First 100 days of nothingness or what?

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President Muhammadu Buhari arrives Nigeria after attending the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Japan
President Muhammadu Buhari

The Insight by Lateef Adewole

Let me start by congratulating President Muhammadu Buhari, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, and their party, APC, for their victory at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) on Wednesday, 11th of September, 2019. Irrespective of the misgivings that might have followed the rulings from many citizens, that is already now in the past now. The petitioner, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his party PDP, have rejected the outcome of the tribunal and will appeal the judgement at the Supreme Court. We all look forward to that.

That tribunal outcome seems to be “expected” by many and therefore, did not elicit much excitement. This view will be based on which side the viewer belongs. While many APC members and supporters of the president would naturally have hoped for him to win, given that he is the incumbent and the difficulty in upturning presidential election victory in Nigeria. The petioners too, must have also hoped for victory, possibly with reservation. What reservation?

That is premised on the opinion that the process is “compromised” from inception, long before the case came up. This is based on the series of events that happened to the judicial arm of government, many of which were orchestrated by the executive arm. It is believed that those things were “deliberate and pre-planned”, in anticipation of future necessity, the future which is now here. The actions of the executive on the judiciary were seen as a way to intimidate them and whip them into line, so as to “manipulate” the operations in that arm.

So, even if the presidential tribunal’s judgements were actually on their merits, those previous actions have jeopardised them and eroded the integrity of such judgements. They merely seen as judgement and not justice! That is the power of “perception”. That said.

By September 6th, 2019, this administration clocked 100 days in office for the new term. This concerned the executive arm at the federal and state levels, with the exception of the 6 stagerred governorship elections. Each of the 30 states sworn-in a governor either afresh or for the second term. This culture of evaluating performances of political office holders in their first 100 days was copied from USA.

Some people may argue that 100 days is too short to do this but as the Yorubas will say: “omo tí yíò jé àsàmú, kékeré l’óti ńsenu sámú sámú” (a child, who will grow up sharp would begin to exhibit such trait at thier infant stage). Today in Nigeria, the overwhelming perception is that nothing much has been done or achieved by the majority of our elected political office holders in their first 100 days in office. Thanks to the lacklustre ways in which the federal government led the country since May 29th, 2019, after swearing-in. They setted the pace.

Only some sparks from few governors, most of who were newly elected, who have shown seriousness, focus and preparedness for the business of governance for which they were elected. Many others seem to be merely occupying space and clueless about what to do. Few new ones have engaged in blame-games. They must have copied that from the present FG administration’s first term, where they blame past administrations for virtually everything that was wrong or went wrong, for four years. One new governor even “acquired” a new bride, in similar version of what Yorubas called; “ìyàwó orí oyè”. What a colossal waste!

As for many of the returning governors, they are just following in the usual “tradition” that is common with second term. Now that there is no third term elections at stake, they can relax and give no damn about good governance. The pressure to perform so as to win the tickets and re-elections for second term is no longer there. Many consider their second term as the period to fully “recoup their investments”. They reduce their states’ financial commitments to projects so as to free enough resources for self-enrichment.

This can be seen as pervading in Nigeria today. Taking on FG and each governor, and analysing them will be unnecessarily cumbersome. A general overview will just be done. Like said earlier, even if monumental achievements might not be recorded in 100 days, that period is reasonable enough for any serious and prepared person elected, to make necessary policy pronouncements, give policy directions, and take foundational actions that will bring them to fruition.

READ: Lagos passport office extends work days

How much unserious can any government be, which has not put a cabinet in place to form a government, after this long? At least, President Buhari did better than his performance in 2015, where it took him six months before nominating his ministers. This time around, it took just over two months, after unending pressure and criticism were directed at him. That timeline was still seen as unacceptable, considering he is an incumbent and won his reelection over five months earlier.

As at today, about 19 out of 36 state governors are yet to form their cabinets. This has made those states seem redundant. Nothing much is happening there. The most surprising state is Lagos, though, the cabinet was formed few weeks ago. Contrary to what an “insider” friend of mine within the Lagos APC wanted me to believe, the jury out there is that; Lagos is lagging behind so far.

This is unlike Lagos that we knew, which was always the “pace setter” (apologies to Oyo state that owns that slogan). The impact of the new government is yet to be felt by Lagosians as anticipated. I can only hope that the issues I raised in my previous article: “Sanwo-Olu and the burden of mandate’s ownership”, have not started playing out.

Lagosians have been left to reminisce the days of Ambode and Fashola (first term) after their 100 days in office. We also hope that Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu will rise to the occasion, going forward. In no time now, we will be counting one year in office. What will his achievements be by then? At such milestone, Ambode commissioned 114 roads in the state. Two in each of the 20 LGA and 37 LCDA, among other things. The time is ticking.

However, the real owner of the “pace-setter” slogan, Oyo state, seems to have actually taken on that appellation and living it. The newly elected governor of the state, Engr. Seyi Makinde has been on fire (literally). He is the new sensational political “whizkid” on the block, since the coming of this era.

He has shown the kind of results you get when preparedness fuses with competence. Immediately he was sworn-in, he declared free education up to secondary school level. He banned the nefarious activities of the members of NURTW in Oyo state. He has formed his cabinet, which included the a 27-year old as commissioner, who some even considered as being from the opposition. He approved five hundred thousand (500,000) naira for all Oyo state indigenes in Law schools. Increased car and housing loans to workers. He has been commissioning schools refurbished, provides free books and has increased the budgetary allocations to education from previous 3% to 10%, and promised continous yearly increments. And many other things.

The most significant and shocking was that, without being prompted (unlike those who were coarsed to do so, despite their promise before their election), he publicly declared his assets, a massive one at that, which was put at about 48.5 billion naira. Incredible. He personally handed over a copy of his asset declaration form to the press to be published. He is the current torch-bearer of “transparency and good governance”. Only late former President Yar’adua did the same. Surprisingly, both of them are of PDP, the “supposedly” corrupt party. This only corroborate the position of some of us who believe that, there is no different between APC and PDP. But that it is individuals in them that can choose the difference they want to make.

Another person is Dr. Bello Mutawalle of Zamfara state. Someone I called “accidental” governor (with all due respect). This is because, it was providence that eventually dropped that position on his lap. Even though he contested for it, he lost woefully. He and his colleagues in Zamfara PDP were beneficiaries of the APC’s shenanigans and politics of greed in that state. However, he hit the ground running and has faced squarely, the terrible security challenges that the state was previously known for. Now, Zamfara is no longer in the news mainly for killings due to banditry there. That seems to have been “transferred” to the president’s home state now, Katsina.

Profesor Babagana Zulum of Borno has been leading by example too. His penchant for paying unscheduled visits to government’s MDAs has put the workers in the state on their toes. He has been making efforts to improve the security situation, with his supports to the security agents battling the insurgents. All efforts are also geared towards returning the displaced people back to their communities from their IDP’s camps. Likewise on education and health.

Governors Abdulrahaman Abdurrasak of Kwara, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun, Fayemi if Ekiti and some others have been making impacts in their respective states, in spite of the short time. Those our stars of 2015 have relaxed. Kaduna, Rivers and few other states fall into this category.

Some of the federal government’s strides are also worthy of mention, with either positive or negative consequences. The president “directed” the CBN to stop giving forex for the importation of some food items. He also ordered the closure of Nigerian borders across the country. These are good measures for the larger benefits of Nigeria and Nigerians. However, they looked like actions taken on the spur of the moment. They seemed not thoroughly thought-out.

Although, the border closure will prevent smuggling of illegal goods, with expected increase in local productions, and the infiltration of weapons will be reduced for security reasons, there are attendant pains being inflicted on the citizens. Many genuine business owners (importer and exporters) are having difficult times moving their goods across the borders. This is impacting negatively on their businesses. Also, the prices of necessary food items under forex restrictions are already skyrocketing. This is because, we are yet to be self-sufficient in their productions.

The budgeting process has been kick-started earlier than in the past, with the submission of the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) 2020-2022, to the national assembly. The implementation of the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), “not ruga o” (lol), has also begun. Lagos-Ibadan expressway rehabilitation works have started. All these are positive developments.

The federal executive council has approved the proposal to increase the Value Added Tax (VAT) from 5 to 7.2 percent. While that may ordinarily not be a problem, the question is; what happened to all the revenues that government have been collecting in the past? Of what impacts are they to the ordinary Nigerians? The current situation where 70 percent of our total revenue is spent on recurrent expenditure on less than 5 percent of the entire population, is ludicrous and completely unacceptable.

And to now add more burden on the same citizens, to finance the profligate and reckless lifestyles of political office holders is criminal. It is is unacceptable. Let the governments at all levels first cut their costs of governance to the minimum. The savings from that should be used to provide services to the populace. When there is need for more money to provide more infrastructures for all, the whole country will see it and know. Then, such insensitive action can be justified.

May God continue to guide us aright.

God Bless Nigeria.

Lateef Adewole is a political analyst and social commentator can be reached by email lateefadewole23@gmail.com or via WhatsApp +2348020989095

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