The presidency has blamed the absence of cooperation from the opposition and the scaremongering tactics that they have employed for the federal government’s failure to stem the killings by suspected herdsmen in the Middle Belt.
It also said President Muhammadu Buhari has not given Nigerians reasons to vote against him in the 2019 elections and also blamed the excessive expectations by Nigerians for the current level of low appreciation of the president’s achievements in his first term in office.
In an article written by the president’s Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu yesterday, Buhari’s media aide said: “Nigerians had expected him to undo the damage several decades of mis-governance… naturally, many are already feeling frustrated that he hadn’t done that in three years.”
He noted that as the country is gearing itself up for the general elections in February next year and with Buhari announcing that he will bid for the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for a second term, “all hell has been let loose by the chaotic, ill-prepared opposition camp”.
“For President Buhari, who won with massive votes in 2015, his major challenge is to do as well as he did, or even better. He came to power with a lot of expectations and Nigerians had, justifiably placed very high hopes on him.
“As we said sometimes back, he, as a consequence, has become a victim of the tyranny of expectations. The weight of unrealistic expectations has evidently blinded many of the people from seeing the revolutionary changes happening across the nation.”
Garba noted that in democracies around the globe, second terms by incumbents were usually harder to get because, according to him, “Somehow, there is always some kind of anti-incumbency leading to a loss of faith among those supporters.”
Shehu, who noted that the opposition has so far failed to articulate programmes that will make them win the elections, come 2019, added that they cannot be united by ideology, “the type that made the pre-2015 opposition fuse into a formidable challenger that pushed an incumbent out of office”.
“There is no way, therefore, they can choose leaders with unanimity. What then they have taken to is scaremongering by fanning ethnic and religious divisions among the minorities, especially in the Middle Belt where hundreds of innocent citizens are confronted with violent death,” he said.
He declared that government was doing much to end the killings, but blamed the absence of support and cooperation for the poor results achieved so far.
“More, however, could still have been achieved if there was cooperation extended to the security agencies by everyone, and by everyone, I mean especially the political opposition.
“A political warlord recently ordered the provocative stoning of Nigerian Air Force personnel as their chopper landed in a Northeastern state,” he alleged.
Shehu added: “Government has irrefutable evidence that much as most of these killings are arising from herdsmen-farmers’ attacks, some of it is driven by politicians.
“The recent arrests by the army in Taraba State point to a clear political sponsorship and the kingpins, some of whom have been arrested and have been handed over to the DSS for further investigation.
“Others who are being sought have either gone into hiding or they are pulling strings of blackmail to force the hand of government to abandon the search for them.
“It is clear by now that the Middle Belt killings, even if they are not caused by the opposition, are no doubt seen as a political opportunity to set the tone for the 2019 elections.
“A so-called Third Force has failed to get political traction since its birth. This is understandable, given that they have promised to give the country everything that is new but have so far produced no new faces, no new ways of doing things. Certainly, there is no face that can be called the President of Nigeria.
“For the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) parading itself on the glory of being the largest opposition, the party has not less than 10 leaders acutely ambitious to rule Nigeria.
“It will take them minimally two to three terms of presidential tenure, that is eight to twelve years to reinvent the party.”
Shehu, while listing the achievements of the Buhari administration, said: “This administration has broken the jinx of fertilizer shortage and its high cost and has made land clearing for agriculture a priority.
“Loans at low or no interest rates are being given by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Bank of Agriculture, the Bank of Industry and the Development Bank.”
He, nonetheless, acknowledged that it would take years to raise Nigeria’s growing population from poverty.
“Even in China, with the world’s fastest-growing economy, this still, is work in progress”.
He also declared that much was being done for women, children and Nigeria’s “enterprising youths”, adding: “This is the first time anyone has given our country a social welfare scheme.
“By it, 7.5 million children are served free meals in schools. This has improved school attendance. Two Hundred thousand graduates are now enrolled through N-Power, and 300,000 have just passed screening in the biggest, most audacious employment scheme on the continent.
“Our youths have a lot of ideas and many who need support, mentoring and guidance under the various schemes under the Social Investment Programme of the government are getting help.”
The economy, he said, has seen a paradigm shift with agriculture getting a pride of place.
“We are importing 90 per cent less rice than we did three years back, the World Bank has certified Nigeria as being one of the top ten most improved economies in the world.
“The power ministry has done commendably well, raising generation from an average of 2,600 megawatts to 7,500 MW.
“Today, each state has a minimum of between one to five federal roads under construction or reconstruction. Some have as many as eight or nine. The legendary Second Niger Bridge is by now 44 per cent complete, putting to shame the many years of platitudes and lies by several past administrations.”
Speaking on the foreign policy front, Shehu noted that Nigerian enjoys a good reputation in West Africa, Africa and the world.
“What this government is doing is different and the results are showing. For example, the decline which began in 2014 and stabilising the economy for Nigerians, recovery of stolen national assets and economic restructuring for the growth of the private sector as the best solution to unemployment.
“Others include demonstrable infrastructure improvement: roads, power and energy and re-establishment of a collaborative working relationship between the president and the vice-president as a model of how Northern/Southern, Muslim/Christian, older/younger Nigerians can and should work together.
“The thing about the second term in all political climes is that voters must have a practical reason to vote for someone. President Buhari has not given anyone an excuse not to choose him on this count. His is an administration that has something for everyone.
“Supporters who talk about a noticeable loss of faith by some must note that there is nothing permanent in politics. Many of the allies will, in pursuit of power, come back to the APC, being the party with superior power.”
Garba boasted that the APC did extremely well in the North to attain power and every indication are that in 2019, it will do in the South what it did in the North in 2015.