The long awaited arrival of president-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, took place yesterday with Nigerians across geopolitical, social, and religious divides expressing hopes that the change of party and personalities will mark the beginning of a new dawn.
Their optimism appears to be based on the much touted integrity of Buhari who was sworn-in as the fourth president in this Fourth Republic.
Also, a number of Nigerians believe that if the new administration is able to keep to its campaign promises and the manifesto of the new ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), the masses of Nigerians will soon have cause to smile.
Among vocal Nigerians who spoke with Daily Independent on the issue is former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Rotimi Akeredolu, who has advised Buhari to strive to fulfill the programmes outlined in the manifesto of the APC.
These programmes, according to Akeredolu, include security of lives and property of Nigerians, job creation, infrastructure, revival of the economy and war against the hydra-headed monster called corruption.
He said: “The manifesto of the APC is clear on what should be his agenda, and he has made it clear during his campaign that he will make the programmes in the manifesto his priority.
“He has to focus on job creation, security. He should also revive the economy so that our economy is not solely dependent on oil.”
Akeredolu also advised Nigerians to have a change of attitude, knowing that it will no longer be business as usual.
On his part, Constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay, urged Buhari to make the issue of stable electricity, infrastructure, and enforcement of discipline on Nigerians his priority.
He also said the president must do his utmost to resolve the issue of fuel scarcity by removing fuel subsidy and building enough refineries to deter importation of petroleum products.
According to him, “His main focus, to start with, must be his moral uprightness, integrity, zero tolerance for corruption, enforcement of discipline on Nigerians; followed by the immediate solution to problems like the power problem, which is really bringing the whole country down.
“Also, the question of petroleum must be urgently addressed. We must build enough refineries in order to refine everything we need in this country, stop importation and totally remove subsidy.”
As some critics have noted, there had never been such optimism and expectations from Nigerians at the arrival of a new administration in recent times.
For Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP)’s Scribe, Willy Ezugwu, the optimism is borne out of the fact that the Nigerians have suffered several disappointments under one particular political party since the return of democracy to the country.
Hear him: “At a time like this when everything in Nigeria presently has gone sour, a lot is expected from the president-elect whose party, APC, has promised to bring change.
“APC has been promising and chanting change, and we need a total change in every angle of governance.
We need total eradication of corruption which government has been so much soaked into; we need employment.”
“Unfortunately, PDP who promised a lot to Nigerians delivered next
to nothing. They use many federal roads as campaign tools and never finished any until date.
“For example, Abuja /Lokoja road is yet to be completed, same goes for the second Niger bridge in the South-East that became merely a propaganda issue.”
“The new government should recall the fraudulent sale of the power sector to elite. You cannot sell an old car to someone and next day the customer comes back to borrow money to repair the car.”
“It is time for the new government to make their win worthwhile; the new ruling party must fulfill its campaign promises.”
“The change we have been clamouring for is here,” enthused Osita Okechukeu, an APC chieftain who maintained that the optimism in Nigeria today is not misplaced.
“This is the time when public good will be placed above personal good; now, the head will not be rotten and the body will be very healthy,” he added.
Similarly, a former factional governorship candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APGA) in Anambra, Chike Obidigbo, tried to justify the optimism, noting that Buhari demonstrated zero tolerance for corruption in his first coming as military leader.
He added: “Since he left office, corruption has invaded every sphere of our national life, and it has reached a level that it will only take the grace of God to control.”
“Nigerians will expect Buhari to quickly reverse the downward trend in our economy by providing the necessary infrastructure and enabling environment that will assist private sector operators and sustain their activities; energy, of course, is number one.”
Commenting on the issue, another former President, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Priscilia Kuye, described the inauguration of the first opposition president in the country as eventful. “You know, Nigerians wanted a change and truly the change has come,” she said.
However, Kuye expressed worry over the state of the economy at the moment where many states could not pay civil servants for many months and urged Nigerians to exercise patience with the incoming administration.
Kuye further stated that if the new government could restore power, then the country would be on the path of creating job for millions of jobless Nigerians.
“I read somewhere that the incoming administration would appoint only 19 ministers; I believe it would be a good beginning for the government,” she said.
According Kuye, the government can save a lot of revenue from reducing the number of ministers and other political appointees and redirect the resources towards development.