Congratulations to President-elect Muhammadu Buhari and the APC on wining the mandate to lead the nation for the next parliament. The APC ran a very good campaign, and deserve its victory. Whilst I rooted for Prof Sonaiya of Kowa, I very much also wanted President Jonathan and the PDP to lose, so I’m satisfied with 50% victory. It is an incredibly proud moment to be Nigerian.
Now that the presidential election has concluded, I am sure the President-elect and his VP know that this is just the beginning. The task and challenge ahead are incredibly considerable, difficult decisions have to be made. I could have rooted for APCs top ticket during this election, but I, like many other Nigerians, have reservations about some characters/persons in or around the highest decision making body of the campaign and party.
President-elect Buhari’s first cabinet will either allay or confirm these fears. I hope he picks his cabinet purely on merit and not on political power play, negotiation or payback. Further, he will need to brush up on his understanding of economics and theories because his personal incorruptibility wouldn’t be enough as an excuse this time, he will need to make sure unscrupulous people can’t pull one on him with dodgy policies. I hope and pray that President Buhari does well and delivers on at least institutionalising anti-corruption, security, agriculture, energy and enabling INEC. I am keenly looking forward to him revealing the composition of his first cabinet, and what target he’ll set for his team for their first 100 days in office.
The fact that Nigerians have voted out an incumbent at the federal level is great for our democracy. Now that we’ve confirmed we can do it, the next step has to be making it easier for credible people to contest elections without the sponsorship of a godfather. We need to attack godfatherism in our politics. Whilst Ambode may be a better candidate, it is clear that Bode George and Seye Ogunlewe are an encumbrance to Jimi Agbaje. Furthermore, if we want independent candidacy to be introduced into our politics then we need to deal with this godfatherism phenomenon. Further, dealing with the effect of slush funds in our politics goes hand in hand with reducing the necessity for godfathers. We have to get to a point where majority of campaign financing comes from ordinary citizen’s donations rather than cabals or vested interests.
Being more open-minded to parties such as Kowa is one of the ways ordinary Nigerians can help with reducing godfatherism and slush funds. Those parties can’t run against the APC/PDP on money, so they have to be really strong on ideologies to differentiate themselves and hope that that is enough to swing voter apathy their way. Ideological politics has to be encouraged by ordinary Nigerians and there is no better or cheaper way of doing this other than supporting parties running more on ideology and less with slush funds.
One of the big manifesto points for Kowa is improving the quality and structure of our education. Kowa’s ideology on education is such that education should be used as a tool for solving societal problems not just for collecting name-suffixes. For example, rather than the “establishing 12 new federal universities in the North palliative” of the Jonathan government, Kowa will first look at the challenges of the North, then seek to establish universities or other institutions that will provide the kind of education that will help solve or improve the Northern economy. Universities focused on producing agricultural specialist, nurses or other healthcare professionals etc is what will be sought to be established. This approach wouldn’t only be qualitative, it will also benefit from being embraced quicker by the locals as direct linkages between problems and solutions will be clear as the approach will be akin to teaching how to fish rather than handing them fishes to eat.
In addition, I hope that by 2019 the Buhari government would have supported our electoral process to an extent that an end to end electronic voting will be possible i.e. not just accreditation, but voting itself will be electronic. INEC should be encouraged to register eligible voters over the next four years rather than at specific windows. The fact that just over half of the 18% of Nigerian’s that voted gave President-elect Buhari his mandate is clearly not good enough. If we can go one step further and enable diaspora Nigerians also to vote, then we will know that we have truly arrived as a democratic nation.
Unseating an incumbent is a great feat indeed, but taking our foot off the gas now will be a great disservice not just to President-elect Buhari but also to us. With governance being a continuum, our criticism of President Jonathan’s government should be transferred to the Buhari led one – of course within reason. We cannot afford to do anything less. As soon as the election season concludes, Nigerians that are non-partisan need to do their best to encourage PDP to be a strong opposition. Doing anything other than that will be tantamount to cutting off our nose to spite our face. The next four years will be challenging but pretty interesting.
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.