If there is any Nigerian leader that has consistently enjoyed the unflinching support of the masses in the face of untoward hardship, it is the current Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari. Ever since he was first democratically elected president in 2015, he has continued to bloom in the hands of millions of his committed supporters across the country, even as they went further to overwhelmingly renew his tenure for another four years in the last general elections. These President’s committed supporters, to which this writer belongs, are not unaware of the numerous challenges facing the nation since his assumption. Though while most of these challenges predated his administration, Nigerians voted and entrusted him to fix them head-on with his vast experience and rare leadership qualities that have endeared him to the sincere and downtrodden Nigerians.
There is no doubt that Nigeria was in dire need of a selfless and visionary leader to rescue it after decades of misgovernance. The masses who persistently craved for his presidency since he ventured into partisan politics in 2002 finally succeeded in a historic election that enthroned the former retired General, Muhammadu Buhari as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2015. Of course, this explained why despite unbearable hardship that befell the country when he took over office about five years ago, most Nigerians remained resolute and virtually undeterred in tolerating the president’s continuous plea for patience and understanding. It is also obvious that because of the impressive goodwill towards the current administration, stringent measures and actions of the government that would have naturally ignited an unprecedented revolt against it, are being systematically suppressed by the resilient Nigerians who see every policy and program of the current government as necessary measure to correct the damage of the previous administrations. Prominence of such measures are, among others, the announced removal of fuel subsidies in 2017, the recent closure of Nigeria’s land borders, import-substitution, CBN charges on bank transactions and the recent proposed hike in electricity tariff.
As a matter of fact, similar measures have ignited yet to be quelled mass protests against governments across the world in recent times. However, while Nigerians should be commended for their exceptional endurance and unwavering support for the current administration, President Buhari must, without excuse, compensate the masses by leaving behind the following legacies for their costly sacrifices.
1. Completion of Ajaokuta steel complex, the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialization. While several insinuations have been raised about the inability of the successive governments to complete the steel plant, which ranges from international conspiracy to internal contradiction. However, President Buhari is seen as a man of integrity with an independent mind without political debt. It is generally believed that he is the only one who can defy all the impediments and resuscitate the steel complex. It’s gratifying to note that he has made a practical step for the first time to resuscitate it. A serious framework must, therefore, put in place as the federal government is set to finalize the agreement he recently reached with President Putin at Russia-Africa summit in Sochi, so as to accomplish this ambitious project before he vacates office in 2023.
2. Power is another area the masses are anxiously expecting him to improve. No doubt that Nigerians heaved a sigh of relief when he assumed office in 2015, hoping he would rescue the masses from the selfish few who sole darkness for the nation after spending 16 billion US dollars on power and eventually shared the sector among themselves while continuing to pump the nation’s wealth into it without visible results.
It is noteworthy that at the time President Buhari took office in 2015, the total power generation was around 4,027MW, while 3,948MW were been distributed according to NBS statistic. It’s surprising that about five years into his administration, the country is still struggling with a little above 4,000MW. According to Nigeria electricity system operator’s report released on 22nd January, 2020, the current peak generation is put at 4,429MW, even the national grid continues to collapse unabated. Though the government had earlier claimed that it has the capacity to generate 7,000MW, however, the reality on ground is that, the country is grappling with 4,000MW. Just recently, Kaduna State Governor, Nasiru El-Rufai revealed that the Federal Government had pumped not less than 1.7 trillion naira into the sector in the last three years, yet electricity generation and distribution continue to plummet. This, indeed a step-forward-backward. Until government revokes the privatization of power sector, it will continue to sink money into the sector without visible improvement.
3. The president must ensure that he leaves behind efficient, effective, less corrupt civil service. While we acknowledge some far-reaching reforms in the civil service so far, the institution is still riddled with corruption. Contract inflation, secret recruitment, and nepotism are still looming large and threatening the institution’s core mandate of serving the engine room of government. Some bad eggs are still mounting strategic positions within the institution, sabotaging the government’s efforts at improving the system. These elements must be weeded out without prejudice if government really wants to sustain the momentum and accomplish the task of transforming Nigeria.
4. Refinery! When President Buhari won in 2015, he vowed to revive the nation moribund refineries. But it is surprising that about five years after he assumed office, the nation continues to import refined oil with huge subsidy payment to marketers while our refineries remained almost non-functioning. The current Group Managing Director has again reassured Nigerians of reviving it and the president’s recent trips to Russia and Saudi Arabia respectively invigorated our hope for another opportunity that, Nigerians, will soon wake up to receive a cheering news of our fully revived refineries so as to finally put an end to fuel importation and recurrent subsidy payment.
5. Our roads are overstretched, dilapidated while the rail lines built during the colonial era are in disarray. President Buhari had promised to revive it and link the nation with modern rail network. Available facts show that the president is trying to keep to his promise, but the pace of work is very very slow. The minister of transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi has severally lamented it publicly, even as he sometimes described the situation as “embarrassing.” The president must redouble his efforts in connecting the country with modern rail networks to reduce the burden on our roads.
6. Another important legacy is to conduct a clean, credible population census for the country before he vacates office. It is generally agreed that a nation that plans on a pure estimate for a long period of time without accurate data is bound to fail. It’s really worrisome and utterly shameful that about fifteen years after Nigeria last conducted it even disputed headcount, the country is still referring to it as official figure and sometimes, government officials quoting external sources to represent our country’s demographic data. Little wonder international agencies are constantly dishing out figures for us to consume. It is high time the president conduct acceptable census forthwith for the nation.
As a matter of fact, there are several landmark achievements by President Buhari administration in numerous areas – from security to economy to national morality. But hate speeches and opposition propaganda have pushed the voices of reason into oblivion, making it difficult for government to discern constructive criticisms from reverberated vituperations. However, the President must take the pain to sieve out genuine voices as they serve as useful tool for governance.
While every right-thinking Nigerian must acknowledge the enormous challenges President Buhari administration inherited, it would be, however, unpardonable that if anything short of the aforementioned possible legacies after eight years of his uninterrupted leadership as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, his administration would be regarded as a near failure and, will be remembered as a government who basked on the immense goodwill of the masses and squandered it.