Buhari: 100 days of twists and turns By Iheanacho Nwosu

buhari

This is a special week for President Muhammadu Buhari. Though there have been public attention  on him since mounting the saddle of government on May 29, a verdict will be passed on him and his fledgling administration  this week.

Maybe, given the option to choose Buhari may readily not endorse this week’s exercise. But, Nigerians, as a matter of compulsion, will, in couple of days to come, examine and pass judgment on the President’s style and achievements in the last 100 days.

Marking100 days in office has been, inadvertently, etched in Nigeria’s democracy. Informed individuals , especially the opposition look forward to it . For a number of reasons, more Nigerians, even the international community seem keener to assess the road so far plied by the incumbent administration in the last 100 days. Buhari bumped former President Goodluck Jonathan from power on March 28. It was the first time an opposition party candidate routed a sitting President. And that is why groundswell of expectations are dotting  the steps of the President.

The President and his henchmen are aware of these expectations and had, severally, yelled that Buhari is not a miracle worker . While such explanation may be in order, it is easily dismissed by many . It is on account of that that many are jostling to rate President Buhari and his government in the last 100 days.

The body language of the President clearly shows that he is not ready for such scrutiny. His Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, last weekend, issued a statement disclaiming documents  purportedly from the table of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the campaign to the effect that the President will showcase 100 achievements on diverse fronts after 100 days in office.

Shehu’s statement read “there is a certain document tagged “One  hundred things  Buhari will do in 100 days’ and the other ‘My Covenant With Nigerians’. Both pamphlets bore the authorized party logo but as the Director of Media and Communications in that campaign I did not fund or authorize any of those .

“I can equally bet my last kobo  that candidate Buhari did not see or authorize those publications .

“Sequel to the publications, ,expectations have been raised unreasonably that as President, Muhammadu Buhari would wave his hands and Nigeria’s problems -insecurity, corruption, unemployment, poor infrastructure etc would disappear.”

Although Shehu is uncomfortable with the huge expectation placed on the shoulder of his principal, he believes Buhari deserves adulation and encomiums from Nigerians on the feat he has achieved in the last three months.

Hear him “”President Buhari has given the job his best shot and the whole country is saying that we never had it so good . He has re-instituted  the values of hardwork and administrative efficiency .

“The President says time without number that this country needs to fix governance and that he won’t tolerate laziness .

“In the area of economic management, Nigerians are seeing things happen that they thought were not possible in so short a time . He didn’t put a kobo to finance the power sector. Yet reading his body language alone and knowing that there are things you cannot do and get away with under Buhari ,electricity supply all over the country has risen to unprecedented heights.

“In this country appointments and removal from office are done usually in accordance with a spoils system. A new government sacks officials on the basis only that it did not appoint them but the predecessor administration did. President Buhari has shown that his government is different . He wants to look at each case on its merit and it is clear by now that he is not ready to surrender the country to burnt out politicians . Technocrats will have a big place in his administration . He has appointed no ministers yet  but the government is running smoothly”.

She continued “In this period of three months government certainly deserves a pat on the back for improved power, reform in the energy sector , foreign relations , fight against corruption and insurgency and the fact of Nigerians being at peace , not only among themselves but with their neighbours and the rest of the world”.

He predicted  “President Buhari will turn out to be a leader in the tradition of Lee Kuan-Yu and India’s current reform minded Prime Minister , Modi, with strong and  clear emphasis on detail and execution . He may however differ from them by not micro-managing things”.

Nobody would be surprised that Shehu exalted President Buhari to high heavens. In fact it would have been shocking if he had praised him sparingly.

Bright side of the 100 days 

The President has , expectedly, attracted knocks here and there in the last three months but has also received huge kudos and thumps up in the handling of some sectors and challenges. Among them are fight against insurgency, corruption war, energy crisis and foreign affairs.

In the last couple of months Nigerians have not been in doubt about the commitment of the administration in battling Boko Haram . Soon after being inaugurated he visited  Chad, Cameroon, and South Africa and Benin Republic in a bid to strengthen the existing understanding in the fight against sect. Last month he appointed new Service Chiefs and other top security officers  and handed them three months to see off the sect. The military command centre, based on the directive of the President has been relocated to Maiduguri.

While many have lauded the renewed vigour in tackling insurgency , they have also been taken  aback that bombings have, arguably been on the increase in Yobe and Borno states .

Beyond Africa Buhari  also participated in the G7 conference that held in Berlin, Germany and was equally  the guest of the United States government in July.

The key area that Buhari would be remembered as having made a mark in the last 100 days is in the war on corruption . The  Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC ) has been on the trail of some notable people . However, the development has attracted attention, has not enjoyed much plaudits from Nigeria. It is, at best, seen as mere smokescreen.

The last few months would be remembered as a season when civil servants were kept on their toes. Permanent Secretaries, on daily basis brief the President on programmes and plans of their ministries.

Several civil servants are unlikely to forget the President for granting bailout to governors with which their arrears of salaries were off-set.

Dark side of the 100 days 

Buhari has not been insulated from criticisms in the last few months. His major criticism has bothered on the lopsided appointments he has made. He is accused of  favouring the North in key  appointments. The development has made some to accuse him of habouring an ethnic agenda and questioned his claim to be fair to every section of the country. His Special Adviser on Media and Publicity , Femi Adesina, has allayed fears that any part of the country would be neglected in the appointments. Whether the promise is taken in good faith by many is another thing.

Buhari is not pummeled only on the issue of alleged lopsided appointments, he has attracted strident criticisms for running his government without cabinet in the last 100 days. Some lawyers even went the extra mile to accuse him of engaging in illegality.

Renowned lawyer, Prof Ben Nwabueze (SAN) in a recent piece, aside questioning the constitutionality of running  government without ministers said, the President, so far, is running a government of ‘personal rule’ .

He wrote “As for President Buhari’s regime, it is too early to classify it, beyond saying that it is, so far, not an institutional government, but a regime of personal rule, the main institution i.e. a council of ministers, to advise and assist him not having as yet been constituted. In the mean time, the nation is all expectancy, waiting to see whether he is truly a democrat as he, in his post-election statement, declared himself to be, or whether he is going to conduct the affairs of the country in the way his antecedents as former army commander and head of the military government, would lead us to expect. In any case, he should bring to an end, this unconstitutional regime of personal rule by announcing his ministerial nominees without further delay.

What is said in this write-up is applicable to some newly elected state governors who also rule without commissioners apparently taking a cue from the President.”

Nwabueze stressed “The consequences of the President not having ministers or not consulting with them collectively as a council are that his exercise of the functions of government noted earlier, is largely unconstitutional. By making it mandatory for the President to establish offices of ministers and, with the approval of the Senate to appoint persons to such offices, and by casting upon him, the obligation to hold regular meetings with the vice-president and ministers for the purpose of advising him on the exercise of his executive functions, the constitution does clearly manifest an intention that the President is not to govern without the restraining and moderating influence of the collective advice of an executive council. “Clearly therefore, in a situation where the President refuses or neglects to establish ministerial offices and to appoint persons to them or where, having appointed ministers, he refuses or neglects to hold regular meetings with them collectively as a council for the purpose of getting their advice on his executive actions, the administration of government by him in these circumstances would be a violation of both the spirit and letters of the Constitution, no matter how benevolent, liberal or beneficial to the public his actions may be. “I am of the view”, said the learned President of the Federal Court of Appeal, Justice Maman Nasir, “that if the Governor…….refuses to hold these regular meetings, he constitutes himself as a dictator and this will be in my view, not only contrary to the spirit of the Constitution but is clearly a breach of specific provisions of this section.” Lawal Kagoma v. The Governor of Kaduna State & Others, Ibid.

“What the decision of the Court of Appeal in the Lawal Kagoma case means, in clear, unequivocal language, is that the administration of government by a President without the restraining and moderating influence of a council of ministers is unconstitutional, null and void. A president under our type of Constitution ruling without ministers tantamounts, in an approximate or loose sense of the term, to a dictatorship but not in a strict sense, since a dictator, defined in the dictionary as “a person exercising absolute authority”, cannot co-exist with the system of limitations on power established by the Nigerian Constitution.”

Nobody has stepped out to fault Nwabueze’s submission neither has anyone applauded it publicly. However , as the nation takes a holistic view on the administration of President Buhari in the last 100 days, the truth or otherwise of Nwabueze’s claims will take  centre stage.

SUN