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A Review of President Buhari’s 100 Days in Office

President Muhammadu Buhari has recorded one hundred days in office aa the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. A hundred days means he has spent approximately three months since his inauguration as president on May 29.

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President Buhari

(Photo by Sesco photography)

Regardless of what the army of praise-singers, in whose eyes the President can do no wrong, may say, it is in tune with globally acceptable best practices to evaluate his performance as president so far; indeed in view of our unique circumstances as a leadership-challenged nation, it is also very prudent and also necessary for every socially conscious and well-meaning Nigerian- particularly those who clamored and voted him in as president- to conduct a personal scientific evaluation of the performances of the man who promised to usher in change, and a new season for Nigerians and Nigeria.

His party's manifesto, his campaign promises, which presently being denied and the level to which he has redeemed his promises are the standards by which his performance should be evaluated.

President Buhari has been severally described by many as a man of integrity whose word is his bond. He is generally perceived as an austere man who belongs to that class of men for whom materials acquisitions take a distant second place to hour, moral rectitude and integrity. If this is so, he should not have any issues with those who seek to hold him to account based on promises made while seeking their votes.

It is on record that as a candidate, he promised to address three major issues concerning Nigeria namely Security, Corruption and Economy. These then are the areas that should serve as a yardstick for ascertaining if Nigerians are on the right track or if we have been given a ‘dud cheque’ by the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Nigerians would agree that the Boko Haram insurgency in the North-east remains the most dreadful threat confronting the nation. Unconfirmed reports state that over twenty thousand people have been killed since 2010. Reuters, an international news wire service, reported in August that about four hundred thousand Nigerians live as refugees in camps in Niger, Cameroon, and Chad. The National Emergency Management Agency also estimated the number of displaced persons who have sought refuge in the camps that have been established across Northern Nigeria running into several hundreds of thousands.

During campaign, Candidate Buhari promised to address the insurgency squarely and firmly, and within six months, put an end to the activities of the extremist sect across the North-east. It is also on record that six weeks to the election, renewed counter-insurgency operations began to bear fruit as the insurgents were routed on every side by the nation’s security forces who had received much needed arms and ammunition to successfully prosecute the war against terrorism.

It was therefore a huge shock to all Nigerians when after the May 29inauguration, the Boko Haram enacted a come-back, hitting at the nation with unprecedented ferocity. June and July 2015 witnessed perhaps even more wanton spillage of blood and senseless murder of Nigerians by the terrorists than the preceding months. Even more surprising to Nigerians was the president’s declaration of his willingness to negotiate with the insurgents in the name of seeking peace. Nigerians are now left to wonder if the promise to end insurgency is just one of those “little white lies” that politicians love to tell the electorate when they are still seeking votes.

While the appointment of seemingly capable officers as service chiefs generated enthusiasm and hope across the nation, Nigerians are yet to record decisive victory in the war against Boko Haram.

President Buhari is renowned as a person whose anti-corruption stance is legendary. In fact, it was based on the strength of this reputation that many eligible voters cast their votes for the APC during the presidential polls. “If Nigerians do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria”, is a statement attributed to him during the campaign season. The APC painted a picture of the utopian environment devoid of corruption that candidate Buhari would establish in Nigeria if voted him in as president. Nigerians did just that, and the question today is “what have we to show for it?”

While most Nigerians wish to see a Nigeria in which corruption has become a past tense and probity is established as a replacement for corrupt and opaque practices, many have accused the president of waging a heavily biased anti-corruption war in which only members of the opposition are being hounded and witch-hunted by the law enforcement agencies.

Many have also wondered why certain dubious characters who have huge allegations of corruption and looting hanging over their heads have continued to enjoy the privileges that comes with being ‘buddies’ with the president.

No doubt the erstwhile comatose law enforcement agencies appeared to have been somewhat re-energized and we are regaled with tales of probes upon probes and discoveries of acts of grand looting in government agencies, the thrust of these agencies appear prejudiced and is reminiscent of the President Obasanjo administration in which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) appeared to be the president’s personal assault dog for dealing with perceived foes.

With President Buhari, the nation has been awash with probes, DSS/EFCC busts and media trials in which ministers and allies of former president Goodluck Jonathan have been tried and convicted on the pages of newspapers without any single recourse to prosecution in the law courts. It appears that a new trend of trying persons in the media has arrived in this season of change.

On the other hand, persons perceived to be largely corrupt in the ruling APC seem to have gotten a pass on the many allegations levelled at them so much so that a chieftain who has an eleven billion naira fraud case in court has recently clinched the APC gubernatorial ticket to contest in Kogi State Is this the change that Nigerians voted for?

As at today the greatest achievement of President Buhari is on corruption alas no one has been convicted but many are in "hospital custody" as the fear of Buhari's EFCC is the beginning of hospitalization of many.

Despite dwindling oil prices, one of the victories scored by the Goodluck Jonathan administration is the rise of the nation’s economic profile such that it was widely acknowledged that Nigeria became Africa’s biggest economy under erstwhile President Jonathan. The threats of insecurity were not even enough to rob investors of their confidence as many still made their way to Nigeria to invest.

Nissan Motors opened an assembly plant in 2014 while several other companies commenced operations in the nation, creating job opportunities for many.

However, given the large population of unemployed, there was more work to be done. Seizing the opportunity, the APC promised to attack the problem of unemployment with gusto and to shore up the nation’s dwindling earnings by seeking alternative revenue sources.

It was therefore disheartening to learn that the stock market has suffered a rather steep fall under the new administration and that investors have lost confidence due to the badly thought-out directives being issued out from the Presidency. One such directives has to do with access to foreign currencies as implemented by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The unwarranted delay in appointing ministers to head the different ministries and the attendant one-man show being enacted by President Buhari has all but stagnated the economy while also placing many Nigeria under untold hardship. The recourse to working with permanent secretaries is an obvious set-back to governance procedure as there is a set limit to actions executable by permanent secretaries in these ministries. To many, the attitude and body language of President Buhari is proof of his insensitivity and it reveals in starks terms that he is out of tune with the socio-economic realities of the present-day Nigeria.

National Unity and Integration
One of the charges levelled against candidate Buhari in the run-up to the presidential polls was that he was too sectional to be a fair and just president. While perceived as a religious bigot, others claimed that he was a dyed-in-the-wool tribalist whose main reason for seeking elective office as president was to implement the so-called Northern Agenda.

A cursory glance at the geo-political spread of the appointments made by President Buhari so far appears to imbue these claims with a form of validity. Although the president declared during his inauguration that “I belong to nobody, and I belong to everybody”, his statements after inauguration in which he opined that Nigerians can hardly expect that he would treat regions that voted overwhelmingly for him in the same manner as he would treat those who rejected him with their votes, show that the president would exhibit pure bias in his leadership of the nation and disbursement of resources. The recent appointments announced by the Presidency bear witness to this.

It is nothing but a mockery of our aspirations to be a truly united nation in the face of our unique tribal, ethnic and religious diversity that the president would give show blatant preference to one region over and above other regions in a federating unit like ours.

What message are other tribes expected to get from such actions? It is unfortunate that in a uniquely fractured environment like ours where the terrain appears seeded with tribal cum religious suspicions, the elected president would proceed to take actions that are primed to further fracture the nation and validate the fears of the majority.

What Nigerians expect, what they voted for is a leader who would unite the nation and foster a spirit of belongingness across tribal and religious lines; Nigerians would not settle for anything less. We have had enough of sectarianism, nepotism and tribalism. It is time to demand that President Buhari exemplify not just through reputation or rhetoric but in deeds, the integrity for which he is renowned.

In a recent development, Nigerians across the land have also been taken aback by the recent volte-face enacted by the Presidency and the APC in the disowning of two campaign documents titled "My Covenant with Nigerians" and "One Hundred Things Buhari will Do" in 100 Days attributed to candidate Buhari during the campaign season.

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu and APC spokeman Lai Mohammed, in a combined fit of shamelessness, recently declared that the documents were neither authored by the APC, nor assented to by the party’s presidential candidate as believed by the majority of Nigerians were swayed by the promises contained therein to vote him in. The spokesmen have since declared that President Buhari is not honour-bound to fulfill the promises recorded in them.

This about-turn reveals a large deficit in integrity- the very factor for which Nigerians voted for candidate Buhari overwhelmingly and elected him as president. Does this imply that the superman Buhari has ‘feet of clay’?

The above denial is nothing but uncharitable act , breach of social contract, utter deceit and conspiracy against Nigerians for President Buhari and/or his party, APC and aides to deny the knowledge of these campaign documents.

On the whole, one is left to wonder if President Buhari, his good intentions notwithstanding, has taken upon himself a responsibility to huge to bear in his goal to fix Nigeria. That common saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” is very instructive here, and the president would do well to take the agitations of the people to heart.

The tell-tale signs are everywhere as there is growing discontent, even amongst his army of supporters and well-wishers. His own party chieftains appear befuddled by the president’ choices and actions daily. These signs are ominous ones, and we would do well to heed them.

While it is true that it is still early to dismiss this administration as we are yet in the “morning time” of President Buhari’s tenure, another common saying amongst the Yoruba-speaking people of the South-west opines that “oju to ba ma ba ni kale, ko ni f’aro s’epin” loosely meaning that “if one’s eyes would stand the test of time, it wouldn’t ooze discharge or pus prematuredly”. Now is the hour to begin to inquire if President Buhari’s much touted integrity would stand him in good stead in his bid to make Nigeria great once again.

Let it be known however, that a criticism of the president’s performance so far is no way an admission of angst against the person of the president. It is an incontrovertible fact that democracies need active opposition to thrive, and loyalty to one’s nation should always supercede loyalty to personalities. Indeed without an active opposition, the democratic system cannot work, citizens are robbed of choices and the government is less accountable to the people.

It is the duty of every citizen to beam a searchlight on every step taken by government to ensure that the government delivers on its pledges and promises. Most critics of this administration are driven by a fierce love for the nation; for me, it is nothing personal, and my interventions are inspired by a desire to see President Buhari succeed thereby alleviating the sufferings of Nigerians across the land.

A failure on his part would mean grievous set-back to this nation; indeed the spectre of the August 1985 coup d’etat speech by General Joshua Danjuma continues to haunt those who remember the events that led to that event in which General Buhari was ousted as Head of State. Those who are free from the effects of self-imposed amnesia would remember that certain unbending postures displayed by the junta in power then were counted as reason for the coup. It would require eternal vigilance on the part of Nigerian citizens to ensure that a re-enactment of that era is not thrust upon us again.

It is therefore necessary that citizens everywhere remain watchful and vocal, speaking up against any ill-advised moves and policy enactment by this administration. The international community should also engage the administration constantly.Indeed, it is time for Nigerians everywhere to imbibe the character and spirit of vibrant advocates and social crusaders such as Chief Gani Fawehinmi, and Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti who were unrelenting in their quest for a just and fair society for all Nigerians. The labours of these heroes should not be allowed to “be in vain” and the tradition of robust citizenship engagement and conscious political participation should be revived across our land.

It is however unfortunate that many respected personalities who were hitherto considered to be strident fighters and crusaders for the common good have strangely fallen silent, giving life to the opinion that the self-imposed silence is actually a form of strategic positioning for a political appointment. It is time for such to rouse themselves out of the self-imposed mute-ness as posterity will not forget that they chose to keep silent for selfish reasons, when their voices and statements would have counted for much.

The business of governance is not exclusive to elected officers and national development is too serious a task to be left in the hands of politicians; there is a place for the citizen to insist on good governance.

God bless Federal Republic of Nigeria.

By Olukayode Ajulo,
Principal Partner, Kayode Ajulo & Co. Castle of Law,
Founder/Chairman, Egalitarian Mission, Africa and
National Secretary, Labour Party, Nigeria