shows that President Buhari cleared the north except in states like Taraba, Benue, Plateau and the federal capital territory, but was rejected in the entire South-south and South-east states, where Atiku won convincingly. He won in four states in the South-west and Atiku won in two states.
According to political analysts, the election results indicate that Nigerians are divided along ethnicity lines.
Little wonder that the president in his acceptance speech assured Nigerians that government of all inclusiveness in his second term.
“We will strive to strengthen our unity and inclusiveness so that no section or group will feel left behind or left out. The new administration will intensify its efforts in security, restructuring the economy and fighting corruption. We have laid down the foundation and we are committed to seeing matters to the end,” he said.
Though unlike as it was in 2015, when the loser conceded defeat by congratulating the winner, Atiku Abubakar is kicking against the election results by threatening legal action, notwithstanding, since President Buhari has been issued certificate of return by INEC) and recognised by governments across the globe, Nigerians are already urging him to step up delivery of dividends of democracy in his second term.
In different interviews granted our reporters after the emergence of Buhari as winner of the election, concerned Nigerians urge him to make his government an all-inclusive in the second term by getting Nigerians united; this the president has already promised to do.
Presidential candidate advises
Leading the pack of those who have already set the agenda for the president, one of his opponents in the presidential election and the candidate of the Alliance of Social Democrats (ASD), Mr John Dara, asked him to confront his war against corruption frontally and reproach the war against the insurgency with constructive engagement.
Dara, who spoke to Blueprint Weekend via Watsapp message, said: “Let me start by congratulating the president on his re-election. God has been very kind to him in healing him and giving him this second electoral victory against all odds. He has to be humble, godly and kind, especially in his attitude to people and groups in Nigeria, particularly to those who did not vote for him.
“This is the time to focus more on statecraft and statesmanship. He needs to thoroughly reform our electoral system this could be his greatest legacy. He needs to be manifestly fairer in fighting corruption; dwell less on pre-2015 era, focus more on preventing corruption, speedily detecting corrupt practices, apprehending culprits and speedily bringing them to justice.
“We cannot recover all that was stolen in the past, but we need to create an environment that will get hidden and repatriated funds invested in our economy. He needs to work with Myetti Allah and security agencies to prevent future Fulani herdsmen attacks, whether in the Middle Belt or in the North-west.
“He needs to really end Boko Haram insurgency through constructive engagement. He needs to bring back Leah (Sharibu) and other abducted victims of Boko Haram. Let’s re-build all the areas ravaged by insurgency. It’s time to have a comprehensive National Integrated Data Bank for greater efficiency in administration and security. It’s time to attract more investors, development partners and tourists into Nigeria. Perhaps, more importantly, he should take the wind out of the kite of the opposition by implementing the recommendations of the El Rufai-led committee on restructuring.
“Lastly, he should reach out and reconcile with his many estranged friends, the Generals, his main opponent, even Buba Galadima and others. This is the way to be gracious in victory.”
An Abuja- based legal practitioner, Barrister Gaius Osambowen, said since perceived lopsidedness in appointments created negative perception for the Buhari-led government his re-election should serve as an opportunity to correct such perception by making his government to be practically all-inclusive.
“Going by the INEC results, the election has been won and lost, but President Buhari who emerged victorious should be magnanimous in victory by first and foremost ensuring that appointments into available government offices at the centre during his second term are equitably distributed across the zones in line with federal character principles.
“Doing this will no doubt give the required sense of belongings to all Nigerians and foster unity in the land. Asides that, his war against corruption should also be seen not to be one-sided in anyway so as to achieve the desired goal of eliminating corruption in the land,” he said.
On his part, a political analyst, Uche Nnadozie, urged the president to actively participate in the process of choosing the leadership of the national assembly, and to release names of his would-be ministers on time to avoid what happened to his government in the first term.
He said: “The president must begin with political optics so that those who felt out of play will feel a sense of belonging this time. He should actively participate in choosing the leadership of the National Assembly. He and his party’s caucus should reach an agreement on how to prevent what happened in 2015.
“I think he should release the names of his ministers and major appointees immediately after swearing in. The service chiefs should retire on the eve of May 29. I equally expect an overhaul of the federal executive council (FEC).
“Law enforcement is another critical area. I hope the president will have a dynamic fellow like Ribadu or Marwa to head internal affairs. We need a lot of dynamism and speed in dealing with international security challenges. Internal affairs/law enforcement should not just be about announcement of public holidays or parading Of suspects.
“Anti-corruption must be raved up. We need our monies back. From investigation to trial, we need rough investigators and courageous judges or deal with the menace. I think that the administration should enact a law to protect the SIP. They are worthy programmes that should benefit from legislative cover and more financing. The same way I see anchor borrowers programme which should be expanded.
“There should be funding for SMEs. A better funding template will do. Same for education and technology. The president must be swift this time and ensure we reach credible milestones before the tenure ends. I’m confident the president and his vice will leave a legacy of good governance, but we must watch them to stay on their toes.”
Reactions and promises
For Senator Abu Ibrahim (APC, Katsina South), Buhari’s re-election will, in practical terms, take Nigeria to the next level in all areas of governance.
“The president having laid the required foundation on infrastructure development across the six geo-political zones degraded the operational capacity of insurgents in the land and sent a clear message of zero tolerance on corruption to all Nigerians in the last four years; his next four years in office will definitely be for consolidation of the achievements. Nigerians have no doubt done the right thing by voting for his continuity in office for the realisation of the development-driven achievement,” he said.
Also speaking, Senator Godswill Akpabio (APC Akwa Ibom, North-west) said the fresh mandate given the president will definitely be used by him to build up the solid foundations for genuine development already laid within the last three and half years.
“Nigerians are no doubt very expectant just as Mr President is more than ready to deliver as far as good governance is concerned. The foundations have already been laid the build-up is just to be done for the Nation to in practical terms, move to the next level,” he said.
Also, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said President Buhari’s victory in the last Saturday’s presidential election symbolised the triumph of the ordinary Nigerians over the elite.
Mohammed, who spoke in Abuja, said: “Last weekend’s election is a direct contest between ordinary Nigerians and the elite, most of whom are rent seekers. Of course, the ordinary Nigerians have won!
“Overall, this government is doing more with less and is restoring decency and integrity to governance. Like the New York Times said the re-election of President Buhari is a referendum on honesty. There is no better way to put it,” he stated.
Meanwhile, President Buhari has said the new four-year mandate given to his administration by Nigerians would be tough as he pursues his campaign promises of securing the country, transforming the economy and the fight against corruption.
The president stated this at a special meeting with his cabinet ministers, who were in the State House, Abuja on Friday to congratulate him on his electoral victory.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on Wednesday declared President Buhari, candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), winner of the 2019 presidential election, held on February 23.
He said: “My last lap of four years I think is going to be tough because people are very forgetful – that was why wherever I went I reminded them of the campaign by our party of the three fundamental issues – security because you have to secure a country or an institution to manage it properly.
“If you don’t secure it you can’t manage it no matter how much propaganda you put in place.
“Secondly, the economy, the unemployed able-bodies is the problem of this country as a whole – more than 60 per cent are youth – that means 35 years and below – they need to be kept busy.
“I realised that and I think God heard our prayers that the two previous rainy seasons were good and we had the foresight to get the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Central Bank to try and give soft loans to farmers so that able-bodies that have land can go back to land.”
On his fitness and campaign tour, President Buhari said the successful completion of the tour had proven the opposition wrong that he was unfit to govern the nation.
He said the campaign tour did not only prove that he was medically fit, but a clear indication that he was ready to continue in leading Nigeria for the next four years.
Highlight of the event was the presentation of congratulatory cards to the president by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, and the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs Winfred Oyo-Ita.
President Buhari was declared re-elected having polled 15,191,847 votes, winning in 19 states, to defeat other 72 candidates including Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who scored 11, 255,978 votes.