President Muhammadu Buhari, buoyed by his re-election in the Feb. 23 election, has assured Nigerians that he will make all the necessary efforts to ensure the best for the country and its citizens in his second term, starting on May 29. Addressing the board of trustees and advisory council of Gidauniyar Jihar Katsina (Katsina State Development Fund), led by Justice Mamman Nasir, Monday, at the State House, Abuja, Buhari thanked those whose votes returned him to power. A statement by his spokesman, Femi Adesina, quoted the President as saying that his campaign tour of the federation was “an eye opener”. “Thank you for supporting me. I assure you that I will do my best during the second term. We will work for Nigeria and her people,’’ Buhari told the delegation. He said the crowd that welcomed his campaign train in each state was more than anyone could possibly conjure. He attributed that to Nigerians’ appreciation of the efforts of his administration.
Nobody doubts the President’s sincerity. He talks straight as he has done in this instance. He won the 2015 election on the crest of his integrity. However, as he found out after nearly four years in office, the majority of Nigerians liked his integrity but that did not put food on the table. His government struggled with the economy despite bringing it out of recession. Its other two policy planks – security and fighting corruption – had a see-saw success. In particular, the initial huge victories the military scored against the insurgent Boko Haram sect in the north-east suffered some reverses as the elections approached. On the war on corruption, despite the good intentions of the President and the loot recoveries made, a perception that the fight was selective was predominant.
However, more than anything the disturbing eye-opener for the President was that there was a throbbing “winter of discontent” in some states held by his governing All Progressives Congress (APC) party. Though Buhari swept all the APC states that he took in 2015, the party lost Adamawa, Bauchi, Oyo and Imo states in the governorship race. It managed to retain Kano but controversially.
While these may have opened the President’s eyes to the need to do things differently, he may also have had his word cut out for him. Our fear is experiential. Experience teaches that in virtually all democracies, presidents are lame ducks in their second terms. Nothing significant gets done because the last four years are taken up by preparations for the next election. In Buhari’s case, he is in the last lap of his tenure and would like to give it his all to improve his rating, but we cannot say the same of his ministers and other aides that he would need to get the right things done. Many of them may have their sights set on elective offices in 2023 and will not align with Buhari’s intentions. This is the danger of a lame duck second term presidency. However, there is a good chance Buhari will prove to be different. Our prayers are for him to succeed.