Great expectations

Great expectations

By Bayo Fasunwon
T o God is all the glory. All the major elections in Nigeria are concluded. INEC has released the lists of persons and parties in whose hands lay the destiny of the nation for the next four years. In some states, the old order have been swept away by the tide of votes, while in others, a few new hands have been brought into power to bring more innovation and push to the returned old order politicians. The Ninth Senate is expected to wear a new look while the State Assemblies are also cleansed to deliver the dividends of democracy to the hapless Nigerians. I wish to congratulate all the contestants in the 2019 elections, all are winners; but some are more winners than the others are. Beyond the hues and cries of bad ‘winners’, INEC has tried within available resources, to give a credible and acceptable election. Most of the problems that ensued in the 2019 elections were not in any way the doings of the electoral body. Arson, violence, murder, ballot snatching, and rigging are traceable to desperate politicians who see the elections as contracts that must be won by any means. They are the tyrants who believe that it is their manifest destiny to rule over reluctant citizens.

After the elections, legal fireworks are expected. In this part of the world, contesting electoral results in court has become a tradition. The lawyers, sees this period as an opportunity to make more money that can last them another four years. How lucky they are. The Presidential candidate of the PDP has set the ball rolling with his rejection of the Presidential election and has started the process of achieving democracy through the tribunal. Other candidates are expected to follow suit in the days ahead. Now, is the time for the judiciary to come to equity with clean hands. The judiciary at this time should be incorruptible, forthright, and professional in their hearings and deliveries.

The cases before the judiciary would include the prosecution of electoral offenders, conclusion of pre-election matters; decision of the sanctity of ortherwise of elections and many other electoral issues that lawyers can manufacture on behalf of their desperate clients. We expect all judicial officers to be brave in calling sin by its right name. Security should be beefed up around these electoral officers during these periods, so that neither they nor family members could be subjected to threats, harrowing experiences or kidnapping that could result to unfair judgments. In addition, the judicial officers would be at the hour of temptations now. We would appeal to them to shun many tempting offers and desist from subverting the will of the people through manipulated, unhealthy, and partial judgments. Let them know that ‘my hands are tied’ judgments would do this nation no good. Nigerians are watching.

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When voters queue up under the Sun and in the rain, they have expectations. By their votes, they vote in those they feel would meet their expectations and vote out those who had failed to meet their expectations in the time past. Unfortunately, the 2019 campaigns came with vague programmes on the part of the political parties. Their campaign messages have been on maligning political opponents, storytelling and dancing. They mostly promised the masses nothing. Nevertheless, the masses have their expectations and four years is a very short time.  However, let me state my personal expectations of those favoured by the votes of the masses.

For President Muhammadu Buhari, there is a need for sober reflections on the outcomes of the election. One would have expected that there would be a great improvement in the number of votes garnered this year, due to his ‘sterling performance’. However, he could not make the 16 million mark. The implication is that his acceptance rating had not sufficiently surpassed the 2015 rating. What went wrong? At the beginning of his four-year administration, the Boko Haram insurgents were made to bite the dust and many of the Chibok girls were reunited with their families. However, the Boko Haram insurgents were quickly replaced with the herdsmen militias who destroyed lives and properties in virtually all the geo-political zones of Nigeria. The Myetti Allah group also added insults to injury with their various proclamations in the media. Several Nigerians had criticized the government for not responding to this genocide and that had created a bad blood against his administration.

The second term opportunity given to President Buhari is expected to stop the ravaging acts of the herdsmen and bring them to book. In addition to that, Nigerians expect the total annihilation of the Boko haram insurgents and the rescue of Leah Sharibu and the remaining Chibok girls. In addition, the inauguration of the State Police is a great expectation from the President in order to forestall the incessant increase in insecurity all over Nigeria. Related to this is the advice that the President must tread with care concerning the setting up of ranches for herdsmen all over the country? Government should not force any state to set up ranches or accommodate cattle rearers in their domains, as this would cause further frictions. Rather, cattle rearers can be encouraged to buy lands, and set up ranches since theirs  is a private business. Most importantly, Northern Governors ought to be supported in curbing drought and desertification. Thus, irrigation programmes that would boost crop and grass production should be encouraged in order to create an enabling environment for cattle production to discourage nomadic grazing.

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In the build up to the elections, the Buhari led administration was grossly accused of nepotism and tribalism in appointments. One general observation was that the entire security leadership was vested in the hands of northern extracts and Muslims. Ironically, security issues in the country are traceable to Northern elements. It was therefore perceived that there were subtle northern agenda to take over the country’s security apparatus and therefore subdue the southern political zones. Some argued that while the IPOB were labeled terrorist organisations, the Fulani herdsmen that killed with reckless impunity were not even labeled as insurgents and were treated with kid’s gloves.

More recently, the herdsmen have struck without an order to deal with them ruthlessly as was commanded against ballot box snatchers. Fighter jets and helicopters were dispatched to monitor elections in Anambra and Kwara, while such was never dispatched to deal with killer herdsmen. Nigerians expect that the Buhari led government would stop paying lip service to terrorist like invasions in Benue and other parts of the country, and deal decisively against the murderers operating under the guise of herdsmen. It is therefore believed that there is a need to inject other ethnics into the top security apparatus of the nation in order to generate unbiased ideas in overcoming the subtle genocide in the country.

In addition, the replacement of the either retired or sacked public officials from the southern political zones with Northerners breeds bad blood in the country. President Buhari had always insisted that he only appoints people he could trust, meaning that no southerner could be trusted? The opposition had capitalized on this assertion to mock a President who could not trust other geo-political zones for appointment, but could seek for their votes in order to win elections. The President’s mindset needs to change in order to promote peace and unity in Nigeria’s heterogeneous and multi ethnic society.

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Furthermore, Nigerians are expecting a more robust economic policy that would actually put good food on the table of the average Nigerians. Businesspersons and women had complained bitterly that government’s policies had hindered economic growth in the country. Despite the fact that Nigeria’s economy is touted to have outpaced South Africa’s, the average Nigerian had not experienced a better life and living. The cost of doing business in Nigeria had skyrocketed due to harsh business environment in the country. Multiple taxation, power outages, and high import tariffs had increased the cost of production in the country. The imposition of bans on products that are not being produced in Nigeria had increased the incidence of smuggling and avoidable deaths. A nation that seeks to replace foreign goods with indigenous goods must do so gradually until the domestic production is enough to meet consumers’ demands before placing an outright ban. While concessions on exchange were given to those who went on pilgrimages, such was not extended to genuine businesspersons whose efforts could have developed the nation. Nigerians would expect this new administration to create a friendly business environment. The Banks should be encouraged to reduce the interest rates on loans to small-scale enterprises in order to boost production and reduce the unemployment rate in Nigeria. Certain concessions should also be given to foreign firms that are willing to set up industries in Nigeria, thereby promoting the rapid industrialization and technology transfers of the nation.

In this context, Nigerians expect the new administration to embark on infrastructural developments in the nation. It is sad to note that pipe borne water supply is a mirage in this country. Every household digs a well, or depends on streams for daily water supply, thereby increasing the incidence of water borne diseases. A state of emergency should be declared in the transport and education sector in order to boost the ease of doing business, and produce employable graduates from tertiary institutions. (To be concluded)


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