By Levinus Nwabughiogu
This weekend marks the 100 days in office for the new administration of President Mohammdu Buhari. Has it been a cacophony of cheers and jeers? How has the country fared under the new regime? Has change come to Nigeria or still in the air? This account attempts to answer the questions:
He is not your usual president who joins the bandwagon. He is different and calculative in his approach to issues. In fact, the idea of standing out from his predecessors informed his political interest. He had been there before but through a military exercise. That era was short lived.
But even at that, he left footprints and sound bites that still resonate till today. Recall the WAI Programme, War Against Indiscipline. Recall also the refineries he built. But as the years rolled past, greater artificial harm was unleashed on the legacies, plunging the country into some social miasmas. Then, he became worried, greatly worried again.
But he remembered he can still make a change. And so, relaunched himself into political limelight. While others rushed to the “elitist” political parties, he chose to be in the opposition party.
And so, the political voyage began. In 2003, he ran for president on the platform of the defunct All Nigerians People’s Party but failed in the election. That was just a test of the waters. He soldiered on and ran again in 2007 but also failed. He never relented.
In 2011, he formed his own political party, Congress for Progressives Change, CPC and also failed to make it. Suddenly, there came a need for a conglomeration of some opposition political parties. And the big party, All Progressives Congress, APC was born in 2013. On this platform, President Mohammdu Buhari won the 2015 presidential election on the hysteria of “change”.
For upward 12 years he sought the Nigeria’s presidency, he also decried the gutter level the social, political and economic systems had taken. He bemoaned the dilapidation of infrastructure, education, health service, the perennial epileptic nature of the electricity, the dearth of jobs and then came to one conclusion: corruption and the ineptitude of the previous governments especially the immediate past regime.
While he campaigned, he was very loud on the blow he intended to drop on corruption. He also made emphatic promises of creating jobs for the teeming unemployed but employable youth in Nigeria. And then, the hydra- headed problem of insecurity. With these promises, he traversed the length and breath of the country.
Eventually, Nigerians preferred him to the former tenant of the Aso Presidential Villa, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan of the now opposition People’s
Democratic Party, PDP.
Sworn in on May 29, President Mohammadu Buhari set to work almost immediately in his own way. First, he visited the Niger Republic. Then Chad Republic, the G7 meeting in Berlin, Germany, the African Union Meeting in South Africa and the Republic of Cameron. Thereafter, he visited the United States of America, USA, again Cameroon and the Benin republic, thereby rounding off his collaboration seeking tours within the African, lake Chad sub-region.
One thing informed his tours and the participation in the meetings: finding lasting solution to the menace of insecurity occasioned by the Boko haram insurgency in Nigeria, stamping out corruption and evolving virile economy for jobs creation. At the home front, president Buhari had been busy distilling dirt from the gamut of the nation’s civil service by taking systematic briefings from Permanent Secretaries Ministries and other heads of agencies. And so far, the results have been encouraging.
Cocksure of his targets, the president has also made some deliberate political appointments into various offices such as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF amongst others, Though many saw lopsidedness in the appointments, many others said the development may have heralded a new road to change as they expressed more than a passing confidence in the team to deliver.
Most importantly, all those had happened within the period of his first 100 days in office. Yes, the president may not have given the specifics of what to achieve within the time frame, he has sure reached some laudable milestones. Articulated by the media office of the presidency, the following below show that president Buhari had been at work since his assumption of office.
*President Buhari ordered the relocation of military command to Maiduguri. The courageous and visionary decision took the war against terrorism right to the door steps of Boko Haram *The President championed the creation of the Multinational Joint Task Force, which will create a ring around terrorists with the cooperation of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin. The Lake Chad Basin Commission military deployment has already attracted donations, military platforms and more shared intelligence
*To further give a bite to the Multinational Joint Task Force, President Buhari ordered the release of $21m to facilitate the establishment of the headquarters of the force in N’Djamena *The United States also pledged $5 million to the fight against Boko Haram, in addition to other material support.
*President Buhari altered the strategy against Boko Haram by changing the service chiefs, and ensuring that the entire operation gets daily monitoring with the military heads now based in Maiduguri.
*Following the President’s visit to Germany, where he attended a meeting on the invitation of the G-7, world leaders opened a new leave of diplomatic relationship with Nigeria, promising technical and material support to quell Boko Haram, and rebuild the Nigerian economy.
*To strengthen the nation’s security architecture, President Buhari approved the recruitment of 10, 000 into the Nigerian Police. This will complement the President’s vision of building a robust and responsive domestic security outfit.
*At the outset of his administration, President Buhari approved an intervention to pay all the public servants owed salaries across the states due to fall in revenue sharing. The President’s intervention was principally to alleviate the suffering of many Nigerians and reduce the level of poverty.
*Apart from the intervention, the monthly Federation Accounts Allocation Committee witnessed a substantial jump in the month of July, 2015, largely due to the plugging of leakages. The jump was in spite of fall in oil revenue. *Electricity has improved significantly since the President assumed office on May 29, 2015. The 4,600 megawatts has ensured longer hours of electricity and lesser power cuts.
*The Foreign Reserve has improved to $31.5bn USD in spite of the falling global prices of commodities. From an initial $29.2bn USD the Foreign Reserve grew to $31.5, further securing the economy against global and domestic shocks. *The change in the leadership of the NNPC was a major stride in restructuring the organization. The appointment of a new Group Managing Director and the slice of Executive Directors from eight to four by the President had repositioned the organization.
*Closely linked, some refineries in the country had started operations. Warri and Port Harcourt refineries had started operation at 60 percent capacity, hoping to close-up after a Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) *Fuel queues have gradually faded around the country, especially in Abuja and Lagos where the queues lasted for a while after the inauguration
*President Buhari ordered a fast-track of Ogoni clean-up, acting on a United Nations Environmental Project Report that had been long delayed by previous administrations.
*To further demonstrate his penchant for fairness and justice, the President directed the CBN to clear all the outstanding allowances of former militants studying in various institutions across the world. The delay in payment of allowances had left the entire Amnesty Programme hanging on a cliff.
*President Buhari also salvaged the Amnesty Programme from near collapse by changing the leadership, and giving it a new vision of catering for the weak, the poor and the vulnerable, instead of enriching a few. A move that was well received by the people in the Niger-Delta.
*President Muhammadu Buhari has ruled out the appointment of a government delegation for this year’s pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. By this decision, the government saved about one million U.S dollars and N30m in local expenses.
*Striking at the heart of corruption, President Buhari ordered the closure of all multiple accounts in MDAs and a reduction to the use of Single Treasury Account to promote transparency and accountability. *After three days in the United States, President Buhari was able to harmonize the relationship with the United States, which faltered greatly under the previous administration.
*As a fallout of the visit, the United States has promised more support for Nigeria in terms of technical, military and intelligence support to nail insurgency in the north east. *The United States has also released evidence of massive looting and links of monies wired out of the country to the President in the United States. The President has directed prosecution.
*The meeting in the United States also attracted N2.7 trillion investments into the country. *On corruption, the impression of the President as incorruptible and the fear of prosecution pushed many to return stolen public funds, with reports saying key actors in the previous government have returned huge sums of money.
*The President set up an advisory committee on war against corruption to design an effective template for fighting corruption *President Buhari’s leadership has been religiously focused on cutting down the cost of governance while channeling scarce resources to the areas of priority, thus, government’s official travels have been reviewed so that public officers no longer embark on frivolous foreign trips.
*President Buhari cancelled oil swap deals that had cost the country billions of dollars; resulted in fuel queues due to differences in figures and muddled the country’s reputation due to multiple interpretations and reported high level corruption.
*The total monetary value of all finished goods and services produced in Nigeria in the second quarter of 2015 recorded a 2.57 percent growth, says data on Quarterly Gross Domestic Product estimates of the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics. *In real terms, the non-oil sector contributed 90.20 percent to the nation’s overall GDP, marginally higher than both the 89.55 percent share recorded in the first quarter of 2015, and 89.24 percent recorded in the corresponding period of 2014.