He never called himself a revolutionist – he was a former military dictator who imposed draconian laws – but President Muhammadu Buhari’s electoral campaign in 2014 and 2015 can be described as revolutionary.
His campaign was more or less a mass movement championed by the masses, especially the youth in northern villages, town and cities. People yearning for the return of Mai Gaskiya (The Forthright One) to power made contributions in various forms to ensure that the then incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan, was kicked out of the way.
At a time the candidate of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was busy distributing money to mobilise his troops, the reverse was the case with the candidate of the opposition party, Mr. Buhari, who was busy amassing financial support and goodwill from the streets.
As part of their contributions, vendors, singers, traders, shoe shiners, truck pushers, market women, kosai (bean cake) sellers, water vendors, nail cutters, and even beggars out of their meagre earnings bought scratch cards of between one hundred naira and five hundred naira to fund the Buhari campaign.
When the election came, it proved to be a Tsunami of emotions, even the Middle Belt states were affected by what the Hausa call “Guguwar Buhari.” The entire north was excited as they slaughtered animals in celebration as had probably never been witnessed before. Cows, rams, sheep, goats, fowls and all sorts of animals were slaughtered to celebrate the defeat of the PDP government.
The people at the lower strata galvanised themselves around a man they believed would take the mantle of leadership and sweep away the rots of bad governance they in their nation had been subjected to. They looked forward to a repeat of the aftermath of the December 1983 coup when political office holders were immediately arrested, tried and slammed into jail.
It has been two years now since Mr Buhari was sworn in as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. but now there are cries of dissatisfaction coming from both the opposition and even from his downtrodden admirers?
It is clear that much has been achieved by President Buhari’s government in the fight against terrorism in the last two years. Over 100 of the Chibok schoolgirls have regained their freedom as areas seized or made inaccessible by Boko Haram have been liberated. Refugees are returning home.
On the economic front, billions of naira were released to states and local governments as bailout to pay salaries to workers. The Treasury Single Account, TSA, was implemented to check financial leakages, political leaders of the previous administration were arrested and prosecuted, cash and properties confiscated from thieves as government encouraged whistle blowers.
But are all these enough? What really did the people expect from Mr. Buhari? Has he or where did he miss the track?
WAR ON CORRUPTION
Right from the beginning, President Buhari’s fight against corruption was bound to be different from that of his time as military head of state. Corruption could no longer be fought with military decrees and allegedly corrupt persons could not be barred from public office. Many persons accused of corruption, including members of the president’s party, APC, contested and won elections into various offices.
Presently, there are 15 former governors in the National Assembly who won elections while still facing multiple corruption charges in court. Among the most prominent are Senate President Bukola Saraki; Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations and former governor of Gombe State, Danjuma Goje, as well as Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, a former governor of Akwa Ibom State.
The Buhari administration is now halfway to the first tenure with many allegedly corrupt politicians still walking free.
There is also the allegation of selective prosecution of corruption. This may not be unconnected with the fact that most of those presumed as looters by the public and who decamped from PDP to APC are not in EFCC net.
PREMIUM TIMES investigations across the north indicate that a lot of people are dissatisfied with the way the corruption cases are being treated.
For instance, former Jigawa State governor, Saminu Turaki, an APC decampee, was declared wanted by the EFCC more than once. Part of the reasons for including his name among its wanted list was his constant refusal to attend his corruption trial in Jigawa. Critics of Mr. Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade are pointing out that Mr, Turaki is walking around freely. He even appeared at the wedding of the president’s daughter, Zahra, in Daura.
EARLY SIGNS OF DISSATISFACTION
On May, 29, former governor of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu, was attacked and chased away from the venue of his handover ceremony in Minna. Mr. Aliyu, the then PDP governor, was nearly mobbed, but for the quick intervention of security officials who hurried him into his official car and left the venue with him in high speed.
It is an irony that after just two years of Buhari admiration, the north is witnessing mob attacks on APC senators, governors and members of the House of Representatives. Some of the victims of mob attacks include Abu Ibrahim, a senator from Katsina State and Mohammed Gololo, a member of the House of Representatives from Bauchi State.
In the area of security, the level of discontentment is high due to daily reported cases of soldiers and police brutality against innocent civilians. The escalation of such reports on Facebook is silently washing away the hope of many people for dividends of democracy.
DARK CLOUDS IN KADUNA, BENUE AND TARABA
Before he fell sick, President Buhari had more than a year to take a decisive action on the clashes between farmers and herdsmen that have left many Nigerians dead across the country and properties destroyed. Many people believe the president failed to do this. The situation has now reached the point that Mr. Buhari’s opponents are propagating that government has deliberately refused to stop the killings in Kaduna, Plateau, Benue, Taraba and other states, including in the south.
The herdsmen versus farmers’ crisis appears to have dented Mr. Buhari’s popularity in some areas, especially Southern Kaduna, some parts of Plateau and Taraba states. The situation is even worse in Benue, an APC state, where the government now has an anti-grazing law.
DISCONTENT IN KANO, JIGAWA, KATSINA
During the 2015 presidential elections, Mr. Buhari secured his biggest block votes in Kano, with the support of former governor, Rabi’u Kwankwaso, who was second in the APC presidential primary elections in Lagos. In Kano, APC won 1,903,999 votes out of 2,128,821 votes with PDP a distant second with 215,779 votes only.
A few months after President Buhari assumed office, fire destroyed almost half of Sabon Gari market where properties worth billions of naira were lost. The popular Kantin Kwari textile market was also damaged by fire soon after, as goods and properties worth billions of naira were also reported to have been lost. With these two calamities at a time when people were suffering under hard living conditions as a result of recession, people were not happy with Mr. Buhari’s lack of demonstration of concern and his failure to pay the victims a visit.
PREMIUM TIMES findings also revealed that the people are not happy that no major project has been executed in the state by the federal government. The Kano Film Village, which was included in the 2017 budget, was rejected by the people because they considered it of no significant value to them.
“This is not the reason we rejected PDP and cast our votes for Buhari. If all I can get from this government is a film village, why did I spend most of my time campaigning for APC?
“We have other serious problems that need urgent attention from the Buhari administration. Look at Kaduna-Kano expressway; it is almost unmotorable between Zaria and Kano. They don’t know how many people lost their lives daily on this road, which is why they don’t care to attend to it,” said Dahiru, a commercial vehicle driver, who frequents the road from Kano to Abuja.
Though a lot of people are angry, Mr. Buhari’s health condition might possibly be the reason for not venting their anger in a loud tone. The president is currently in London on medical vacation.
Like in Kano, checks in Jigawa State revealed that there is discontent in the former PDP state over distribution of federal appointments. The two main appointees from the state, a minister and the director general of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, are both from Kazaure, a town regarded as Mr. Buhari’s second home after Daura.
A recent by-election into the House of Representatives at Mashi and Dutsi Local Government areas in Katsina state gave a clear sign that all is not well with the ruling party in the home state of President Buhari. The APC scored 27,968, while the PDP was not far behind with 19,451 votes. Even at that, the PDP accused the APC of ballot snatching and other irregularities. The state chairman of the opposition party, Salisu Majigiri, issued a statement that his party had rejected the result of the by-election held to fill the seat of the deceased federal lawmaker from President Buhari’s senatorial constituency.
SCORECARD OF BUHARI GOVERNMENT
A recent report published this week by an organization, SBM Intelligence, summed up what could be taken as President Buhari’s performance. It credited his government with fulfilling only four of 171 promises the APC made during the 2015 elections.
SBM Intelligence said on its web page that it was only providing an “analysis of the Nigerian socio-economic situation.”
Many in the North who expected much better from Mr. Buhari may see no reason to query that assessment.
However, although the government has highlighted some of its successes including in agriculture, war on terror and social investment programmes, President Buhari’s officials have, however, asked for more patience from Nigerians.
Chris Ngige, the Minister of Labour and Productivity, assured that the federal government was committed to the development and welfare of the people.