By Bisi Lawrence
Buhari is working. As the first 100 days in office approaches, many pundits are presumably getting their pens ready to deliver their judgment on the President’s performance during the period which now seems to have been accepted as a critical point of assessment, at least, in the short term. The President has himself named three critical areas as his initial starting point—economy, security and employment, with no clearly stated priority. His performance will, of course, be examined beyond that.
The examiners will not themselves escape scrutiny for judicious classification. We shall have the honey-coated presentations from the praise choir. To them, every action of the Federal Government has been delectable.
His travels abroad; his removal of the war headquarters in the fight against the on-going insurgency to Maiduguri, in the epicentre of the conflict, from Abuja, the nation’s capital; the changes made at the helm of various governmental institutions including—or especially—the military; the unflagging effort to recover the money stolen at various levels and in different ways from our treasuries; even his abolition of the semi-official status of “The First Lady”: these and others will be told and retold in words of praise.
However, there are also those who are the hard-core “opposition” who have seen nothing worthy of commendation in most of what the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari has done these three months back. They disagree with his involvement, or non-involvement, with the crisis still smouldering within the National Assembly hierarchy of his party, the All Progressive Congress; they denounce what they see as the delay in the formation of his cabinet;
they find no comfort in his travels within the Continent and outside it; they have a hone to pick with some of the appointment made so far with regard to the evenness of the ethnical mix; they even believe that the war against corruption is being fought at the expense of the worthier efforts of development. Neither of the two groups mentioned above would submit to a charge of being subjective or unfair in their views, though they are patently divergent in their observations. In fact, they would rather hold firm to the claim that they are being truthful or factual, and objective.
But those who would be objective unfortunately gather no following in the community, because very few readers are prepared to be unbiased. It is not an easy disposition to acquire for it dispels the attitude of envy with which most human beings are imbued in their estimation of others. But it comes with time, with age, and the world is growing younger.
But let us ourselves examine some of the points made above, pro and con.
The visits that the President has paid to other African countries are limited to strictly official ones. He represented his country at a summit and visited the neighbouring countries affected by the Boko Haram scourge for obvious reasons. A point may be raised here about the fruits of the visits to these nations against the backdrop of the unceasing lethal harassment of the Boko Haram.. These hordes of rampaging murderers still inflict a hideous number of killings on Nigerians in the Northern part of the country.
The transfer of the campaign headquarters to Maiduguri does not seem to have produced any spectacular result either. What one finds particularly irksome is the seeming regularity with which the attacks are unleashed. These criminals even have the nerve to suggest a parley between them and Nigeria. Naturally we have to say, no deal. The government has not said anything contrary to that either and we hope not, though that is little comfort. Yet, we must admit that the absence of any convincing news about those hapless girls abducted from Chibok still represents a resounding slap on our face as a nation, apart from the wound it leaves in our hearts as a people.
So, the re-grouping of the leadership at the helm of our top-brass raised a feeble hope that we might at least, be close to the developments of the Chibok situation. It is all of five hundred days now and many people are still counting. How can they be tired of adding yet another day to those gone by until there are no more days left to count—that is, when our dear ones are returned to us, or when, heavens forbid, we are faced with the reality of stark hopelessness?
That is why the admission of the former military chief, in his valedictory address, that the weapons to prosecute the aggression of the Boko Haram invaders were in short supply really dealt a severe blow to our confidence in the authorities of our armed forces. The replacement of these authorities is an action worthy of some praise. So, really, is the shaking-up of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation , subsidy or no subsidy. The lady at the top of the heap is hardly mentioned in all these mind-boggling revelations of mis-management and plain stealing, and we are assured that her outing will be the real apocalypse.
But the NNPC and its affiliates are not the only dens of thieves. We have been regaled with reports of the horrendous corruption which spewed a network of crime into the system of governance in this country within the past decade. It would take more than a battalion of investigating experts to probe them all. As one of the priorities that the President earmarked from the beginning, it is only natural that he should concentrate on it, especially as it affects the welfare of the commonwealth. And that is what he has been doing.
But this is where the “objective” view steps in. The expression is not that the President should not continue with the probes, but not at the expense of other aspects of government. I have immense regard for the Most Rev. Matthew Kukah, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, who expressed such sentiments recently and has almost been tied to the stake for it by irate Nigerians. I hope that will not in any way stop him from airing his honest opinions, many of which have been helpful to the populace n the past.
From the outpouring of the cesspit which the Nigerian public service has turned out to be, hardly any effort, no matter how massive, could be termed as too much. In fact, the progress of government is widely affected by the ramifications of the corrupt practices that are being disclosed by the current probes. Indeed, they really could, but have shown no signs of standing in the way of good government up till now.
The unravelling of the misdeeds the past administrations, both at the federal and state levels in the country, brought no real surprise in several situations, but it has introduced amazing disclosures which may make us re-number our saints, in a downward trend, among the high officials both retired and still serving. This is why great caution is demanded in the appointment of cabinet members at the federal as well as the state levels. What has come up with regard to the issue of probity in some government business leaves us stunned.
There may still be more probes than we envisaged, but some of the accusations slapped on some administrations recently leave us aghast. Of course, everyone is innocent until proved guilty, but there are areas where one expects that certain officials in certain quarters, should, like Caesar’s wife, be above suspicion. Buhari is right to be wary of appointing people into his cabinet at face value. He took no less than three months also in doing so at his first coming, Buhari is working.