When opinions are sampled about the 2019 elections, discussants are broadly divided into two major opinion groups. Both groups are centered on President Mohammadu Buhari. While a division wants him to have a second term, the other wants him retired. More often than not, each group member religiously holds to his posture without any compromise in sight. The former army general has been a topic of intense debates which has divided the political enthusiasts remarkably. He is loved intensely by many and equally loathed by many others.

Mohammadu Buhari, the presidential flag bearer of the All Progressive Congress (APC) is and Nigeria’s incumbent President is 74 years old and had served the Nation as a military Head of State from 1983 to 1985 when the military wrestled power through a coup d’état from then executive President Shehu Shagari who passed on recently. He was ousted out of office by another coup and was succeeded by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
Buhari has a rich archive of in his portfolio of service to the Nation. He was former Federal Minister of Petroleum and Natural Resources (1976-1978) under Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, a position he still maintains now even as a sitting president. He also served a short term as military Governor of Borno State (1976), and Governor of Northwestern State (1975-1976). He served in the Nigeria Army and attained the rank of Major General. (1961-1985). Under the late Gen. Sani Abacha, Buhari served as the Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund, a position he handled heroically and received accolades for his transparency and efficiency.

The 2015 presidential elections saw Buhari and his running mate, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo unseat the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in a keenly contested election wildly accredited to be free and fair. Before 2015, the glorious tales of how the heroic duo of Buhari/Idiagbon in a military regime transformed the country for the better in 1983. The glories of these days have however become inglorious in these days with the Buhari/Osinbajo duo.
On May 30, 2015, a wind of hope swept through the States of Nigeria as Nigerians awoke to the beginning of the Buhari, their hearts beating fast for joy as they remember the almost impossible barrage of promises made by the APC candidate who had a reputation of integrity. Three and a half years later, it has become clear that the promises were actually impossible and that integrity could have different meanings to different people.

STRENGTHS

A New Sheriff is in Town …

Buhari and the APC came into government with the Change Mantra. Their major focus was on remedying the corrupt practices, especially financial mismanagement of the PDP that had held the post for 16 years before. Indeed upon resumption a signal of accountability was sent all through the land and it was said that ‘a new sheriff is in town!” Fear became the lot of those who have looted the Nation’s treasury in times past. The new sheriff was sending disturbing signals by saying nothing. The EFCC began investigations on various cases but has however made only one conviction.

Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, the former governor of Borno State was investigated on alleged misappropriation of 300 billion naira. $20 billion dollars under Jonathan was allegedly misappropriated in a messy case that involved the Nigerian National Petroleum Corperation, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, and a host of others.

Curbed wastage …

The Buhari-led Government introduced measures to limit wastage and block loopholes of government revenue. The introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) saw that all government revenue were directed to a central account and this effective system helped reduce pilfering of government monies even though it crippled and slowed down economic activities and contributed to a down turn of the economy.

Security …

The dreaded Boko Haram islamic sect seemed to have been curtailed until the recent reports of killing over 100 Nigerian soldiers last December due to lack of adequate weaponry. Earlier in 2017, a group of 110 school girls were kidnapped in Dapchi, Yobe State. Within a short period of time the sect brought them back but held on to one Leah Sharibu who is yet to be released. The same incidence occurred under the Jonathan regime in Chibok and the girls are still missing. Give and take, the security situation under Buhari, especially as regards Islamic terrorism has improved compared to Jonathan’s Regime.

Special Intervention Initiatives …

The Buhari Administration through the office of Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has launched a number of special intervention programs including the N-Power programme that pays young professionals N30, 000 monthly while engaging them in agriculture, government revenue generation services, housing, health, technology, education, and creativity with each of its batch allegedly engaging about 500,000. The trader moni programme another of such initiatives which issues collateral-free loans to market people in an increasing progression as they are faithful to repay. Along with other programmes like the School children feeding programme and the payment of 5,000 monthly stipends to the aged and less privileged, the Buhari government has demonstrated a level of creativity in solving social problems in Nigeria. The timing for the trader moni programme was well thought out to influence the elections as there is no way distributing 10,000 naira to market people in the name of soft collateral-free loans will not affect the public image Buhari’s government to the ordinary trader. Emprises on these will help them win the elections.

Infrastructures …

Buhari has made some impressive moves in infrastructure. With most of the projects initiated by the GoodLuck Jonathan Administration, Buhari has spent about N2.7 trillion on infrastructure. His administration boasts of completing projects like the Central Ognia Regional Water supply Project, Northern Ishan Regionals Water Suooly Project among other projects related to dams, irrigation, drainage, and water supply. In transportation the government said they have commenced work on the Abuja-Kaduna Rail Line, Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Rail Line. Worthy of note too is the Second Niger Bridge which is underway.

WEAKNESSES

Baba Go Slow …

President Buhari has earned the moniker “Baba Go Slow.” Nigerians had to wait 6 months for Buhari to constitute a cabinet. The only minister he appointed early enough was the minster for Pretroleum Resources and he didn’t have to look too far to find one –he chose himself. After one year at the helm of affairs, Mr Buhari was yet to spell out policies for the economy and oil industry. His government is known for unhurried style in which issues are handled. It could be because of his health challenges –Buhari has suffered from poor health condition since resuming office.

Blame game …

One of the most detested attitudes of the Buhari Government is the rate at which they are so quick to push blames to the previous administrations even after three years in power. This attitude of not bracing up as one with the responsibility to fix the problems is a major weakness on the part of the government. This infuriating attitude might have caused the administration a heavy loss of popularity.

Poor Economic Policies …

One thing that the Buhari government will be remembered for is economic incompetence displayed while in power. The economy has suffered terribly in the course of the administration. In his commentary on “Four reasons why Nigerian economy will not improve under Buhari,” Dele Sobowale highlighted the four reasons: “They are ignorance, inability to learn from past mistakes, embrace of falsehood and lack of ideas.” The economic team constituted by Buhari lack lacks merit. Yemi Osinbajo, a professor of Law and 8-year Lagos Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice heads the economic advisory board. The Finance Minister for most of the tenure, Kemi Adeosun, is a UK-born former commissioner of Ogun State. In the opinion of Senator Dino Melaye and Ike Ekweremadu, the hurt of the economy was due to lack of experience-both have called for her sack. Commentator Daniel Essien opined, “There was the sense that the job of being Finance Minister in Africa’s largest economy would prove too big for her. That perception has not yet gone away.” Adeosun resigned after a certificate forgery scandal last year.

The EFCC scare that the government has caused has made investment to shrink and economic activities dwindle. The EFCC hunts down well-to-do citizens by spying on their spendings and even their investments and assets.
The inflation under Buhari has bitten hard on Nigerians without refrain. The Cable reports that the “…Buhari regime, with the nation going through various trials and tribulations. Confidence in the health of Nigeria’s economy was dealt a painful blow after a currency crisis threatened to cripple the nation. Inflation skyrocketed to worrying levels as the Naira tumbled and economic growth slowed for the first time in 25 years.

While it could be easy to blame the APC for Nigeria’s woes, it must be kept in mind that falling oil prices may have played a leading role.” the report says his delay in appointing a cabinet contributed significantly and “his refusal to allow the Central Bank of Nigeria to devalue the naira when falling oil prices were eroding the nation’s external reserves compounded to Nigeria’s woes.”
Without ending it here, the Cable’s 2017 report has more to say, “Focusing on the macroeconomics, Nigeria’s unemployment rate has jumped 18.8% over the past three years, while youth unemployment rate is currently around 33.1%. Inflation rose to gravity-defying levels, from 9.8% in May 2015 to a 12-year high of 18.72% in January 2017.

Although inflation has moderated, dropping to 12.5% April thanks to the CBN’s efforts to promote FX stability, the effects can still be felt on the economy”. Job loss shot highest in recent years as industries folded up with many leaving for neighboring countries and Buhari is yet to fix the power condition in the nation, instead it has worsened.

Corruption is fighting back? …

The Buhari administration is not a listening one. A good leadership is known for its easy with which it accepts and consider criticism. Buhari has been very hostile to critics using the military, the police and the anti-graft bodies to carryout his malicious witch-hunt against his non-APC critics. On many occasions the presidency through Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information has reacted to criticism with the talk of “corruption is fighting back” In a leaked tape now causing much uproar, Minister Rotimi Amaechi was heard saying that Buhari is stubborn and heady. How the tape came about is still being debated.

Fulani herdsmen …

Hardly ever was it heard that Fulani herdsman who roam around the country seeking pasture killed farm owners as they went. That was before power returned to the Fulani clan. The menace of the killer Fulani herdsmen has taken thousands of lives of innocent farmers, even wiping out whole communities and hardly has there been an arrest of these killer herdsmen. The case of the Benue killings where the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, in defence of the herdsmen got into a conflict with the the Governor, Samuel Ortom, showed a partial behavior of the IGP on the case. This IGP was not fired by the presidency and the killings are still heard of today. These killings continuing and government taking no concrete steps to bring culprits to book has portrayed Buhari as having sacrificed national interest for tribal loyalty.

One -sided AntiCorruption fight …

Since the Buhari Anti-corruption crusade began, it has evidently been targeted at majorly the PDP politicians. People like Rotimi Amaechi who is heavily suspected to have looted the Rivers State Treasury defected from the PDP to the APC and no one has investigated him, same goes for Bola Tinubu, Babatunde Fasola etc. Those who were being tried before have had their cases relaxed with the likes of Godswil Akpabio. People like Samuel Ortom, the APC governor of Benue State got into onflict with the Federal Government over the killings by the herdsmen and defected to the PDP, the very next day the EFCC came for him. Others include Dino Melaye, a former APC Senator from Kogi who defected to the PDP. His woes with the police has been neck breaking. Same goes for Senate President Bukola Saraki, Ekweremadu, Fayose and others. It seems the security agencies of the State have become instruments of carrying out political errands.

 

Slackness in dealing with Scandals …

Starting with former SGF, Babacha Lawal, alleged to have mismanaged over N270 million intended for alleviating the food food crisis in Nigeria’s Northeast, caused largely by Boko Haram. It took Buhari about a year of lashing out by National Assembly, Nigerians and international bodies for him to fire the SGF. Since them the two have maintained a close relationship with Lawal visiting Aso Rock once in a while. The former Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun was involved in a NYSC certificate forgery scandal and Nigerians came for her. Buhari and the APC defended her firmly for months before she tendered her resignation letter which were not accepted for over a month.
Okoi Obono-Obla and Adebayo Shittu both being Buhari’s aid and Minister of communication respectively have had certificate scandals which the corruption-fighting government handled with kids glove without mentioning Buhari contested the 2015 elections without the minimum required WAEC certificate.

Disregard for Democratic Process and Rule of Law …

The former military dictator has a track record of violation of human right violation and human brutality. He came into the political scene claiming to be a repentant democrat but not much evidence of this repentance has been provided since then. The Buhari government has serially violated court orders, gone against rule of law.

On Saturday 12th December, 2015, the Nigerian Army brutally killed hundreds of unarmed members of the Shi’a Muslim group along with sons of its leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky this is referred to as the 2015 Zaria massacre. The military claimed the group attempted to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Burutai but the group and several human rights organizations rejected the claim of the military and argued that the massacre happened without any provocations and the group was unarmed this was followed condemnations from all over the world. El-Zakzaky himself has been illegally detained without charges by the Nigerian government since 2015. In 2016 the High Court of Nigeria ruled that El-Zakzaky be released and paid compensation of the sum of 50 million naira but the Department of State Security (DSS) refused and claimed to be “holding him for his own protection”.

In another vein, hundreds of civilians have been killed in pro-Biafran protests since 2015 most times with the protesters being unarmed and without provocations. Court orders have been serially violated under Buhari since the inception of the Administration. Former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki facing corruption charges of diverting $2.1 billion and illegal possession of fire arms have been granted bail at least six different times by various courts but the Buhari government has refused to comply with court orders. In July, 2016, the Supreme Court of Nigeria gave a ruling that affirmed the nullification of the 2006 controversial transfer of the Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria, ALSCON to a Russian firm. This ruling has been violated by the Buhari government along with other previous administrations too.

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Waltar Onnoghen has said that “disobedience of court orders is an act of impunity” Justice Onnoghen is currently undergoing trail before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCB) through a much condemned move by the CCB on a six count charge of false asset declaration. This move is seen as a ploy by the government to witch-hunt the Chief Justice and as they have done to all who is seen as a political threat him in the forthcoming elections. Meanwhile, as “ CJN Onnaghen is being arraigned in court… Babacha Lawal is out there campaigning for Buhari’s re-election…” Reno Omokri, former aide to President Jonathan and Buhari’s critic says.

Abacha loot and other loot nowhere to be found …

Since the present administration began, the government has been given applauses for claims of recovered funds that were previously looted. The loot of former Head of State, Late General Sani Abacha under whom Buhari served as the Chairman of the Petroleum Trust Fund is among those recovered. Buhari had earlier defended and denied that his former boss had in anyway looted the nation. Last year, VP Osinbajo explained how the government was to directly distribute cash to “The Poor” from the $322 million Abacha loot to citizens which is the lamest idea I have ever heard. The government has often times complained of being in need of funds due to the loots in the 16 year PDP rule but have themselves not accounted for any of the recovered loots. The effect of these recovered loots which were promised to be ejected into the economy has not been felt in the economy. This calls for an account of these funds for which there is no public record of. Transparency is a word that has been absent in the management of these recovered funds.

Disregard for human lives …

The Buhari government has shown its disregard for human lives as the level of brutal killings in the nation has been alarming and the government has not responded appropriately to the issue. The special adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity Matters, Femi Adesina, sometime last year after some killings in Plateau State responded on behalf of the presidency by releasing the list of killings recorded under the PDP. It had seemed to Nigerians that the governments (PDP and APC) were into a killing count contest. In many ways the Buhari government has ignored the cries of the helpless. Many villages have been completely wiped out women, men, youth and children mostly by the killer Fulani herdsmen.

Buhari is Old and Sick …

President Mohammadu Buhari has made more medical trips than any other president in Nigeria’s recent history. He had promised to end medical tourism as a campaign promise and he continued to reiterate it upon assumption of office but his words have not gone with the actions he has taken. Buhari spent more than 200 days abroad for medical reasons with each trip costing the nation a fortune which has not been disclosed. Buhari is 74 and would be the oldest president in Nigeria’s history.

OPPORTUNITY

Most powerful candidate …

Buhari is by far a very significant candidate in this election. He is the focal point for now. Buhari has a strong base of supporters who more often than not have based their opinion on religious and ethnic sentiments. He is popularly called “baba” by the northern peasants and controls a huge part of the North. Being the incumbent president gives him a lot of powers. Contesting as an incumbent, gives a lot of options and open spores for one to manipulate the government in his favor. A good example is the trader moni programme which is a clean initiative by the government done with public funds but will certainly boosts the candidacy of Buhari. He must take advantage of this of he is going to win this election.

Strongest Political Party …

The APC is by far ahead of the PDP now in Nigeria if the recent happenings at the polls are anything to go by. The PDP was predicted to win the Osun elections and they did win it –until it was declared inconclusive. This was because the margin was lower than the canceled votes. The same situation had occurred in many other elections that the APC had won and they were not declared inconclusive. This goes to say that the decision of declaring elections results is a decision under the jurisdiction of the INEC. During the rerun, cases of violence and vote buying marred the elections and the APC won by a landslide victory. Buhari is not just the reason the APC is strong. With political bigwigs like Bola Tinubu, Nasir El-Rufai, Rotimi Amaechi, Godswill Akpabio and others, the APC cannot be anything short of powerful. The Buhari candidacy takes good advantage of this by further strengthening the part and increasing its regions of influence by conquering more states and geopolitical zones. The APC is strongest in the southwest and in the north where they won almost all the States in the 2015 elections. The only State lost in the APC in 2015 was Ekiti which was under the PDP Governor Fayose but has now been defeated by the APC in Governor Kayode Fayemi in 2018.

Plenty of funds …

While it is true that the Atiku Abubarka is the richest of all the presidential candidates this year, Buhari’s APC is richer than Atiku’s PDP. This is because the party being larger has enjoys more sponsorships. This might probably be one of the advantages of it being the ruling party. Many rumors have it that the $1 billion (N365 billion) approved for Buhari for purchase of weapons to combat Boko Haram was diverted to political campaigns for the elections as the soldiers have complained of not getting these weapons. Buahri has responded by assuring Nigerians that government funds will be kept out of the campaign, one of the many lip services that Nigerians can no longer trust. Nevertheless, the campaign managers of the Buahri campaign should make do with the availability of funds effectively if they are to win the elections.

The North …

Northern Nigeria rarely has her votes divided in election. The giant geopolitical zone has boasted of contributing the largest percentage in votes since the last elections. Kano records over 2 million votes which is the largest any State can produce. The opportunity in the north seem to be tending towards a split in the forthcoming elections but Buhari still has a larger share of that split. The campaign must reach out to the country-dwellers and strengthen the image of the Buhari government as good to gain a large percentage of them over. This region being one of Buahri’s strongest zones should be harnessed and harvested completely.

Influential personalities in the APC …

The APC is endowed with many analytic minds which can be harnessed and used to strategically deploy her resources this elections. The like of political strategist Bola Tinubu, social media influencer Tolu Ogunlesi, analyst Femi Adesina and a host of other bright and respected minds have pledged their support for the Buahri Presidency. The opportunity of having these personalities can be deployed to appeal to the voters in the sphere of influence of each of them. Recently the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) promised to deliver 20 million votes of the over 80 million Nigerian young population under it.

Budding APC States …

States in the south – south and south east are known to be predominantly PDP States but in recent times we have seen some powerful politicians from these States defecting to the APC. The political powerhouse of Akwa Ibom State is thought of as being Sen. Godswill Akpabio. Akpabio has defected to the APC and has promised to deliver the State to Buhari. Though the State Governor is not in support, Akpabio has some loyal legislators in the State Assembly working for him. Other significant states are Edo and Rivers. Adams Oshiomole is the national Chairman of the APC and former governor of Rivers, Rotimi Amaechi is Buhari’s Campaign manager and an APC chieftain. It is worthy of note that in a recently leaked voice recording Amaechi was heard criticizing Buhari. The recording has been judged as false and doctored by the APC. Nevertheless, Amaechi still holds significant stakes in the political empire of Rivers State. Besides, the involvements in the APC by south easterners and southsoutherners have become increasingly high.

THREATS

We Need a Young and Digital President …

The call for a president who is better in touch with the realities of the digital age has heightened these days. This is a threat for Buhari who is 74 and has no formal education outside the military and beyond secondary school. His Vice President is a sharp contrast of him in this regard; Osinbajo is a Professor of law and is 62. Buhari has further infuriated the youth by appointing Solomon Dalong as Federal Minister of Youth and Sports. Dalong is a 51-years-old law lecturer who as at the time of his appointment didn’t have any social media account and he is without any experience in sports management. Meanwhile, there are a number of other aspirants for the position who are much younger and vibrant like Fela Durotoye (47), Omoyele Sowore (47) KIngsly Moghalu (57) and others.

Buahri has failed …

Judging by the reputation that Buhari’s first term has earned him, he is not likely to be re-elected. He failed in keeping to almost all of his promises and has further increased the woes of Nigerians in different ways. Power supply deteriorated and security and health has not fared better. Buhari is threatened by his own failure.

Atiku …

Atiku is a major threat to buhari’s re-election in 2019. Atiku is Fulani, old, muslim and experienced just like Buhari and has better history of competence that him.

South …

Buhari’s popularity that made him win the 2015 elections has now dwindled in all parts of Nigeria. But in the South in particular, many have regretted voting Buhari is in 2015 and now have decided to do just the opposite. The Southeast is a no go area now for Buhari for they felt many of the itches of the faults of the government many ways including the Python dance operation of the military where the communities were treated like war zones. Buhari had referred to them as the 5 % of those that brought him to power who shouldn’t enjoy what the 95% others should get. Moreover, the zone is also predominantly PDP making it a threat to Buahri. The Southsouth people are also not going to be staying with Buhari from the look of things. If the elections are not rigged, Buahri is likely to lose the south east, south south, middle belt and a huge part of the south west. There is nothing he can do about this for now because he has been given a chance to prove himself and has failed.

Electorates …

Please get your PVC through pvc.inecnigeria.org. Voting with the future of Nigeria in mind doesn’t have to be based on religion, ethnics, or any other bias. The facts have been laid bare. Vote objectively.

God bless Nigeria.