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    Monday, 25 April 2016

    The road to change is rought but Buhari must be focused



    n this opinion, Niran Adedokun highlights the challenges Buhari is facing and suggests the things that should be prioritised in order to achieve change:
    No celebration in May
    In about five weeks, President Muhammadu Buhari will be one year in office. I do not expect that Buhari would, in the fashion of most politicians from this side of the world, roll out the drums in celebration of what you could call a milestone. I am able to easily say that because the President, in spite of the depravity of this political environment, has retained his frugal, almost stuck-up personality. Buhari is one without the time or space for political showmanship and I can foretell that broaching such a pastime could be fatal to the career of anyone who so dares.
    But this cannot be the only reason why there may be no elegant events this May. I suspect that the administration should have copious telling intelligence that the people are in no mood to celebrate a government, which was unsparing in making promises but heavy-footed in delivery twelve months after attaining power. An air of disenchantment currently envelopes the land and the people desire nothing more than a speedy flicker of hope.
    Of course, the foregoing is debatable, depending on whom you ask. But one incontestable fact is that Nigerians have not had it as bad in so many areas of their lives as it has been for a quantum part of the last 12 months.
    Note however, that this is not to pass a vote of no confidence in the administration. It is only that while some achievements like redeeming Nigeria’s erstwhile distasteful image, as spokespersons for the administration are wont to say to us, are intangible, others are blighted by negligence or lack of attention to detail on the part of government.
    The fight against Boko Haram
    Take the resounding success the administration has made of dealing with the Boko Haram insurgency. It has become evident to Nigerians that victory over the insurgents is no longer just technical but cogent, even to the acclamation of the international community. But what we have gained on that front, we have lost in the growing audacious terrorism of marauding herdsmen who have sniffed life out of hundreds of Nigerians in the course of official slumber.
    If you also recall the alleged extrajudicial killing and summary interment of hundreds of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (Shiites Muslims) and the rampant cases of kidnappings, abductions and vandalism of key installations that have been visited on the country,  you will agree that government could do a lot better in securing the country. This victory is further shrunk by government’s inability to redeem the pledge to rescue over 200 young girls abducted by  Boko Haram in Chibok, Borno State two years ago!
    On the economic front, some analysts suggest that government has over the past few months, worked on a foundation that would see the economy bounce back over time. But such promises do not gratify the immediate needs of a people, who, having suffered in the hands of successive governments for years, invested what was left of their near exhausted optimism on a new set of people who assured them of change. The administration has still not found a pleasant rhythm with which to sing the song of patience to Nigerians, yet the people keep hope alive, which is why I shudder when people accuse Nigerians of impatience.
                                            President Muhammadu Buhari
    The war on corruption
    Another front on which the government would decorate itself is its fight against corruption. We have seen more corruption related activity in our courtrooms in the past one year than in the preceding eight years put together. The same can be said of the volume of media trials as well as the naming and shaming that the country has witnessed. We hear that tons of money hitherto looted have been recovered as we await for the determination of a number of cases in court. This war is one that the administration is winning even if just in the court of public opinion. Although the greatest victory would be in laying the foundations for a contented  citizenry and a system that does not incentivise corruption.
    All said and done, I do not think the administration has not lived up to all the potential it could fulfil in one year. And one of factor that I observe is that the President seems to wage a one-man war, exclusive of all the help he could get from the party that brought him into power.
    As contentious as that sounds, something Vice-President Yemi Osibajo said at the launch of the book written by the wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, last week, further fed this idea which I have ruminated on for a while.
    Speaking at the event, the Vice-President said inter alia:  “…and the President is very strict on money matters…” Although this is a notorious fact, it made me wonder whether Osibanjo was in league with the President’s current austere disposition (as I reject the suggestion that Buhari detests opulence) and on how many other such foundational principles of Buhari, they synced.
    To extend the argument further, I wonder how many members of the President cabinet know where he stands on a particular issue at any point in time. This explains information minister, Lai Mohammed, would reassure on the administration’s pledge to initiate a welfare package of N5,000 for unemployed graduates while the President declared  “a slightly different priority.”
    I also remember a report by an online news portal, saharareporters.com, that the President nearly sacked two of his ministers because they held against some clauses in an agreement with the United Arab Emirates. I do not recall reading any rebuttal of this story and that should be a source of concern. Do we just have a Presidency or there is indeed a government working together in the interest of Nigeria?
    Is the APC helping matters?
    It is also very clear that the President has left the All Progressives Congress, on whose back he rode to power, behind in the business of governance. No matter how much it tries to cover it up, the APC has become an outsider in this administration and I dare say that this lacuna is central to some of the stumbling of this government.
    For instance, there is no reason why a party which controls the executive and legislative arms of government should struggle to pass its first budget four months into the year. The inability of the party to aggregate opinions and get everyone to work together for the good of the country is symptomatic of grave dysfunction, which rubs off on the mass of the people. Nigerians currently grumble under harsh economic conditions, which could have been ameliorated if the APC had exploited its numerical advantage to pass the budget and stimulate the economy.
    Again, of what use have governors of the APC been to the Federal Government in pursuit of its change agenda? Especially as they are closer to the people and the bulk of those things that directly affect the lives Nigeria are under their purview. Is there any peer review mechanism with which the party assesses its governors, and do these governors take cognisance of the manifesto of the party in the execution of their duties? Are we even considering the likely efficacy of the governorship and traditional institutions in curbing the increasing wave of interracial conflagrations in the country? Which of the voices in the party commands universal respect? I submit that resources just go to waste in the APC.
    As the President steps into his second year in office therefore, I suggest that he considers the wisdom of more consultation and collaboration with people with whom he started this journey. There is no doubt that the President means well for the country but meaning well is never enough to change the lives of a people. Change can only be achieved with the active collaboration of others. If Buhari is the spirit of change, he needs a soul and a body to drive this change, his party has that in abundance. The President should realise that without change agents, there can be no change.



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