FIRST HUNDRED DAYS OF CHANGE
“Let me assure you that if I am elected President… we will always act on time and not allow problems to irresponsibly fester.” This statement made by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Chattam House before the election, has been grossly misunderstood by a number of highly expectant Nigerians. So much, that even when he reiterated that Nigerians should not expect miracles or magic, some still assume a Genie has come into power.
As individuals occupying the office of the citizen, if we had done a good job in the first hundred days to passively observe the President we elected, we would have noticed that Buhari is not a man who takes time frame as the most important equation or factor. A number of people have boldly said he has done nothing, others say he could have done more, while others are neither here nor there.
Let us not go too far, Nigeria's erratic power supply has improved tremendously. Because of this, ordinary Nigerians – 'ordinary', defined as the man on the molue in Ojuelgba – have been praying for and praising President Buhari. These are the people who cannot afford generators.
On Political Appointments
Buhari is currently putting in place daring policies and doing a thorough clean up exercise. While he has relinquished a few people of their appointments and nominated a few others, he has not been in a hurry to make his political appointments the defining theme of his first hundred days – particularly the ministerial ones. Although, there are a lot of criticisms from certain quarters that the appointments made so far are skewed towards one section of the country, in the president's defense, these appointments are primarily his personal staff.
Chief John Oyegun, the Chairman of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress, has said on several occasions –since the clamour about President Buhari's appointments came up – that the upcoming political appointments will be balanced. This has been confirmed by recent reports that the president has been in consultations with leaders of the APC regarding his ministerial list.
It is important to note that beyond being balanced in terms of regional spread, Nigerians must also ask that all appointees moving forward are balanced in terms of gender. This may not look like one of the biggest issues of contention at the moment, however, with a near 50-50 split in the entire population, only one woman has been nominated by the president – out of 35 appointments so far.
In the area of security, Buhari has matched his words with action by giving the army the ultimatum to clear Boko Haram within three months. Since then, the army has intensified efforts against insurgency. He has also gone around neighboring West African States to secure strategic partnerships to eradicate Boko Haram. The army is doing a lot of work to make sure that Boko Haram's strongholds in the North East, like the infamous Sambisa Forest, are purged free of the terrorists. Although, the BBC recently reported that over 1000 people have been killed since Buhari came into power, it acknowledged that a vast majority of the territories held by the Boko Haram group have been regained.
President Buhari is not partial in his search for looters. He has asked the ICPC and the EFCC to investigate anybody who has stolen public funds, whether PDP or APC. Ex-Governor Amaechi who contributed money for Buhari's campaign is currently being investigated by the EFCC. The Nigeria tribune recently reported that the ICPC has stormed almost all the 36 states “to gather indicting documents on suspected looters of the treasury.”
Another daring Buhari-move was the order for all ministries, departments or agencies to operate a Treasury Single Account (TSA) to be domiciled in the Central Bank. Although, he has received a lot of blows (from potential looters), this alone will plug the loopholes in the system. Additionally, the president has ordered for the return of all diplomatic passports from all the former Ministers, Ambassadors, and Public Servants. Because of this, many Nigerians have said that our international image has taken a new turn, not only in Africa, but also in Europe and America.
To an extent, there has been a return of sanity because people are afraid to steal; people who have stolen, are returning the funds, and in general, people are afraid to break the rules. Right now, the fear of Buhari has become the beginning of wisdom.
The youth are now realigning and redefining the meaning of “work” beyond government contract and there is a revelation of skills over politics. While effortlessly trying to avoid mentioning the wanna-be-ever-talking-rarely-processing young Nigerians crowding social media with every random thought, just so they too can be part of the conversation, most of the young people who clamored for change, are already criticizing within 100 days of its implementation.
Sincerely, even if it was possible to lift a house, reconstruct the foundation and place the house back on that foundation, I am sure a lot of time will be allotted to the strategic planning to pull that off successfully. Now, we are talking about a whole country like Nigeria here, and as Nigerians, we know the level of work that needs to be done to fix our country. So, seeing statements on twitter like “Na anti-corruption we wan chop” is a total application of ignorance. Governance is constituted by a host of factors, and a lot time is needed to measure the impact of governance.
Are we going to trade time for performance, or are we going to tell ourselves that this man, Buhari, has performing at his own careful and deliberate pace. All in all, in comparison to others that have come before him, he has done more than some people did in 4 whole years. 100 days may be too early to fully judge the performance, however, I'm not saying that we can't begin to appraise him after a year.
Until then, we watch and wait…
Enitan Okediji is a TV Presenter and a Knowledge Manager. She currently presents the media review segment of “Insight”, a current affairs show on NTA International.