By James Ibechi
A month and more than a week after the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari came into office, Some have started castigating the government. Their grouse is what many consider the slow ‘movement’ of the administration.
The president has been accused of not appointing key officials such as ministers, Chief of Staff, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and many others, to help run the administration. Trust our very creative people, different names and even funny imagery have appeared on the social media to deride the seemingly slow pace of the administration. There was a particular photoshop that had the face of the president superimposed on a snail, crawling along in its usual slow gait. Snails are not animals in a hurry.
The foreign media have also not spared the president. Bloomberg in an article entitled; ‘Buhari goes from Nigeria’s change champion to ‘Baba Go Slow’, examined the performance of the administration vis-a-vis the expectation of Nigerians on the economic front, the fight against insurgency, among others, and said the expectations have not been met, adding that these have their attendant implications.
Presidential spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina, while reacting to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), on the same matter, said the president was taking his time because the country was in a bad state. To quote him, “the Buhari administration is naturally contemplative because there was absolutely no rhyme or reason to the way PDP ran the country, particularly in the immediate past dispensation. That is why the Augean Stable is being cleaned now, and it requires scrupulous and painstaking planning”.
On a personal level, I think those criticizing the administration are right on some of the issues raised especially with appointment of key officials, but I want to say that the Buhari magic has started to manifest.
In the last few days, did we take cognizance of the number of people who have been quizzed by the anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)? Some of these people are those considered untouchables before now or which the previous administration, by commission or omission, refused to move against.
Former Imo state governor, Ikedi Ohakim was arraigned on corruption charges by EFCC. Also arraigned was former governor of Adamawa state, Murtala Nyako and his son, Abdul-Aziz, a Senator representing Adamawa central in the National Assembly.
Also, at the time of writing this article, the court had sent former Jigawa state governor, Sule Lamido and two of his sons to remand in prison for financial misappropriation. The case had been on for a while, before the present administration came on board, but the political will to follow up was not there. Though the ex-governors could walk free at the end of the day, the present effort has shown clearly the direction this administration is going and the wise ones, in government ministries, agencies and parastatals, are already taking a cue from this.
Though, it could be argued that the president did not give direct instruction to the EFCC to prosecute these people, but he has also not stopped the agency from performing its statutory role. It is now left to the agency to prosecute the case to a logical conclusion.
But one thing is clear, a strong signal has gone out that the president would not protect anybody, especially where issue of corruption is concerned. The president as much as said so on several occasions that he would recover all stolen funds whether stashed at home or abroad.
Indeed, the president’s body language has equally manifested in other sphere. The judiciary, the police, the oil and gas industry, power generation and distribution are equally reading the scenario that things must be done properly. Though, It would difficult to completely eradicate corruption in the system, but any one that wants to engage in corrupt practice does so at a great risk knowing fully well that the Buhari administration will not spare such a person.
Recently a Federal High Court ordered the forfeiture of multi-billion naira assets said to belong to former Enugu State Governor, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, to the Federal Government.
Among the forfeited assets are undeveloped properties and transmission equipment of Rainbownet Limited; property of Hill Gate Investment Limited/Cuena Phones Limited; assets of Cosmo 105.5FM, and 22 duplexes at Ebeano Estate (now Fidelity Estate).
That’s just a tip of what the former governor will forfeit. The crime to which the forfeiture order was given was committed between 1999 to 2007 when Nnamani was governor.
Another area where the present administration is being felt is in the provision of electricity. It is also obvious that something has changed. In my part of Lagos, electricity supply has greatly improved and most people I raised the matter with have said the same thing. I am not saying we are there yet, but it seems as if the electricity distribution companies are putting their acts together now, especially in view of the unconfirmed information that the administration would look into the sales of the Power Distribution Company of Nigeria (PHCN). One starts to wonder why power supply was at an abysmal level before now. Was it a deliberate attempt to sabotage the previous administration or to give the impression that a lot still had to be done in that sector in spite of the huge amount that went into that sector?
It is no longer news that the presidency has beamed its searchlight on that cesspool of corruption, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) with the dissolution of its board, but prior to that and as if it knew what fate awaits it, the Corporation had assured Nigerians that its refinery in Portharcourt, would from this month, start refining crude oil.
Yes, the administration may be a bit slow in doing some things, but it is obvious that its presence is gradually being felt in areas that matter and if this much could happen when it has not taken any action, then a whole lot should be expected when it starts to take action. In the words of Robert W. Service, “it is the steady, quiet, plodding ones who win in the lifelong race”.
On a final note, I do not think Nigerians have much to fear with this administration in terms of performance. If you are looking for a patriot, the first person you need to look in his direction is President Buhari. He has shown his love for the country, time and time again. It is thus too late in the day for anybody to think his aspiration for the highest office in the land, for the second time is anything but altruistic.
In April 2011, when General Buhari as he then was, wept publicly, when he announced it would be his last attempt at contesting for the presidency, his loss of emotion was not as a result of his loss in previous polls, but due to what could have been and the inability of Nigerians to appreciate what he wanted to do, how he wanted to take the country back to the path of restitution. As Adlai Stevenson puts it, “patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a life time”. He is there now, he only needs time to set things right. But right, things would be and this country would rise once again.