As President Buhari Delivers His Promises
Three actions taken by President Muhammad Buhari in the past few days that have attracted admiration from the Nigerian people are kick-starting appointments into federal agencies and parastatals, delivering the Abuja International Airport on schedule and probing some indicted top officials of his government. The effective and efficient strategy in curbing wanton waste of public funds, in recovering looted funds and in tackling enemies of public interest is fantastic. The frugality employed in the management of public funds and the fecundity with which Nigerian compatriots are embracing the spirit of patriotism, growth and loyalty to President Buhari’s administration, despite few discordant voices, are overwhelmingly encouraging.
Those who doubt the sincerity of the government in fulfilling its campaign promises and its fight against corruption should now have a rethink and join hands in making the Nigeria which true Nigerians love to have. Mr. President always insists that it is better to be slow than to rush and make regrettable mistakes. The tortoise, in an Igbo adage, challenged his fellows on how fast they could go if they had the heavy load he has on him. And for those familiar with Igbo folklores, the tortoise never lost any test, game or action he embarked on. The slow animal was always associated with cleverness, wisdom, smartness and success.
And verily, the burdens on the shoulders of President Buhari are heavier than the Aso Rock itself – (re)building a broken nation as well as hungry, angry and nearly frustrated people. Physical strength via dynamites and cranes can pull off the rock. But to tackle and defeat Nigeria’s multi-faceted and rocky loads demand extra-ordinary patience, wisdom, tactfulness, selfless sacrifices, dedication, commitment, humanity, patriotism and above all fear of Almighty God. Most of these abstractions were lacking in the past leaders of Nigeria. That is why since the creation of Nigeria, the sour stories of underdevelopment and heartless sabotaging of national interest were epithets associated with the nation. Let us discuss briefly the three points of admiration.
Appointments begin in earnest
Since the inception of this administration in 2015, there have been wide criticisms from different individual citizens and ethno-political interest groups over appointments into positions of trust in the country. Three viewpoints are critical. One is that the earlier appointments favoured one part of the country over the others. Specifically, the Igbo who stand as the third major ethnic group in Nigeria have cried loud. The second is that appointments have favoured those who did not work for the emergence of the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) led by the president himself. Most of the positions in government, APC has insisted, are occupied by non-party loyalists or overnight defectors who were appointed by the president into sensitive positions. On this note, the APC stalwarts groan over neglect. And that has been the cause of the intraparty rancor. The third is that the religious minorities of the southeast have cried of political exclusion since the creation of Nigeria. Muslims of the region claim that they have never been carried along in the political appointments of the country despite their counterparts from the northern part of the country have had it better throughout the military and past democratic federal governments.
Now that the appointments have gradually begun, it is hoped that the three voices would be heard as promised by the president. Just before the nation had its Easter break, heads of 23 federal government agencies were announced. More appointments follows immediately after the Easter break. Director of Press in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) Bolaji Adebiyi said the appointments were with immediate effect. The appointees, analysis showed, were drawn from all parts of the country, an indication that there will be gradual balancing and appointments of qualified citizens from all parts of the country.
The good news is that new young and vibrant citizens are making the list. This is a welcome development and it is going to be a fulfilled promise by the president for the youth of Nigeria. It is also going to be additional force for the re-election of the president in 2019. However, the reconstitution of the federal boards should open opportunities for new faces rather than the old tradition of recycling appointees as was done by past governments since 1999. The N-Power project, a very laudable initiative, should be corrupt-free, sustained and enlarged.
Abuja International Airport repaired within six-week schedule
From Femi Fani Kayode to Felix Hyatt to Babatunde Omotoba to Stella Odua to former Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) Corps Marshal Osita Chidoka, Nigerians had not had it better in the aviation sector. Under the incumbent administration, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as Minister of Transportation and Senator Hadi Sirika as Minister of State Aviation are turning around the nation’s transportation system, delivering projects on schedule to easy movements for the citizens and boost the nation’s economy. It is sorrowful to recall the messes the aviation sector witnessed from 1999 to 2015 in terms of air mishaps, contract mismanagement and series of corruption allegations.
The rehabilitation project was overdue but successive past governments had no political will to do it. It was a project due 30 years ago but was left to deteriorate to the worst level. Yet, the decision triggered controversies and was opposed vehemently by some segments of the nation. The Buhari government promised to deliver it within six weeks and kept the promise. The airport was shut from March 8 to April 18, 2017 when Julius Berger Plc carried out the total repair works on the runway. Kaduna International Airport was effectively used during the period.
Nigerians are thrilled by the timely completion of the airport; many said it showed the ability of the Buhari government to rise up to any challenge facing the nation. The security agencies and the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) lived up to expectations by providing safety for passengers who travelled along the ever-busy Abuja-Kaduna highway while the closure of the Abuja airport lasted. It will be recalled that the Port Harcourt International Airport was closed for almost two years by the previous government, yet not much was achieved.
The first flight, an Ethiopian Airline aircraft to touch down the rehabilitated runway was received with smiles by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and staff of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport. The Airbus took off from Addis Ababa to Abuja. The Ethiopian Airline that operated its scheduled Abuja flights to Kaduna when other international carriers turned their backs. Senator Sirika who reopened the airport thanked God for his guidance, the president for his support and the Nigerian people for standing by the government. On his part, the elated Ethiopian Group CEO, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, proclaimed that the airline has always given its best to Nigeria both at good and challenging times. According to him, the airline has been part of Nigeria’s historic growth and always considered itself as vital partners in the history and growth of Nigeria as a country.
However, President Buhari through his special adviser on media, Femi Adesina praised the ministries of transport, power, works and housing, security agencies, Kaduna state government, Julius Berger, Ethiopian Airlines and others, for their commitment and cooperation which led to the successful completion of the project and its eventual re-opening 24 hours ahead of the scheduled time.
Indicted top officials of the federal government for probe
President Muhammadu Buhari has proved to belong to nobody, however highly placed, especially in the war against corruption and the delivery of democracy dividends to the entire Nigerian people. There should be no compromise in the national interest. Some top government officials accused for a long time of corruption were axed out on 19th April. The former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal, and Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayo Oke, were relieved of their appointments to face investigation into the allegations against them. Lawal is involved in the award of contracts under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE) while Oke is in for probe in connection with discovered foreign and local currencies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, claimed by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
To give the duo the democratic fair hearing, a three-man Committee: the Vice President, the Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and the National Security Adviser is to conduct the investigations and report to the president within 14 days. The allegation against Lawal and his initial repulsive reactions had partly contributed to the loggerhead between president and the senate who have on that note refused screening of all political appointees by the president since the faceoff heated up. Senators have commended the action. Shehu Sani (APC Kaduna) and Matthew Urhoghide (PDP Edo) in relative terms said it was in fulfillment of the senate’s call which meant that both executive and legislative arms were working cooperatively to check corruption. Spokesperson for Senate President Bukola Saraki, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said his principal had no personal view on the SGF’s suspension, saying ‘it’s a Senate matter’.
Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, wants the president to take further step by sacking all serving cabinet members who have brought disrepute to the APC’s federal government. He had earlier written an open letter to the president demanding openness in handling corruption cases. Meanwhile, the Senator Ahmad Makarfi-led faction of the PDP wants Lawal and Oke, to be arrested and detained the same way PDP chieftains are being handled by the EFCC.
However, the investigations should be thorough and there should be no god-fatherism, no favouritsm and no scapegoat. The three-man committee is up to the task. Besides, for the war to be sustainable, it must be total. The two suspended appointees are just from amongst other few people in government upon whom allegations of financial frauds have been leveled. The trust by Nigerians for the president is growing and his gradual but steady actions are telling of a sincerely lovely man to his people.
Muhammad Ajah is an advocate of humanity, peace and good governance in Abuja. E-mail [email protected].