By Levinus Nwabughiogu
Incumbency power in Nigeria makes no meaning anymore. Nigeria is gradually rising to become a big democracy where the will of the people prevails. They may not occupy the streets in protest or anger. They may not also fight with guns. But they will surely shoot with their ballots and thumb prints every 4 years. And so, any docile or self-serving president that would take the people for granted would be shown the way out. It doesn’t matter whether he is Hausa, Igbo, Yourba or even Ijaw. This appears to be case presently with the “sack” of President Goodluck Jonathan. Read to know how he was voted out and why President-Elect, Mohammadu Buhari should avoid the pitfalls if his government must last.
He was a product of popular demand. Except for a few disgruntled elements who frowned at the process that threw him up, the rich, the poor, young and old clamoured for him. But four years after he reached his apogee in the political ladder, he had crash landed in a manner many would say juxtaposes the destiny forces that brought him into lime light.
Remarkably, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan who became the President of Nigeria upon the death of his principal, late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2010 has scored at least two firsts. He is the first Nigerian president from the south south geopolitical zone largely adjudged the monitory and also the first incumbent president to be sacked from office via the ballots. This really sounds incredible in a polity where incumbency power is mouthed to be the talisman for electoral victories.
In 2011 when he showed interest in the presidency, many hues and cries greeted that idea. This followed the jettisoning of a subsisting regional formula in the power rotation arrangement of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP. Yar’Adua was to do eight years tenure-ship but was cut short by death and so, Jonathan stepped into his big shoes.
Having enjoyed the paraphernalia of office, Jonathan played Oliver Twist in 2011. And this utterly altered the political equation within the PDP arrangement.
Since then, not many a northerner liked it and since they couldn’t fight it, they decided to work underneath to unseat him via the ballots.
But to be fair to these people, Jonathan’s “tragic fall” in the just concluded presidential elections was largely seen by many people as self inflicted rather than an insider’s hatchet job.
Despite the overwhelming acceptance of his candidature by almost all parts of the country and the subsequent Victory at the polls, hardly had his government clocked two years when it started recording some drastic drop of support.
This was why a man he beat squarely in 2011 could come from behind to beat him aground after 4 years.
Buhari: The new man in the saddle/ how he got there
Some see it as the case of the age long African proverb that “the patient dog eats the fattest bone”. Others say it was a cacophony of luck and people’s will. But many feel it is grossly the incompetence of the present administration that has crowned him a king.
General Mohammadu Buhari, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and now President-Elect is definitely not a man who needs introduction in the political landscape of Nigeria.
He was formerly the Head of State between 1983 and 1985 and exited from partisan politics afterwards. But in 2003, he staged a full relaunch, vying for the presidential elections.
Below are some of the conceivable reasons that nailed Jonathan’s presidency and also made possible a Buhari’s presidency.
Corruption: Most analysts are of the opinion that corruption has become endemic in Nigeria in the last four years. Recall the allegation of missing $20 billion, the police pension fund fraud etc. These are allegations that are yet to be investigated. To most people, the unhealthy developments cast aspersion to the present government which somehow robbed it of some decency.
Economic downturn: Nigerian economy is not healthy at the moment. And this has led to the devaluation of Naira. Most analysts say this fact also affected the competent stance of the government.
Insecurity: This appears to be the biggest issue that badly robbed off on the continuity of the president Jonathan’s administration. Boko haram claimed the lives of many Nigerians with the government not initially doing enough to stop it. Besides, the abduction of the over 200 Chibok girls who are still at large seriously affected the return of president Jonathan.
Unemployment: Despite the efforts of the government at providing jobs, the rate of unemployment is growing geometrically by the day and to say the least, Nigerians especially, the youths are not particularly happy.
PDP’s failures and need for change: Except for a few political leaders in PDP who took a detour from party politics and rendered good leadership, the general belief is that the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP has failed Nigerians. From 1999 when the party came into power till date, it has been a viscous circle in Nigeria. Life hasn’t generally improved. With this, most Nigerians clamoured for change.
Sycophancy: Analysts believe that most of the people who clustered around president Jonathan were his greatest undoing. They are his Man Friday in the day but at night, they are his enemies. All they needed was to promote their personal aggrandizements. In this case, many were quick to point hands in the directions of Jigawa, Niger and Benue State Governors who failed to deliver the president in their states.
Nigeria is a work in progress and from every indication, Buhari’s government would be very busy immediately after May 29. Fortunately, the septuagenarian President-elect has already diagnosed the problems of Nigeria and built his agenda around it.
This informed why Buhari even refused to debate with President Goodluck Jonathan. According to him, one does not need any debate to know Nigeria’s problem. He spoke to Media Executives in a parley Abuja penultimate week to the elections.
“To be fair to me, and to Mr President, after 16 years of PDP, and six years of his time, is there anything to debate about? To be fair? Very seriously you know the condition we are in with our experiences no matter who you are. So what should I debate there?,” he said.
Basically, Buhari’s agenda as he told the world in London recently are pieced into three: Insecurity, economy and unemployment.
Hear him: “Let me assure you that if I am elected president, the world will have no cause to worry about Nigeria as it has had to recently; that Nigeria will return to its stabilising role in West Africa; and that no inch of Nigerian territory will ever be lost to the enemy because we will pay special attention to the welfare of our soldiers in and out of service.
“We will give them adequate and modern arms and ammunition to work with, we will improve intelligence gathering and border controls to choke Boko Haram’s financial and equipment channels.
“We will be tough on terrorism and tough on its root causes by initiating a comprehensive economic development plan promoting infrastructural development, job creation, agriculture and industry in the affected areas. We will always act on time and not allow problems to irresponsibly fester, and I, Muhammadu Buhari, will always lead from the front and return Nigeria to its leadership role in regional and international efforts to combat terrorism.
“In the face of dwindling revenues, a good place to start the repositioning of Nigeria’s economy is to swiftly tackle two ills that have ballooned under the present administration: waste and corruption. And in doing this, I will, if elected, lead the way, with the force of personal example.
“On corruption, there will be no confusion as to where I stand. Corruption will have no place and the corrupt will not be appointed into my administration. First and foremost, we will plug the holes in the budgetary process. Revenue producing entities such as NNPC and Customs and Excise will have one set of books only. Their revenues will be publicly disclosed and regularly audited. The institutions of state dedicated to fighting corruption will be given independence and prosecutorial authority without political interference.
“But I must emphasise that any war waged on corruption should not be misconstrued as settling old scores or a witch-hunt. I’m running for President to lead Nigeria to prosperity and not adversity.
“In reforming the economy, we will use savings that arise from blocking these leakages and the proceeds recovered from corruption to fund our party’s social investments programmes in education, health, and safety nets such as free school meals for children, emergency public works for unemployed youth and pensions for the elderly.”
He has made the promises and Nigerians had taken them in and elected him. To this end, expectations are high. But would Buhari go the way of most of his predecessors? Time will tell.