Some statements credited to General Buhari, president-elect, where he has started backtracking on some of his campaign promises leaves much to be desired. This shows that soon after he was declared winner by INEC, he has started balancing reality with fiction thereby realizing that campaign promises are different from fulfillment. Could this be the dawn of reality on the former head of state asks EMMA ALOZIE
Since General Muhammadu Buhari was declared winner of March 28 Presidential election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, his comments seem to be divergently different.
Prior to the election and in the heat of the campaign, the former head of state was very upbeat that he was going to change Nigeria for the better. While he was making his nationwide campaign tour, he promised dramatic and instant changes. For instance, he promised to pay 25 million poorest Nigerians N5000 per month. He also promised to create 720000 jobs in his first year in office. General Buhari promised to pay youth corps members equivalence of their monthly allowance one year after service and above all end Boko Haram terrorism in the first six months of assuming office.
He also promised one school meal per day for every school child throughout Nigeria and to generate 40,000 megawatts of electricity in four years time.
At his campaign rally in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital, General Buhari said, “Imagine you were the parent of the over 200 school girls that were kidnapped eight months ago, how would you feel? Imagine the number of soldiers that were released to Ekiti; if that same number of soldiers were sent to Chibok, they would have reclaimed our girls.”
He went ahead to say “Our government will bring to an end the menace of Boko Haram terror that is plaguing the society. Nigerians are turning into refugees in their country. What we save from the fight against corruption and leakages, we will invest heavily in education, infrastructure, equipment, and teachers. The best we can do for our generation and future generation is to give them qualitative and quantitative education. An APC government throughout the country definitely will do that.”
During his outing at the Chatham House in London, he said, “let me assure you that if I am elected president, the world will have no cause to worry about Nigeria as it has had to recently; that Nigeria will return to its stabilizing role in West Africa; and that no inch of Nigerian territory will ever be lost to the enemy because we will pay special attention to the welfare of our soldiers in and out of service, we will give them adequate and modern arms and ammunitions to work with, we will improve intelligence gathering and border controls to choke Boko Haram’s financial and equipment channels, we will be tough on terrorism and tough on its root causes by initiating a comprehensive economic development plan promoting infrastructural development, job creation, agriculture and industry in the affected areas. We will always act on time and not allow problems to irresponsibly fester, and I, Muhammadu Buhari, will always lead from the front and return Nigeria to its leadership role in regional and international efforts to combat terrorism.”
However, since after winning the election, the intensity of his promises has waned and he is beginning to balance reality and fiction. He has started backtracking on some of the promises. Soon after he was declared winner, the first pointer to the fact that he may not be able to keep all the campaign promises came when he denied ever promising to end Boko Haram soon. Speaking through the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation, APCPCO, Buhari said, “the President-elect is still waiting to be sworn in on May 29. After the ceremony, he would need time to study the security situation and plan strategically with the security chiefs as to the way forward. Time is of essence here.
“Therefore, President Buhari didn’t and wouldn’t peg the decimation of terrorism from the country’s territories to just two months.
“The General was unequivocal about cleansing Boko Haram from our land; he would do a good job of it by giving a final, permanent push to rid Nigeria of unscrupulous elements. He never put a time-frame to when he would eliminate terrorists. It would be unfair and mischievous for someone to ascribe to him what he hasn’t said.”
In another breath, the president-elect told Nigerians that they should not expect miracles in fixing Nigeria, rather they should exercise patience. General Buhari while in Yola to shore up support for the APC candidate in Adamawa said, “Though many expect that things will change in a day or weeks, it’s not so; this is because it will take us years to amend changes. Nigerians are in a haste; people should not see the change that we are championing as a twinkle of an eye, we need prayers and patience for us to succeed.’’
General Buhari has become somewhat of one week, one denial. If he is not denying fixing Nigeria in a hurry, he is denying ending Boko Haram. In another twist to the General’s myriads of campaign promises, he has come out to put a doubt on the rescue of the Chibok girls. In a message he personally signed in commemoration of first anniversary of the kidnap of the over 200 Chibok girls, the president-elect said he would not make any promise to rescue the girls. According to General Buhari, the whereabouts of the kidnapped girls is unknown and the possibility of rescuing them is becoming very remote. “We do not know if the Chibok girls can be rescued. Their whereabouts remain unknown. As much as I wish to, I cannot promise that we can find them. But I say to every parent, family member and friend of the children that my government will do everything in its power to bring them home.”
With the way General Buhari’s utterances have changed from that of certainty to uncertainty, it will be safe to conclude that reality of the enormous tasks ahead is dawning on him. How does he explain to expectant Nigerians that he was only making unfufillable campaign promises, many of which are not kept after winning elections?