Buhari’s backtracks and need for patience, diligence


WITHIN this short period of
time, President Muhammadu
Buhari has had to rescind many
of his official orders. Logically,
people withdraw their
decisions when they discover
that such decisions were wrong.
That means that the President
would have backtracked when
he discovered that issuing those
orders, in the first place, was
wrong and unnecessary.
However, between the
intervals of issuing such
orders and voiding them, a
lot of things would have been
muddled. Apart from causing
unease within the polity, such
presidential flip-flops would
have sent out negative signals
to the general public that this
is a hasty government, which
lacks diligence and due process.
The latest instance was
the banning and unbanning
of 113 oil vessels. The
Nigerian National Petroleum
Corporation (NNPC) had
issued a letter on July 15,
2015, referring to a directive
from Buhari that prohibited
the 113 identified tankers
from engaging in crude oil/
gas loading activities at the
terminals. The prohibition also
expelled the identified tankers
from Nigeria’s territorial
waters. That order brewed
silent murmurs from concerned
quarters because people felt that the President should have
acted otherwise considering some
economic effects that order would
have on Nigeria and international
oil business community. Reasons
were adduced that the ban may
not be unconnected with alleged
discrepancies between the volume
of crude oil lifted by the vessels
from various Nigerian terminals
and the volume eventually
discharged abroad to buyers. But
two months later, same NNPC,
issued a letter dated September
8, 2015, stating that the President
had approved consideration of
all incoming ships, subject to a
letter guaranteeing that they are
free and will not be used for any
illegal activity, thereby unbanning
the 113 vessels.
President Buhari’s retraction
came on the heels of a comment
by Charles H. Rivkin, the U.S
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of
Economic and Business Affairs,
who, early this week, during the
Nigerian-American Chamber of
Commerce Conference for Small,
Medium Enterprise Finance in
Abuja stated that Nigeria had
to adopt more open trade and
investment policies. Apparently
referring to some stringent
economically measures in Nigeria.
Rivkin was quoted as saying,
“Shutting doors to foreign
competitors — whether through
import bans, prohibitive tariffs
or foreign exchange controls —
will not make protected domestic
firms more competitive; consumer demands around the world
is based on price, quality and
Then less than 24 hours after
Rivkin’s comment, President
Buhari lifted the ban on 113
vessels from engaging in crude
oil/gas loading activities in any of
the terminals within the nation’s
territorial waters.
Before President Buhari was
even sworn-in, when he was
attending to callers at the Defence
House, he stunned Nigerians
when he allegedly banned the
African Independent Television
(AIT) from covering his activities.
The general public was shocked
because that directive would not
have gone through diligence. To
defend that directive, a media aide
to the president told the public
that AIT had to obey that order
because that was the decision
of the President Buhari family.
Then a couple of hours later,
Buhari rescinded that directive,
saying that his aides banned AIT
without consulting him. Then AIT
resumed covering him.
A couple of days after he was
sworn in, President Buhari
ordered that all military road
blocks in the country be removed
with immediate effect. Again
Nigerians were alarmed because
the issue of Boko Haram was far
from being over. Analysts noted
that the President would have
been misguided to issue that
directive. Within a week that
this announcement was made,President Buhari amended the
order and said that military
road blocks should be retained CHANGE everything at a time,
taking them bit-by-bit would be
better, we thought. Then within
a couple of days, the President
again amended this order and
said that boards of federal
government universities were
not among the ones dissolved.
Obviously, this trend of
presidential flip-flops would be
distorting some processes. For
instance, when someone learns
of a presidential directive,
he or she is expected to start
working on it immediately. He
would have started putting one
or two things together and all
of a sudden, he hears that the
decision has been rescinded.
Then he is expected to start
obeying the last order. This,
understandably would make us
behave eccentrically.
This calls for the need for
patience, due process and
diligence in our policy making
process. Presidential directives
must be seen as thorough
and water-tight. Presidential
directives affect hundreds of
millions of people both citizens
and foreigners and there should
rather be no gaffes about them.
We rather take it easy and
ensure that things are done right
than rush to take decisions only
to find out that those decisions
were wrong.
Odii-Kelechi, a public affairs
analyst sent in this piece from
in “front-line states”. Then
which states are the “frontline
states”? Almost all states in
Nigeria decided to become the
“frontline states” and retained
military checkpoints because of
alarming insecurity everywhere
in the country. The President has
tactically retracted that order
because he has not enforced it
since then. It might be noted that
in the fight against blossoming
insurgency and maintaining of
internal security, the immediate
past administration emphasized
military road block and installation
of some security hardware at
some strategic locations across the
country. Despite mixed feelings
about the performance of past
administration on security, many
people still believe that installation
of military check-points helped
in fighting insurgency and
Then few weeks later, President
Buhari ordered that all Boards of
federal government parastatals
be dissolved with immediate
effect and that they should remain
dissolved. All Boards?. Yes, all
Boards. Again, some Nigerians
felt that Buhari would have
been acting on impulse because
dissolution of all Boards of federal
government agencies at a time
would be easy but constituting
them would not be easy. Although
President would be correct to