The battle of wits, occasional fists, brain and brawn ended last Tuesday night in Nigeria as Professor Mahmood Yakubu, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission declared Muhammadu Buhari winner of the 2019 Presidential Election. With close to sixteen million votes, the APC flagbearer distanced challenger Atiku Abubakar of the PDP with more than four million votes. Although contested by the PDP, the overwhelming victory of President Muhammadu Buhari was applauded by international observers who gave high marks to the globally free and fair elections in spite of the technical glitches encountered in some areas during the electoral process. President Muhammadu Buhari meets the criteria to be proclaimed winner by scoring at least twenty five percent in more than twenty five states and plucking the popular vote. As activities pick up with the electoral dust settling, the newly elected President of the world’s most populous black nation should be ruminating on how to deliver on electoral promises. In his second term, President Buhari has challenging files in his Aso Rock office that require urgent solutions. Top among these challenges are the high unemployment rate among the youth, growing poverty and insecurity, dwindling GDP and quantum rise in foreign debts.
The political relevance of President Bu hari remains pegged on his integrity, discipline, modesty and diligence. Former military leader alongside Tunde Idiaghbon from 1983 to 1985, former Minister of Petroleum and winner of the 2015 Presidential elections after two earlier failed bids, Muhammadu Buhari has all it takes to deliver in his second term as Head of State. After his electoral victory against Goodluck Johnathan in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari took the oath of office with a pledge to eradicate corruption and cleanse Nigeria of insecurity in general and the terrorist sect Boko Haram in particular. Reminiscences of the war against indiscipline of his days as military ruler, gave Nigerians hopes and assurance for positive results. The reduction of the security nuisance of Boko Haram has been highly applauded, but the terrorists organisation still maintains a fighting force estimated at about five thousand. Security therefore remains a principal challenge for the President in this second term. Criminality and ritual killings is another nightmare that afflicts Nigerians and a principal challenge for the new Buhari administration. In the realm of economic growth, the first term of President Muhammadu Buhari saw a down turn. The Gross Domestic Product of the Goodluck Johnathan days hit close to six hundred and thirty billion dollars. At the end of the first term of the Buhari administration it descended to less than four hundred billion dollars. The galloping rise of foreign debts in the last four years, to close to twenty two billion dollars, is having negative ripple effects on the Nigerian economy posing a new challenge to the newly elected President.
Earlier this year, unemployment in Nigeria hit a record forty percent. Added to the current inflation rate of over eleven percent, the Nigerian economy needs a surgical operation to maintain its benchmark of pace-setter in the continent. Economic growth projections for Nigeria this year appear to be encouraging. From the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to the African Development Bank, the expectation is that Nigeria would grow by at least two percent in 2019. The economic challenge of President Bahari’s second mandate should be to drive growth upwards and improve longer-term fiscal sustainability. The first mandate’s strong points of war on corruption and building much needed infrastructure should see a quantum leap in this second term and eventually trigger positive fallouts throughout the economic environment. In 2006, Nigeria was the first African country to pay off its debts at the Paris club during the Presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo. Also it was the Goodluck Jonathan administration that pulled the Nigerian economy to number one position on the Continent, over taking South Africa in 2013. The economic pedestals of yesteryears ignite nostalgia in Nigerians and aggravate expectations on the current administration.