What’s Up Mr. President?
It’s over a year now since this government swept the polls at the Presidential election in what was a watershed in the history of Nigeria politics. It was a victory hinged on the change mantra and fuelled by an electorate that had reached the crescendo of their discontentment with the PDP led government. Today, Jonathan is now history but the familiar hardship is still present in the faces of a vast majority of Nigerians. It is either of three things; things have remained the same, or this change is coming at a snail’s pace or so much wreckage was done by past governments that it will take a while to see any progress. If logic permits, it’s probably all of the factors.
It was a poor start by the Buhari led government that it lingered so much to put a cabinet together. The wait was tortuous and inimical to the growth of the country; however, when the list of eggheads eventually arrived, it was a disappointment for the most part and left a lot to be desired. Few months since the assumption of duties of the ministers, more than a handful of those ministries are still teething in direction. The budget saga has also put into question the credibility and competence of the Presidential team. The shenanigans that greeted the submission and retraction of the budget were a shame in itself. That such a document that will oil the polices of the Buhari led government was flawed on many grounds, was bad enough, but for it to have been submitted without those flaws spotted by the kitchen cabinet and even the President himself was a disaster. President Buhari might have made a statement by wielding the big stick against some of the initiators in the Budget and Planning ministry; yet, it still left a bad taste in the mouth. However, even with what was a reworked budget, the holes remain obvious. Two cases are apt here: The office of the Vice President was allocated more funds for book purchases than all the country’s Polytechnics put together. The malady doesn’t end there. The budget for improving the State House clinic was larger than the total budget for Nigeria’s teaching hospitals.
Perhaps, the biggest criticism against this government to date is the lack of an economic direction and framework. It appears everyone is running its own agenda in silo. From the CBN, to the Finance ministry, Nigerians are at sea as to where the economic goal post is. It beggars believe what the Vice President whose primary responsibility is leading the National Economic Team spends his time doing. One can also say same for the Power and Petroleum sector. Fashola and Kachikwu might well restore those notorious sectors but it is not a good omen as at today. For all the promises thrown at us during the campaign era, this is a magnified disappointment at the moment, and that is finding the euphemistic of words to qualify it.
The Buhari led government has pride itself as a zero tolerant government for corruption. The energy along those lines has been encouraging. The crusade against corruption is being fought against the background of the saintly sold image of the president. His integrity remains his greatest selling point but it is apt to mention that while it is great to galvanize this fight around him, the sustenance and gains of this war against corruption will depend on institutions, policies that thwart leakages and a system that is rock solid to deter exploitation. Judicial and legal reforms are the answer. It is not enough to single out few men and make them the ‘poster boys’ of the corruption war. Having said that, this fight is still yet to spread to all facets of the nation. While Dasuki’s 2.1 billion dollars arms diversion scandal remains the biggest exposed corruption headline till date, there are simply more revelations one expects would have been unearthed by now. In addition, the government can say all it wants on curbing impunity, but President Buhari must watch the excesses of some of his own cabinet members. Ibe Kachikwu is surely one of the shining lights in that recycled cabinet, but even he needs to be watched closely. It will take a lot of unconventional guts to restore sanity to the Oil industry, but it must not be done at the expense of an already impoverished citizenry. Rotimi Amaechi, to use the words of Bola Ahmed Tinubu ‘Was the General of the common sense revolution’ that changed the status quo but there are plenty of rough edges in him that means he has to be contained. His utterances, body language and political moves continue to heat up the polity in his state and beyond. He has to be taught to know when to stop.
This government might yet come good, but it doesn’t inspire confidence at the moment and one struggles to see how the change will pan out successfully. Ours is a citizenry that have been pushed to the wall, deprived of the very essence of governance and estranged of any meaningful hope. In truth, it is currently a cataclysmic situation, but make no mistakes about it, it is not irredeemable. Mr. President, wake up and smell the coffee!