General Muhammad Buhari, who got into office as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 29, 2015, will have been in office for 100 days. Our concerns here are not the length of time, the notion of 100 days in office, even how much has been achieved or what has been gained and lost. Neither are we emotional on the fact that Nigeria has no federal ministers and many states are yet to appoint their commissioners. On the contrary, we want to assess the president, his performance, public expectations, and whether the honeymoon Nigerians threw themselves into in May 2015 is anything but over and gone.
It appears to us that celebration of the first 100 days in office by big time top public officials has come to stay, whether we like it that way or not. The four-year term of a president of Nigeria has 1461 days where 100 days make only about seven percent of the tenure. The foundation of the administration should have been laid within this period, which includes moving into office, appointment of key officers, including federal ministers, and giving policy blue prints on general administration, health, education, energy, works and housing, agriculture and, especially, economic blue print amongst others. Right now Nigeria has no known economic blue print on any sector; it is still a trial and error approach. There ought to be a clear road map guiding every sector of our national life. The president promised to make the list of his ministers known this September, that is an example of a road map. Lack of proper guidelines has made even the very elected office holders assume that all is about them and that the society can wait. If every one of the ministers to be hired should know their daily duties, like filling three buckets with water daily, then they will be able to do self assessment every day. Right now even the president, president of the Senate, speaker of the House, everyone thinks he or she is busy. Busy doing what? The Salah ram can be skinned any way but not anyway of skinning the ram qualifies it for a Salah ram. Nobody should henceforth be allowed to rule Nigeria anyhow. There should be clearly laid down procedures and those procedures must be measurable for the nation to be moving forward. Some people call such ‘Due Process,’ however we choose to call it ‘Target Setting.’ When we were younger we used to control our daily movement by writing a list of what we intended to achieve every day, and in the evening we would read aloud the list to ensure a great percentage of our daily targets was met at bed time. Celebration in office after only 100 days in office could prove misleading and misguided because the tasks ahead are so enormous.
One component that President Buhari has properly brought on board is the notion of probing, recovery of stolen and misappropriation of public funds, fighting corruption and the need to make democracy not too expensive to run. There are several lessons to learn in this area. The probe must have genuine sincerity of purpose by carrying the public along in fair and open trials, awarding just and appropriate penalties; and the coverage must leave no class of office holders. It is not to be a sky crow decorative approach for mere political opponents alone. The second purpose and lesson is to institutionalise the culture of correct accountability and punishment rather than merely witch-hunting enemies. The overall purpose is the possibility that the process can build in over moral value system that is currently none existing or only very low. All arms of government must find a role in building our society through an appropriate institution of probe and punishment.
Within these 100 days the men and women of the National Assembly have met only 14 days but have been earning their wages, including N18million and N21 million for each member in the House of Representatives and Senate, respectively, as wardrobe allowances. Our argument remains that no senator in Nigeria ought to earn more than the monthly salary of a university professor in a federal government university. Those who need extra clothing are beggars on the streets, and or uniform officials like member of Nigeria Police, the army, our nurses, NYSC members. Politics and politicians are men and women who submit themselves ready to serve their communities even at personal costs. It is not a money making avenue. President Buhari’s attempt to resolve jumbo pay went wrong by his voluntarily accepting a pay cut rather than calling the arbitration panels to fix all wages, including his own.
The pronouncements, appointments, and body language of Mr. President these 100 days have given some directions but with confusion on whether only the CPC component of APC or just some regions that matter for appointments. For us, we see that politics is blind and where the brightest and best may not win the attention of those that matter. Hence the president is free to choose any individual as he pleases, but subject to the construction that is also blind and prone to several interpretations. We shall continue to encourage the president not to be too partisan but look for the best for the country. For me, hard work, loyalty to the country, ability to organise the community will take first place over officers that would not steal but could not work either. In the church our objective is not that those who serve the temple should not eat but that they should not bring down or destroy the temple because of their greed.
There are so many areas that matter to the general public that our president has been absent these 100 days. The infrastructure in Nigeria like roads, even energy generation and distribution, workers’ wages, employment and many more mean more to the people than telling us that past ministers didn’t know that Nigeria treasuries were not their private banks. It is all because the institutions have failed to do the checks and balances. Public officers saw themselves as kings who own everything and who must be served and worshipped. In the days ahead impunity, lawlessness, thieving, and act of alacrity must be eradicated but without wasting too much time. A sense of “quick fixing it” must be demonstrated to the people to install loyalty and fear in the community.
An average Nigerian life is a measure of contempt. Hence all what a president may say will seem to them as a mere or usual joke. It is as if they said, “Who cares for anything you say?” No class of people in Nigeria is ready to believe any government pronouncements anymore unless they see examples. Contempt is not unusual for a lingerer, for they are despised by their families who cannot deal with the person’s inconsistency. Similarly, we find that Nigerian governments are hot today, then cold tomorrow. They blow this way this moment, then that way next moment. They command, “do this,” but they do something different themselves. Their lives do not live up to the words that they say. Each Nigerian politician should not be a man whose life and deeps run opposite each other, or whose works are dirty, but he himself giving great sermons every week. Government should build a society where Nigerians are able to enjoy the best of the abundant life available here and to be prepared for the 21st century world. For Nigeria to be a society to emulate, it must have leaders that know the way to build the community that is making everyone a keeper of his or her brothers. We need the next 100 days to be able to assess President Buhari fairly. Meanwhile, his supporters are not giving up on him in any significant numbers after his 100 days in office.
Prof. Ipinyomi writes from Ilorin