Dan Ukwu: Nigerians should be hopeful
Obviously, President Muhammadu Buhari did not meet the expectations of many Nigerians in his first year. The simple reason is that the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Buhari promised so much in their bid to win the last election. And the reality now is that the scorecard is reading below the people’s expectations.
There is a leadership problem here. Buhari is not carrying the people along in all he is doing. He is not talking to Nigerians. All we see is that he is fighting corruption. Economically, this one year is a failure but we have hope that the government will come up with a good economic policy to cushion the hardship. We don’t know if Nigeria is poor or if the economy is not well managed.
He is fighting corruption: we are seeing vulgar figures linked with people, but we are yet to see anyone prosecuted, convicted and jailed. Can Buhari make it happen? Fighting corruption is good but he needs to remove the climate that makes corruption thrive, and put in place a framework that will raise the standards of living. Corruption will thrive in a situation where the N18,000 minimum wage can purchase only 124 liters of petrol. He is preoccupied with corruption as if he can kill it; he can only reduce corruption.
Are we more secured today? His success in security so far is measured by how the Armed Forces are reducing the threat of Boko Haram. From reports, there is reason to be optimistic and he should be commended for that. But there are other spots that are equally threatening. The Niger Delta remains serious; the agitation for Biafra looks like something that should not be waved away; and then the case of the marauding Fulani herdsmen. Every government faces opposition but the manner the opposition is handled makes the difference between outstanding leaders and average leaders. Where is Buhari on the scale? He has failed to master the environment on Biafra and the herdsmen and the danger therein remains latent.
Buhari is not displaying the qualities of a leader the country needs today to pull it through its domestic and internal problems. He alone should not be engaged in the fight against corruption for example, but his dictatorial tendencies are showing up here. Corruption exists everywhere and should be fought across all levels, not just at the top.
The unity of this country is more important than the fight against corruption. We are toying with the true spirit of our federalism and previous leaders have succumbed to that urge to leave things as they are. But it is not working and will not work until we make necessary amendments. And this is where Buhari will realize that he needs to implement the recommendations of the last national conference. The continued survival of this country probably depends on it.
That conference shouldn’t be seen as an agenda of his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan. The structure of the country is still lopsided. When will the South East get its own six states? When will the constitutional powers of the centre and the president be reduced to give more powers and functions to the states as the structural imbalance is curtailing our development as a nation? We have to move away from the situation where the states find it difficult to pay salaries and rely on the centre to survive.
If our leaders show the political will to restructure, things will work. The present federal structure, as acceptable as it might be, has not worked so well or the leaders have corrupted it to suit their ethnic or sectional interests and have stopped serving the collective desires of everyone. So, we are faced with a situation where people have refused to change the system to make it work and injustice, inequality, inequity and nepotism thrive. When Buhari does what is right, Nigerians will praise him; right now, not much cheering news.
● Mr. Daniel Ukwu, activist, public affairs commentator, is the founder and Executive Director, Daniel Ukwu Leadership Foundation.