By Ifeanyi Ottah
Ahead of the March 28 presidential poll, President Muhammadu Buhari published a public letter titled: “My Covenant.” The letter clearly indicated what Nigerians should expect from his first 100 days in office.
The letter reads: “Dear compatriots, in the past few months that I have traveled round this country on campaigns, I have experienced the sheer beauty of our diversity. From Port Harcourt to Kano, from Abeokuta to Gusau,I experienced first-hand, the daily suffering and struggles of our people. I also experienced the overwhelming desire of our people for change.
When I arrived in Port Harcourt on the 5th of January to start my campaigns, I was met by our teeming supporters, who stayed till late in the evening to welcome us. Among them were many young men and women, who in the few minutes that I shared with them at the airport, made me reflect to what kind of future awaits them in our country.
The gestures of 90 year-old Hajia Fadimatu Mal Talie Tara from Kebbi State and 9-year- old Nicole Eniyi Benson from Lagos State and, who donated their life-savings to my campaign, reflected the overwhelming desire of our people for change. In their gestures, I perceived a longing for the days when honour, national pride and dignity of labour were the fundamental social principles that governed our country. As I encountered millions of our youths, who sometimes run for hours in front of my car and hanging precariously on our campaign vehicles at our state rallies, I also pondered the enormity of the task ahead.
How do we give jobs to our youths? How do we reform our economy and make it work for every Nigerian?”
On corruption and Governance, Buhari said: “No matter how vast our resources, if they are not efficiently utilized, they will only benefit a privileged few, leaving the majority in poverty. I believe if Nigeria does not kill corruption; corruption will kill Nigeria.”
“ I pledge to publicly declare my assets and liabilities and encourage my political appointees to also publicly declare their assets and liabilities. I affirm that our strategy for tackling corruption will not only focus on punishment. Rather, it will also provide incentives for disclosure and transparency and show personal leadership in the war against corruption and also hold all the people who work with me to account…”
However, the concept of 100 days benchmark for assessing the performance of an elected leader did not originate from Nigeria.
It started in the United States of America(USA) during the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt as a way of measuring his level of success in his quest to address the economic woes that plagued America during his reign. Since then, his legacy has been replicated by many countries all over the world with Nigeria not an exception. Obviously, many Nigerians have always looked forward to the 100 days, milestone as a way of assessing successive administrations in the country. This, perhaps, gave rise to the high expectations of Nigerians as the 100 days of President Muhammadu Buhari administration drews closer.
The President’s or governors’ kitchen cabinet and party men also use such avenue to showcase the achievements of their administration.
Consequently, when President Buhari addressed State House Correspondenst on his resumption at the Presidential Villa, he said that the culture of first 100 days in office had put him and his administration under pressure Buhari had said then: “This culture of 100 days in office is bringing so much pressure with the treasury virtually empty, with debts in millions of dollars, with state workers and even federal workers not paid their salaries. It is such a disgrace for Nigeria”.
He had disclosed at the meeting that he inherited an empty treasury from the predecessor, expressing concern that indebtedness by the previous government which ran into millions of dollars, was not only worrisome but also disheartening and so distressing that states and federal workers were being owed salaries.
He had then expressed fear that this may cause a lot of disaffection among Nigerians and invariably lead to peoples ‘revolt, although he assured that with the relevant cooperation from the citizens, mostly the media, those challenges would be surmounted.
INSECURITY- BOKO HARAM
Meanwhile, President Buhari told Nigerians that he would hit the ground running immediately he assumed office. He swung into action by taking a bold step towards eradicating the dreaded Boko Haram insurgence through regional and global support and more importantly, through the restoration of Nigeria’s integrity in the international community.
First, he visited Niger Republic. He also visited the Republic of Chad, attended the G7 meeting in Berlin, Germany, the African Union meeting in South Africa as well as visited Republic of Cameroon. Later, he visited the United State, of America (U.S.A) and the Benin Republic, seeking collaboration within the African sub-region.
What informed his tours was to find a lasting solution to the insecurity problem occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, and a way of stamping out corruption completely and enthrone a virile economy for job creation in the country.
President Buhari had also ordered the relocation of military commands to Maiduguri. He courageously championed the creation of the multinational Joint Task Force (JTF) which will create a ring around terrorist, with the total cooperation of the Lake Chad Basin Commission and Benin.
President Buhari, in a bid to show his seriousness and commitments ordered the release of 21 million to the multinational joint JTF to help facilitate the establishment of the headquarters of the force in N’djamena, Chad. The US government also pledged $5 million to the fight against Boko Haram in addition to other material support.
The changing of the service chiefs by president Buhari shortly after he assumed office and the relocation of military base to Maiduguri, gave more bite or rather strength to the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency.
Buhari’s visit to Germany where he attended a meeting on the invitation of the G-7, world leaders opened a new diplomatic relationship with members of the group , who promised technical and material support to stop Boko Haram and rebuild the Nigeria economy.
Moreover, President Buhari had approved the recruitment of 10,000 into the Nigeria Police Force. This, if completed, would complement the president’s vision of vi brant security outfit in the country.
Buhari had been busy taking systematic briefings from permanent secretaries from ministries and heads of federal agencies.
President Buhari, who promised to appoint ministers that will work with him has also made some deliberated political appointment into various offices such the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) amongst others.
However, many Nigerians believe there was lopsidedness in the appointment so far made but others pointed that the development was healthy as according to them, there were other appointments to be made which those geopolitical zones feeling marginalized, would be represented adequately.
It could be recalled that President Buhari had approved an intervention to pay all the public servants owed salaries across the state due to fall in revenue sharing. His intervention was principally to alleviate the suffering of many Nigerians and reduce the level of poverty.
In spite of the intervention, the monthly Federation Accounts Allocation Committee experienced a substantial jump in the month of July, 2015, largely due to the plugging of leakages. The jump came despite fall in oil revenue.
There is significant improvement in electricity distribution since Buhari assumed office as president. The 4,600 megawatts currently being generated have ensured longer hours of electricity and Nigerians, no doubt, are happy for it.
The foreign reserve has improved to $31.56n USD in spite of the falling global prices of the commodities.
From an initial $29.26n USD, the foreign reserve grew to $31.5, further securing the economy against global and domestic shocks.
OIL AND PETROLEUM
The change in the leadership of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) was a giant stride in restructuring the organization .The appointment of a new group managing Director and the slice of executive directors from eight to four by the president had repositioned the organization on a better footing.
Some refineries in Nigeria had started operations. Warri and Port Harcourt refineries had begun Operation at 60 percent capacity, hoping to close- up after a Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) is completed.
Today, Enugu, Abuja, Lagos, and Port Harcourt do not experience the usual long queues witnessed during the presidential inauguration and even few weeks after.
President Buhari recently ordered a fast-track of Ogoni clean-up, acting on a United Nations Environmental Project Report that had been long delayed by previous administrations.
He ruled out the appointment of a government delegation for this year’s Pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. By this decision, the government saved about one million U.S. dollars and N300m in local expenses.
In order to show fairness and justice, Buhari also directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to clear all the outstanding allowances of former militants studying in various institutions across the world. The delay in payment of allowances had almost led the entire amnesty programme into near-collapse. However, by changing the leadership, and giving it a new vision of Catering for the weak, the poor and the vulnerable, instead of enriching a few. Buhari had taken positive step towards empowerment, a move that was well received by the people of the Niger-Delta.
On issue of corruption, the president ordered the closure of all multiple accounts in MDAs and entrenched the use of single Treasury Account by ministries, agencies and ministerial departments, to promote transparency and accountability. After three days in the United States, Buhari was able to harmonize the genuine and concrete relationship with the United States, which faltered greatly under the previous administration.
Corruption has been described as the biggest among the challenges facing Nigeria. There is no doubt, that the level of corruption in the country is found in all the sectors of her economy and it is endemic in the system. Nigeria, which is the most populated country in Africa, has been ranked high in corruption by Transparency International Index and other notable organizations that checkmate the level of corruption in any country.
President Muhammadu Buhari who was earlier criticized for being slow and was also nick-named “Baba Go Slow” for his inability to hit the ground running shortly after he was sworn-in as president, now leaves no one in doubt that he was prepared to fulfill his campaign promises. His administration appears to have started gathering momentum especially as it concerns the anti-corruption war.
President Buhari, last week, said that the trial of former public officers who looted the national treasury under the Jonathan administration and stashed the funds in foreign banks, will commence in few weeks.
Buhari made this disclosure when he met members of the National Peace Committee led by former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
General Abubakar, however, advised President Buhari to follow due process in the prosecution of corrupt officials, reminding him that Nigeria was no longer in a military regime.
The President, who vowed to break the vicious cycle of corruption, unemployment and insecurity in Nigeria, stated that his administration would not only ensure that stolen monies stashed in foreign banks accounts were returned but that the looters must be tried.
He disclosed also that he was gathering documents which would serve as evidence against suspected culprits in the anti-corruption war.
Buhari, who regretted the sorry state of the country’s finances also told the committee that as part of his actions to address the national problems he inherited in Nigeria, he has ordered the reorganization of Nigeria’s revenue generating institutions.
The president declared that his administration was irrevocably committed to doing all within its powers to break the vicious cycle of corruption, unemployment and insecurity in Nigeria.
He said those who have stolen the national wealth “will be in court in a matter of weeks and Nigerians will know those who have short-changed them.”
“Nigeria has to break this vicious cycle before we can make progress,” he said, adding that his administration was diligently getting facts and figures pertaining to the nation’s stolen funds, before proceeding to the prosecution of identified culprits.
Buhari told General Abubakar and members of his committee that the Federal Government, under his leadership, would not only ask for the return of stolen funds that have been stashed in foreign banks, but also ensure that those who stole the funds were put on trial in Nigeria.
He explained that a single treasury account had been established for all federal revenues to ensure greater probity, transparency and accountability in the collection, disbursement and utilization of national funds.
Buhari added: “We have really degenerated as a country. Our national institutions including the Military, which did wonderfully on foreign missions in the past, have been compromised but we are doing something about it. The Military is now retraining its image, and morale has been resuscitated.
“As Petroleum minister under General Olusegun Obasanjo in the 1970s, I could not travel abroad until I had taken a memo to the Federal Executive Council, asking for estacode. Now, everybody does what he wants.
“That is why security wise and economically, we’re in trouble.”
The President had earlier in the week said that he was unwavering in the fight against corruption in the country.
He state, that corruption has no political party, no region and no ethnic group and as such, there would be no partisanship in the fight against the scourge.
Recall that President Buhari was recently accused by the Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) senate caucus that he was selective in the anti-corruption war.
The 49 member senate caucus of the (PDP) on Thursday, kicked against President Buhari’s war against corruption, saying the drive was a selective anti-graft war that “lacks transparency and fairness.”
The PDP senators at a press conference led by the Minority Leader of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, said the anti-graft war was mainly targeted at opposition politicians.
The former governor of Akwa Ibom State, who is currently being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), noted that there is no transparency in Buhari’s efforts to rid Nigeria of corruption as the administration targets its political opponents.
The opposition senators however, expressed support for the Buhari administration, saying they supported Buhari’s effort to change the country.
“The current war lacks transparency, fairness to all and appears to be aimed at political adversaries,” said the Minority Leader.
The PDP senators further condemned the action of personnel of the Directorate of Security Service (DSS) by hounding government opponents, claiming that the DSS personnel were intimidating electoral officials in Abia, Rivers and Akwa Ibom states, controlled by the PDP.
“It is on this ground that we condemn in particular, what is happening in Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Abia states where election umpires are daily arrested, their families and associates hounded, judicial officers involved in election tribunals intimidated and questioned using trumped up petitions bordering on corruption.
“Yet, these officials were part of the 2015 elections that produced President Buhari, an election adjudged to be generally free and fair by the international community. “The PDP senate caucus is worried, alarmed and shocked by the recent development in our polity where the DSS is now involved in electoral matters.”
“A situation where officials of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Rivers state, Akwa Ibom and Abia states (all PDP states) are daily being arrested, detained and questioned on politically motivated corruption allegations is worrisome and spells doom for our democracy unless the trend is reversed.
“Reports reaching the caucus has it that INEC officials are being forced by the DSS to produce falsified documents to support APC candidates’ cases before the tribunals. This is abominable and unacceptable. The president and all well-meaning Nigerians must intervene to preserve the independence of the tribunals and that of INEC…”
However, in his reaction through his media aide, Mallam Garba Shehu in a statement, the president regretted the accusation, saying it was absolutely false and unfounded.
“We have noted with regret, the allegation by members of the PDP senate caucus that the present administration is being selective and partisan in its prosecution of the war against corruption.
“We state without equivocation that the allegation is false, baseless and totally unjustifiable. For the avoidance of any doubt whatsoever, we affirm that having made his zero tolerance for corruption clear to all and sundry, President Muhammadu Buhari does not micro-manage or interfere in the daily work of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies. The wild allegation of bias and partisanship in the fight against corruption should not have come therefore, from respected and distinguished members of the senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“That claim belongs to the past and not the present. Public officials and other leaders accused of corruption by relevant agencies should plead their innocence, not malice. President Buhari’s unwavering stance is that whosoever is charged with corruption should face the law irrespective of whether they are members of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), or any other Political Party. As far as the President is concerned, corruption has no political party, no religion and no ethnic group.”
The Presidential spokesman also reminded the PDP caucus that President Buhari’s message during the campaign was to stamp out corruption in Nigeria, saying that he was wholly committed to the fight.
“It is important to remind the PDP Senate caucus and all Nigerians that right from 2003 when he started campaigning for the Presidency of Nigeria, President Buhari consistently promised to do his best to curb corruption in the country. The President remains wholly committed to fulfilling that promised and will not be deterred from the relentless prosecution of the war against corruption because he remains convinced that, as he has said, “unless Nigeria kills corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria.”
On the claim that the Presidency was meddling in the election petitions tribunal, Shehu also stated that president Buhari does not interfere in the constitutional duties of the tribunals:
He specifically mentioned Rivers, Abia and Akwa-Ibom States, saying they that the tribunals do not operate under the guidance of the President.
“The claim by the PDP senate caucus that President Buhari and his administration are meddling in election petition cases through the Department of State Services (DSS) is also untrue. The duties of the DSS and other security agencies are clearly spelt out in the laws establishing them. The Federal Government led by President Buhari does not give them instructions regarding their daily operations. Election Tribunals and the Independent National Electoral Commission in Rivers, Abia and Akwa-Ibom states do not operate under the guidance of the President.
“Any individual or group of individuals who think that their legitimate political and civil rights are infringed upon by the DSS or any institution is advised to seek protection and redress under our constitution and laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria instead of resorting to baseless allegations against the Buhari Administration.
On President Buhari’s watch the rule of law, not impurity, shall govern every aspect of life in Nigeria and there will be no room for sentiments, bias and corruption in the application of the laws of the land.”
He pointed out that the statement however reassured Nigerians of the commitment of the present administration to rid the country of corruption.
“President Buhari also wishes to re-assure all Nigerians that his administration will not discriminate against individuals or groups in the performance of its duties and that sections of the country which have not yet been reflected in appointments would be fully represented in the very near future.
As a result, the U.S. has promised more support for Nigeria in terms of technical military and intelligence to flush out Boko Haram in the North east. More importantly, the United States government also released evidence of massive looting and the links of monies stashed out of the country to Buhari in the United States. The meeting in the U.S. also attracted N27 trillion investments into the country.
President Buhari had set up an advisory committee on War Against Corruption to design an effective template for fighting corruption in the country.
To show his government’s zero tolerance for corruption, Buhari has cut down the cost of governance while channeling scarce resources to the areas of priority. Thus, government’s official travels have been reviewed so that public officers no longer engage in frivolous foreign trips.
The president had cancelled oil swap deals that had cost Nigeria billions of dollars, which gave rise to fuel queues due to differences in figures and which has muddled the country’s reputation due to multiple interpretations and reported high level corruption.
However, Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose said that President Muhammad Buhari’s only achievement in 100 days of office is the harassment of leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
Fayose also condemned Buhari for visiting former President; Good luck Jonathan with persecution despite the latter’s concession which allowed for a peaceful transition in the country. The governor made the comments in a statement released on Wednesday to analyze the president’s 100 days in office.
The statement reads: “President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is now 100 days and even through I align with most Nigerians, who opined that 100 days is too short in the life of a government, it is important to make some clarifications as regarding the administration.
“As at today ,the only achievement recorded by President Buhari’s government is the harassment of leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and those perceived as not on the same political page with the president in his party .
Former President Goodluck Jonathan and those who worked with him as well as PDP governors and leaders are now targets of harassment, and by this, the president is telling Nigerians that it does not pay to be honourable.
Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was honourable enough to allow a peaceful transition and conceded to the president even through it was obvious that his victory was questionable.
Visiting such a person and those who worked with him with persecution as being done now, is no doubt a sad reminder of the reason we have many sit tight leaders in Africa”.
“Interestingly ,some of those who worked with Dr.Goodluck Jonathan that the APC called thieves are now being appointed to manage the affairs of international organizations like the World Bank and African Development Bank”.
“In the last 100 days of President Buhari appointments made have shown the president’s insensitivity to the ethnic diversity of Nigeria and contempt for the constitution of the country.”
“While I am in total support of the fight against corruption, it is my opinion that corruption can neither be fought along political party lines nor through the media.
“What is being witnessed presently as fight against corruption is mere noise-making, witch-hunting and harassment of perceived political opponents of the president. This is more so that most of the political allies of the president and those who sponsored his election are also being accused of corruption and the president is looking the other way.”
“ I commend the president for his efforts at ending the Boko Haram insurgency and I wish to call on all Nigerians to support the President in restoring peace to the Boko Haram ravaged North Eastern part of Nigeria”
“As we look forward to the end of the honeymoon of Buhari’s presidency, I wish to state that if supposed men of honour are going underground because of possible harassment and intimidation, I, Peter Ayodele Fayose will not, because this is our fatherland. Most importantly, those regarding President Buhari as a saint should know that he is not. The president is not also the Almighty God that cannot be questioned. After all, the beauty of democracy is incredible opposition”.
“Today, I have expressed my mind concerning the 100 days of Buhari’s presidency as I did before the election. This, I have done basically to remind Nigerians that I told them then, and it is happening now.”
In another development, the National spokesman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Alhaji Lai Muhammed described President Buhari’s first 100 days as a success and blessing for Nigeria. Making this declaration in Lagos during his visit to the corporate headquarters of the Sun Publishing Ltd, Muhammed noted that things were not only getting better under Buhari, but also that Nigerians were already reaping dividend of democracy.
While declaring that Nigeria almost became a failed state under former President Goodluck Jonathans administraton, Muhammed said “within the last 100 days Buhari has achieved a lot. Things are now working in Nigeria, and I will ascribe it to Buhari . This time last year, we were celebrating corrupt people, but today, looters are being exposed. Corrupt people no longer have hiding place. Ethical revolution is on in Nigeria. Nigerians are now learning to attach much importance to character and integrity rather than resources or illicit acquisition of wealth.”
Highlighting dividends of democracy being enjoyed by Nigerians to include improved power supply, Muhammed noted that sabotage and destruction of oil pipelines had drastically reduced since May 29, 2015.
He further noted that Nigeria was almost becoming a pariah state before Buhari assumed office. “But today, Nigeria has suddenly become the toast of civilized nations. Even before he took office, he was invited to Chattam House in the United Kingdom.”
“The G-7, which comprises some of the most powerful nations in the world also invited Buhari to its summit. Buhari has also been the guest of President Barak Obama of the United States, and just recently, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon was in Nigeria.”
“The UN scribe has further invited Buhari to the UN for a summit of world leaders on security. All these are part of dividends of democracy for Nigeria. We all knew the situation before now.”
While reacting to allegations that appointments made so far by the President was lopsided in favour of certain parts of the country, to the neglect of others, Muhammed assured that Buhari would not leave out any section of the country in subsequent appointments.
“This government will not leave behind any part of the nation. The President has not forgotten any section. There are over 1,000 appointments to be made, and we should not start judging Buhari by 35 appointments he has made so far. At the full of time, everybody will be taken care of. I ‘m sure the president is mindful of all these complaints, and he is taking note of them.
“This is a government that is elected for four years. We should not be in a haste to judge it just only in 100 days”.
On fears that on-going probes by the Buhari’s administration appeared to be selective as most of the people being investigated are PDP members. Muhammed debunked that, saying that even some former APC governor and Senator are also being investigated by the ICPC and EFCC.
“ It is not right to say that these probes or investigations are selective. PDP was in power for 16years. At a point, the party had about 28 state governors. Not only was that, PDP members were in charge of several parastatals and government agencies. Therefore, if you are going to investigate, you will have more of PDP members to investigate.”
“ Buhari has also said it openly that anybody that has petition against anybody, that they should send it to the investigative agencies, and I have not seen anybody coming out to say he submitted petition against somebody and that either EFCC and ICPC refused to take action.”
“If anybody has any petition against anybody, including APC leaders, Buhari will not sweep such under the carpet. Buhari, however, believes in due process and the rule of law. He will not persecute anybody. He believes in doing things the right way”.