By Douglas Anele
The All Progressives Congress (APC), which is the ruling party in Nigeria presently, was formed on 6 February 2015 in anticipation of the 2015 general elections. The party projected its presidential candidate, retired Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, as a man of integrity, an incorruptible former military leader with the requisite capacity to rebuild the economy, enhance security nationwide and, most especially, fight corruption. In stark contrast, Buhari and his cohorts, including senior journalists, Professors and an amorphous collection of lynch mobs using conventional and social media, relentlessly attacked President Goodluck Jonathan, and described his administration with derogatory labels such as “incompetent,” “clueless,” “weak” and “hopelessly corrupt.”
The forces arrayed against Jonathan were so formidable that the panegyric, “Sai baba, Sai Buhari,” almost supplanted the national anthem. Meanwhile, efforts by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to counter the massive, well-oiled propaganda machine of the APC could not repair the damage done to the re-electability of its presidential flagbearer, such that some perceptive Nigerians predicted that Jonathan would be defeated despite repeated reminders that a Muhammadu Buhari presidency could be counterproductive given his antecedents as a nepotic military dictator who crippled the economy through archaic economic policies, clamped down hard on the press, abrogated basic freedoms, repeatedly championed the introduction of sharia and criticised the Jonathan administration for its determined onslaught on Boko Haram, among others. Of course, in spite of all the red flags Buhari won, but the election was tainted with irregularities by the two major parties although there were indications that APC probably outrigged the PDP. Initially, buharimaniacs were very excited by Buhari’s victory, to the extent that many of them bragged about Buhari’s infamous “body language” and “the new sheriff in town,” as if a revolution or positive social transformation was about to occur.
Now, on the positive side, since Buhari became President certain measures have been put in place to improve the living conditions of Nigerians and foreigners in the country. On the economic front, for example, the core policies of the present administration are encapsulated in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), which is a medium tern economic blueprint intended to resuscitate recessed Nigerian economy and place it on the path of sustainable development. ERGP contains clearly identified objectives and sets benchmarks and timelines for actualising them. It aims to restore growth, macroeconomic stability and promote economic diversification, increase the standard of living of the people, especially the downtrodden, through interventions is healthcare delivery, education and public-private partnership in basic infrastructural development.
It also envisages the fine-tuning of legal and regulatory frameworks in conjunction with digital technology to enhance business activities across the country. Some economists have commended the ERGP as a serviceable economic paradigm which, if implemented, would boost economic development in the next three years. Meanwhile, economic and fiscal measures taken by government have pulled the country out of recession, and despite recent warnings by governor of the Central Bank and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi that the economy is still on shaky ground, there are expectations that the ERGP will engender some modest growth in both the Growth Domestic Product (GDP) and other indices of economic health for the country.
The federal government has also introduced social intervention programmes which focus on poverty alleviation. These include the School Feeding Programme, tradermoni, N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfers and Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP). Special Adviser to the President on Social Investment, Maryam Uwais, confirmed that from 2016 to 2018, the sum of N470 billion has been released to fund these programmes. In spite of the fact that there are still some hiccups and bureaucratic bottlenecks in establishing a business here, the Buhari administration has been working hard to minimise them in order to boost investment by both Nigerians and foreigners.
On security, the federal government claims it has been tackling Boko Haram terrorists, the so-called Fulani herdsmen, kidnapping, armed robbery and banditry. One of the major reasons why Buhari defeated Jonathan was the expectation that as a former high-ranking military officer he would bring his experience to bear on the problem of insecurity. Under Buhari’s watch, a sizeable number of the kidnapped Chibok school girls have been released by Boko Haram, while the girls abducted from Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, Dapchi Yobe state, have been set free.
According to government officials, including the President himself, considerable efforts are in top gear to secure the freedom of Leah Sharibu, the only Dapchi abductee or victim still held by the terrorists. Government also claims that it has liberated all the areas in the north-east under the control of Boko Haram, and that the group has been “technically defeated.” To demonstrate that the federal legislature is keen to assist the executive in the fight against insecurity in all its ugly manifestations, the National Assembly retroactively approved the $1billion withdrawn by President Buhari to fund the security services in the country. Since his assumption of office, numerous special operations have been launched by the Nigerian military and the police to flush out criminals and make the country safe again. These include Operation Puff Adder, Operation Harbin Kunama, Operation Diran Mikiya, Operation Python Dance etc. Government officials have repeatedly argued that the federal government is doing all it could to stem the tide of increasing insecurity in the country and that Nigerians should do more to assist security agencies especially by providing actionable and credible intelligence needed for nipping violent crime in the bud and apprehend those engaged in criminality.