ON Tuesday, 29th May 2018, our nation’s Democracy Day, the third year of President Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressives Congress, APC regime as an elected leader drew to a close. It was a period of mixed fortunes. We made tepid progress in the three priority areas – the economy, security and war on graft. But obviously, a lot is left to be done, and we hope the hot-button politics of the next few months will not deter this regime from making up for lost grounds.
Having inherited an economy that was rapidly heading towards recession due to falling oil prices and lack of savings, the regime did not help matters when it failed to quickly define a new economic direction. The slow pace of forming the Federal cabinet further dampened the confidence of local and international stakeholders in our economy.
The Federal Government took up the gauntlet and launched the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP. Buoyed by rising oil prices and massive borrowings, the economy exited recession late in 2017 and currently posts about 1.8 per cent GDP growth. This is still a far cry from the average 5.8 per cent of the past. With a population close to the 200 million mark, Nigeria is much poorer. This should strengthen the regime’s resolve to work harder on the economy.
The security scorecard of the regime must also be massively improved. The initial surge against the Boko Haram insurgents made giant strides. We recovered much of our lost territories and brought back majority of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls. The gains were damped, however, by increased suicide bombings and the abduction of the Dapchi schoolgirls who were later returned except Miss Leah Sharibu.
We admit that insurgency is not easy to win, but we urge the regime not to lose focus. The same effort that cooled down the Niger-Delta from the devastation by militants should also be directed in arresting the rampaging Fulani herdsmen and bandits killing Nigerians. Unless this is done, it could become the regime’s Achilles’ heel.
The anti-graft war has not reduced our corruption perception, mostly because of its perceived one-sidedness. A lot of politics is being played with it. This must be corrected. There is no doubt, however, that the anti-graft war has created great awareness and reduced the scale of treasury looting.
As we embrace the elections, the Federal Government should work harder on its strong points, especially agriculture and infrastructural upgrades. We want more respect for our democracy and human rights which have taken much beating due to growing impunity.
We also insist that the mandate of Nigerians must be respected in the upcoming elections. We set an enviable record in 2015 with peaceful and acceptable elections. The 2019 elections must consolidate that democratic gain