y Ukachi Uwadinobi New York

HAS NIGERIA ARRIVED AT the vanguard of real change? Are the roots of democracy finally digging in? “I certainly think so,” said Mary Nwachukwu, assistant director of personnel at a computer services firm in Lagos, Nigeria. “The election of Buhari marked an epic turning point in the country. PDP could not believe what hit them. People want change. Electing a president is no longer a tribal issue, instead it is a matter of whoever can salvage the nation from its woes,” Ms. Nwachukwu told the African Post USA in Lagos, echoing the feelings of many Nigerians after the election results were announced.
Indeed for the first time in the nation’s nascent democracy, the results of the election showed that Nigerians went to the polls and cast their votes based on how they felt about critical issues of the day. The haunting image of the Chibok school girls’ abduction that took the continued menace of their abductors, Boko Haram, to the height of outrage; the perennial state of a struggling national

economy further disadvantaged by plunging global oil prices; plus the scandal of massive corruption epitomized by the alleged $20 billion oil revenue missing from the accounts of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). These critical issues weighed heavily on the minds of voters and helped them decide who to vote for.
Muhammadu Buhari’s road to power is arguably episodic. It is imbued with an historical narrative that speaks to his tenacity and the virtue of democracy against the backdrop of where he started. Here is a man who came to power as Nigeria’s head of state in December 1983 through the barrel of a gun in a coup d’état that ousted former Nigerian President Alhaji Shehu Shagari from office during the checkered second republic. It was Buhari’s first time at the helm leading the country with an iron fist, in coordination with his cohorts who constituted the Supreme Military Council.
The nation under the defunct administration of former President Shehu Shagari was seen to be on a trajectory to economic abyss with the massive squandering of the nation’s

economic resources by corrupt government officials. The national
scandal of profligacy was the osten
sible reason for the coup that

brought in Buhari as military head of state. Buhari’s regime launched a
nationwide coercive campaign dubbed the “War Against Indisci

pline” in an effort to combat corruption and restore accountability in government. The measures, as many Nigerians who lived in the country at the time most memorably would recall, were brutal. Under a law promulgated by the Supreme Military Council to combat drug-trafficking, untold numbers of alleged offenders were tried, convicted and jailed and in some cases allegedly tortured and were never seen again. Freedom of the press was severely curtailed. Political and trade union rallies banned. The task to reform Nigeria proved to be daunting for the new military regime. Disaffection among Nigerians heightened by a crushing oppression led to the take-over of Buhari’s regime. In August 1985, General Ibrahim Babangida led a coup that ended the Buhari’s regime. In the intervening years after a makeover in national governance ended the ugly specatacle of military rule, civilians were back in power. Buhari contested for the presidency in 2003 and lost to the incumbent president, retired General Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military head of state too, in the line of successive generals who ruled the country during the decades-long military occupation of government. Buhari kept coming back. Another run for the presidency in 2007 ended in a loss to Umaru Yar’dua. In 2011, he tried again and lost to Goodluck Jonathan. As the maxim goes, “in politics everything is timing.” The blending of Buhari’s persistent drive for the office and the unsettling imagery of national instability and insecurity — against the backdrop of Boko Haram’s insurgency — made Buhari’s defeat of Gooduck Jonathan in 2015 by a significant margin (55% to 45%), a vote for change. In all fairness, I think history will remember Jonathan for some significant accomplishments he made during his presidency, especially the leadership he brought to bear in ridding Nigeria of the deadly Ebola virus and earning global praise. In his first major international press interview, President-Elect Buhari told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that his immediate priorities when he takes over the reins of power would be: redouble the government’s commit-ment to defeating Boko Haram, effectively combat corruption and pursue infrastructure development. Now the ball is in his court and the eyes of the world are watching to see how well he performs.

Posted by on Apr 18 2015. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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