By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor, Dapo Akinrefon & Charles Kumolu
The political tradition of assessing a president after 100 days was an offshoot of the New Deal proposed by President Franklin Roosevelt to salvage the United States from the Great Depression that was largely blamed on the preceding administration of President Herbert Hoover.
In his first 100 Days, President Roosevelt had sought through a number of public work projects, and mobilisation, using for the first time, radio to rouse the populace every Sunday. The president’s aim was to lift the gloom brought by the economic depression by oratory and action.
President Muhammadu Buhari who came to power in Nigeria last May in the midst of similar despair may, however, not have been gifted with the kind of public oratory that President Roosevelt used in lifting the hearts of his people.
Personal Probity: President Buhari’s predecessor had in a television interview dismissed the focus on his declared assets saying I don’t give a damn to the question on whether he would make a public declaration of his assets.
“The issue of public asset declaration is a matter of personal principle. That is the way I see it, and I don’t give a damn about it, even if you criticise me from heaven. When I was the Vice President , that matter came up, and I told the former President (late Musa Yar’adua) let’s not start something that would make us play into the hands of people,” President Jonathan had said in a remarkable June 2012 interview.
President Buhari’s decision to make his assets public even though not as submitted to the Code of Conduct Bureau is a decisive step in probity.
Remarkably, the public declaration of assets by high profile government officials was a cardinal point in a joint communiqué between Nigeria and the United States agreed at the Nigeria-United States Bi-National Commission in June, 2012.
Relationship with the United States: President Jonathan’s failure to adhere to the tenets of the Binational Commission among other reasons, including perceptions of graft among senior officials of the Jonathan administration, inevitably led to deterioration of relations between the two administrations.
By the time Jonathan was leaving office, the United States had withdrawn its military engagements and collaboration with the Nigerian authorities.
However, in his second month in office, President Buhari was welcomed into the White House by President Barrack Obama in a visit US administration officials celebrated by the unprecedented act of lodging Buhari in Blair House, the official guest house of the President of the United States.
The United States has subsequently followed up on the visit by unfolding a new phase in its military support for the embattled Nigeria military.
Language and Dressing in the Villa: Just a year ago even if you didn’t know the Ijaw language, knowing someone influential who spoke the language was a good entry point into the Abuja power circus.
Those who neither spoke nor knew individuals with access rather turned to their dressing to identify with the powers that be in Abuja.
Today with the exit of President Jonathan, the language and fashion in the villa has changed.
Hausa has gained overwhelming influence especially given the wide reach of the language. Even more, the dressing in the villa has changed to reflect more of the Hausa babaringa style.
Power monger: A year ago, a powerful former senator from the Niger Delta was the ultimate man of power in Abuja. A number of ministers even before going to office would stop over at his well protected residence in the high brow Asokoro area of Abuja.
The residence always guarded by security men was a power centre where many men and women in desperate search for political relevance almost always gravitated to for sessions with the president’s adopted political father.
Today, the residence has lost the gravitas that drew the politically desperate men and women to see the elderly politician.
In his place, a new man of power has emerged in Abuja. He is said to be the president’s uncle who, however, is not strange to power play in Nigeria having been a key player in the mythical Kaduna Mafia.
However, unlike his predecessor in the Jonathan administration, the new power man simply known as MD may not be as accessible. Sources disclosed that he has taken permanent residence in the presidential villa and is believed to be playing decisive roles in the operations of the new administration
Anti-Corruption: President Buhari’s spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu told Vanguard that the level of stealing from the public purse may have reduced by about 50%.
The indices used by him were not given, but it is generally believed that apprehension about Buhari and his body language may have instilled a serious fear among those who had in the past fed on the public treasury.
Just as before him, no individual has been convicted for corruption even in the face of widely acknowledged acts of discretion by public officials.
Insecurity: The new administration took off from where the former left in its fight against the Boko Haram insurgency. What has changed is that the morale and commitment of the fighting soldiers has been greatly boosted by the new leadership of the armed forces.
Niger Delta: A new glimpse of hope may be coming the way of the Niger Delta with the administration’s resolve to implement the recommendation of the United Nations report on Ogoni land. Though the report was commissioned by President Jonathan, he, however, dillydallied when it came to implementation.
Foreign Exchange Problem
The advent of the Buhari administration and new policies on the operation of domiciliary accounts has led to the entrapment of large amounts of foreign currencies allegedly stockpiled by public office holders.
Not surprisingly security agents in Nigeria and neighbouring countries have been reporting the arrest of currency traffickers as several individuals seek ways to dispense of them.
First Lady: The advent of the new administration has phased out the court of Dame Patience Jonathan and with it, the hilarity with which many Nigerians saw the former First Lady.
In the last 100 days, the First Lady, Aisha Buhari has taken a backseat in governance. Dame Jonathan as First Lady was a front player in the politics of her husband’s home state with an extensive political structure in her husband’s native Bayelsa State.
Aisha who like Patience is not from her husband’s home state, being from the Ribadu family in Adamawa State, has, however, taken a backseat in the politics of the country and even of her husband’s home state, Katsina. Aisha for now is not known to have conceived a political structure in Katsina.
Power: Power supply across the country has generally improved in the last 100 days even though no one is attributing the reason to any measured step taken by the new president.
Improved gas supply
The improved power supply has been traced to improved gas supply arising from the fact that there has been no report of burst pipelines since the advent of the new president.
Less women: The warning by Mrs. Jonathan that a vote for Buhari may lead to less visibility of women in the political space it is feared may have played out in the last 100 days with women almost being left out in the political appointments made by the new president.
Out of about 30 appointments so far made by the president, only one woman, Mrs. Amina Zakari has been found worthy of appointment.