Act, Your Excellency, Act!
THE 2015 general elections have come and gone and we are all the better for that. We have somehow succeeded in convincing ourselves and the international community that we had free, fair, credible and peaceful elections. This has meant a good name, better cooperation from hitherto not so friendly countries, less expenditure on litigation and best of all, loss of less number of lives. Married to the run up to the elections, the elections and the aftermath have made clearer the ideological instability and greed or emptiness of most politicians as we hear them call one party horrible names today and see them join it the next day just because it won elections. Importantly, what Nigerians expect as outcome and their expectations are very realistic and achievable.
The president is only aware of one side of the expectations of Nigerians. He is aware that Nigerians expect the fuel crisis to end, corruption to be greatly reduced, unemployment to reduce, the economy to improve and electricity supply to improve. He has taken advantage of these hopes and used them profusely during campaign days and has seen them bring him to victory.
After the elections, however, those sympathetic to him have started cautioning that Nigerians should not expect magic or things changing overnight, the logic being that many years were taken to destroy things and many more are needed to rebuild. But what has been destroyed in Nigeria can be politically rebuilt overnight. The ingredient for the magical transformation (change) is already present and that lies in the other side of the expectations of Nigerians. All Nigerians brought Muhammadu Buhari to power after refusing him same several times. His main selling point has been that of being firm and having integrity and the will to act. Nigerians are fed up with the system and in themselves and have now agreed to submit. So the other side of their expectations is for Mr President to act accordingly and for them to comply. He is expected to be something close to a benevolent dictator with the coloration of a born again democrat. Anything short of that will be business as usual sanctioned from the top.
Nigerians have a huge collective and unanimous goodwill for the President. They are ready to comply and expect him to ask them to. They rated him a man of integrity and a disciplined person. They see him as one that does not tolerate wrong and expect him to live to this expectation. Even the peasant farmer and the motor park tout have this expectation. They expect him to tell them to stop selling petrol by the wayside where there are filling stations. They expect the removal of subsidy so no cartel milks the country dry and hold it to ransom any time. They expect due process in the award, execution and supervision of contracts.
The police on the road expect to be told not to extort. The person constructing any building or road expects to be punished if found wanting. School teachers expect to be queried whenever they miss a lesson because somebody will monitor to ensure everybody does his work. When governors and their cronies steal billions from state funds they expect to be in jail and not just to return the remaining fraction. Legislators expect to get their due and no more. They will not be paid for lunch for 365 days when they only come to the chambers 100 days a year. Ministries and parastatals expect to be asked to account for and return unutilized part of the budget to the national treasury rather than share them as end of year largesse. Anti-graft agencies expect an overhaul. Multinationals expect to be scrutinized and made to pay taxes, be socially responsible as corporate entities and stick to national regulations. All agencies expect to be probed. Anything less will be a disappointment and a waste of an opportunity.
With this readiness to comply when asked to and the huge goodwill of Nigerians for the President, His Excellency should jettison any suggestion that Nigeria is too difficult to fix. As a matter of fact, any public official or servant making this excuse should be viewed with suspicion as one looking for an excuse to continue to act in the old ways.
To be sure, the President has already started. He has refused to meddle into the affairs of the legislative bodies by staying away from imposing who leads. Nigerians expected that. They also expect he will do same with judicial processes, appointment of Vice Chancellors and other heads of institutions where there are processes. And so on. When a critical number of correct processes is achieved, the rest will be easy and fall in line. The president is expected to not listen to praise singers and sycophants even when they present as youths, professionals, Comrades of Buhari Organisation, clergy or public commentators. This rare combination of goodwill, readiness to follow from the whole country and a president with the appropriate pedigree to do as expected must not be wasted.
• Dah is a medical consultant based in Abuja, and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org