Buhari and The Burden of Patience
It’s approximately two months since Muhammadu Buhari took the oath of allegiance as the number one citizen of this nation at the revered Eagles Square. Perhaps, his speech is best remembered for the now famous quote ‘I belong to everyone and I belong to no one.’ However, as he might have found out, talk is cheap and in an era where it was a cloud of expectations that fanned the embers of his elections, the detractors and many Nigerians have not been impressed with his start.
It will be foolhardy to pass an assessment on the Buhari administration just yet, as one expects the jury to still be out for at least two more years or so. However, the early indications have served as pointers on what to expect.
Undoubtedly, the biggest criticism that has trailed the early days of Buhari’s administration has been his ‘seeming’ delay in appointing his cabinet. A school of thought argues that he had since March 31st to start firming up his list but his delay indicates that perhaps he is ill-prepared for the job. However, the apologists say that he might indeed have a list but looking to clear the backlog of filth, before he gets his team on board. Moreover, they maintain, events since the election victory might have made him to have a re-think on the men and women he had earlier enlisted. However, while both sides of the divide have its merits, it is important to say that two months without a ministerial list is not a treasonable offence by the president, as some will like us to believe.
Another major criticism that has trailed the president’s first 60 days has been around his early appointments. In a nation still sharply divided across ethnic and religious lines, any of such high profile appointments by the nation’s number one citizen is bound to be subjected to such scrutiny. While meritocracy should never be sacrificed for mediocrity in the name of federal character, one expects President Buhari to know better. The best man for the job should always get the job but a caveat will suffice here: You can find the best man in no one part of the country alone. Ours is a fledgling democracy and the government of the day must recognize that it still requires adequate tendering and their actions and inactions will be telling to this development.
What is more? The EFCC under Ibrahim Lamorde since Buhari’s ascension has appeared to have found its foot again. To be fair to the renewed vigour of the anti-graft agency, it is only normal that the beehive of its activities will happen after every change of government as the immunity clause that often protects such lofty offices will then have been stripped. Juxtapose that with the ‘Fight Against Corruption’ mantra of the Buhari administration since its electioneering days, then one will expect all the anti-graft agencies to be firing on all cylinders. However, criticisms that have been meted to this fight have been one of political undertone. The PDP has been selling the dummy to anyone that cares to buy, that the ruling government has been using the EFCC to target its members. While selective judgment is never a great way to fight corruption, it evades the real question. Are those the EFCC are after guilty of the offence they are been charged with? Are they truly corrupt? Were they a party to the financial malpractice? In a democracy that is serious, that should be the discourse. It is no gainsaying that corruption in its totality has raped our nation for so long with reckless abandon. The fight against corruption must start with some people and if those persons happen to be in the opposition, it shouldn’t matter. However, going forward, the Buhari administration must recognize that Nigerians are well aware of the track records of the politicians and henchmen that surround him. It will be an incomplete fight against corruption if it is not holistic and all inclusive. It goes without saying that strengthening the anti-graft institutions in power and resources will determine how far this fight goes.
A worrying development that has snowballed since the Buhari administration commenced, and that must be cited is the enhanced bombings and killings in the North East by the Boko Haram sect. What is even more curious about this is that the previous government of Goodluck Jonathan appeared to be winning the war in the twilight of its administration, if what we read and hear in the news were anything to go by. How this administration was not able to consolidate on this seemingly victory remains a grey point. Having said that, protection of lives and properties remains the primary raison d’etre of the government, and while the method of achieving that is the prerogative of the government, all the people want is for this to be achieved. Security is everyone’s business but the government must show some effective leadership in this space.
In conclusion, some of the criticisms that have trailed the early days of the Buhari administration have been unfair and misplaced, but absolutely understandable. It was crystal clear from the onset that Nigerians would not be patient with the new government. The government was conceived under the clout of expectations and the change creed was it biggest selling point. Thus, it must grapple with that burden of expectations for as long as it remains in power. While many Nigerians will have to manage their expectations and tell themselves the home truth that this entity will take a while to be fixed, the government must show a bit of urgency in its efforts in fixing this country. The nation is bedeviled with a plethora of ills and patience is not a language best understood in this part of the world, especially in a desperate time such as this.