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Faith, LIFE

PMB’s 100 Days In Office

Posted: Sep 4, 2015 at 12:03 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

In rating the performance of the incumbent president and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, many pundits shoot themselves in the foot. They fall into the trap into which many have fallen- hastiness. Islam teaches us that hastiness is from Shaytaan.

It all started with the fake but widely circulated list of promises Buhari was purported to have made while canvassing the support of everyone. It was titled Buhari’s Manifesto: My Pact with the People—The Master Plan. It detailed some 89 or more promises on issues like Security and Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Economy, Agriculture, Oil and Gas Industry, Education, Youth, Sports and Culture, Women Empowerment and the Environment. The document is not traceable to Buhari or his associates. Islam advocates fact checking in all endeavours.

It was the 32nd president of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR), who took over from Herbert Hoover during the Great Depression. He met a country in a huge economic mess, tried his best to clean it up and succeeded largely. He updated the citizens of his progress every Sunday when he knew most Americans would be at home. Starting from March 4 1934, Roosevelt spearheaded a lot of new legislation and issued many executive orders resulting in the New Deal—a variety of programs designed to produce the famous three R’s (Relief, Recovery and Reform). Many of the significant actions he took were within the first 100 days of his office.

Trust Nigerians; we all know how to copy but few know how to paste. It has almost assumed a sacrosanct status among political and business leaders today. Everyone keeps harping about the first 100 days in office. It does not occur to them that the situation might not be the same. Some start well but finish weak and poorly. Others start slowly and finish strong and well. There is no harm in starting strong and finishing strong, though. In fact, it is better to do so.

I do not know whether to place President Buhari in the strong start or slow start category but we have the fact of what he has done so far to examine. In doing so, we will not be hasty to judge him now; we will allow the rain to stop before we conclude it has not rained as much as it did the previous day.

To see where the change has occurred requires us to look at where we were just before the former president handed over. We must remember the president’s transition team got the handover notes from the outgoing president’s team only four days to inauguration. That meant they barely had time to assess the level of rot in the government they were taking over properly. However, the team went ahead to conduct their own investigations as much as possible. The former president seemed not to like that and famously told the then President-elect not to run a parallel government as he was still in charge until May 29 2015. In other words, there was a deliberate effort to frustrate a smooth transition.

Power generation was at less than 2500MW in those dark days. There was a three-week fuel scarcity, workers were on strike in many states and the government had not even paid the salaries of its workers in many MDA’s. At a point during this period, fuel sold in some states for as high as 500 naira per litre on the black market, a world record in a major oil producing country!

A combination of no power and no fuel ensured that the misery, which the lives of average Nigerians had become, was total. You used your own generator if there was no power before. When there is no fuel for the generator, you endure the darkness, heat and stench from your foul-smelling fridge and freezer. You endured wearing wrinkled shirts to work. You endured paying double the normal transport fare and fighting a mini war to get a seat in the few buses and taxis available.

Nigeria stank to high heavens with corruption. No decent country wanted to touch us with a long pole; especially as then president, Jonathan, told the world stealing was not a part of corruption. He spoke about the evil looting of the treasury in terms of yams and goats, which merely needed separation. Many of his cronies had high profile charges of corruption brought against them. As part of his campaign, he asked rhetorically how much Jim Nwobodo stole from government, which warranted his jailing by Buhari. He concluded by saying the amount would not buy a Peugeot 504 car. It was a little more than $5 million Nwobodo stole.  Whistle- blowing attempts in those days were rewarded with threats, suspensions and removals. Justice Ayo Salami and His Royal Highness, Muhammadu Sanusi II still have fresh memories of the outcome of their attempts to name the yam-eating goats among us.

There was a clear audio recording of the plot to rig elections in Ekiti state involving well-known Nigerians, including the loquacious incumbent in the state. The DSS, police and armed forces became political weapons used to undermine the freedom and fairness of elections. Even the electoral umpire, Professor Jega received veiled and unveiled threats from official quarters over his determination to conduct a better election than before.

The bloodthirsty mad men called Boko Haram issued blood curdling threats to Nigerians and they had been holding on to the Chibok girls for more than 400 days. Our soldiers routinely left their inferior weapons and uniforms after consulting with their feet on just how fast to run and in which direction away from Boko Haram. Boko Haram treated us to Nollywood type videos of our otherwise gallant soldiers shaming Usain Bolt in the sprint department.

 It would be funny if it had not been real, but it was real and tear-inducing when you remember what the name, Nigerian Army, meant in Africa just 20 years ago. Shekau told the world his group could not be defeated and Nigerians almost believed him considering the response of the government to the issue.

A pastor’s private jet became the means of ferrying raw cash to ‘procure’ arms in South Africa from a company, which accepted electronic money transfers in the 21st century. It was not representatives of the Army, Defence Headquarters or any such body you would expect to do the transaction on the plane, it was just a Niger-Delta militant, an obscure Israeli and another unnamed person. By the way, the Pastor and the then president are also Niger Deltans. It was also at a time Asari Dokubo issued some of his most inciting threats to maim, bomb and destroy Nigeria if Jonathan did not win his second term bid. The South African government promptly seized the cash, realising some monkey business was going on.

The Multi National Joint Task Force was just a name; there was no proper structure. The NSA and the service chiefs even got a gratuitous six-week extension of the elections under the false pretence of fighting Boko Haram. The former president’s men went to the ridiculous extent of accusing PMB and his party of being sponsors of Boko Haram. On the contrary, GEJ’s close associates were fingered in dubious associations with Boko Haram. Those were scary and truly mind boggling days.

For any president inheriting this myriad of problems, it is like trying to mend a leaking bucket of water with holes on many sides; as you plug one hole, another leaks. This is a condensed recap of our lives as a people before the coming of Buhari. It is still blood chilling to look back at the extent of the rot.

Within the first week of resuming office, President Buhari set to work on the areas he found to be most strategic to the success of his administration; Security and Anti-corruption. He visited Chad, Niger, Germany and South Africa to have talks with these countries’ leaders. Clearly, Nigeria’s security was becoming a basket case and corruption had to die if Nigeria was to live.

President Buhari got firm commitment from all MNJTF member countries and put his money where his mouth was on the matter. He approved $21 million for the proper setting up of the MNJTF headquarters in Ndjamena, Chad. Under GEJ, Nigeria was renting the Chadians and other mercenaries to fight Boko Haram on Nigerian soil. Upon recovering many villages from Boko Haram, it took weeks in some cases before Nigerian troops would come and take over from the fearless, battle tested and well-equipped Chadians.

Chad had, to use the Nigerian coinage, seen us finish under GEJ. They look at our men as spineless. Idris Deby, their president, had the temerity to suggest that they lead the war. I have no doubt it could cross the mind of the former president to allow that; but President Buhari waved that suggestion aside and asserted his country’s authority. Our neighbours saw a new leadership; one, which understands what leadership means.

To demonstrate his commitment to good leadership in the armed forces, he sacked some pregnant men and replaced them with trim, focused ones. He appointed in one masterstroke, a man whose home Boko Haram destroyed in Buratai town to head the Army and another, whose town Boko Haram levelled in Monguno to be the new NSA.

For the first time since the insurgents holed up in Sambisa forest, the military invaded the place and flushed out the murderers. Before now, GEJ’s men told us it was impossible. The morale of our gallant men has risen phenomenally.

I am sure power has improved. The power generation company has recorded an unprecedented 4,800 MW. Despite the figure being so dismal, the power distribution has been wonderful, given the circumstances. The fuel queues and its attendant headaches have disappeared. The NNPC, which became the past regimes’ ATM, is undergoing serious overhauling. Suddenly, the refineries GEJ told the nation could not get a Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) until 2018 have started refining petroleum products again, Allahu akbar! President Buhari has not invested a kobo in both sectors; the only explanation is the fear of a leader who will not tolerate or accept the lies and corruption.

At that level, body language is as important as action. If you tell the people one thing and your men see a different body language, they will act on the body language. Someone purports to fight corruption but each time obvious cases of it are brought to his notice he condemns the bringer of such news. Channels television went into the Police College in Ikeja, Lagos and showed the world how much is wrong with the alma mater of our police officers. Jonathan’s reaction was anger; not at the rot in the college, but at the person who allowed Channels to film the disgrace. He characteristically said it was done to embarrass his government. Even Boko Haram was, according to GEJ and his team, designed to make his government look bad by the opposition.

The Police have somehow become more professional too. The changes are subtle but noticeable. Impunity is on the low ebb now. PMB has also ordered strict adherence to the treasury Single Account (TSA), which the Jonathan administration conceived of but did not implement. Not surprisingly, it would have curbed many corrupt practices in MDAs. Buhari has approved the cleaning of the oil spills in Ogoniland; something their fellow Niger did not include in his priorities for 5 years. Buhari inaugurated a committee made up of legal luminaires to look into corruption cases and has made a case for special courts to try corruption cases.

All these are good steps in the right direction. Those who should know are saying so. It is clear it is no longer business as usual. If these are the reasons PMB is called Baba Go Slow, I say he is way faster than the last man.