BUHARI'S 100 DAYS: THE PAINS AND GAINS
Wednesday, September 9, President Muhammadu Buhari's presidency will clock 100 days in office. Since Nigeria's Independence in 1960, every successive administrations had come with their peculiarities. They all had their gains and pains and that of Buhari cannot be an exemption, in spite of its latency at this point in time.
It will be apposite to state that aside the late Sage and former Premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, President Buhari should be the second most prepared President to vie for presidency. However, he remains luckier, having had the opportunity to clinch the presidency, an opportunity Awolowo never had.
Buhari's presidency came at a time the hope had become forlorn for him. He had contested three times earlier, with the Peoples Democratic Party's machines playing the spoiler. They either did what they knew how to do best, which is rigging or try to destabilize the platform on which he intended to contest. The most recent was the factionalisation of the All Nigeria's Peoples Party in 2011, when they realized that Buhari's popularity had become a phenomenon, forcing him to contest on the platform of newly formed Congress for Progressives Change.
To many, Buhari's presidency in the political history of the country has more of spiritual colouration. It was more of the coming of a messiah than mere happenstance. It came at a time when the economy has been crippled by economic marauders, masquerading as uncommon leaders. When the 36 States of the federation could hardly meet their statutory obligations to the citizenry. And when corruption and terrorism had reached a very alarming rate with citizens watching helplessly without solutions to these knotty issues.
The gargantuan corruption that was allegedly perpetrated under Dr Goodluck Jonathan's presidency, was mindboggling. The revelations coming from the federal government about how multibillion dollars were misappropriated had rendered many hearts bleeding for so long. Many could still not decipher the madness exhibited by political appointees under that administration to the extent that they were smiling when Nigerians were crying. A replica of 'Nero fiddling when Rome Was burning'.
Let me go back to my earlier discussion that every administration has its gains and pains. This message is not intended to rate Buhari's performance within these one hundred days, because this would be too hasty and preposterous. It would be tantamount to encouraging spontaneity in governance, rather than proper planning. Besides, the President himself had before the March 28 election rejected every moves made by some people for him to set target and apportioned dates certain things will be achieved. Not even his visit to the Chatam House in London could trigger him to come into hasty conclusion that could taint him as a desperate politician and position seeker.
Despite not making commitments, the one hundred days have been rewarding. Eventful. Impactful, to say the least. Like the memorable coming of Jesus Christ to save the world, the hitherto dead Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had suddenly risen from its grave and those alleged to have swindled Nigerians of their commonwealth are now being tried in various courts. Under the last. administration, corruption was seen as a way of life. It was a symbol of that government. This was vividly accentuated in the way the EFCC was underfunded and made to lie prostrate, because Nigeria's commonwealth was being perceived as a national cake that must be shared to political cronies. Appointees gleefully saw the opportunities as avenue to make money and enjoy themselves. Governance was no longer seen as service to the people. Little wonder many of the States could neither pay workers' salaries nor put up infrastructures that could bring succour to the ever depressed masses.
President Buhari may not have reached the 'auto-pilot' gear, but he has been able to infuse confidence in governance. Nigerians could now boast of a President they can vouch for. A good manager of resources and reliable anti-graft crusader. Gradually, the people are beginning to see that ray of hope coming. The oil cabal that had held the country by the jugular had upheld self control. The petrol that was sold for N250 per litre had suddenly became N87. Even N86 in some States. The electricity that was being hardly supplied for two hours a day suddenly regained strength and became stable. Appointments are no longer the exclusive preserves of in-laws and concubines of godfathers, but now strongly premised on merit. The refineries that had died prematurely for many years, due to shady and callous actions of oil baron, had resurrected and are now back on their feet to serve Nigerians. All these are pains and gains Buhari had brought.
Life they say is full of irony. Ironical indeed. While Nigerians were basking in euphoria that hope is gradually being restored, the opposition PDP and its ilk, who were alien to this kind of decent government have been crying hoax. At one breathe they would describe the president as being sectional. At a time they ranted that the anti-graft war was selective and skewed in favour of a certain political party. Before you say Jack Robinson, the same people would somersault and rallied support for Buhari's war against corruption.
Shamelessly blowing hot and cold on the same issue, as leaf dart on a torrent river.
To depressed Nigerians, Buhari's steps so far have been of colossal gains to them because they have been relieved of some unwarranted burdens. But to those whose lives rest primarily on fraud and wanton short-circuiting of the economy, they viewed these as a deep pain in their flesh.
In Nigerian history, Buhari and Awolowo are almost alike in every facet, just like I referred to the duo legends as the most prepared for the presidency. Unlike Awolowo, Buhari might have metamorphosed from a military dictator to a thorough-bred democrat, but the duo shared uncommon belief in democracy free of graft, ineptitude and selfcenteredness. They both had that steely and unflinching belief that the sovereignty, which is the ultimate powers, reside with the people. Little wonder, Awolowo is still popular twenty eight years after his demise. While Buhari, who left office thirty years ago as a military dictator still remain an idol among his cult-like supporters.
As lovable as President Buhari may be, he may also end up making enemies more than any president ever. A president that is ready to pioneer change in a country that is deeply entrenched in fraud must be ready for a serious fight. A president that is ready to confront a ring of looters and economic plunderers would surely make enemies. But whatever happens, the powers of the masses supersede these few individuals and this Buhari was cognizance of.
Considering Buhari's antecedents, he seems determined to give these shady people the fight they deserved. That his presidency may make more enemies had begun to manifest with the series of attacks coming from various groups that benefited from the looting spree that pockmarked the Jonathan's presidency. Some of them see Buhari as President of the North, some claimed his appointments are lopsided, even when he enjoys the presidential powers to appoint whoever he deems fit to man any position. Some were frivolously alleging that he was voted for to execute one 'phantom' Northern agenda. All these are palpable and lucid exhibition of frustrations in some quarters. They wanted government to remain business as usual and Mr President must not give in to this satanic plot.
Just like I hinted the other time that Buhari came at the most perilous time in our political history. It came when the fault lines in our collective nationhood had become so glaring. The economy, political, ethnic and religious bonds seem to have broken down irretrievably. But as forlorn as this situation was, he still mustered incurable courage and optimism that Nigeria will wriggle out of these doldrums and thick cloud and bounce back to reckoning.
Winston Churchill said: 'an optimist will see opportunity in every difficulty while pessimist will see difficulty in every opportunity'.
The past administration of Jonathan had a lot of opportunities going for it, but failed to convert such to a goodwill. He surrendered the commonwealth to a few powerful people, who milked the nation dry. He acted as more of a nice man to some power drunk cartels to the detriment of the welfare of Nigerians. And he paid dearly for this unpatriotic act. Today, he remains the most vilified former president, fondly tagged the worst and most corrupt in history. Even worse than the dark-goggled Gen Sanni Abacha, by Nigerians' rating.
It is now clear that opposition PDP, and like-minded groups are beginning to coalesce to derail this government of HOPE, but the attempt will fail. During the pre-election time, they were the same groups that tagged Buhari a Dictator, a Northern Irredentist, a leader of Fulani occultic group and so on. Mr president and his foot-soldiers led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu remained undaunted, unwavered and unperturbed and they eventually won. Just like they failed the other time, failure is staring them in the face in their perilous desire to bring down this government.
You may call Buhari any name you like, the fact remains that he is a man of the masses and he has the history going with him as the first Nigerian to have defeated a sitting president. The States that could not pay salaries for months due to slumping oil price in the international market had been given bailouts. Some have their commercial loans converted to a soft loan that could be paid for as long as twenty years, just for workers and citizenry to take ownership of government. The Boko Haram insurgents that had festered into a hydra-headed monster to the extent that former President Jonathan had overtly owned up that Nigeria Army lacks the capacity to tame them are gradually being decimated. Today, they cannot claim to have a single town under their control unlike in the past when they firmly controlled the States of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno .
Let us check the history very well, it has never happened for former political office holders to willingly surrendered their loots back to national till, unless they were coerced through state's powers.
Shortly after Buhari was elected, Minister and political appointees started surrendering money under the pretext of a certain unspent budgetary provision to escape the hammer. This element of progressivism is good for our system and it will pay off in future.
During the last regime, many Nigerians suffered a lot of humiliations in the international scene. The level of graft being perpetrated in high places probably created the erroneous impression that all Nigerians are bad. The advanced countries like Britain, US, China surreptitiously altered their diplomatic relationship with Nigeria.
It was difficult for Nigerians to get VISAS to travel abroad. Those who narrowly passed the scrutiny to travel were being frisked to their pants at the entre points. All these wrong perceptions had changed with Buhari's presidency and Nigerians can now hold their heads high anywhere. This is the power of presidency because it remains our national symbol.
When former President Olusegun Obasanjo was in government, he wanted to use state's machinery to effect some changes, but he failed. The EFCC was used to clamp many perceived corrupt Nigerians into detention and some serving governors were impeached, but these did not in any way dissuade our leaders from corrupt practices. What Nigerians needed is systemic and attitudinal change. Let the system do the fighting and that was what is happening today in Nigeria. The system is undergoing a complete metamorphoses that will change the entire landscape for better. People are collectively seeing graft as evil and are ready to kill it. This is real democracy in action and Buhari has taken the credit.
As this Buhari's train of CHANGE continues to move, I enjoin all Nigerians to move along for us to regain our dignity and remain a shining star in the comity of nations. Going by the pattern of voting in March 28, Nigerians are desirous of change and it must happen now, so that the system won't consume all of us.
Written by Olusegun Osinkolu, an APC Chieftain, from Ado-Ekiti.