Understanding Buhari’s 100 Days In Office
THE enormously popular talk show, Berekete on Wazobia FM radio, Abuja station told the incredible, yet true story of the hardworking and respected school teacher somewhere in Plateau state who hanged himself.
He hadn’t been paid salary for seven straight months. He came home to find that no one had eaten and two of the children had medical prescriptions for which there was no money. He sneaked out without talking to anyone. After a long while, news came home that he had strangely been caught with a stolen goat.
On his day in court, the teacher confessed to the offense. The reason he stole he told the local judge, was that he hadn’t been paid for seven months and when he got home to see what he saw, he just couldn’t stand it.
The judge allowed him to go home on bail on self-recognition given, as he said, the good impression the entire village had of the otherwise respected teacher.
All were shocked to find his body dangling from tree the morning after. He couldn’t live with the shame.
In the recommendations and notes the Ahmed Joda transition committee presented to him as President -EIect, Muhammadu Buhari was informed that a section of the Federal government as well as 27 states hadn’t paid salaries, in some case for up to a year.
The Joda committee advised that this was a national emergency and should be treated as such. It is on account of this that one of the activities- please note the choice of this word:activities, not achievements- of President Muhammadu Buhari in these past three months is the settlement of unpaid salaries. This is going on right now.
Like the proverbial blinking of the eye, Saturday September 5th will mark the 100 days of the Buhari-led All Progressives Congress, APC government which took office on May 29th after the new party became the first in opposition to unseat an incumbent government in an election adjudged by everyone as free and fair.
There are many out there who say that the performance of a president and his government in terms success or failure cannot be judged in 100 days and I agree with them. But history will be written anyway. In the coming week or two, a rash of commentaries and analyses to commemorate the event will be made.
I myself don’t deny that 100 days is long enough to know and understand the man who is the head of a government.
Buhari arrived power with strong support from young men and women and this country’s poor. The new government was not favoured at election by the power-brokers although that did not stop the President from taking measures such as improving security that are good for business and investment. This government is business-friendly, but not one that is for crony capitalism.
The new government inherited enormous problems created by the tainted PDP administration, largely caused by the lack of governance, corruption and lawlessness. This was mostly evident in the last two years of the Jonathan Goodluck administration. As the President continues to point out, the drift is most evident in the oil sector.
I believe that there is enough on the ground in those 100 days to understand President Buhari, his government and what it stands for. I will cite a few of these.
Before I do that, I will make a little confession.
In the course of electioneering, the presidential campaign had so many centers of public communication which, for whatever reason were on the loose.
There is a certain document tagged “One Hundred Things Buhari Will Do in 100 Days” and the other, “My Covenant With Nigerians.” Both pamphlets bore the authorised party logo, but as the Director of Media and Communications in that campaign, I did not fund or authorise any of those. I can equally bet my last Kobo that candidate Buhari did not see or authorise those publications.
As a consequence of these publications, expectations have been raised unreasonably, that as President, Muhammadu Buhari will wave his hand and all the problems that the country faces- insecurity, corruption, unemployment, poor infrastructure would go away. But that notwithstanding, President Buhari has given the job his best shot, and majority of Nigerians are saying that we never had it so good. He has re- instituted the values of hard work and administrative efficiency. The President says times without number that this country needs to fix governance and that he won’t tolerate laziness.
Some of the other activities I wish to enumerate also include the fact of his taking relations with the country’s immediate neighbours to new heights.
Buhari embarked on his foreign policy on Day Four of his administration.
When he met Barak Obama, the U.S president told the Nigerian leader that he was getting it right and that it is only when Nigeria gets it right that Africa will get it right.
In the area of economic management, Nigerians are already seeing things happen that they thought were not possible in so short a time. He didn’t put a Kobo to finance the power sector. Yet, reading his body language alone and knowing that there are things you cannot do and get away with under Buhari, electricity supply all over the countries has risen to unprecedented heights.
Actually, some cities are on the verge of calling 24-hour, round the clock power supply. The country generates more power than it can internally be taken by the deplorable distribution system we have on the ground, which points to the next challenge that the country faces.
Framework for the management of the country’s finances has been put in place. The wobbly Naira is being stabilized and inflation is headed towards a single digit. President Buhari is keeping a close eye on the government treasury.
Boko Haram, which had more or less been allowed to fester for about five years is about being ended but what is even more interesting is that intelligence coming from the fired-up armed forces who now work in synergy with each other is raising hope that the Chibok girls may, repeat may be found in good numbers in a geographic location of interest somewhere in the North-East.
President Buhari is being praised at home and abroad for his ongoing fight against corruption. He said from the beginning that his government will not tolerate the vice.
Borrowing the words of India Narendra Modi’s, he said himself that “I won’t steal and I’ll not allow others to do it.” President Buhari has walked his talk since he come to office. Himself and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have not only given up half of their salary, they have cut a good number of funding lines to their official homes and offices.
President Buhari also takes the environment seriously. He has undertaken to clean up the Ogoniland.
President Buhari has shown that his government is different. He wants to look at each case on its own merit and it is clear by now that he is not ready to surrender the country to burnt out politicians. Technocrats will have a big place in his administration.
He has appointed no ministers yet, but the government is running smoothly.
In think in summary, I would like to end this piece by saying that President Muhammadu Buhari will turn out to be a leader in the tradition of Lee Kuan-Yu and India’s current reform-minded Prime Minister Modi with strong and clear emphasis on detail and execution. He may however differ with them by not micro-managing things.
Shehu, Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to President Buhari wrote from Abuja