A cross-section of socio-cultural groups in Nigeria has given their expectations of the regime of the President, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), for 2020.
Afenifere, Arewa Consultative Forum and the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra, in separate interviews with our correspondent, said the performance of the Buhari regime over the last four and a half years had left a lot to be desired.
Among the areas enumerated for improvement by the Federal Government were the rule of law, Federal Character, education, agriculture and health.
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, stated that the current regime had been characterised by unmerited appointments and disregard for the rule of law, more of which he said could be expected in 2020.
Odumakin said, “If the past four years have been anything to go by, we expect more nepotism in terms of appointments, concentrating every critical appointment in a section of the country. Don’t forget that he (Buhari) just promised some two weeks ago that he could now afford to be reckless.
“If they did all they could so that all major and critical appointments are concentrated in a section of the country, now that they can afford to be reckless, I would expect an overdrive of that to continue to happen.
“If the belated compliance to court orders on (Sambo) Dasuki and (Omoyele) Sowore is anything to go by, then there will be more suppression of fundamental liberties in the coming year because, as the economy bites harder, the situation becomes more unbearable and there is more reaction from the people.”
The Afenifere spokesman added that the $29.9bn loan request by the Federal Government could spell more debts for the country in the new year.
“From the way they have been pursuing the new $30bn loan they said they want to take, we expect that they will put Nigeria into more indebtedness this coming year.
“So, clearly, with what is on the ground today, Nigerians should expect a tough year,” he added.
However, MASSOB Spiritual Leader, Chief Ndubuisi Igwekani, told our correspondent that the regime had proved that it did not have much to offer the Igbo.
Igwekani said, “I don’t have anything I’m expecting from this government. For a long time, we decided to work underground to know where we are heading to in this country and, at the end of the day, we have discovered that Nigeria as a nation has a lot of challenges and problems.
“The reason we are agitating for a separate nation is not because we lack the capacity or ability to struggle with other ethnic groups; it is that we find that each ethnic group has its own ideology. And for us to survive as a people, we need to look for what is the best for us.”
According to Igwekani, the Igbo have contributed a lot to the prosperity of the country.
He stated that in every state of the federation, the south-easterners were present and contributed to the improvement of lives and economies.
The Igbo leader added, “We lost some of our people in the June 12, 1993 election of Abiola because we wanted to forget about the past and forge ahead. It was not an Igbo man that annulled the election. And it was an Igbo man that conducted that first, best election that we have conducted in this country.
“Today, we talk about Buhari. What do you want me to contribute to this government? A government that never obeys the rule of law, the constitution or court orders; a government that is so tribalistic and under whose watch the Fulani (herdsmen) slaughtered thousands of innocent people.”
Igwekani noted that all Nigerians needed to see in the regime of Buhari was sincerity.
But he expressed disappointment in the President in terms of regard for Federal Character, saying it was nothing to write home about.
“I am totally disappointed with the system. He said this is his last term, so he is ready to do anything. If a president can say this is his last term and he’s ready to do anything in this ‘next level,’ I have seen the next level of this term.
“I am not among the people who are calling for a revolution against the government. I believe that if the country cannot accommodate me and my people, the best thing is for me to seek self-determination by any means within the constitution. Self-determination and freedom of association are in the constitution.
“With what I see in this government, I don’t think they have much to offer, unless they want to do something outside of what they have done. But from (the first) four years till now, I have never seen this government being serious,” he added.
The ACF National Publicity Secretary, Muhammad Biu, expressed optimism, saying the forum looked forward to 2020 with hope and confidence.
Biu, in a statement made available to Sunday PUNCH, said government at all levels was expected to give special attention to issues that would improve the well-being of Nigerians in all respects.
He added, “With the passing of the 2020 national budget, the Financial Bill and the amendment to the Production Sharing Contracts by the 9th National Assembly before the end of the year and the subsequent ascent to the budget by President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigerians now look forward to its full implementation in order to bring about some succour.
“Most importantly, we expect improvement in infrastructure like power, transportation, diversification in agriculture to sustain food security and employment opportunities to our teeming youths, and also mineral resources exploration.
“While commending the National Assembly for the quick passage of the 2020 budget, we urge it to diligently and effectively perform its oversight function to ensure that all projects earmarked in the 2020 national budget are properly executed in the overall interest of Nigeria.”
On ongoing projects, including the railway from Lagos to Kano, the ACF “strongly” appealed to the contractors to simultaneously start the rail line construction from both ends to ensure completion within the time frame.
On the Federal Government priority of providing security to lives and property, the forum said it expected “serious commitment to vigorously tackle insurgency, banditry, kidnappings and communal clashes that have continued to affect our socioeconomic and political development.”
Biu added, “In this respect, all necessary equipment and modern technology must be deployed in security operations, at the same time the welfare of military and other security personnel should be enhanced and promptly attended to.
“On the Federal Government fight against corruption, ACF expects synergy between the government, the judiciary and all agencies concerned with the fight to fast track all pending cases of corruption in order to make the fight meaningful.
“There should be transparency and accountability in all government business where performance is rewarded and corruption punished accordingly. ACF equally appeals for a change of attitude in the way we do business; war against corruption can only succeed with change of attitude and respect for our core values of honesty, fairness and trust.”
The group said, at the state government level, it expected improvement in the health care system, education with high enrolment of pupils and students in both primary and secondary schools to reduce the number of out-of-school children, as well as more instructional materials and qualified teachers.
“ACF also expects politicians at government levels to concentrate on providing dividends of democracy to Nigerians rather than overheating the polity with the 2023 elections.
“We equally call on Nigerians to cooperate and support the government’s policies and programmes for a prosperous nation,” he added.