By Emmanuel Aziken
Doubts about President Muhammadu Buhari’s inclination for a second term must have now been erased from the mind of every discerning Nigerian. But what he would do with a second term mandate after a chaotic first term is another matter.
After doggedly pursuing the presidency in four consecutive election cycles, no one should expect Buhari to surrender it now that he has the advantage of incumbency.
During the 2015 presidential election campaign, Buhari focused on three issues: corruption, insecurity, and unemployment. His three-point agenda quickly found resonance with the populace. That was after the All Progressives Congress, APC, in cahoots with the media profiled the Goodluck Jonathan presidency as incompetent and clueless on those three sectors listed by Buhari. With Buhari now in the saddle, the gist in town is that the proof of the pudding is in the eating.
As he went to the nook and cranny of the country, Buhari’s monosyllabic denunciations of Jonathan’s seeming failures were amplified by more coherent associates. Indeed, there were many promises, but some very profound. This correspondent was particularly excited by Buhari’s Covenant with Nigeria as declared by his campaign on March 16, 2015.
Among the profound promises in the covenant was the pledge by Candidate Buhari to publicly declare his assets and liabilities, and encourage his appointees to do same. Another profound promise was to inaugurate the National Council on Public Procurement, the body that by law is supposed to award all contracts and make procurements on behalf of the Federal Government.
That duty has over time been repeatedly performed by the Federal Executive Council, FEC, a body that is technically ill-equipped and politically unsuited to do so.
APC partisans during the campaign lambasted successive PDP administrations for turning the FEC meetings into contract bonanza sessions.
The Public Procurement Act which was signed into law by President Umaru Yar‘adua in June 2007 had provided for the establishment of the NCPP. Given the fact that the contracting process is one of the easiest ways of siphoning money, it was not surprising that the board of the NCPP which should have brought the NCPP to life was never inaugurated.
The APC had promised to change that narrative. However, almost three years into the APC administration, the government has failed to do so, bringing to question the sincerity of its claim to cleanse the contracting process of corruption. Indeed, the administration is yet to inaugurate most of the boards of Federal Government agencies and parastatals. A belated effort to do so has been botched by seeming incompetence with the enlistment of about eight persons from the land of the dead.
Critically minded Nigerians have also observed the quick pace with which the administration went on to position its men in strategic juicy boards such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC and the National Pensions Commission, PenCom. The board of PenCom was even violently disbanded and reconstituted against the provisions of extant law in a way that brought to mind mutters about some hanky-panky by some agents of the administration.
It is, however, a fact that many in the APC remain convinced about the integrity of the president. Such believers say that Buhari for whatsoever reason has been incapacitated by some key appointees who were out of tune with the APC campaign.
While some true believers have been forced out of the party by new entrants who have hijacked the platform, some true believers think that injured or not, Buhari remains the best option.
Casting aside the promises made during the 2015 campaigns, they are going to use new permutations that will reverberate with many in the polity.
Osita Okechukwu’s promise that Buhari would focus on political restructuring after “ongoing” economic restructuring has been dismissed by critical appraisers.
However, a more decisive permutation is the one that Buhari is the best option to secure the geopolitical stability of the country.
That permutation is founded on the claim that electing another Northerner who would want to spend eight years could lead to instability. It is a chorus that is bound to rise in crescendo as the election fever heats up. Why not allow him do four more years and go?