Nature abhors a vacuum. When you take power before working out before hand what to do precisely with that power, your government will be trapped in a vicious cycle of confusion and ineptitude.
This is what has happened to President Muhammadu Buhari and his lacklustre government. Buhari campaigned on a tripod of policies in 2015: National security, anti-corruption and revival of the economy. He did not spell out how he would go about achieving these three programmes.
Five years into his administration, not a single one of these three programmes has shown any sign of being realised. Boko Haram is still waxing strong in the North east. Banditry and kidnapping have overwhelmed the Northwest. Conflict between herders and farmers has overtaken the North central. So much for security.
As for ending corruption, recent revelations in the media of the doings of public officials including those appointed by President Buhari himself point to an anti-corruption war that is literally gasping for breath.
Buhari’s idea of reviving the National economy has been to increase electricity tariffs, increase the price of fuel and further devalue the Naira. There is nothing original in these latest measures. The president went to the IMF in search of a loan. The IMF obliged but imposed conditions: remove government subsidies on fuel and electricity and further devalue the Naira to “reflect market realities”. That is what President Buhari has just done.
It is clear from the foregoing that the Buhari government has failed. There is no point hoping that Buhari will listen to criticism and change the direction of his government’s policies. This government has no clearly-worked out policies in the first place and that is why five years after it took power it is still running from pillar to post looking for “policies.”
Given the manifest failure of President Buhari and his government what should thinking Nigerians do in the interim? For a start they must decide that the APC has failed like the PDP failed before it and ask themselves why. Nigeria’s ruling class whether the military or civilian wing have failed this country since independence in 1960.
The time has come to think of a new political order rooted in the ordinary people and taking its raison d’Etre from them. What is needed urgently is a new politics that places civil liberties, democracy, federalism and the Welfare State at the centre of national politics and working resolutely to secure these goals. 2023 is only three years.
This time Nigerians must do away with APC and PDP and strike out for a fresh batch of political actors who have thought rigorously about the problems of this country and how to resolve them.
▪︎Dr Ike Okonta, a policy analyst and writer, fellow of the Open Society Institute, New York, research fellow in Oxford University’s department of politics and international relations, and co-author of Where Vultures Feast: Shell, Human Rights and Oil