• Friday, June 14, 2024
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BusinessDay

Why Buhari wants to leave a legacy of transparency

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, ordered the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Sani Haruna, to immediately hand over to the most senior officer in the organization.

In less than five months from now, precisely, with effect from the 29th of May, President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure would have come to an end and the prefix ‘former President’ added to his name.

The President will from thence, be remembered and assessed only by the legacies he left behind while in office.

Some public sector analysts believe that Buhari’s administration will go down in the annals of Nigeria’s history as “the most turbulent” in a non-war situation, while some believe that President Buhari has engraved his name in some landmark projects worth celebrating.

At the commencement of his administration in 2015, President Buhari informed Nigerians that his administration would tackle Corruption, Economy and Security challenges that had threatened the fabrics of the nation’s socioeconomic and political existence.

The President ascended to power in 2015, following the general election that was prosecuted on the basis of the prevailing security situation in the country, which pushed many into desperate search for solutions from anywhere.

Although many analysts insist that he has done more wrong than right, many of his critics converge on the view that he deserves credit for the Electoral Act 2022.

Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke has commended the President for signing the Electoral Act, 2022, which he described as a signal that the elections will be free and fair.

Speaking with State House Correspondents after visiting the President, Weekend, Adeleke, who was recently elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to defeat an APC sitting Governor, said the Act paved way for his victory at the poll.

“I am happy to tell you that I just saw our President, looking so well, looking so good and I’m happy about that.

“Since my election, I feel like I should come and say hello to Mr. President and thank him for signing that Electoral Act because I benefited from it.

“That paved way for free and fair election and the international community is applauding Nigeria, that Nigeria is set for democracy.

“So that is why I’m here today; to see him, thank him and wish him well in his remaining time in office,” he said.

Some of the innovations in the new Electoral Act, 2022, have been applauded as measures that will strengthen the process, these include, adequate and early release of funding for the operation of the Independent National Electoral Commission Fund, amongst others

The new Act empowers INEC by providing for the establishment of the Independent National Electoral Commission Fund to ensure the Commission is funded well in advance of the election season – Section 3. Section 3(3) of the new Act further provides that the election funds due to the Commission for any general elections are to be released to the Commission not later than one year before the next general election. This has helped to strengthen INEC’s independence.

The introduction of Electronic Transmission of results through the National Electronic Register of Election Results, section 62 mandates the Commission to compile, maintain and update, on a continuous basis, a register of election results to be known as the National Electronic Register of Election Results which will be a distinct database or repository of polling unit results, including collated election results, of each election conducted by the Commission in the Federation.

The use of Smart Card reader, as stipulated in Section 47 of the Act, gave legislative backing to the use of Smart Card or any other technological device by the presiding officer for the accreditation, verification, confirmation or authentication of the particulars of an intending voter. The Act further provides that where a smart card reader or any other technological device deployed for accreditation of voters fails to function in any unit and a fresh card reader or technological device is not deployed, the election in that unit shall be cancelled and another election shall be scheduled within 24 hours.

Although the Executive Arm of government headed by President Buhari went to court to expunge this provision from the law, but the Court rejected their plea to sustain the disqualification of political appointees from electoral process, as provided for in Section 84 (10) of the new Act provides that ‘no political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the Convention or Congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election’. The practical application of this section is that all serving political office holders such as ministers, commissioners, special advisers and others, must relinquish their position before they can qualify to participate in the electoral process; either as a candidate or a delegate. Also, with this provision, the President or governors are prohibited from making their appointees automatic delegates in an indirect primary election; a practice which has hitherto been norm.

Early commencement of Campaign season

Rather than the initial campaign period of 90 days period before Election Day for campaigning in public by any political party, Section 94 of the new Act now allows public campaign to commence as early as 150 days before polling day and end 24 hours prior to the Election Day.
Political parties intending to merge shall each give to the Commission nine months’ notice of their intention to do so before a general election, as stipulated in Section 81(1) of the new Act, any two or more registered political parties may merge on approval by the Commission following a formal request presented to the Commission by the political parties for that purpose.

Aside from the above provisions, President Buhari who said he was a victim of election rigging when he contested the Presidency thrice in 2003, 2007 and 2011, has insisted that his administration would ensure that the forthcoming elections are not only free and fair, but credible across all levels.

He also recently warned the security agencies to do anything that will not “compromise the integrity of the elections.”

The President, while speaking with APC leaders in Daura, in Katsina, his home state, told the party leaders to “put their house in order and work hard, if the party wants to win the forthcoming election.”

Pedro Obaseki, the Director, Research, Strategy and Documentation, of the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Council, in his assessment of the Buhari administration, believes that the Buhari-led APC government failed woefully.

He however, said that that from the “body language of President Muhammadu Buhari, he does appear to be committed to a free, fair and credible election in 2023, at least from what we have seen on the surface. But whether his subordinates or party are on the same boat on this is a different kettle of fish.”

Obaseki said he supported President Buhari’s warnings to the security agencies not to compromise, or do something funny that will disrupt or democracy.
“I think the government of President Buhari is serious about dealing with insecurity during elections this time. We know that the APC has continued to fan the amber of motor park democracy so as to keep us where we are, but 2023 will be a different ball game in Nigeria,” he said.

But speaking on Buhari’s legacy, he dismissed the eight years of the current administration, adding that “You cannot speak about any legacy when in actual fact, the nation’s economy witnessed the worst management from 2015 to date.”

Nigeria’s population is about 213 million people, which accounts for about half of West Africa’s total population and one of the largest populations of youth in the world, according to the World Bank

Read also: Buhari to receive African Peace Award in Mauritania

He noted that in 2018, Nigeria had ranked 152 of 157 countries in the World Bank’s Human Capital Index.

“In 2014, don’t forget that our economy was put at $500b, making Nigeria the biggest economy in Africa,

“Few years later, in 2018, access to electricity was poor, with 80 million Nigerians lacking access to grid electricity.

“This was the period when millions of Nigerians were displaced from their homes, which also caused disruption to agriculture in the fertile middle belt, with particular impacts on women and girls.

“In 2015, inflation was at 8.75%, as at April 2015. From the single digit inflation he inherited, inflation rise to 15.4% in November 2021, at the same time, food inflation rise from 9,5% to 17.21% in the same period.

“In 2015, Nigeria had an unemployment rate of about 8%, but today, it is hovering around 34% and this is based on the federal government official report.

“If you speak about insecurity, Nigerians suffered more under the outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime, than the ones before it from 1999 to 2015, yet, Nigerians had elected President Buhari on the back of the hope that he will be able to deal with insecurity.”

He stated that the Boko Haram insurgents which the President claimed he was coming to deal with in 2015, killed about 11,000 person from 2009 to 2014, adding that “but believe me, between 2015 and now, about 40,000 Nigerians were killed, about 300% increase, above the 2015 figures.

“As a retired General in the Military and a former Head of a Military government, he could neither arrest, nor prosecute anyone for such killings. Under his administration, Nigeria became a killing field. Before his administration, 276 school girls were kidnapped at the Government College, Chibok, but under Buhari’s administration, over 1,000 school girls have been kidnapped. No one was either caught or reprimanded, by the administration that promised to tackle insecurity. Killings increased by about 300% under President Buhari’s regime.
“Which other area do you want us to look at? If you take the exchange rate, the Dollar to Naira exchange rate was officially at $169.50 to the Naira, in 2015, today, it is exchanging at $414.9 to the Naira, an increase by over 144%.”

He pointed out that the Buhari administration met a loan of about N12 trillion, adding that “by the time they will leave office in May, this year, Nigeria will be owing about N44 trillion, an increase of about 215%, with nothing to show for the loans collected, except for a few pockets of incomplete roads and rail projects here and there.

“In 2021, the President said he was going to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, today, over 88 million Nigerians , or about 42% of the 214 million people have been thrown into poverty.

“This is the legacy the APC Presidency wants us to sustain by voting them back to power.”

Yetunde Aiyela, an investment expert, who harped on the innovations contained in the Electoral Act 2022, commended President Buhari for signing the Act, which according to her,” signaled the President’s commitment to bequeathing a legacy of free, fair and credible election to Nigeria.

Aside, this, the government has done a lot in creating awareness which is also very good.

“I have just collected my own Permanent Voters Card (PVC). Even though the process was a bit stressful, I see myself as a full Nigerian now, because I can vote in the coming general elections”

“With the current level of mobilisation campaigns, I believe that more of the elites will come out now to vote this year. As you know, voting on the day of elections had hitherto been left only to those of the lower level people, but this year will be different.”

The investment expert who sees nothing wrong with the government in power pushing to entrench itself in office, however, urged Nigerians to come out in their large numbers to make a difference.

“This is an APC government, they may try to retain power and there is no law that forbids them from doing so, but the President has demonstrated that in this election, rigging will not be allowed and that is why he said he will provide a level playing field for everyone,” she said.

The Chairman of the West African Miners, Association, (WAMA), Shehu Sani, also applauded the current efforts to ensure free, fair and credible polls, during the forthcoming general elections.

He however, revealed that the Presidential candidates have not yet addressed mining issues in their various policy documents.

Sani vowed to mobilise his members to actively participate in the forthcoming general elections, considering the challenges facing the sector and vote for the candidate with a good policy for the sector.

“I am challenging all the Presidential candidates to unfold the plans they have for the mining sector in Nigeria.

“We want them to come out with well articulated document on what they have for the sector that has provided jobs for over one million citizens in Nigeria.

“Based on the statistics, some believe that we are even over 3 million people actively engaged in the sector and no serious politician will want to ignore the votes over people that are over one million. No serious politician will play with such a large number of voters, especially considering the fact that we are well organised
“So, we are challenging them,” he said.