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Buharinomics: Between Rational Expectation and Political Reality.
Author: Wakdok,Samuel Stephen | June 01, 2015



The term “Buharinomics” will definitely come into our national lingua come May 29th 2015 ,sooner than later the perception of this term will be determined by how the policy thrust of the new government minimizes or maximizes the already existing hardships of ordinary Nigerians. The man Muhammadu Buhari had or has a lot of transitions. The most recent is in something as small as initials or prefixes. The GMB which stands for General Muhammadu Buhari is giving way to PMB, President Muhammadu Buhari. From the state house at Dodon Barracks to detention in 1985, from a former dictator to a democrat, from an opposition candidate to the ruling party, from an ex head of state to the president. It will be nothing less than high expectation from all who are Nigerians in this time of our national history that “a Buhari has come to Aso Rock”. Buhari is the second Nigerian to rule Nigeria twice, hitherto as a military ruler and now as a democratic president. No doubt the pre-election atmosphere was rife with tension and uncertainty, but no matter the short coming of the Goodluck Jonathan presidency, President Jonathan's call to Buhari conceding defeat was not only a stitch in time that saved nine but a call in time that saved lives. After the campaign blues and the honeymoon of the people's general wane, he will be officially in charge of piloting the affairs of Nigeria for the next four years. The buck stops on his table. Buck like fulfilling the election campaign promises made by him and his party the All Progressives Congress, APC. As a commentator I have always appraised the success or otherwise of the Jonathan's presidency on three broad themes namely: Insecurity, Corruption and the Economy. A realistic and holistic review of President Jonathan's successes or failures, legacy or excuses will be objectively derived from these three. A fourth which can't be easily captured in a model will be his political (mis)calculations especially on how he made friends or enemies and the over bearing role of his wife which affected some critical decisions or relationships in the life of his administration.Luckily with Buhari's military background and his track record of fighting or punishing corruption during his last regime, it should be given that Insecurity and corruption are straight wins for the new President. The only grey area for him out of these three will be the economy then we can add democratic governance or politics. If Buhari falls short in the area of insecurity and the fight against corruption, that will be a big gaffe on his part. It will be good to know that Buhari will have to also transit in his economic ideology if he hasn't already. In 1984 and 1985 when he was at the helms of affairs, government intervention in the economy was at its peak especially in the developing countries. The Keynesian theory of the 1930s which posited that the invisible hand of demand and supply was not adequate to create adequate equilibrium in the economy or allocate resources efficiently was very popular. Over the years, the failure of government intervention in driving countries to full output or employment level coupled with a high level of wastages, inefficiencies, corruption, greed, and abuse of powers typical of African countries led to these countries either seeking structural adjustments or reviewing fundamentally their economic models. Nigeria is widely known to be notorious when it comes to corruption, with rampant rent seeking and doling out patronages either in doing businesses or running the machinery of government. It is against this backdrop that Buhari who is seen by many as a person with integrity and very disciplined will be expected to bring his frugality to stem this tide. The structural adjustment years ushered in neo classical theories in Nigeria and encouraged the divestment of government from businesses. Privatization, commercialization, deregulation and liberalization took the centre stage. To crown it all, the advent and rise of the internet and globalization finally means there is no hiding place for any country. No economy can live in autarky is a major principle in earlier international trade theories but additionally in today's era of globalization, countries must either take advantage of globalization or be taken advantage of by globalization. Therefore countries like Nigeria must position themselves for global competitiveness. Nigeria cannot be competitive globally if the fundamentals of the economy are not gotten right. The quality of life which comes from security and safety, qualitative health care, education, available and affordable housing, employment opportunities, accessible and safe water, sanitation and fundamental human rights are very germane. Investments in critical and social infrastructure, transparency and benchmarking with peers in the international community should drive Nigeria's economy if we have to reap the benefits in a globalized world. Suitably, the major transition for President Muhammadu Buhari coming from a command and control economy of the 1980s into the hi-tech knowledge economy of today will be flexibility and sensitivity. He must be able to adapt to the principles of liberal democracy and economic horse-trading. The internet and social media, freedom of information bill, telecommunications are just a few tools that the citizens can and will use to put their governments in check. It is also worthy of note that Buhari will not be ruling by fiats and decrees as he did that other time. While he will have the power to rule by executive orders, in the spirit of separation of powers he will have to depend on the National Assembly as regards passing, repealing or modifying bills. Of critical interests are the very many promises made by Buhari and his party during the electioneering. Some of this promises are welfarists in nature which naturally were appealing to the ordinary citizens, but looking at the resurgence of the neoclassical economic theory, the failure of governments to achieve economic developments and the fall in government revenue as an instrument of government expenditure; one can only imagine how the new government will make good some of these promises. A few of the promises include free school feeding programs, unemployment benefits, and social loans. Every Nigerian who voted for Buhari on the account of these and those who didn't will rationally expect the fulfillment of these promises. Governments everywhere are voted in to provide results and not excuses and as such, Buhari will not have the luxury of patience from Nigerians. However, we must assess whether these campaign promises are realistic or were mere propaganda. We must evaluate how objective our expectations are or if they were made just to score political capital and wrestle power from the People's Democratic Party, PDP. Agreed, it is the business of every opposition party to win power from the hands of the ruling party and some stop at nothing to achieve that. But the real business commences after getting the power. And for Nigeria, after years of discontent by the ordinary people who see the giant development strides of past governments as mere rhetoric; it will not be out of place for people to hold this new government to task in delivering on their promises. President Muhammadu Buhari and his team should know that accountability will not stop in financial terms alone but their words and campaign promises will be held accountable by the people. The people who gave their mandate to this new government are expecting so much in terms of security and fight against corruption but even more in their economy. The Average Propensity to corrupt and be corrupted should at least be halved before the first term of this government ends. That is if the new government wants to make serious impression in the fight against corruption. The promised jobs will have to be created, the foreign exchange will have to be stabilized so that the purchasing power parity of the Naira will be enhanced, provision of adequate power supply, development of the real sector which will create linkages in the economy, deepening the capital market, stabilizing the banking sector, provision of free or affordable health care and the local production or refining of petroleum products. The APC strategy and campaign team made good use of the youths in their electioneering on the field but better on the social media, we expect to see a higher and continuous engagement of more youths in the national development process. The youths should be actively encouraged and supported to participate in the political processes across all levels. A lot too has to be done by President Muhammadu Buhari to sustain or surpass his immediate predecessor in the area of women engagement in politics and governance. In an attempt to summarize the expectations on this government, it will not be uncharitable to expect that life will be more meaningful to every Nigerian with the advent of the new government. Businesses should thrive, the informal sector should be mainstreamed, revenue leakages should be blocked, cost of governance should be drastically reduced, and our domestic economy should be well prepared for external shocks by diversification. Investments should flow in easier with the post-election peace; however the new President and his team must know that though peace is a necessary condition for development it is not and cannot be a sufficient condition. Therefore the right policy frameworks must be in place, the political will to break from the wrong doings of the past, the humility to continue with the successes and progress of the Jonathan's positive agenda should be the fulcrum for continuous march to development. One of the thorniest issues that will come up is the issue of payment or withdrawal of subsidy on PMS. Subsidy on fuel though characterized by corruption or inefficiency is seen by many as redistribution of national wealth. Removing subsidy will lead to Buhari clashing so soon with the masses that bear the brunt of sharp increases in transportation with its multiplier effect. The battle grounds of anti-subsidy removal protests in 2012 happened to be mostly APC states now like Lagos, kano and Kaduna. Will they erupt once more if an attempt is made or will they be silent? Politics in a democratic set up can be a vehicle for success or a recipe for failure. Buhari must know that his party was a merger of many parties and care must be taken to prevent bickering at the expense of national good. Beyond that, APC as a party must know the difference between an opposition and a ruling party. All you needed to do as an opposition party was to cry foul even when there was none, but now as a ruling party you must deliver quantifiable variables. The opposition party is akin to a town crier while the ruling party is comparable to the council of elders who must be seen to be fair and just to the people always or risk a revolt .These will be assessed by the people, appraised by them and evaluated against benchmarks. The major perception of 'Buharinomics' will be how the government and its policies are seen to be pro or anti people. With change as its slogan and the victory of the broom at the just concluded polls, the APC is confronted with two extreme set of people. The first are people who are too optimistic that this government will change the fortunes of the country beyond imagination and the second are those who are so pessimistic, wondering if the APC can really bring their words to action. In the interest of progress and development one hopes the later gets disappointed but the former shouldn't. In conclusion beyond ‘Buharinomics' the only transition Buhari must prevent is that of transition from PDP's tyranny of corruption to APC's corruption of tyranny. Honestly a radical departure from impunity will be vital in managing the people's perception of Buharinomics. Whether he leaves the people with sweet, bitter or sweet-bitter or bitter-sweet memories of himself and his policies will determine a lot. Every promise is a debt and Nigerians have over the years got so frustrated with promises and lies, the expectation this change promised must converge with reality of positive change. The postal address is PMB 2015, the rational expectation is for President Muhammadu Buhari to deliver on most if not all we were promised.



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