Electioneering campaigns usually come with a lot of promises from those aspiring for different electoral offices. This happens in the developed countries, developing countries and the third world countries. The electorates tend to be swayed mostly by these promises, usually contained in the party manifestoes. After elections, come the time to fulfil those campaign promises.
There has been a difference in the developed nations towards keeping such promises. The problem mostly is with the developing and third world countries. For those who followed the American Presidential Campaigns/Elections in 2016, they will agree with me that majority of the promises made by President Donald Trump, have been achieved. From banning all Muslims from entering the US soil; to building a wall along the border with Mexico; Mr. Trump also promised to withdraw from the Climate deal which he described as a hoax concocted by China, and the regulations of Paris as stifling to American growth. Quitting the Paris deal signed by nearly 200 countries will take a few years, but this is unequivocally a promise kept. There are many more.
In Nigeria, it is a major huddle when eventually, our politicians find themselves elected into offices. During campaigns, a lot is said and even when those promises are not kept at the end of the day, we move on as if it is a normality, hoping for a difference in the next electoral year.
Since 2002, when Buhari began his presidential quest, many believed he was going to be the messiah that will bring about the desired change. The man appeared meek and different from the lot of our politicians. His speeches always brought hope for the common man. Many believed and trusted in his judgment. He was given an overwhelming support that led to the defeat of an incumbent president in 2015 (something that had never happened before in the history of Nigeria).
Buhari, being a victim of electoral malpractices on three occasions had promised to improve the country’s Electoral System if elected into office. But is there any improvement and transparency in the system since he got into office in 2015? The obvious answer is No! The Electoral System to the best of my knowledge has gone a step backward than it was in 2015.
Nigeria’s greatest challenge over the years has been that of insecurity. Before Buhari came into power, insecurity was at the highest level. The Boko Haram insurgents had been on the rise and were spreading their camps all over Nigeria. Buhari had before taking oath of office, promised to secure every Nigerian and the country’s territory from all forms of unwarranted attacks. His promise was to crush and end insurgency in the country in the first 365 days of his first tenure in office. Five years into his administration, Boko Haram attacks are still common place, with many Nigerians killed almost on a daily basis. Armed banditry attacks on innocent Nigerians are today on the rise, with Fulani herdsmen making life miserable for people in their farms and homes. Not much has changed in the area of security even after five years of the Buhari presidency.
The president had during several of his outings as a presidential candidate, complained of the poor power supply in Nigeria and had promised to transform Nigeria’s power sector if elected into office. For instance, in 2011, during the presidential debate, Buhari, while featuring as the candidate of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), promised to probe the $16 billion that was squandered on the power sector without any positive result. The power situation has not improved even after his government promised in 2015 that it shall vigorously pursue the expansion of electricity generation and distribution of up to 40,000 MW between 4 to 8 years. This is his 5th year in office, yet the country is not generating up to 5000 Megawatts of electricity.
Again, while addressing a group of Nigerians in the United Kingdom in February, 2015, as the Presidential candidate of the APC then, Buhari frowned at a lot of government policies, calling them as ‘wastes,’ one of which was the number of the aircraft in the presidential fleet. To him, there was no need for any president of the country to have as much as 6 aircrafts in the presidential fleet as according to him, “Billions of naira are budgeted every year for the maintenance of these aircraft not to talk of operational cost and other expenses.” He promised to convert all the presidential aircrafts, using them to resuscitate the moribund Nigeria Airways. He also promised that throughout his stay in office, he and all the members of his administration will be flying public aircrafts just like any other Nigerian. This, according to him, was to be done within the first two years of his administration. Fast forward that to today, the Nigerian airways has not been revamped, and the number of aircraft in the presidential fleet have still not been reduced by Mr. President. The only attempt at revamping the Nigeria Airways ended in controversy. Buhari has not changed anything in this regard too, even after spending five years in office as the president.
Buhari as the presidential candidate also said he saw no need why Nigerian public office holders would embark on foreign medical trips, rather than making the hospitals in the country functional for everybody’s use. After he was elected into office, Buhari embarked on a medical holiday to London where he spent six months. And no year passes by without him flying out for a foreign medical checkup. This is his fifth year in office, yet the health sector in the country is still a shame. The health facilities are still so pathetic that even the Hospital in Aso Villa, where the president stays, is not properly equipped, as recently revealed by his wife, Aisha. Again, the welfare of the health workers has not improved under his watch either with most Nigerian doctors preferring to go and practice oversees. The recent outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic has exposed his administration the more in this regard.
Another challenge the country has ever struggled with is that of unemployment. Buhari had promised to create 3 million jobs every year for unemployed Nigerians. He also promised to be paying monthly allowances to unemployed graduates pending when they are employed. Nothing of such has existed in the last five years. Even the Npower beneficiaries are been owed in arrears for their monthly stipends. Most of the graduates being churned out every year by the country’s Universities have no hope of getting a job after graduation to because of the limited job opportunities.
Again, Buhari had promised to revive our moribund refineries in his first year in office to put an end to the importation of refined petroleum products by the country. This is the fifth year, yet nothing has been done in this direction. The price for PMS has also not dropped as he had promised, rather it has been increased from what was obtainable in the previous administration.
Our educational system too has not improved, with lecturers always embarking on strike to press home unfulfilled demands, although the free school feeding program has been put in place as he promised. Credit must be given to the president in this regard.
On workers welfare too, the president has tried as there is constant payment of workers in the federal Civil Service. He has also kept his promise in the area of minimum wage increment. Credit must be given to where it is due.
In as much as most of the campaign promises have not been kept by the Buhari administration, there is still time for the government to fulfil them. Three years is enough for any serious administration to redeem the covenant they had with the people before they elected them into office. One thing the administration must remember is that, time is fast running. If they must be remembered for a long time in the history of the country, this is the time to get to work.
Nelson Ushafa wrote this piece from Jos, Plateau State of Nigeria