No sooner than Gen Muhammadu Buhari emerged as the President-elect of Nigeria was he also selected as one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. The magazine recognises that people’s expectations of Buhari are high in keeping with “… the historic conditions of the election”.
Those historic conditions ushered in a significant landslide for the All Progressives Congress party (APC) with victories at the Federal Government, a clear majority in the Senate and lower house of assembly as well as a significant win in the most important state in the country – Lagos.
Those expectations will mostly be gauged directly from the quality of people who will be in this government. Up for grabs are powerful positions in Ministries and parastatals where the country needs progressive and definitive action in areas like power, education and agriculture to mention just a few.
To achieve any significant progress, the Nigerian Government must hit the ground running, and behind the scenes, Buhari and the Vice President-elect Yemi Osinbajo are already vetting people who need to surround them in the process.
But Buhari has also been managing the extent of these expectations, emphasising that 16 years of mismanagement will not be undone by a sleight of hand. People must be patient with steady incrementalism.
Throughout this, they also maintain that the APC remains committed to executing its signature programmes – huge policy and social initiatives that cannot be hijacked. The incoming regime has made it clear that tokenism will not solve the major problems that ail the country.
Chief among these programmes include plans to curb poverty by creating jobs and setting up social welfare schemes that cater to the poorest Nigerians. One of these schemes is a Conditional Cash Transfer that pays N5000 – N7500 monthly to 25 million of the poorest Nigerians over the next four years as long as they send their children to school and get them immunised. Another provides free meals to children in primary schools nationwide while there are plans to stimulate the agricultural sector and institute a national health insurance scheme that provides healthcare cover for poor people for just N500-N1000 yearly contribution.
Judging by the bold and massive nature of these initiatives, for many Nigerians, May 29 - the date for the formal handover of Government - cannot come quick enough.