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President Buhari’s Scorecard: 100 Days in Office

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buhariSaturday, September 5, 2015 marks exactly the 100 days anniversary of Muhammadu Buhari as the President, Commander-In-Chief of the Armed forces

of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He took the oath of office on Friday, May 29, 2015 having won the presidential polls of March 28, 2015 by defeating the incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan in a keenly contested election adjudged free and fair by national and international observers.

During his inaugural speech, President Buhari left no one in doubt that the ‘Change’ Nigerians long yearned for has finally come. Apart from declaring that his administration shall focus on issues of national security, the economy (with unemployment at the fore) as well as the eradication of corruption as its cardinal points, President Buhari released a momentous Catchphrase—“I belong to everyone and I belong to nobody” which not only dominated newspaper headlines locally and internationally, but has also kept analysts guessing what the statement represents for Buhari’s second coming to power. 

As the 100 day mark approaches, opinions are divided over what may be termed the achievements of the Buhari’s administration within this relatively short period. While some believe that so much has been achieved, others extrapolate that not much achievements have been recorded, especially when juxtaposed with the hype and euphoria that greeted the campaigns and eventual emergence of Buhari as the President. 

Those belonging to this school of thought infer that the All Progressives Congress (APC) nay, Buhari were ill-prepared for power and governance. They argue that the inability of the current administration to appoint Ministers after almost a hundred and thirty days of winning the election was already a minus for the administration’s scorecard. They also opine that the economy which President Buhari vouched to revamp has become almost stagnated as a result of the absence of a clear-cut economic blueprint or policy direction. Investors and businesses they allege, are undecided on how to carry on their activities to avoid being caught napping by unsavoury policy statements that might take them unawares. The plight of infrastructures, Education etc have remained uncertain

 For yet another set of observers, the Buhari’s administration is replete with instances of broken promises. For example, they claim that President Muhammadu Buhari had promised during his campaign that he will openly declare his assets and ensure that all his appointees do the same as soon as he assumes office. His exact words read thus: “I believe if Nigeria does not kill corruption; corruption will kill Nigeria. I pledge to publicly declare my assets and liabilities and encourage my political appointees to also publicly declare their assets and liabilities”. 

Rather than keep to this simplest of promises, Buhari, through his aides chose to embark on a flurry of denials, not only from this promise, but for many other campaign promises. The Presidency through the presidential spokesman has reportedly said the promise of asset declaration wasn’t made by Buhari but his political party. Ditto for the plight of the Chibok girls after over 500 days in captivity. The promise to make the Naira at par with the US Dollar appear to have been denied while the boast to raise the price of crude oil has clearly dawned on the claimants that it is utopian aspiration. 

A raging controversy that has seen President Buhari’s men in spirited effort to refute is the promise of making some milestones within the first 100 days. Unfortunately, pamphlets distributed during the campaigns of the APC abound to discredit any such effort at denying this fact. However, whether there is such a promise or not is inconsequential as the 100 days assessment which has its root in the United States under President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s has become an international phenomenon and practice and all successive federal and State governments since 1999 have always prepared for and issued statement of stewardship within its first 100 days in office. Denying this culture will be tantamount to conceding the allegations of critics that there is nothing to show for the first 100 days. Nigerians are apprehensive that the first 365 days (one year) in office might face the same fate under the new administration since they argue that they (APC) never set timelines to their campaign promises.

Critics of the Buhari’s administration posit that contrary to the expectations that the new government would hit the ground running; the reality is that governance has rather been a ding dong affair such that President Buhari has been labelled by dissatisfied Nigerians as ‘Baba Go Slow’. 

Buhari’s media aides and apologists have tried to refute this appellation given to him. They come up with the alibi   that “Buhari has to be slow because the scale of rot is so deep (that) he needs to clean “the Augean stables” with “scrupulous and painstaking planning.” His supporters tell us to “have patience” because the President is building a structure that will redeem the years the cankerworms ate and such an elaborate vision requires a thoughtful approach to governance”. On his part, President Buhari has refused to make excuses for his apparent sluggish approach to governance. During an interactive session in Washington, he openly acknowledged this perception of his government as very slow but however averred that although he was indeed “Baba Go Slow”, he would be “slow and steady.” 

The recent appointments made by President Buhari have not passed without criticisms for not meeting up with the yearnings and aspiration of the people for equity and justice which will ensure unity. Out of about 39 political appointments made by Buhari, it is alleged that about 34 of them (consisting of plum and strategic portfolios) are from the North while only about five came to the entire South thereby raising apprehensions that president Buhari might be acting out a Northern agenda after all. Moreover, the piecemeal approach to appointing the aides came under fire by critics. 

As at press time, Ministers are yet to be appointed, but one of the Media Aides to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina has assured in an interview that the lopsided nature of the appointments would be rectified by the time the rest of the appointments are announced.  This statement is a subtle admittance to the hue and cry of certain sections of the country and casts aspersions on Buhari’s “I belong to everyone and I belong to nobody” cliche. Some have argued that the bulk of the so called appointments were Buhari’s kitchen cabinet and as such, his prerogative. 

This is an indictment on the president that after vying for the presidency for the past two years, he is unable to foster a bond with other parts of the country so neglected to the point that none is fit to be in his kitchen cabinet. It speaks volume of his personality and character. Implicit in this is that but for the federal character principle, he might as well use only his kinsmen to govern a country as vast and heterogeneous as Nigeria. 

Apart from the recent approval by Buhari for the employment of additional 10,000 policemen, it does appear that nothing has started happening in the area of providing job which was part of his campaign promises.

In fairness to President Buhari, his administration may have been quite slow, but it cannot be denied that it has equally been eventful.

Shortly after the inauguration of the administration, governors from about 19 states of the federation came cap in hand to President Buhari to seek for financial bailout to offset backlog of unpaid salaries of their workers. This was quickly resolved through an intervention by the federal government thus dousing fever pitch tensions mounting between organized labour and the various State governments involved. Although some States are just receiving the bailout funds, the commitment of the federal government helped in no small way to calm nerves.

Soon afterwards, President Buhari jetted out of the country to solicit the cooperation of neighbouring Niger, Chad, Benin and Cameroun towards combatting insecurity in the Northern part of Nigeria. The trips which observers tipped as largely successful brought about the establishment and mobilization of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) under the operational command of the MNJTF commander assisted by his joint headquarters by July 30, 2015. The United States pledged $5 million to the fight against Boko Haram, in addition to other material support. This is apart from the support that has been pledged by the G-7 to strengthen Nigeria’s efforts to quell the insurgency. This is attributed to President Buhari’s shuttle diplomacy.

Notwithstanding, suicide bombing attacks have been intermittently steady and escalating across the North since the inception of the Buhari, administration. Recently, aerial bombardment of the insurgents’ suspected hideouts by the MNJTF has been intensified and President Buhari and the newly appointed Service Chiefs have assured that the fight against insurgency would be over before December, 2015. 

Supporters of the Buhari’s administration count as profound achievement, the intervention of Mr. President on the National Assembly leadership imbroglio after initially standing aloof on the crisis. They argue that wading in of President Buhari restored peace to the legislative chambers which was on the brinks of capsizing.

To add to the feathers of President Buhari was the much celebrated voyage to the United States of America to meet with President Obama. He had earlier visited South Africa and Germany. The major areas where expectations were high were assistance in fighting corruption, especially identification and repatriation of stolen funds as well as in the fight against terrorism. Much of this, according to the information made available by the government, was achieved during the trip that grabbed headlines across the globe. Most of these expected benefits are still in promissory notes including supply of weapons for fighting insurgency. Looted funds put at about $15bn are still expected to begin to arrive in Nigeria soonest. 

The APC spokesman remarked that through his ‘shuttle diplomacy’, Buhari has been able to restore Nigeria’s integrity and that many countries were beginning to respect Nigeria again, adding that the PDP-led federal government politicised the fight against terrorism which made it unable to protect Nigeria’s integrity.

On the anti-corruption war, the Buhari administration has embarked on series of probes and investigations torch-lighting the immediate past administration for possible clues. During the trip to the United States, Buhari revealed that he had started receiving some documents which indicted some former ministers and other top government officials of massive fraud, including oil theft. The anti-graft agencies in what seemed to be a sudden reawakening have made a few arrests and charged the suspects to court while still investigating a lot more. Although no convictions have so far been secured, the heat waves are almost unassailable. It is even rumoured that some officials have started returning looted funds in secret to avoid being apprehended by the long arm of the law. On the flip side, there have been allegations of selective victimization of perceived enemies which tend to dent the intentions of this crusade. 

Power generation has continued to increase under the Buhari administration although many pro-Jonathan apologists arrogate this achievement to the efforts of the past administration. Some parts of the country are reportedly receiving between 12-15 hours of electricity daily while generation got to a peak of 4,600mgw by ending of August, 2015. Lai Muhammed recently attributed the increase in power generation to “the fear of Buhari” and not to any direct or indirect intervention by President Buhari.

The argument for or against the achievements of Buhari may neither be here nor there, suffice it to say that the peoples’ goodwill still subsists, but may equally be subject to expiration. This is only the first one hundred days. There is ample time to up the ante and make Nigerians from all divide feel the much desired impact of APC’s Change mantra. It is in our collective interest that our President–Muhammadu Buhari succeeds. All hands must be on deck and every support is needed to move this great nation forward.

(The writer is a Public Affairs Analyst. Contact: 07052415807; Email: chuksohiri@yahoo.com) 

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