The conduct of the presidential elections has come and gone and President Goodluck has taken a step to ensure some issues that went wrong during the election are overlooked in the interest of the nation, following his directive to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, not to challenge the outcome of the election in the tribunal. While President Jonathan is drawing the curtain on his administration, several Nigerians are getting worried with feelers from the camp of the President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari when he came out to announce that for some reasons, he will not be able to deliver on the promises he made to Nigerians during the electioneering campaign.
When President Jonathan made the historic call to Buhari to concede defeat, Nigerians started the countdown on the date Buhari will commence implementation of his electioneering promises. Some of the popular expectations were the reduction in the cost of premium motor spirit (petrol) from N87 to N40; bringing the US dollar down to N1 per dollar; N5, 000 monthly allowance for the poorest 25 million Nigerians; free education at all levels nationwide; eradicating Boko Haram and the return of the Chibok girls.
The APC and its presidential candidate, who ran a campaign with ‘CHANGE’ as the mantra, also promised Nigerians to undertake some other vital reforms, which coincidentally are in tandem with the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference. They include, but not limited to:
1. Initiate action to amend the Nigerian Constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties, and responsibilities to states in order to entrench true Federalism and the Federal spirit.
2. Amend the Constitution to remove immunity from prosecution for elected officers in criminal cases.
3. Require full disclosure in media outlets, of all government contracts over N100m prior to award and during implementation at regular intervals.
4. Reform and Strengthen the Justice System for efficient administration and dispensation of justice with the creation of special courts for accelerated hearing of corruption, drug trafficking, terrorism and similar cases of national importance.
5. Fully enforce the Freedom of Information Act l so that government held data sets can be requested and used by the public and then such data sets be published on a regular basis.
6. Amend the Constitution to require Local governments to publish their meeting minutes, service performance data, and items of spending that is over N10M.
7. Consult and amend the Constitution to enable States and Local Governments to create city, Local government and State Policing systems, based on the resources available at each level, to address the peculiar needs of each community, with a promise that he will work with the National Assembly to set and revise, when needed, boundaries of operations, for the Federal, State, and Local government policing units, through new Criminal Justice legislation to replace the Criminal Code, the Penal Code and the Police Act.
8. Initiate policies to ensure that Nigerians are free to live and work in any part of the country by removing state of origin, tribe, ethnic and religious affiliations from documentation requirements in our identification of citizens and replace these with State of Residence and fashion out the appropriate minimal qualification for obtaining such a state of residency, nation-wide.
9. Make our economy one of the fastest growing emerging economies in the world with a real GDP growth averaging at least 10-12% annually.
10. Amend the Constitution and the Land Use Act to create freehold/leasehold interests in land along with matching grants for states to create a nationwide electronic land title register on a state by state basis;
11. Create an additional middle-class of at least 4 million new home owners by 2019 by enacting a national mortgage single digit interest rates for the purchase of owner occupier houses as well as review the collateral qualification to make funding for home ownership easier, with a 15 to 30 year mortgage terms. This will equally help our banking system to migrate from short to long term perspective of their role in sustaining the economy.
12. Create a Social Welfare Program of at least Five Thousand Naira (N5000) that will cater for the 25 million poorest and most vulnerable citizens upon the demonstration of children’s enrolment in school and evidence of immunisation to help promote family stability.
13. Provide allowances to the discharged but unemployed Youth Corps members for Twelve (12) months while in the skills and entrepreneurial development programmes.
While some staunch supporters of Buhari expressed evangelical believe in the ability of Buhari to deliver on all these campaign promises, more circumspect Nigerians raised issues over the promises, while cynics are of the view that the campaign promises are mere political talks to hoodwink the electorates and secure their votes. Those that hold the view that APC cannot implement the campaign promises argue that the country at the moment lack the wherewithal for any administration to fulfill the enticing campaign promises.
However, the fear of some Nigerians was confirmed immediately Buhari was announced as the winner of the presidential election. While answering questions on BBC after emerging as the winner of the election, Buhari said Nigerians should not expect miracles as the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP had destroyed the country for 16 years.
When asked whether he would hit the terrorist group hard or negotiate with them, Buhari said “Hit them hard with what? Boko Haram, by the 14th of February, according to the government is in control of 14 local governments. These are 14 local governments out of 774 local governments. If for 5-6 years the Nigerian law enforcement agency including the military could not secure 14 local governments, how can I promise miracle when I come?
Asked how he was going to fulfill his promises, he said “I think I wouldn’t make a promise if I don’t know how to go about it, we have identified some problems; insecurity is a problem which everybody knows, and then lack of employment and the destruction of the economy by corruption and then, the corruption itself. These are fundamental problems and all Nigerians know this.
We are asking Nigerians for their cooperation; they shouldn’t expect miracles to happen in a couple of months after we take over because the destruction took so many years, 16 years of the ruling party to rule this country.”
Another shocker was in stock for Nigerians on April 14 during the first year anniversary of the abduction of the Chibok girls that Buhari promised to rescue during the electioneering campaign. In what appears to be a classical u-turn the President-elect said he cannot promise to find the 219 Chibok schoolgirls.
“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,” Buhari said in a statement marking the anniversary of the April 14-15 mass abduction that brought international outrage.
Buhari’s attempt to jettison his campaign promises, even before he assumes office, did not go down well with many Nigerians who are already feeling that they were conned into supporting his candidature.
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, said Buhari must deliver on his campaign promises to Nigerians.
Agbakoba, who spoke at a press conference in Lagos tagged “Setting a new Agenda for the President-elect on National Order, Constitutional Reform, Devolution of Powers, Anti-corruption, Diversification of the Economy, Driving new Public Revenue, Maritime, Space, Aviation and some other issues,” said Buhari must live up to the trust Nigerians reposed on him as soon as he assumes office, noting that, he has to be held to account for all the campaign promises he made.
An advocacy group, Lawyers for Change, has charged Buhari, to focus on delivering on his campaign promises, especially with regards to rescuing the abducted Chibok girls.
National coordinator of the group, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana charged Buhari to live up to his earlier promise of finding the girls who were abducted by the Islamist sect Boko Haram, stressing that his comments after the general elections, which indicated that his government cannot guarantee the recovery of the girls, contradicted his promise before the elections.
“What he said is at variance with his promise. Chibok girls must be rescued, they must be found,” Ogunlana said.
With public narrative already turning against him, over his volte-face on campaign promises, even before he assumes office, Buhari tried to justify why the APC can alter their promises to Nigerians during an interview/interactive session with journalists on Television Continental (TVC). He argued that the promises he made in his manifesto during his presidential election campaign are not words from the Quran or Bible, and therefore those promises are subject to modification.
In his words, Buhari said, “I would ask Nigerian political observers to study our manifesto; it is not a Bible or Quran which you can’t change. Our manifesto was made by very experienced Nigerians but it is subject to modification. It took several months to arrive at it; so, whatever we said in our manifesto, people must accept the fact that we have to modify it.”
Political observers are of the view that the APC and Buhari needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with other strategies on how to convince Nigerians that there is nothing sacrosanct about the campaign promises that made Nigerians to vote for them. Nigeria is one nation where a sitting president is never popular, no matter his achievements. Buhari will be stepping into the presidential villa with the wrong foot if he allows the growing feeling that he conned the electorates with fake promises to win their support. The impact of his face-off with the AIT is yet to abate and unless he retrace his steps and implement his campaign promises he might have a very rough time in the presidential villa.


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