Muhammadu Buhari: The Journey So Far, By Mukhtar Jarmajo
It is one year since President Muhammadu Buhari took over the affairs of Nigeria in a manner that was reminiscent of a political coup-de-grace which saw an opposition political party seize power from then ruling PDP for the first time since 1999. In his campaign ahead of the last presidential election, Mr. Buhari promised to restore the nation`s security, fight corruption and resuscitate Nigeria`s economy. As patriotic citizens therefore, it is our constitutional responsibility to assess the journey so far at this point in time with a view to contributing immensely in the project Nigeria debate – The Way Forward.
Before delving into the crux of assessing President Buhari`s performance in the last one year, it is quite essential to look back to vividly recall what Nigeria was this time last year. A year ago, Nigeria was so insecure that its territorial integrity was in distortion with numerous thousands of its citizens killed and several others displaced. Fourteen out of its seven hundred and seventy four local governments were seized by armed civilians in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. There was widespread panic and a resultant hardship.
Therefore, given that security is a subset of peace which provides the enabling environment for business activities, it was only natural that with an atmosphere characterized by fear, economic activities will not thrive. Thus the nation`s GDP suffered serious setback thereby ridiculing Nigeria`s economy. And in a manner as to add salt to injury, the government then recklessly handled the economy by adopting corruption as a usual rather than the exception.
Corruption was institutionalized in both private sector organisations and government MDAs with every constitutional provision as well as all civil service rules being observed only in the breach. As a result, Nigeria lost its place in the international community. And locally, the nation suffered severe pains with its citizens in untold hardship amidst inadequate infrastructures.
So at the time President Buhari took over, the nation was already very close to the ground. The Nigeria system had almost collapsed with all the buttresses holding it together giving way. The edge of the cliff was near leaving many a Nigerian hopelessly in hopelessness. It was all too clear that at assumption of office, President Buhari had a fallen nation to rise.
And because most of the extant technocratic and bureaucratic processes involved in efficiently and effectively administering public trust have been thrown overboard, the President`s first assignment was not to begin the work of providing effective and efficient infrastructures and services, it was to restart the Nigerian system. It was to start all over again. It was to shut Nigeria down, restructure it, reorient it, redirect it and then boot it. And anyone who has been following events in the last one year knows we have passed through these stages.
Today, a lot of hope has been restored as the nation is relatively secured. All the seized local governments have been taken back and are being liberated. The heightened fear has been greatly reduced as Nigeria`s security situation improves by the day. We now go to churches, mosques, markets and schools without fears. Economic activities are gradually picking up particularly in the ravaged North/Eastern part of the country. Markets in Maiduguri, Potiskum and Mubi have already bounced back. In Borno state today, students are back in school after years of unintended holidays.
And on the fight against corruption, it is already on. Unlike before, the man at the helm of our affairs is incorruptible. As much as the president is making concerted efforts at recovering stolen loots he is also placing measures to block ways through which money is being embezzled and laundered. The Treasury Single Account policy enforced on 9th August, 2015 has helped in no small measure in plaguing holes through which revenues are being siphoned. It is only natural for those of the old order to resist the new one, but we know they cannot do that forever. While it may take time to champion the cause, it is such good news that the fight is on.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the fight against corruption is also partly an effort to resuscitate the economy. When the stolen loots are recovered and injected back into the economy and economic and financial crimes stopped, the economy will enjoy some boost. Aside this, the president has planned and designed several ways to reinvigorate Nigeria`s economy through the 2016 Budget. Amongst others, the 2016 Budget was designed to diversify our economy and provide employment opportunities to the teeming Nigerian youth through the very many infrastructures and services Mr. Buhari intends to bring to Nigerians in this budget year.
It is quite pertinent for Nigerians to note that the economy is like a tree. You plant it today to enjoy from its fruits and shade tomorrow. You cannot plant it today and enjoy its shade today. This is why we must always remember the past administrations for failing to make hey for this country while the sun still shines. In the past, we had abundant resources but lacked committed leaders. Today contrarily, we have a committed leader while we lack resources. So as Mr. Buhari plants trees for posterity to enjoy its shade and fruits, we need to persevere and support any meaningful cause initiated by the federal government.
And on the unity of the nation, the president is obviously committed to an indivisible united entity called Nigeria. Today, unlike before, the president of the federal republic of Nigeria belongs to everybody and to nobody as well. No more ethnic and or religious bigotry at the center. It is no longer the case of our own is in power and so we do things like spoilt children. It is now a case of your actions and attitudes determine who you are and what you get.
Jarmajo can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org