Our quadrennial election cycle has come and gone. The country has renewed the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari and strengthened the control of the National Assembly by the All Progressives Congress (APC). While some of the results of the governorship and the state assembly elections have been released, others are still being expected. Sadly, the elections were characterised by unprecedented violence and voter apathy.
During the presidential elections held on February 23, independent observer teams recorded about 20 election-related deaths. On March 9, about six deaths were reported; one of them was noted as accidental. It is utterly disgraceful for us as a nation and as a democracy to record this level of violence. The cardinal aim of democracy is to remove the use of violence in the contest for power and authority. Power acquired through violence cannot, in good conscience, be described as democratic. This is why we think that one of the first things the Federal Government must do is to urgently reform the nation’s electoral system.
We seem to have overcome the ‘free-for-all’ mass violence, which in the past, was the handiwork of ethnic jingoists and religious zealots. We cannot now allow a few moneyed interests bent on winning power at all costs to make a laughing stock of our democracy. The sponsors of the violence are known and what is missing is the will to hold them accountable for their nefarious deeds. It is nationally acknowledged that the country needs to do a lot to clean up its elections, given our experience in the last four weeks. Unless the issue of violence is addressed, all other ideas on what to do next would sound academic if not fanciful.
Now that the election is out of the way, now is the time to do the hard part which is governing. President Buhari must have made many promises and his party, the APC, must have its programmes which he is mandated to implement. Additionally, the President, now unfettered from re-election anxiety, ought to now have legacy as his primary motivation. He should be magnanimous in victory and give every part of the country a sense of belonging in his cabinet. In doing this, he should reckon with the federal character provisions of the Constitution. It is expected that he should run an inclusive government and unite the country.
There can be no progress, no development without security. In the last four years, the security situation left a lot to be desired, both against the insurgency and safety in our streets and highways. The President seems reluctant to change guards. The war against the insurgents in the North East must be invigorated. In fact, the government must tackle frontally the rising insecurity in some parts of the country.
The President deserves commendation for his efforts in the development of infrastructure which is often compared to the rising tide. And a rising tide, it is said, lifts all boats. Nigeria will remember him if he could leave behind a reliable trains service, enough electric power to encourage manufacturing, an affordable mortgage institution to motivate an active construction sector. Unarguably, our inter-state highways deserve substantial, well-funded year-round maintenance to avoid the historical cycle of having to reconstruct these highways after a year or two. He should pay attention to the development of the rural areas. The true measure of a country’s development is assessed through the standard of living of the people and the infrastructure of its rural areas.
The President would have had an earful about youth unemployment situation. That demands that the President must rejig the economy and create more jobs for unemployed Nigerians. He should also offer young people training opportunities in information technology and provide them extensive Internet access. Creating opportunities for entrepreneurship and facilitating the ease of doing business would go a long way to address the nation’s rising unemployment.
Getting rid of corruption in our system would go a long way to encourage Nigerians to have faith in the system. We hope the President would widen the fight against graft by enlisting the support of his party men at the grassroots, the National and State Assemblies. Above all, President Buhari should strive to fulfill his campaign promises and lead by example.