Prior to his arrival on the scene Boko Haram terrorist forces were thriving and boasting of their military exploits in videos posted online. Hundreds of Chibok girls had been kidnapped and territories up north seized. GEJ was powerless or incompetent; he was giving no damn of course! From initial denial that anyone was ever abducted in Chibok to outright aloofness the cluelessness of a muddled presidency became all too apparent. Yet the case of the teenage students galvanised international attention as “bring back our girls” campaign hit the streets and went viral on the social media. Even Michelle Obama, the US First Lady, joined the popular campaign ably led by the blunt-talking Oby Ezekwesili, a former Minister.
Former President Jonathan was a Nigerian presidential tragedy without any redeeming value or majestic salvation. His relatively poor ‘shoeless’ background must have been more of a presidential deficit than the social solidarity that went with it. During his tenure uncontrollable forces within battled for space and attention. You had the then First Lady, the Dame, staking her claims as the de-facto power behind the scene but she diminished the presidency by her grammar gaffe, protocol scandals and other tantrums and caprices. There was a certain Diezani Allison-Madueke who was the untouchable Petroleum Resources Minister. She provided another connubial comfort zone, in its illegitimacy, that gulped millions of Dollars to maintain! You had a National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, using the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency to defraud the nation of billions of Dollars! Indeed, GEJ was not in total control; there was a yawning otiosity of authority, an opacity of command!
The All Progressives Congress (APC) swept to power (with the broom revolution) promising change and national transformation. They had predicated their campaign for power at the centre on three cardinal objectives: restoration of national security by defeating the Boko Haram armed madness; revamping the tottering economy and fighting corruption to submission. In the last year much progress has been made on many fronts. On the economic front the battle is yet to be won as the national economic health gets stupid and stupider by each passing week. The economic challenge could be said to constitute the greatest headache of the current regime. Fixing the economy will, of course, take some time and a lot of courageous reforms in the graft-filled system.
It is admittedly too early to judge or assess a one-year old administration whose constitutional mandate runs for four years. Yes, it is too soon to pass any objective judgement or reach any definitive conclusion on the highs and lows in terms of performance. However, it is worth indicating here that we have witnessed an eventful year fraught with more hits and less misses. If the momentum could be sustained then the next year and years leading to 2019 general elections could very well be very interesting and very eventful.
On the security front serious progress has been recorded even though agitations are mounting in the south-east region where pro-Biafra agitators are still making themselves heard on the streets. The Niger Delta militants are expressing their grievances violently by sabotaging the national economy — blowing up pipelines and issuing threats to expatriate companies and workers. The so-called Niger Delta Avengers and IPOB and MASSOB agigators must be treated with caution and their grievances looked into. The Niger Delta militants are asking for equitable distribution of proceeds from oil exploration in their lands and demanding for other things that are incompatible with their struggle. IPOB and MASSOB are rooting for a state of Biafra, a secession struggle that dated back decades.
But those canvassing for the Biafran statehood and more benefits from oil and gas exploration in the Niger Delta could enjoy some legitimacy and public sympathy if they would apply non-violence in their struggles. We recommend the carrot and stick method to the federal government. Negotiate where negotiation is necessary and concede where concession is called for. The issues of the day are better not settled with blood and iron as that approach could be counter productive. In any democracy the freedom to demonstrate for a genuine cause remains enshrined in the constitution. The hardline politics of ‘crush, crush’ cannot work nor pacify aggrieved souls.
The war against the Boko Haram terrorists has paid huge dividends as Abubakar Shekau and his misguided gang of rapists, arsonists and murderers have been forced to beat a hasty retreat into Sambisa forest or elsewhere across the borders. Now we hear less of suicide bombings and crude attacks on innocent citizens in the north. Two of the abducted Chibok girls has been liberated or found and reunited with their families! More could be found and rescued if what the freed kid-mother had told the authorities was any indication: that many of her ‘colleagues’ are still languishing in Sambisa forest — routingly abused sexually by their captors and hopelessly broken by their ordeal. Many must have died or been sold into sexual slavery abroad but majority of the Chibok girls are still very much alive — living in bondage whereever they are. We grieve for them!
The national campaign against corruption has yielded huge success. Some ‘big men’ are being held for graft-related offenses and some of them have had their days in court. Stolen assets and funds have been recovered and/or repatriated. According to the VP Osinbajo over 15 billion Dollars were stolen or misappropriated during the GEJ era! So efforts are being made to recover the recoverable and plug the loopholes. Corruption would have asphyxiated or suffocated Nigeria to death if not for the coming of Buhari to power. Jonathan the President was a good man but a bad manager of men and resources. Under him every Dick and Harry with connection to Aso Rock simply made money one way or the other and smiled to the bank while the nation struggled to survive. Today we know better what really transpired criminally during the 6 giddy years he spent in Abuja.
Despite the good tidings in the anti-corruption war there is need for the intensification of efforts to nab more executive crooks and get back what they have stolen that belonged to the people. Despite the twists and turns the government must be intensely focused refusing to be discouraged by the opposition rantings. Thank goodness FFK has been ‘silenced’ by his own greed and crime of graft. We believe no one is being persecuted for their political leanings. Those crying persecution should tell that to the marines! Whoever took what belonged to the Nigerian people must be forced to remit same or rot in jail. No sentiments, no apologies!
The major priority for the coming years ought to be defined in clear terms. The first on the agenda should be the economic problems currently besetting the nation. President Buhari must redouble efforts to knock ‘sense’ back into the prevailing economic ‘nonsense’. Majority of Nigerians, from the east to the west down south and up north, are still suffering and they are getting more and more frustrated by the system that makes life much harder given the reforms in the oil and gas sector. So much more needs to be done, therefore, to cushion the adverse effects of the pump price increase on the masses.
Secondly there is urgent need for provision of employment opportunities for millions of youths (some graduates) still roaming the streets in search of elusive jobs. The energy crisis must be resolved if Nigeria must maintain her economic status and reach her potentials. There is no developed nation that has achieved greatness without electricity to power homes and the industrial sector. So provision of power must be a top priority in a nation where people live more in darkness than lighting up their lives. The ‘generator’ generation must give way to one that enjoys constant power supply by the state or private sector investment.
President Buhari is not the ‘demon’ or the ‘dictator’ the opposition PDP are trumpeting about or forcing us to believe. But even if he were to be one our response remains that the ‘devil’ we know today is much better than the ‘Saint Jonah’ we knew presidentially yesterday and regretted. In PMB we still believe and trust one calendar year after. In him we are pleased indeed come rain and come sunshine. For those of us who still have hope and confidence in Buhari’s capacity to turn the fortunes of Nigeria around (the Buharists) we believe very strongly that we will never be disappointed. The fewer we are, therefore, the greater the share of national honour and glory!