All roads will lead to the popular Eagle Square, located in the heart of the nation’s Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja on Wednesday, May 29, 2019. On that day, which is barely three days away, a new page will be added to history as General Muhammadu Buhari mounts the saddle to begin his second tenure as Nigeria’s president. Daily Trust on Sunday reports that after May 29, Buhari might face his toughest tenure as president.
The Federal Government has declared that President Buhari’s second term inauguration would be low keyed this time round, a decision the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed justified, saying ‘the country can ill-afford two major celebrations within a two-week interval.’
Buhari’s electoral victory for a second term was made possible after over 15 million Nigerians voted for him during the 2019 general elections. Earlier in 2015, when he trounced former President Goodluck Jonathan to become the first opposition candidate to have defeated an incumbent. Buhari, who rode to power on the mantra of ‘change’, promised a radical departure from the past, having made three unsuccessful attempts.
Upon assumption of office for his first tenure on May 29, 2015, the 76-year- old Buhari had vowed to stamp out corruption, revive the economy and defeat the Boko Haram insurgency. Although his teeming supporters have argued that his tenure was renewed because he had fulfilled previous campaign pledges, his critics have continued to question his record in government and his ability to deliver on fresh promises of taking Nigeria to ‘the next level.’
His supporters are quick to point to Buhari’s successes in the three cardinal areas that formed his campaign thrust in 2015. For instance, they are quick to cite improvement in security in the North-East. Reference is also made to the effect that under Buhari’s watch, the Nigerian military retook territories from Boko Haram militants that had been fighting to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state.
Similarly, scores of schoolgirls that were part of a group of nearly 300 abducted by the militants were also reunited with their families, even though many of the Chibok girls remain missing, including Leah Sharibu, who recently turned 16 years from Boko Haram captivity.
On the economy, the president is believed to have diversified the economy by boosting investment in agriculture and infrastructure projects. This is in addition to overseeing a rise in oil production in the South. He is also given some credit for eventually bringing the economy out of recession.
But as he assumes the mantle of leadership for his second and last tenure as president, expectations are high, even as analysts believe that Buhari has the last opportunity of writing his name in gold as civilian president.
Not a few Nigerians believe there is a carryover of challenges from his first tenure, which he needs to redouble his efforts in addressing. One of them is security challenge, which finds expression in the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-East, kidnapping, armed banditry, as well as the farmer/herder crisis.
Even though the Boko Haram insurgency seems to have been significantly degraded and now confined to the North-East, the attacks have not completely ended. The humanitarian crisis arising from the insurgency has also given rise to rising cases of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the North-East region. Analysts believe the president has a duty to provide an environment that is conducive for the teeming IDPs to return to their homes.
Another security challenge Buhari would confront in his second term is the rising spate of kidnappings, as well as armed banditry. The Inspector- General of Police Mohammad Adamu recently said about 1,071 persons had died in crime-related incidents across the country in just four months (January to April this year).
The IGP, who spoke at the quarterly Northern Traditional Ruler’s Council meeting in Kaduna, said crime statistics indicated that no fewer than 685 persons were kidnapped across the country with the North-West recording 436 cases of death, the highest in the country.
He said the North-Central recorded 250 deaths while the South-South had130 cases. He said the data showed that Zamfara State recorded 203 murder incidents, topping the national prevalence scale, followed by Kaduna State with 112 reported cases; while Benue State recorded 90 cases.
On incidents of kidnapping, IGP said 546 or 79.8 per cent of the national total were recorded in the three northern geopolitical zones, with the highest zonal prevalence occurring in the North-West, where 365 persons were reportedly kidnapped within the period.
“This is followed by the North-Central geo-political zone, where 145 persons were kidnapped. “It is pertinent to mention that Zamfara State has the highest national kidnap rate of 281 victims in what has been directly linked to activities of armed bandits in the state. This is followed by Kogi State with 65, while in Niger State, 51 persons were kidnapped within the period,” he said.
One of the victims of kidnapping was the chairman of the Governing Council of the Universal Basic Education Commission, Dr. Muhammad Abubakar, who was abducted along with his daughter on the Abuja-Kaduna expressway by gunmen on April 29. His driver was shot dead in the process. He was subsequently released after a huge ransom was allegedly paid.
Another high profile case of kidnapping that left Nigerians bewildered was that of President Buhari’s son in-law, Alhaji Musa Umar Uba, a senior traditional title holder in Daura Emirate Council in Katsina State. He is still held captive, thereby posing a big challenge to President Buhari in addressing this and other security challenges in his second tenure.
On the anti-corruption war, the Buhari government has secured some convictions, prominent among which are those of two ex-governors: Jolly Nyame (Taraba) and Joshua Dariye (Plateau). The convictions of the two ex-governors, according to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), were among a total of 139 convictions it secured between January and June 2018.
However, the credibility of Buhari’s anti-corruption war during his first tenure has been called to question by the perception that it was lopsided, targeting mainly non-APC members. Critics said that for his fight against corruption war to bear the toga of credibility, it must be less selective during his second tenure.
On the economic front, the contentious issue of fuel subsidy had been on over a period of time. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently advised Nigeria and other countries still subsidizing fuel for domestic consumption to stop doing so, saying subsidy removal would help boost revenue and improve on local infrastructure development.
With Buhari holding forte as Minister of Petroleum Resources, experts believe he has a duty to come up with a clear cut policy on oil subsidy regime, which gulps over N1trillion annually.
There is also the challenge of unemployment in the country, as well as rising poverty. It was revealed in June 2018 that Nigeria had overtaken India as the nation with the highest number of people living in extreme poverty across the world, with an estimated 86.9 million people measured to be living on less than $1.25 (N381.25) a day.
This much was contained in findings by the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organisation based in Washington, DC, America. Although the Federal Government had dismissed the Brookings report, many analysts have linked rising cases of crime in Nigeria to unemployment and tasked President Buhari to prioritise job creation in his second term.
With these challenges, Nigerians are anxiously awaiting the formation of President Buhari’s new cabinet as he assumes office for his second term. Many analysts believe the quality of those on his cabinet would either make or mar his ‘Next Level’ pact with Nigerians.
Written by Fidelis Mac-Leva