I HAD written in the past that one of the good things that came out of Goodluck Jonathan’s administration is the absolute freedom for everyone to express him/herself. Now he has gone on to conduct the freest and most credible election this country has ever witnessed at the presidential level. What an irony! A man who never struggled nor sweated for any political office he had occupied, suddenly found himself losing the only one he so desperately worked hard for.
On the other hand, the man that has been a serial loser at the presidential elections clinched it this time; he too, will not be the first in this regard, considering the records of America’s Abraham Lincoln. I will not dwell on Jonathan’s mistakes here but I do not consider his government as a total failure.
Some people were so disillusioned that they called for change, it does not matter who, but change it must be. Muhammadu Buhari was waiting in the wings to harvest from the spoils, in the absence of any worthy candidate, he stepped in and the rest as they say is history.
You asked for General Muhammadu Buhari, you have got him. An ex-military dictator, that has a tag of religious fundamentalist, who is way past his prime at age 73years. That is who we have voted for to run the affairs of this country in the next four to eight years. The south west with their effective propaganda machinery, a united north and the liberals of the south-south and south east ensured that the picture ends up this way.
We demanded for change and change we have got. Is it going to be a change of personnel alone or a change that will affect the structures, institutions and the way we as Nigerians do things? Only time will tell.
I am a skeptic when it comes to Muhammadu Buhari and I pray that he proves me wrong with his performance, especially as it relates to the matters of religion, sectionalism, corruption, dictatorial tendencies, economy management and true democracy. No one in his right senses will fault the religion of Islam; it has given a lot to mankind in almost all fields of human endeavour; science, culture, technology, mathematics, medicine and many more.
But, when you add the fundamentalism to it, as it is the vogue these days, it becomes another thing altogether. Islamic fundamentalism and extremism has become a problem to the whole world, those who thought that they were safe are now finding out the opposite. As I write this piece, a coalition of Arab states are carrying out joint military campaigns against the militants in Yemeni.
Imagine the destructions in Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, north east Nigeria and many more. Those countries that have taken them for granted in the name of human rights and freedom of expression now find them difficult to contain, hundreds of British and American citizens are now finding their way to join ISIS, the world most dreaded terrorist group. Jihadi John, the famous hostage executioner is a fully born and bred British citizen. That is why any one that has sympathy for Muslim fundamentalism must be treated with caution. If you encourage it in Nigeria, you will be giving room for such extreme terrorism to take root. It is hoped that Muhammadu Buhari will distance himself from such groups and organizations.
For me, the best way for the government to handle the matter of religion is to completely hands off from its activities. No sponsorship of any kind, those who want to go on pilgrimage to whatever holy land must be able to fund it without the involvement of government in. The security agencies must be fully alert and ready in the monitoring of religious activities all over the country. This is to enable them nip in the bud any potential threat.
The election campaigns have been very bitter and acrimonious, that is the way of politics these days. Tt has become a war to be fought. It is left for Buhari to avoid any form of vindictiveness, and there must be no deliberate attempt to victimize those who did not support APC. People should not be singled out for marginalization. If he treads that path, he will lose the status of a statesman. Providence has thrust on him the opportunity to put right the wrongs he had committed in the past, he should truly adopt the Mandela model, if possible, he can bring in the useful ones from the opposition into government.
His party used his incorruptible nature as the anchor for his campaign; we are hopeful that he will serve as an example for all members of his cabinet. If the head is rotten, the whole body will suffer same fate. If the people see sincerity in the leadership, they will follow suit.
There is need for prudence in government; aggressive cost saving measures that will curtail wastages. According to observers, Buhari had led a Spartan lifestyle, it is hoped that he will bring this to bear in his government. The government requires very drastic restructuring for it to be more effective, will he be ready to cede more powers to the states and reduce the burden of the federal government? That is another challenge that he is going to face.
It is now a vogue for Nigerians to see any of their brothers or tribesman in power, as an opportunity to grab and lord it over others, Buhari must avoid this route. We are in a democracy, we must work within the guidelines of the constitution.
and not act arbitrarily. There must be press freedom and freedom of information, above all, there must be transparency, and every single government account must be open to public scrutiny.
We cannot list all of our expectations in this piece but I believe, if he starts with these ones in mind, he will definitely make progress and the change everybody had clamored for will be worth it.
Mr. Sunny Ikhioya, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Lagos.