By Sunny Okoro
Recently, I watched President-elect Muhammadu Buhari while addressing a section of the Northern elders forum make the now famous comment, that he is coming at a wrong time as president, meaning that things do not look good for the country at the moment. He asked that Nigeria should excuse him and be patient with him as he attempts to keep his electoral promises to them. While I do agree that every president has had good intentions and this includes President Buhari and thus will need ample time to carry out their programs, I do not believe it has ever been so rosy for any incoming administration not even the one of President Goodluck Jonathan whom President-elect Muhammadu Buhari expressly refused to agree that if given time his transformation agenda would have ever moved the nation forward.
Let’s talk about “appropriate time of arrival”, no President has ever been elected at a rosy time in Nigeria, is it President Obasanjo that took over from the military whose scars of degradation on our entire institutions and infrastructures we still bare on our national body today? Or was it late President Yar’ Adua who was saddled with the singular responsibility of dealing with a raging militancy struggle that almost crippled the entire financial structure of the country, coupled with a global financial crises that rocked the financial base of the world? Or is it President Goodluck Jonathan who is unfortunate enough to be the President to oversee a new kind of warfare and Islamic insurgency that is ravaging the entire globe with an ill equipped Nigerian military? Therefore, every President has something that has hindered them from properly executing their programs effectively to Nigerians.
With that cleared, it will be pertinent to say notably that, after a study of all Presidents that have been in power in Nigeria, before now one can actually say President Buhari stands a better chance than his predecessors. Contrary to his belief that the country has suffered 16 years of decay, I humbly posit Mr. President that the nation has actually experienced 16 years of revamping of dead infrastructures and institutions albeit, not at the expected pace and speed Nigerians obviously yearn for. Before anyone jumps on me with unnecessary arguments I will quickly enumerate the positives that Mr President-elect will be inheriting which his predecessors did not have the good fortune to meet in their own time.
On the economy, President Buhari unlike his predecessors will be inheriting the largest economy in Africa, a country that is being seen as the best destination for investment in Africa and one of the fastest growing economies in the world. All of these beautiful statistics were never there for any other President before him, and YES I do not see this as a rot being inherited but rather a plus.
On infrastructure, I do not think there is any Nigeria living today, that will tell anyone that the state of roads they currently ply, are worse than the ones they rode on pre 1999. The airports that Mr President flew around from all through his campaigns are certainly not worse when compared to the once left for the PDP pre-1999. There are obviously an improvement in revamping and constructions of new dams all over the country, telecommunication was established and made a vital tool in the hands of every common Nigerian within the last 16 years. The Federal Capital City actually grew to become one of the finest in Africa under the full glare of the PDP in the last 16 years. Our rail sector is obviously not as comatose as they were before the PDP took over and as we speak, President Buhari will be inheriting a better rail sector than Obansanjo, Yar’ Adua and Goodluck inherited. The state of our health facilities are obviously not as terrible as they were some 10 years ago, as at today our teaching hospitals are wearing better looks and are performing better services like open heart surgeries when compared to the past. I obviously do not see how all of these are 16 years of rot compared to what the military handed over to the PDP?
Journalism as a profession has experienced so much independence over the last 16 years, the independence enjoyed by our judiciary has very much improved, the level of improvements of our INEC, the operations of pensions through PENCOM, the various reforms and improvements that have helped to improve the workings and removal of ghost workers in the civil service, the various improvements in FIRS that has increased tax generation in the country, the IPPS initiative to stem the tide of corruption in the civil service, cannot be termed as 16years of rot.
Talking about diversification, President Buhari cannot allude himself of the knowledge that under 16 years of PDP the nation’s Agriculture policies haven’t been on the positive especially under this current administration, even the policies that have been put in place to curb the corruption in the Agricultural Ministry is a big plus that President Buhari will be inheriting to help him in his fight against corruption.
In his quest to fight the scourge of illiteracy in the Northern part of the country, President Buhari already has an edge because he will be inheriting an already workable system that has been established in the form of the Almajiri schooling program.
Unlike in the early days that President Obansanjo had to fight to build investors confidence in Nigeria so that companies will stop migrating out of the country, President Buhari has all of that already taken care of as Nigeria is already the best destination for investment and the PDP government left this legacy for him which is a plus. Today we have companies like Nissan and others coming back and setting up production plants in Nigeria, there is even now an indigenous car manufacturing plant all of these are because of the robust industrialization policies of the 16 years of PDP leadership in rebuilding our lost industrial base which were destroyed under the military.
The housing policies have also greatly been improved even though there is still a lot to be done but, it surely has gotten far better to what it used to be. The Bank of Industry in collaboration with SMEs have been better position to promote small businesses and create jobs. within the last 16years the PDP has improved on the banking sector a whole lot that it became one of the highest employers of labor, while at the same time becoming stronger than they use to be.
Even on insecurity, it is very glaring that Mr President Muhammadu Buhari will be inheriting a better equipped and well counter insurgency trained military, and an established working coalition with regional countries in his fight in overcoming Boko Haram when compared to what his predecessor started with. So yes he won’t be inheriting a rotten military but a better-equipped military
In conclusion therefore, I want to remind President Buhari that no, he is not inheriting 16 years of rot but rather if I must agree with him to an extent, he is actually inheriting 16 years of slow development because the facts on ground are showing that he is on a better start off point today than President Obasanjo and the PDP were 16 years ago. So whether he accepts it or not, records are showing that the infrastructure, policies and institutions he will be inheriting are far better than what his predecessors inherited. All he needs to do now is build on them and see that they function far better and that is how other that will come after him, will keep building because governance is a continuum.
Sunny Okoro is Deputy Publicity Secretary, Rethink Nigeria