By Jude Egbas
President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) defeated Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to win the February 23, 2019 presidential election.
Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes to beat Atiku who polled 11,262,978 votes.
Buhari won the presidential election with a victory margin of 3,928,869.
As Buhari and the APC prepare for their inauguration for a second term in office, here are a couple of mistakes the president shouldn’t repeat in the next four years if he intends to leave a lasting legacy for Nigerians.
1…Dear Buhari, don’t take forever to assemble a cabinet
Elected President in March of 2015, Buhari infamously took six months to name and assemble a team to work with.
It would prove a costly decision and move.
The nation slipped into a recession, the Naira weakened disastrously against the dollar, millions of jobs were lost, businesses shuttered shops, insecurity deepened in the northeast and north central regions and investors fled Nigeria in droves as they sought signals and confidence boosters from the new president.
Nigeria is yet to recover from those six months of inertia, lethargy and dithering from Buhari.
The president loves to crack jokes about earning the “Baba Go Slow” nickname from Nigerians after a painfully slow start, but the last thing this nation needs at the moment is a leader who moves at snail speed. Nigeria just can’t afford that kind of glacial speed any longer.
As he sets out his stall for a second term on the saddle, Buhari should already have a team in place to hit the ground running from Day One. Anything less would be bad for everyone.
2…The 2019 cabinet requires some fresh blood and ideas
Buhari took forever to name his cabinet, but largely made the wrong choices in the end.
The 2015 cabinet brims with deadwoods and persons who only found their way to Abuja because their political party owed them a debt of gratitude for delivering their states to Buhari during the elections.
Worse, Buhari didn’t deem it fit to reshuffle a cabinet that was clearly not delivering on his myriad campaign promises.
The president now has a responsibility to invite younger, smarter technocrats into his team, more so because he doesn’t need to repay political debts in order to secure another term in office.
If 2015 to 2019 was about cleaning up the mess and laying a solid foundation for Team Buhari, 2019—2023 should be about actually delivering on campaign promises and providing badly needed infrastructure.
Only a handful of members of the 2015 cabinet deserve to stay a day longer on their jobs after the May 29, 2019 inauguration day. The rest should be speedily fired.
3…Unite, not divide the country
The president has been accused of nepotism, lopsidedness in government appointments and clannishness on numerous occasions; and justifiably so.
During one of his first public interactions after winning the 2015 election, Buhari announced that those who handed him only 5 percent of his votes should not expect to be treated the same as those who gave him 97 percent of his total vote haul (referring to his own northern base).
The Southeast and South-South regions, which handed the president negligible vote percentages in the 2015 election, saw Buhari’s Washington comments as proof that the newly elected president had made up his mind not to treat everyone equally.
Buhari could not shake off a reputation for tribalism and divisiveness during his first term.
He has to be the leader that unites, the leader who strives for inclusiveness in his administration, during what promises to be an interesting second term.
Every region of Nigeria has got to have a sense of belonging under Buhari
4..Banish the cabal from Aso Rock, Mr. President
Buhari was allegedly beholden to a cabal during his first four years.
Things got so bad that even his own wife, Aisha, announced to the world that a small clique of persons had taken over the running of her husband’s administration.
Securing a constitutionally permissible second term should hand Buhari plenty leverage to take ownership of his own government and do right by Nigerians.
Buhari now has a once in a lifetime opportunity to banish the politicians and the coterie of vested interests who never mean well for their country.
5…Speak to the local press a lot more
It took the period of the electioneering campaign for Buhari to directly engage the local media after his 2015 media chat.
For most of his first term, Buhari only announced policy proposals when outside the country’s shores.
It was a tactic that backfired, as the presidency made more enemies from within the ranks of the local press, while finding it doubly difficult relaying its objectives and achievements to an increasingly skeptical populace.
Buhari has to do better between 2019 and 2023.
Quarterly media chats, town halls and press conferences should be a must for Team Buhari in his second term. Anything less could further leave a wedge between the administration and the populace.