ABUJA (Sundiata Post) The greatest challenge for the president would be his message to Nigerians on why they should elect him for a second term. We have never had a president who showed as much reluctance to govern as Buhari did. He combined both a laissez faire and laissez aller attitude to governance and would not normally respond to emerging emergencies until crises build up into a crescendo that shakes his government.
I recall that after his first hundred days in power, the Centre for Democracy and Development drew attention to promises for the first 100 days in the document: “Muhammadu Buhari: My Covenant with Nigerians”, which commits the president to specific achievements in the first 100 days.
At that time he had still not even appointed ministers, not to talk of developing action plans for what they would do with the power they had won. It would be recalled that the campaign document in question was particularly well crafted and spelled out in clear details the specific deliverables Nigerians should expect from Muhammadu Buhari were he to win the election.
He won and therefore Nigerians started to ask for results. It took almost two months after the 100-day event for the president to even appoint his ministers. Aspirant and candidate Buhari should be ready to answer to a lot of questions on whether he was ready to rule in the first place and why Nigerians should believe he is now ready.
There are two important issues about campaign promises that we as citizens should note. The first is that in a democracy, candidates are voted for on the basis of their promises to the electorate and the belief of voters’ that they will keep to the said promises. In Nigeria, because we have had a long history of electoral fraud and godfathers rather than voters deciding electoral outcomes, there is a very poor tradition of citizens demanding that promises be kept. Voters knew that they never voted for the said officeholders in the first place and therefore did not have high expectations. Nigerians did vote for President Buhari and it’s appropriate that they scrutinize and assess the president based on his promises.
The second important issue about campaign promises is that candidates, pushed by public relations firms and campaign teams, tend to promise more than they can deliver, if and when elected. On assuming office, therefore, they try to tone down their promises and engage in creating justifications about the difficulty of the realities they find in the office. It is also the case that in certain situations, the nature of the problems encountered by governance teams is much worse than what they had anticipated.
That might have been the case for President Buhari who assumed power after voters disgraced out the most corrupt and irresponsible government in our history. Nonetheless, he still has questions to answer because he made all the 222 promises counted in Buharimeter and most of them have not been kept.
It is true that citizens are not stupid and they usually have a clear idea of what is possible or impossible and what timelines are realistic. Sincere and committed politicians who have exaggerated in their campaign promises, have every right and indeed the obligation to issue reality checks to the citizenry on their programmes and issue revised timelines.
The question for President Buhari is when and how did he engage Nigerians on the challenges of programme implementation, so that they could decide whether he deserves a second chance.
I have heard government minders say that the president did not make 222 promises, that he only made three – security, anti-corruption and jobs for the youth. Okay fine, where exactly are we on these three items, which of course have to be broken down into details?
On the whole, one major concern Nigerians have is that the president has not been talking sufficiently with them. The tide has changed, we are the Oga Citizens, our time has come and the ball is now in the court of aspirant/candidate Buhari – talk to us, convince us on what you have been doing with the power we gave you