In the last 17 years, May 29 has become symbolic in Nigeria because it marks the country’s successful return to democratic rule.
On May 29 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari took his oaths of office and allegiance, having won the election on the popular ‘Change’ mantra of his party, the opposition All Progressives Congress-APC.
Nigerians voted massively for President Buhari, in one of the most visible displays of collective aspiration and desire for a better and progressive Nigeria. That resounding victory ended 16 years of the reign of the Peoples’ Democratic Party-PDP.
Contrary to western media speculations, the 2015 general election in Nigeria was smooth, credible and generally peaceful, climaxing with the former President Goodluck Jonathan accepting defeat and congratulating the victor, even before he was declared winner by the Independent National Electoral Commission-INEC. All sections of the country saw in President Buhari the biblical Messiah who would lead the country to the proverbial promised land.
On assumption of office, President Buhari assured Nigerians that he would fulfil his campaign promises. He set for himself a tripod template of ending insurgency, securing Nigeria, curbing corruption and restoring integrity to business and enterprise. His aim was to reposition the nation’s economy to redress unemployment, hunger and poverty. By any standard, these are ambitious, though necessary goals, in view of the state of the nation as at May 29, 2015.
Nigerians have spent the last 365 days striving to keep hope alive, believing that the Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary and indeed, the Media, will work hand-in-glove to actualise their aspirations and dreams. Undoubtedly, it has been a difficult but exhilarating year, not only for the government but also for the generality of Nigerians.
Before President Buhari’s inauguration, Nigerians watched aghast and helpless as the country’s economy rolled down a treacherous slope; Boko Haram terrorists ravaged the North-eastern states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe unleashing terror; and the youths in their millions, milled about with no hope for any gainful employment.
Today, the tide is gradually changing. Result-oriented measures have been articulated and are being implemented to restore peace to the North-east region. Consequently, the terror group has been tactically defeated with their members now scampering in disarray. Towns and villages hitherto under their control have since been liberated and abductees freed, a move that has begun to restore confidence in the government and the ability of the nation’s Armed Forces. Internally displaced persons have also begun to trickle back to their homes though reconstruction work is still in its early stages.
President Buhari’s avowed anti-corruption posture is not new. In his inaugural speech, he pledged again to wage a relentless war against corruption, which had permeated and eaten deep into Nigeria’s socio-economic and political fabric. The President has stridently pursued this pledge, with many now arrested, under investigation or remanded for fraudulent practices. The goal is to restore order and discipline to procedures and reinstate confidence in and dignity to public service.
The billions of Nigeria’s stolen money that have so far been recovered bear testimony to the huge successes recorded in the anti-corruption crusade. It is now no longer fashionable in Nigeria to loot the treasury with impunity. Government officials now handle entrusted responsibilities with care, mindful that President Buhari is watching with eagle eyes. Furthermore, the implementation of the Treasury Single Account policy has restored prudence to the country’s financial system and saved not less than three trillion Naira in one year.
In President Buhari’s first year in office, he effected a reduction in the size and cost of governance, trimming the number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies, to save the country billions of Naira, which are now being channeled to crucial developmental projects and infrastructure.
Notwithstanding the successes recorded in one year, the administration has had to contend with steep challenges synonymous with change.
The kind of revenue needed to drive the desired change is simply not there, due in part to the drop in global oil prices and the sabotage and vandalism of pipelines.
The frequent strikes by different stakeholder unions of the health, education and petroleum sectors, have also been daunting. The last ill-timed call to strike by the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress over an increase in the pump price of petrol, failed to elicit the kind of response synonymous with similar labour calls. It indicated a general resolve to give President Buhari’s administration an opportunity to stabilise the country’s economy.
As President Buhari’s administration enters its second year, Nigerians are keeping the faith and remaining hopeful that government’s policies and programmes will be successfully implemented.
Government therefore, has no other choice than to deliver on the promise to restore and diversify the economy, increase electricity generation and distribution, improve security, create jobs, reduce hunger and poverty, as well as deepen and strengthen democracy, for a brighter and progressive Nigeria.