by Muhammad Muhsin Ibrahim
I read and heard that no fewer than 100 souls were lost and dozens others injured in celebrations over General Buhari’s victory in the 28th March Nigeria’s presidential election. How sad and unfortunate! While telling my wife that people were euphoric to that extent, she rather inadvertently told me that when we returned to Nigeria in the middle of the year, there would be no more electricity outage, no more terror attacks by Boko Haram, and no more any other unpleasantness. That unrealistic wish left me transfixed, for I have heard and read many others expressing the same or similar expectations, as, to them, the ‘Messiah’ has attained power.
So much has been written on the election and on the way and manner the President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat. I have, however, yet to see any piece on that hankering of the 15 million plus electorates, most of whom are masses, who voted for Buhari. People yearn for Change—the slogan of his party, APC—in the country. They want a transformed Nigeria where lives and property of its populace are secured, its economy blossomed, its military might restored, its public office holders corrupt-free, and, as a whole, its worth and esteem revived. But I think, in fact believe that, only a miracle can do that within the four-year-tenure provided for Buhari by the constitution.
The destruction done to Nigeria by the outgoing government and the previous ones under the Peoples Democracy Party (PDP) is a well known phenomenon. Imagine the country as a house. It will take only a minute or less to demolish it with, for instance, a bomb; but rebuilding the same house will take no less than a week, no matter the technology. This is the condition of Nigeria today.
The President-Elect should carefully and conscientiously use the two-month period of the transition to organise his government; to focus and ponder; and do everything in no time, for he’s simply returning to the office he was once in. We have seen how the current governor of Kano state, Engr. Rabiu Kwankwaso did when he came back to power in 2011 after his defeat in 2003. The second tenure was by all parameters far more systematized, focused and purposed. That’s why he’s able to perform well and achieve remarkably.
Evidently enough, most of us were only endeared to Buhari after hearing how well he led Nigeria as a military Head of State in the 1980s. A few knew him as head of Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) during General Abacha regime, and saw how astutely and effectively he ran the office. But the Nigeria of today is not of those days. Likewise, the people he governed and with whom he governed are not the same. Although we cherish to see similar, if not surpassing, achievements, seeing the contrary is possible for many reasons.
General Buhari now lacks the power he had then, and the country is very, though regrettably, largely divided along regional and religious lines. Thus, executing many projects and policies are going to be tougher, if at all possible.
Moreover, the economy of the country is in a bad shape, though it’s said to be the biggest in Africa. Where, for instance, the US dollar was reportedly equivalent to naira during his leadership in 1984/85, a dollar is now worth more than 200 naira. Worse still, the price of petrol is at its lowest level in the world market, and our foreign reserve is depleted because billions of dollars, as exposed by the former apex bank governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, are, literally speaking, missing. Needless to say, nothing moves without money. Thus, Buhari needs a gigantic good luck to satiate the hunger of Nigerians, while Nigerians require an enduring patience to give him space and time to govern.
As Nigerians are people who believe and trust in God, we shouldn’t, therefore, forget to regularly wish and pray for the success of this incoming government. And prepare for the change we called for. General Buhari’s success is ours, for, after all, the country is ours now and always. I believe we would be happier if he records more success than the previous governments. That will set a pace for any other subsequent governments to see that they out-perform his, therefore putting themselves in the annals of history and in good light.
Long live the General! Long live Nigeria!
by Muhammad Muhsin Ibrahim