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Buhari’s 100 days: The General scores as solitary noise maker

BUHARI

“I have been a governor before and this question keeps coming. One hundred days in the life of a government with a mandate of four years is insignificant. There is always a learning period. You may say he was a military Head of State before but it is different. In military dictatorship there is nothing like the National Assembly; you give orders and nobody will question your orders. But the situation is quite different from a civilian government where you have to lobby. 

“So, I do not want to use 100 days to assess a sitting president. But so far, so good! What is going for Buhari is the perception of Nigerians that he is an incorruptible leader.

“The integrity and what he came with to government is what is helping him. If you go to the North and you mention Buhari’s name, ‘’Sai Buhari’’, they come like bees. 

“Some of them do not even know who he is. You can spend money and Buhari will not spend and people will trek 15 kilometers to support him. 

“That is the mystery he has built for himself over the years because people see him as incorruptible and straightforward. With this change mantra that they floated and anti-corruption as the vessel, people seem to believe what he is doing”.

– DSP Alamiseigha, ex-Bayelsa Governor (Vanguard newspaper interview, September 19, 2015). 

It is well past the first 100 days since General Muhammadu Buhari took the oath of office as President of the federal republic. 

With the testimony of one who has every reason to say ill of General Buhari and the APC Government that took over from his boy, Jonathan what more do we need to say on 100 days of the government? But then, write we must to keep a date with history.

So far the General, our freshly minted President has sent names of what he says are the first batch of his nominees for Ministerial appointments at the very last minute of his pledge that he will name his cabinet team before or by the end of September.

His studied silence on the issue of Ministers, his refusal to be railroaded by all of us interested in one kind of appointment or the other in Government has heightened tension among the Nigerian elite. But with the masses of the people and indeed many not so “massey” this added to the General Buhari mystique. 

While waiting with bated breath to authoritatively learn who and who are on the list next Tuesday October 6th a whole industry has sprung up on lists of supposed Ministers in the social media initially, and not to be outdone the mainstream media too joined in titillating the palate of an impatient and inquisitive clientele. Some post names that sound so authoritative that one tends to go with them. Many we would go with because they favour the choices we’d love to see around the General, either because we know them in person or in the media, or because we feel they are the type who are capable of assisting General to deliver on the hopes we have so pinned on him. Many we wistfully hope to see Tuesday at Senate unveiling of the list because of the roles we see they played in getting us the General to lead the Change we, the people have been hankering for for 30 and 16 or more recently 13 years that Buhari has offered himself for service as President.

Be that as it may, my reading of the national political barometer says so far, so good. That is no doubt the verdict from Change Advocates who have rooted for General Buhari and stuck to him for President even before Ministers are named. 

That is not to demean the huge role Ministers are expected to play when they eventually come aboard despite the General himself downplaying their immense role, as mere “noise makers”, when he said in a media interview abroad that civil servants, the so-called technocrats (as if there aren’t any among the political class, themselves recruited from the larger society like the techno-civil-servant-crats) do all the work (I guess he means groundwork, backgrounding etc) while Ministers merely make noise. Adding, that is what we all do, he said, encompassing himself indicating a remarkable but hallmark self deprecating humility. 

But then see the General’s kind of “noise making” that has retuned the civil service, the police, the DSS, the EFCC, the CCB, the ICPC and the Nigeria Army. His kind of “noise” literally by only one man, the Oga at The Top, has changed the fortunes of NEPA. As I write now, well after 2am, Saturday (morning/night) I am enjoying NEPA and the comforts thereof. Simply because of the body language of this lone noisemaker we now enjoy the availability of fuel at N87 all over at petrol filling stations. 

And yet again much as we would like to see a more active involvement of the President’s wife in matters that affect the broad constituency she was part of drawing in and attracting to vote for him and their concerns, women and children, this lone General’s kind of noise has kept a tight lid so far on that front. He has stopped the initial indication of a high class First Lady blitz under his wife as was the tradition in the years the locusts ate. 

I am of the class of Nigerians who argue that General should not have a First Lady’s Office if he had promised at the campaign that he won’t but we, the people, still expect the Wife of the Pesident to come up with some valuable support to the General. Of course not quite like the Constitutionally questionable bazaar of the past, especially the recent past — of illiteracy and divisive ethnic rascality of the 6 years of clueless dumbness under the Jonathan PDP or even the one we saw of the cabal that kept a sickly Umar Yaradua on seat and milked him for what he was worth. 

If the General is kind and considerate enough to the huge constituency his wife could serve and he suppresses his noisemaking on this home front he can still organise a more tempered version of the President’s consort support group. 

He would be in good company here from a more positive historical past. Recall we were blessed with such cerebral women as Nana Asmau the daughter of Sheik Danfodio who was a valuable compliment to the rulers of the Greater part of what is now known as Nigeria and other neighboring states. We also had such great women as Mary Slessor of Calabar. And of recent there were the Ransome Kutis, the Gambo Sawabas, the Tinubu’s, Asabe Rezas, Bola Ogumbos and even our own Najaatu. But with the coalescing of forces and power under the Wife of the President matters in this sphere that can only be so tackled will be so effected from the home front via the Wife. Of course not as the First Lady concept that had been so bastardized; and all this with the needed efficiency. At least General will be freed of the troubles from the home front so far stumped by his very strict and stern handling thus far with little “noise making” to talk of. 

His Senior Press and Media Assistant, Malam Garba Shehu was recently on hand to efficiently explain how the Wife of Mr. President and her Office will work recently when the heat on the matter forced a statement from the General. He outlined the basics of what seems like a workable plan that he says is being prepped, one that no one can fault. 

You never know with the General, despite all this he may decide to still retain the total public clamp on the Wife he seems disposed to. And it won’t matter much to the mass of the people who asked him to lead them to a New Nigeria. Even if this may seem somewhat unfair, I must hasten. After all, it is the media and the opposition that deliberately and somewhat mischievously focused so much unwarranted attention on the Wife, using the experiences of the recent past as background.

Anyway, I digress way too much here. 

So back to the issue on the table. The issue of General doing what we see as so far so good even from the point of view of those who have no reason to say so. And he is the only “Noise Maker” (aka Minister) on ground so far. 

My point: General was in no way demeaning the position of Ministers seeing that he has written himself into the same “Noise Zone”. And see what his kind of “Noise” has done these past three months or so. 

On the journey so far, What has the General done? Practically? Has he met our expectations? Has he fulfilled his pledges to us? What are our expectations? I don’t think as a journalist I should be in the business of praise singing. Even if I also sport the cap of a politician that I cannot do without at all times. Even with the fact that General is a hero you can’t fail to be starstruck with on associating with him even from a safe distance. 

Our expectations, the mass of the people’s basic expectations are that he will start Nigeria afresh. That he will Hit the Reset Button ala then US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Russia on a new foreign policy matrix. We expect that he will be the same man we have known all his public life: Mr. Clean, Mr. Integrity. That he won’t ever condone corruption.

That as a non-nonsense soldier he will ensure the most basic concern that tilted the scales in his favour in 2015: security of lives and property. 

That he will halt the menace of terrorists making life miserable for us all from the North East, the North West, the Middle belt, the Niger Delta, the South East and the South West. The most public terror menace is of course the Yusufiyya Boko Haram (BH). But kidnappers too are as much an issue, as are the “Fulani” marauders and bandits adding to BH in the north west. So too the ethnic militias of the middle belt, the robbers of the south west and south east as well as the terrorists whose focus is oil theft and banditry in the Niger delta.

For now the General’s focus on the terror scourge in the north east is on course. Thankfully there are no more cases of towns overrun by the terror group. Rearguard action of suicide and opportunistic bombings appears targeted to retain relevance for the group before the endgame catches up with them.

On the integrity call General has kept to his pledges. On Ministers some can argue he has fallen short here. Because he only sent in the first batch, whatever the number, before end of September. Will he send in the balance by the Tuesday date the Senate sits to unveil the names? Will he send in more by the time the screening starts? 

Still on his avowed integrity, on his being Mr. Clean, he declared his assets and made it public before his first 100 days as he pledged to so do, and his deputy too. 

The lean declaration confirmed what we, the people, expected and hoped for. 

No doubt most LG chairmen in the past 16 years, if not all of them, should be expected to declare a lot more than he did. 

We all know he was a former GOC, a former Governor of a state that gave birth to the six states in the North East. He was a former Oil Minister and founder of NNPC. He was a former head of state. He was a former head of half the federal government under General Sani Abacha when he served as chairman of PTF, the most effective intervention agency ever set up by any government in Nigeria awash with petrodollars. And he declared a mere N30 million. 

And the General who had declared assets at least four times has challenged Nigerian journalists to go and check his previous declarations for comparative verification. 

This brings us to the issue of tackling graft and whatnot in governance just as per the covenant he entered with the Nigerian people. He reaffirmed his saintly status in the eyes of the people by saying he had no beef with Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki. That he will expect him to sort himself out with the law. After all he has himself gone public with his own declaration of material assets and worth including his 270 heads of cattle as a bona fide Fulaniman. His deputy has done so too including his mortgaged flat in Bradford (or Bedford?). 

The number three is now under the microscope, even as politics and witch hunt are cited by those who want to sweep the issue under the carpet to obviously test the waters and see wether we will begin a gradual return to the era of anything goes. 

By General’s actions thus far and his public stand of not seeking to cover anyone he has comforted us, the people who voted Change. 

He has comforted us the more by his 55th anniversary address when he said he bears no one any ill will over (the many ills done him and us, the nation) in the past. But that all who have any such cause to worry should be ready to face the ghosts of their past. 

That is fair warning that the fireworks will soon start in earnest. 

Exorcism can’t work unless one faces the ghosts from one’s past. 

This confirms General won’t allow pilferage or deliberate misapplication of our resources, the peoples resources. As such we should expect there won’t ever be a repeat of the misdirection, misrouting and deliberate rerouting and diversion of monies meant to secure us that made security a nightmare over the past few years of the worst maladaministration the PDP has afflicted us with. Remember, upto one-third of our petronaira budget was said to go to security these past six years or so. And we are told only recently by the nation’s top soldier, Chief of Defence Staff, AVM Alex Badeh that no new tools of war needed to fight terror had been procured since 2006. He only made this scary revelation on the very day he was retiring and being pulled out of the Army. 

Of course the NSA Colonel Sambo Dasuki under whose direction billions of Naira were said to have been smuggled out to South Africa in a private pastor’s jet claims otherwise. Even if the gallant outgunned fighting Nigerian troops and their wives in the North East Theatre of War say the NSA lied as they were regularly dumped for slaughter in batches infront of a better armed enemy with inadequate weapons. 

The northeast terror problem began in 2009. Yaradua took over from Obasanjo in 2007. And no worthy tools had been procured since Obasanjo’s time in 2006 the CDS told a shocked nation. 

It is because of these and similar tales of inexplicable lunacy in governance that Nigeria cried for Buhari and his Integrity to kill Corruption before it killed the nation. Corruption had literally held us, the people, hostage. And it is in our names the rogues reign by their recycled devious electoral wins. 

Killing corruption will enhance security was the view of the Nigerian masses. Killing corruption will provide employment and quality education etc. Killing corruption will sanitize the electoral process. And today Nigerians enjoy a more secure life even with checkpoints gone.

By mere body language and a very few direct statements from the lone “noisemaker” on the block thus far Mr President, Muhammadu Buhari, our favorite General has unleashed an unprecedented frontal assault on corruption. This is the foundation needed to return our derailed nation back on track. 

We thus expect a serious set of “noisemakers” (Ministers, Special Advisers, especially and others) who will assist the “chief noisemaker” (Mr. President) with equal zeal and integrity. 

They are to firmly ensure the Reset Button in Nigeria works with as much or even more efficiency than the one that Hilary Clinton and Obama Reset in US/Russia relations. That Nigeria at 55 will, like the Phoenix, be truly reborn; after all we have been through the crucible, burnished and are all set and ready for our date with destiny. 

So, General, you are on course. Even DSP Alamisiegha (Alams), Jonathan’s boss and sacked Governor of Bayelsa says so. But that shouldn’t stop the antigraft train catching up with him if he is in its sights. 

That is our covenant with You, General Sir!, Mr. President Sir! Aye! Aye!, Sir!

By Kabiru M. Gwangwazo

(kamgwangwazo@yahoo.com)

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