Buhari’s 100 Days in Office, Blessing Or Curse!

Following jubilation of Muhammadu Buhari’s success in the last presidential election and his assumption into office as President of Nigeria on May 29, 2015, expectations rose sky high as most Nigerians expected his then incoming government to wave a magic wand and by mere saying abracadabra, all the country’s problems will disintegrate. Nigerians’ hopes were high. Perhaps this was a result of the long decades of bad leadership and suffering amidst abundance that deluded Nigerians of the fact that “Rome was not built in a day” and neither can Nigerians’ problems be fixed in “hundred days”.

But as President Buhari marks his first 100 days in office as a democratically elected president on September 5, Nigerians meet celebration with mixed reactions; some highlight the accomplishments recorded by his administration, while some criticize him. The Buhari campaign, which ran on a ‘ C H A N G E ‘ mantra, made numerous promises to Nigerians before he was elected president. Since Buhari assumed office about 100 days ago, the financial landscape of the country has taken a leap.

However, these three things made the financial sector boom. First, the conceding of defeat by the immediate past President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, sent positive signals to the global business community in two ways — that the continuity of the country is assured as opposed to speculated “doom”; and that the endemic corruption in the system would be tamed.

The second is the heightened tension over the lack of economic blueprint or assessed tacit economic direction, which is manifest in the delay in constituting a cabinet for the government, including some strategic appointments that have raised controversy over their legality. Stakeholders and experts in the financial system have associated uncertainty to the development and alleged that investments; both foreign and domestic worth billions of dollars are on the side-line, as investors are still playing cautious game, especially in the financial markets.

Perhaps, more intriguing, as it remains mostly untested since its emergence is the Treasury Single Account (TSA), with its constitute an Economic Management Team to steer the Nigerian economy away from an imminent slowdown. Oil production was lower relative to the corresponding quarter in 2014 by 7.3 per cent when output was recorded at 2.21mbpd.

For the non-oil sector, growth was largely driven by the activities of trade, crop production, construction and telecommunications. The non-oil sector grew by 3.46 per cent in real terms in Q2 of 2015. This was 2.13 per cent points lower from Q1 of 2015 and 3.26 per cent points lower from the corresponding quarter in 2014. The statistics for July and August are not yet out, but may likely maintain the statuesque and portray an economy that is no longer growing at the previous high levels.

The Head of Research at Afrinvest Securities Limited, Ayodeji Eboh, said Buhari’s victory at the 2015 polls amid groundswell optimism was made possible by a combination of factors- the right-wing socialist campaign promises; the integrity perception about him; and an oft-repeated anti-corruption campaign mantra, as well as widespread public disaffection against the previous administration. Eboh noted that although several policy documents were released, the bulk of the promises fall under three categories — security of lives and properties; economic prosperity and job creation; and fight against corruption.

In some quarters, however, Buhari’s 100 days in office has been greeted with mixed feelings because some Nigerians believe he has not really recorded any major achievement. Even the Boko Haram he used as a major campaign strategy during the election has not been abated and I think that is why the All Progressive Congress (APC) has not made any official statement as the usual practice of the polity. The Lead Director of Centre for Social Justice, Eze Onyekpere, said the government has failed to make any major policy pronouncements since assumption of office and at best, being run with the policies of the previous administration.

“There seems to be a policy vacuum, which has created some level of uncertainty about the economic policy direction of the new government. This has made planning and projections very difficult for economic actors in all spheres of national life,” he said. But how will the economy grow or employment improve when government has not invested in capital projects contained in the 2015 Appropriation Act, while the operating environment for the private sector is filled with strong headwinds? “It is on record that not a single kobo has been released for capital projects in the year 2015. What is not clear is whether the non-release of funds is due to the paucity of funds or operational reasons associated with the change of government,” he said.

Giants Stride Of The Administration Since Assumption Into Power

In a relative sublime, scanning through his a d m i n i s t r a t i o n , t h e f a c t s s p e a k f o r themselves; yes, prior to his administration the total power generated in the country was 3,155 megawatts and now is 4,032.2 megawatts and took six weeks into the Buhari presidency to change the previous administration’s promise. avalanche of expected benefits to the e c o n o m y a g a i n s t a n t i c i p a t e d implementation hitches, together with legal challenges that might emerge. Already, the market capitalization of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has plunged by N353 billion since Buhari’s inauguration as investors continue to react to the absence of a policy direction.

To be frank , P r e s i d e n t Buhari’s performance in his first 100 days are more apparent in two keys areas, anti-corruption and war against insurgents in the North-East, where he seems to have taken personal charge. The economy on the other hand has received little of the President’s attention hence the need for him to urgently He has appointed new Service Chiefs after sacking the heads of the army, navy and air force. He has tasked the new military heads to redouble their efforts to quell the activities of the insurgents. The United States pledged $5 million to the fight against Boko Haram, and other material support.

T h e G – 7 a l s o o f f e r s s u p p o r t a n d commitment to strengthen Nigeria’s efforts to quash insurgency.Buhari ordered the release of $21m to facilitate and establish headquarters for the joint multi-national force against Boko Haram. He is a strategist determined to fight terrorism. The army has been told to act within the law and abide by human rights convention. Discipline and moral integrity is returning to the armed forces.

The Federal Government is planning to establish 37 of the Special Courts to try corruption-related cases in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja and the 36 states of the Federation. So, for those who have siphoned from the national purse, they are in for a rude awakening. There will be screening to identify fearless judges who would be responsible to preside on such cases.

President Buhari has approved the recruitment of 10,000 additional police officers and he has directed the Inspector-General of Police to trim the number of p o l i c e a t t a c h e d t o p o l i t i c i a n s and dignitaries, to redeploy the police men to their regular police duties.There is talk about a salary cut for our legislators, now that is in progress. PMB and his Vice did take a cut in salary, so our honourable men and women have no excuse.

Recently, Godwin Emefiele, the Central Bank Governor, announced that the foreign reserves rose by $2.89b in the first month of the Buhari administration.Change is good especially if it’s for the better. Change is also contagious, and for those who have not felt it is because they have refused to be part of the solution.Buhari is already assembling a team of highly skilled professionals that would help him to implement his promise of change. I remember several months ago, how people wish for a time like this because for those of us who knew, it was the golden ear for Nigeria.

Although this administration has promised to bring the Chibok girls back,there has not been any sighting of these girls despite all the strategies of getting them out of the clutches of the insurgents. The fate of these girls remain unknown, we can only imagine what they are going through and the despair of their relatives.Shehu Garba, a presidential spokesman,said there has been “intensified intelligence gathering and reconnaissance in a given location in the northeast”.

All well and good, but about time there is some real result. Oby Ezekwesili, one of the leaders of Bring Back Our Girls campaign, believes that more needs to go into the search for the girls; “These girls must be found, these girls are somewhere on this planet, they didn’t become vapour and disappear,” she said.

Notwithstanding, President Buhari has given the job his best shot because it is necessary for him to be careful before he appoints, because Nigeria cannot afford to get it wrong this time and the whole country is saying that we never had it so good like this before.He has re-established the values of hardwork and administrative efficiency. The President says times without number that this country needs to fix governance and that he won’t tolerate laziness.In the area of economic management, Nigerians are already seeing things happening that they thought were not possible in so short a time.

The Buhari Effect

To be honest, the mere fact that President Buhari, a man of impeccable pedigree, an incorruptible personality, has taken over the mantle of leadership has spurred Nigerians to dream again, put public servants on their toes, forced many looters to start disgorging some of their loots even without prompting, and fired the zeal of many public enterprises to deliver better services.

Nevertheless, Buhari needs to unite the country that has been fractured by ethnicity, religion and politics, give all Nigerians a sense of belonging in the Nigerian project, lay to rest all divisive tendencies that have worked against the growth and progress of the country.Without mincing words, Nigerians yearn for good governance, freedom of expression and freedom of conscience, so that they can participate actively on how they are governed.

Whereas the administration is said to be going slow, this could be a result of them o n u m e n t a l ‘ m e s s ‘ t h e p r e v i o u s government left behind. However, I believe there’s room for him to have done more.

Let’s us not forget that PMB was elected on an anti-corruption ticket and he pledged to fight corruption. He should be held to that pledge.