By Amir Abdulazeez
The idea of periodically assessing the achievements, actions and or leadership style of executive office holders was conceptualized and popularized in the American political system. Presidents and sometimes governors are assessed after 100 days, 200-days and 1-year in office, and based on that they are either celebrated or castigated as the case may be. According to University of Cambridge historian, Anthony Badger, the 100-day mark yardstick for measuring presidential success was conceptualized by 32nd US President, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933.
Roosevelt was faced with the calamity of the great depression of the 1930s and he moved with unprecedented dispatch to address the problem within his first 100 days in office in which he pushed 15 major bills through congress. Buhari, just like Roosevelt inherited probably the most fragile and unstable Nigeria in recent history and most Nigerians are not even patient enough to wait for 100 days before they start seeing concrete results.
The 100-day standard is not a perfect measure, but it is a useful one because it is a period when the peoples’ goodwill to a president or governor is still at its peak and the leader himself is still fresh and new without the attendant burdens of scandals that are associated with mostly every tenure of public office. The 100 days of a president are too early for any meaningful judgement for a four-year presidency, but they are enough to give a clear direction on where a leader is heading to.
President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in on 29th May, 2015 and on 6th September, 2015, he attained 100 full days in office. In Nigeria, the first 100 days are mostly seen by many as an opportunity for political associates to celebrate a leader through exorbitant media adverts. Other Nigerians with high expectations may like to see some visible and tangible achievements especially infrastructural that a president will show for his 100 days in power; unfortunately it’s not always possible to make much significant physical within this period.
This is not an attempt to assess Buhari’s achievements, but rather an analysis of events bordering on politics, policies, incidents, expectations, interpretations and speculations over the President’s 100 days in office. There are many things we learnt from Buhari’s 100 days in power; here are some of them;
Everyone should Probe his Predecessor;
With the general belief among Nigerians that every public officer is a wrong doer, they expect him to be probed by his successor after leaving office. Buhari had promised on several occasions during the campaigns to draw a line and move forward, but may be the level of ‘rot’ he saw when he took over may have ‘forced’ him to change his mind or may be the line-drawing theory was just politics in the first place. Anyway many Nigerians are in support of probes and a handful of them voted Buhari specifically to carry out probes, so he can just carry on. The only problem with the Buhari probes is that they are limited to the Jonathan’s regime; the probes would have been more credible if it included at least the Obasanjo’s regime.
Nevertheless, what we learnt from Buhari is that everyone has a duty to probe his predecessor. In 1984 Buhari probed Shagari, Abdussalami and Obasanjo probed Abacha, why didn’t ‘Yaradaua and Jonathan probed Obasanjo?
30 Years out of Business is no fluke;
In the last 100 days, we have seen decisions rescinded almost immediately after they have been made by the presidency. We have seen contradictions, unclarified statements and sometimes even ambiguous orders from the presidency. For the early part of the 100 days, two presidential spokesmen gave us contradicting information about same events and the president. The president himself has made many gaffes, especially the (in)famous ‘West Germany’ gaffe in public.
Some attributed these problems to Buhari’s failure to timely appoint key government officials like the SGF, CoS and advisers, the opposition attributed it to his old age and what they termed ‘unpreparedness’ for the job. Recently, the media commemorated 30 years after the overthrow of Dictator Buhari from power by Dictator Babangida and even though he had a stint as PTF Chairman, that may not be enough to make him adequately equipped for modern governance. Whatever the case, 30 years out of business is a serious gap to contend with and it isn’t unnatural when you show some signs of ‘cluelessness’ in your first 100 days.
Change is not a Destination; it’s a Gradual Process;
Many Nigerians consciously and subconsciously voted Buhari with the expectation of seeing things getting fixed almost automatically within a very short period of time. Over the last 100 days we have understood that the truth however is, things can only be fixed gradually and there would be no time when we can claim to have achieved all the achievables, we can only keep improving. Some folks have often used the word ‘change’ itself in a confusing and misleading way to mean the occurrence of something instant. President Buhari may have started the job but he cannot finish it, what he can only do is to lay a solid foundation for someone to continue.
APC campaigned on the slogan of change over four years and not 4 weeks or 4 months and we want to believe that under Buhari, they are on the process of providing that change. The only problem we have is that APC is now jam-packed with the same PDP people whose ‘misdeeds’ necessitated the clamour for change in the first place. However, this only becomes a problem when we perceive change as a destination and not a process or when we want it to occur instantly and not gradually. Nigeria have taken the first major step of actualizing the dream of changing a sitting government through the ballot, the next is to start focussing on individuals and not political parties. Gradually, bad politicians would have nowhere to hide, hopefully by 2019.
PDP Cannot Provide Quality Opposition;
The PDP have spent much of the last 100 days pointing accusing fingers and advancing reasons why it lost the 2015 presidential elections rather than providing quality opposition – something that even prior to PDP has been lacking in Nigerian politics. Notable PDP big-wigs have taken turns to open up on why the PDP lost power. The latest to do so was the current Acting BOT Chairman of the party and former Minister of Defence, Alhaji Bello Halliru. Halliru while addressing the Senator Ike Ekweremadu-led PDP revamping committee said the party lost because it violated its zoning policy in 2011. This is indirectly saying, PDP lost because it fielded Jonathan. Many PDP stalwarts have confessed that the party lost because of either Patience Jonathan, Jonathan campaign handlers or Jonathan himself. So PDP knew what was right but refused to do it; they knew fielding Jonathan was suicide, but they went ahead and did it?
Many pundits believe that the real issues for debates and opposition to Buhari’s government will begin after he might have achieved 6 months to 1 year in office. Unfortunately PDP had spent a substantial part of its energy on trivial issues, one wonders how much of its energy will be left when the real issues begin. The party had ruled for 16 years and it may spend the next 16 years as an opposition party if it survives that long.
Buhari has no Plan to Unite Nigerians
The major problem with Nigeria has been disunity and hatred among its citizenry. This religiously and ethnically motivated hatred reached its peak in the build-up to the 2015 elections and it continued after the elections and even up to this moment. Many expected Buhari first and foremost to roll out a deliberate and comprehensive healing and unification programme of all Nigerians immediately after assuming office. Unfortunately, there was none and nothing in the last 100 days suggests there will be any.
In the absence of that, the wounds of the 2015 elections are continue to deteriorate and unless something is done quickly, Buhari will likely preside over the most divided Nigeria in recent history. In another development, Buhari’s appointments which are seen by many to be lopsided and widely tilted towards his Northern constituency have compounded issues. His 99% versus 1% comment in the United States some weeks ago also did not help matters. Although, the president had assured time and again that he is for everybody and not for anybody, some of his actions give a contrary impression and he had continued to commit what some people called ‘unforced errors’ that has continued to unbalance an already ‘unbalanceable’ country.
If Governance is about Action and Inaction then Leadership is about Discipline and Indiscipline;
Many things began ‘fixing’ themselves almost immediately after Buhari was sworn into office. The level of performance of different government institutions and public officers suddenly improved in unimaginable proportions. The riot acts constantly read by heads of security personnel to their subordinates, the sudden and rapid resurgence of the EFCC, the sanitization of the oil and gas industry, the blockage of leakages are all testimonies to this fact. The importance of attitudinal and disciplinary leadership cannot be overemphasized. On the active side, Buhari has made some progress also, most notable of which is the Federal Government’s bailout plan to rescue some states with backlog of salaries and debts.
Common sense demands that we give credit to Jonathan for some recent gigantic projects like the repair of our refineries and the improvement in electricity generation, however these things would never have materialized as early as now to make any impact if not for the new discipline injected into leadership by Buhari. During the campaign, Buhari have said on several occasions that the fish gets rotten from the head. The fish now has a new head which is expected to stop the rottening of the body.
The Legislature can Keep Fighting while their Relevance Keep Dwindling;
When you ask a typical Nigerian on the street about how categorically the government affects his life, he will talk about the executive arm and probably the judiciary and hardly the legislature. Average Nigerians do not discuss the legislature except of course when it is about their ‘jumbo’ pay. May be this is due to ignorance or may be the legislatures have in the last 16 years not really proven their effectiveness to the masses. Only God knows how many impeachable offices the Nigerian Presidents between 1999 to date have committed, but the National Assembly allowed them to walk away scot-free.
Nothing in the last 100 days have shown that anything has change as this 8th National Assembly made the worst possible start one can think of. They have spent most of the last 3 months fighting over leadership positions without initiating or debating a single bill; Buhari himself is yet to seriously need their help. Save for the few communications between him and the Senate and some interventions for reconciliation, the legislature had not feature significantly in Buhari’s activities in the last 100 days in office. Whether the National Assembly will redeem itself early enough to make any impact in this dispensation or we may have to look up to only the Executives and Judiciary, time will tell. Perhaps its time we have one strong unicameral legislature instead of a highly expensive and indecisive bi-cameral one.
The Western World’s Attention is on Nigeria Again;
Buhari was barely a week in office when he left with a wish-list for the G-7 Summit in Germany, he later visited the United States and it could be recalled that just before his inauguration, he visited the UK to see the British Prime Minister. From the sweet and confidence-bestowing words we hear from the western leaders and the Presidency to the tonnes of promises made in meetings, we have reason to believe that they mean well for our country.
The West may fulfil the entire item on our wish-list but there may be a time when they might want you tpo attend to their own wish-list. It’s been long since the West has shown some keen interest on Nigerian affairs, but anytime it does so, it comes with consequences. We look to have escaped the same-sex marriage imbroglio, what of when IMF and the World Bank come calling with their policies?
The Boko Haram Conspiracy Theorists would have to come up with Something Else;
When Jonathan was in office, we had two groups of conspiracy theorists; those who directly link Jonathan with Boko Haram sponsorship in his mission to destroy the North and those who link Buhari and the Northern Oligarchy with Boko Haram sponsorship to make the country ungovernable for Jonathan. Now that Boko Haram has refused to vanish after Buhari’s 100 days in office as ignorantly but popularly expected, what else would the conspiracy theorists come up with? May be Boko Haram themselves intensified their attacks immediately after Buhari took office to prove a point.
Buhari has boasted during his campaigns that the sect is no match an enemy for the Nigerian Army if there was a competent Commander-in-Chief. Now that his actions in the last 100 days have shown commitment but have not being adequate yet, what more should we expect before the next 100 days? We are keenly and prayerfully watching.
Never Make Too Many Promises during Your Campaigns;
Buhari and APC had made so much promises that it is almost certain they can’t deliver on a substantial number of them. That may not be a problem if they are able to eventually deliver on the giant ones; security, corruption and economy. The Buhari promises are well documented and there will be no room for escapism, although President’s Media Adviser, Mr. Femi Adesina was recently reported by some media outlets denying that his boss promised to publicly declare his assets.
Buhari has made so many unnecessary promises during the campaigns, some of which have started making him uncomfortable. For example, his promise not to have a First Lady was needless and it has already created avoidable dilemma for him. Another is his promise to obey traffic rules, something very dangerous.
Buhari took political promise making in Nigeria to new heights when he articulated many things we will execute within his first 100 days in documents like ‘100 things Buhari Will do in 100 Days’ and ‘My Covenant with Nigerians’, although Mallam Garba Shehu, the President’s Media Assistant, in a recent article had disowned these documents as unauthorized by the Buhari Campaign Organization, but it’s surprising that he didn’t do so during the campaigns. With or without the 100 day promises, already the other promises are well-documented and whether Buhari can fulfil them or not, we shall leave that to time and rely on the analysts for real time updates.
Mallam Amir is on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@AmirAbdulazeez