SEVEN DAYS AFTER: Stalled Steps, Style Of New Helmsmen


From left Vice President Yemi Osibajo, Aisha Buhari, President Muhammadu Buhari, former President Goodluck Jonathan and his vice Namadi Sambo PHOTO: PHILIP OJISUA

ORDINARILY Aso Rock, the seat of Nigeria’s Federal Government should have a giant sign announcing: “Not Ready, Preparation In Progress.” The appointment of leaders of President Muhammadu Buhari’s media team was all that emanated from the most powerful office in the country.

Mr. Femi Adesina and Malam Garba Shehu were announced as the Special Adviser and Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Public Affairs respectively.

And as if the appointment was hurriedly made to give excuses, Shehu had to explain that President Buhari could not as yet move into the official residence mainly because the place was not ready for habitation. Seven days after his inauguration, the president is still waiting in the wings at the Defence House.

But while workers may indeed be truly cleaning and decorating the palatial edifice, what Shehu could not disclose was that the political ‘bolts and nuts’ were yet to be fastened. President is yet to have a Secretary to the Government.

As for ministers, the reason bothers on the absence of a functional National Assembly that could screen and clear them for appointment by the President. But the outgone 7th National Assembly had to give the President the green light he sought to appoint 15 special advisers.

This gives the impression that ministers may be long in coming, especially, against the background of internal schisms within All Progressives Congress (APC) over the appointment and zoning. With all these setbacks there is no way President Buhari could have hit the ground running.

Yet he found time to travel to neighbouring Niger and Chad to pursue collaborative agreements on how to wage the final onslaught against the Boko Haram insurgency.

But right activist, Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo, said Buhari’s trip outside the country when a proper government was not in place does not serve any useful purpos, except to obscure the fact that his party men are holding him to ransom over appointments. Okonkwo noted that within the first seven days of the Buhari presidency, the ship of state is left on auto-drive.

“The national leadership of APC that is powering the Buhari presidency has left the ship of the nation on auto drive to be powered by Buhari without constituting themselves into the engine room for policy formation to consider the presidential inaugural speech,” he stated.

While describing the inaugural speech as rich in emotional content, Okonkwo said action in the first week would have given the direction the government would take, since according to him, “what an inaugural presidential speech should be is a policy thrust of what has inspired you to take over government and the problems of the people.”

Agonising over the presidential visit to Niger and Chad as well as the planned trip to the G8 meeting, Okonkwo said: “I cannot understand why Buhari should be traveling outside the country 48 hours after his inauguration when there is no proper government in place.

He has been sworn in, the National Assembly has not been inaugurated and he is jetting out of the country. Is he going to conduct a government of person to person? We have to have a team; I want to know who and who are going to the Niger and Chad he traveled to. He cannot run foreign policy this way.

He cannot. And I want Nigerians to speak up. Nigerians are always giving too much latitude to our leaders until they put us in a black box.

I cannot imagine a president of a country after being sworn in he will go and start talking to a foreign head of state in his land when you have no government at home.” Similar situations of disjointed readiness exist in some states where change of batons took place.

In Rivers State for instance, the new governor, strong man Nyesom Wike, has disclosed that it would take him as much three months to consider relocating to the Government House.

Wike, while taking stakeholders of the state round facilities in the Government House, said the place was looted and vandalized by officials of the past administration.

What Wike appears to be saying is that he was also not ready to move into the seat of power. There are reasons to believe that the outcome of the last election surprised even the victorious governors.

The change in electoral fortunes affected the winners on both platforms because while some expected that the federal government would remain in the hands of the PDP others express anxiety over the success of the APC.

Wike, who pulled a stunt against his predecessor, Chibuike Amaechi, a major actor in APC, may have decided to continue the political gimmicks that trailed the election in the state.

In Ebonyi too, the former deputy governor, who became governor, seems to have continued the shadow boxing with his predecessor and former principal, Elechi. In Benue the legislators-elect have started playing some hide and seek with the governor with allegations of inducement and threats flying about.

PDP and APC are unevenly divided in the incoming legislature. In Enugu the situation is like a suspended animation.

The power show between the legislators and ex-governor Chime seem to have caught the new governor in the middle.

Where is the money? A CRITICAL component of political power that seems to be slowing down the tempo of Government take-off both at the states and federal level is money.

It is no longer a guarded secret that economic outlook is very poor. Some state governors have threatened to undertake probes of former administrations in the belief that repatriating looted funds could provide them the much needed fiscal stamina to deliver on their mandates.

Chances are that such governors spent their first week in office examining books and exploring latent opportunities to fund their projects and oil the wheel of governance. The governors must have found out that making lofty promises on the soapbox is one thing and finding the money to make things happen is another.

As the search for money goes on the search for correct personnel also tasks the ingenuity of the new helmsmen.

It is possible that the man hours being lost on extra planning and development of strategies are a pointer that things may be slow in coming out right with the present crop of leaders especially against the background of heightened public expectation and perceptive electorates.

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