President Muhammadu Buhari is steadily moving towards his first hundred days in power as Nigeria’s fifteenth democratically-elected president. It is no surprise that all eyes are on him to see how he goes about tackling the multifarious problems facing the African giant.
Expectations are high not because the 15 million people who voted for the All Peoples Congress (APC) and Buhari are naïve to believe that the promise of change on which APC campaigned will come on a silver platter or that Buhari has a magical wand to address all the complicated issues that held the country down for decades. No one in Nigeria honestly believes that Nigeria’s anguishing economy underscored by the crash of petroleum price on the world market, the fall of the naira, explosion of joblessness and the precarious security situation in the country will suddenly improve simply because there has been a democratic election and smooth transition from a ruling party to an opposition party. However, President Buhari knows that there can be no gratuitous escape from national duties. To succeed, he must deal with urgent necessities. Perhaps that is why he has prioritized security, especially combating the Boko Haram nemesis in the northeast of Nigeria. In any case, he has his work cut out. Since February 2012, when the insurgency began, thousands of people have lost their lives and the Nigerian federation is no longer at ease. Buhari’s decision to fight the Boko Haram head-on is an inevitability that is in synch with the overriding public opinion that given his background as retired military officer, he is better placed than his predecessor to prosecute the war against Boko Haram and stop the carnage that has taken over 13,000 lives and destroyed millions of dollars of property. In response to this legitimate expectation of his people, President Buhari travelled to Britain and held talks with U.S officials in Nigeria and entreated the Western powers to give support to the war efforts aimed at defeating Boko Haram. There are signs of goodwill. Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has publicly said his country will always stand by Nigeria. Other reports have it that Britain has relaxed the sanctions on importation of arms in Nigeria. The sanctions were imposed during the Abacha regime in repudiation of human rights abuses. On the other hand, United States has announced a US$10m grant for the support of the joint military initiative by Nigeria, Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon against the insurgency. Rumors also abound that the U.S. has agreed to deploy drones over West Africa with a view to gathering intelligence and taking out Boko Haram hideouts. Significantly, President Buhari ‘s first official visit was to Niger and Chad, where an agreement was reached to establish the High Command of the African Forces fighting Boko Haram in Chad. On the fringe of that agreement, President Buhari has ordered that the Nigerian Military Command be temporarily moved to Borno and Yobe States. In spite of these war efforts, the Boko Haram has continued to strike deeper into the country through suicide bombings. Although it might be early to evaluate the efficacy of these military efforts, the potency of the insurgency means there is a need to rethink the military recourse. This is not to suggest that there is a viable alternative to taking on the insurgents. However, some pundits have dared to suggest that Buhari’s tacticians should go back to the drawing board and determine what is really amiss; why the center of the federation seems to no longer hold. There has been no limit to the cascade of speculations about the root causes of the insurgency and why the “Giant of Africa” seems to be wobbling down the cliff of internecine crisis. Within the realm of speculations, some people maintain that the cause of the crisis is traceable to the creation of the federation in 1914, when the British colonial power welded many nations together without considerations for their geopolitical differences. However, other pundits have taken the scientific line and said that the root causes of the insurgency in northern Nigeria is pervasive poverty arising from numerous inequities, including inequality in the distribution of wealth among the six geopolitical zones and the lack of a viable system of fiscal federalism. They also list the debilitating illiteracy In the North and the resort to do-or-die politics laced with ethnicity as entrenched causes for instability. In an attempt to solve these problems and address the exponential concerns that have provoked disagreements in Nigeria, some analysts say the National Legislature should amend the constitution to devolve power to the states. What is envisaged is what is called fiscal federalism under which states will control their resources. By this proposition, pundits are not only expressing dissent on the poverty matrix advanced by some elements for the Boko Haram menace, but also calling for the re-engineering of the Nigerian polity. They insist that from the broad picture of resource allocation, the South-South geopolitical zone, which produces most of the oil revenue on which the federation runs, has not been given a fair deal. And so, they proffer that if all things were equal, the South-South should retain the bulk of the earnings from oil while the North should be sustained by earnings from agriculture and solid minerals. Even as President Buhari from the North assumes political power with the support of key South-South politicians, the South–South region is unrelenting that in the computation of revenues, other natural resources such as solid minerals concentrated in the North must be plotted in the national economic graph and reflected in the federal revenue allocation to the states. This principle would in essence loosen the grip of the central government. Another bone of contention Buhari has to deal with is the decentralization of the police force, and creation of state police to give the local civilian authorities control over security. This will ensure rapid reactions against trouble-shooters and insurgents. Meanwhile, the new president should not be distracted by trenchant comments as he tries to re-engineer the Nigerian polity. Instead, he should mount alternative intelligent operations that would extract invaluable suggestions from dissenters to change, thereby being ‘for everybody and for nobody’ as he declared at his inauguration. Finally, it cannot be lost on the APC administration that the problems of Nigeria are not exclusively locally brewed. There are strong external factors to watch, tame or circumvent. Among them are intrusive lance of the western media, as they try to direct the course of events in other countries. Buhari has to be media savvy to erect floodgates against foreign idiosyncrasies and platitudes which often precede adverse foreign policies. Although it seems westerners have learnt to engage Nigeria with salutary deference (because of its economic prowess) that avails the “Giant of Africa” a leverage of independence to pursue an “Afrocentric” foreign policy, the chances are those who might lose their profits by this foreign policy course would apply evil cosmic instincts to see Nigeria descend into instability. Culled from The capitol Insider Magazine