The clearest hunch that the March 28, 2015 election victory may have taken President Muhammadu Buhari by surprise can be felt in his dreary and befuddling handling of issues of governance so far.
Nigerians expected a swifter and pragmatic start of the administration than what they have been witnessing in the last six months. Those who imagined quick action from Buhari have strong reasons why they should hold such position, why not, this is a 72-year-old man coming with the experience of being a former Head of State and who indeed had contested for the Presidential position thrice before getting through on the fourth. But frankly speaking, Nigerians, including great admirers of the President are wondering if really their judgement of him was right.
The President himself has often acknowledged the frustration of the people on his style when he said ‘they say am baba go slow, but to me is better to go slow and get it right’ But the apprehension is not only on the snail speed of the President, the real fear is the pointer that the slow mover is perhaps headed to the wrong direction.
The framers of the 1999 constitution, the operational guide for this power game called democracy provided for a reasonable period of time after election victory and before takeoff for two main reasons. One, to enable possible litigations to be exhausted, and two to give ample time for the victor to prepare for the immediate ascent of his government upon being sworn into power.
The usual litigation that usually distracts new governments was never in existence as former President Goodluck Jonathan solved that aspect in that historic April 1st call to President Buhari, acknowledging his defeat.
From April 1 to May, 29 when this government was inaugurated, President Buhari had two full months within which to prepare and form a government, an opportunity he never took.
Soon after his inauguration President Buhari rushed to the then outgoing 7th National Assembly to secure approval for the appointment of 15 Advisers which was quickly okayed for him by the outgoing PDPled parliament. Expectedly, political watchers thought that a President in a hurry had arrived the scene. Six months after, only three of the 15 positions, Media and Publicity, Security and National Assembly Adviser positions have been filled with twelve still outstanding, apparently for want of saints to occupy it. Pundits have been at a loss why he rushed to the former assembly, when there was no urgency in his style of governance.
For the ministers that required confirmation from the Senate, it took him five months to find one person from each of the 36 states of the federation and since this is an era of slow speed, it took another one month for the equally embattled Senate to screen and confirm them.
From all indications swearing them in and assigning of portfolio is likely to take another one week or more as the Presidential spokesman told anxious newsmen that they may have to wait yet again as only ‘baba go slow’ can fix the swearing in date. In all these, one thing you must not take away from President Buhari is the fact that he is not a pretentious person. Reading his body language is usually not difficult as he often makes pronouncements that give him away.
He has never hidden his disdain for politicians and the fact remains clear that if he had his way, he would have preferred to run a government without them. Recall that he was short of saying ‘I don’t need them’ when he told France 24 international Radio station recently that he wondered the hullabaloo about the delay in appointing ministers, who to him do not do much and what you miss in their absence is usually their noise.
Under Buhari controlled system therefore, these 36 Nigerians just confirmed for ministerial position should owe their new job to the constitution that made the existence of “noisemakers” in government mandatory, otherwise this President would not have needed them.
For the geo-political region like the South East that is clearly lost in the appointment radar of President Buhari, apparently due to the so called 97 per cent political reality, they should thank the constitution.
If not for the statutory requirements, perhaps the five persons (Ogbonnaya Onu of Ebonyi state, Chris Ngige of Anambra, Prof Anthony Anwuka of Imo, Geoffrey Onyeama of Enugu state and Okechukwu Enelamah of Abia state) who have found themselves into this government, would not have been there. The South East zone has continued to record zero mark in President Buhari’s appointments so far but for the Ministerial nomination, which the law forced on him.
So when viewed against this backdrop, the people of the South East would want these noisemakers since it has become the only way through which they can get closer to the federal Government under President Buhari. There are also other reasons why these noisemakers are wanted, outside the constitutional requirements; their absence has been hugely felt in the last five months.
The fitful start of the administration even with the experience of the President can be traced to the obvious absence of the cabinet. The comatose nature of the economy and the apparent lull in virtually all sectors of governance under Buhari’s watch cannot be unconnected with the glaring absence of political sectorial heads, the ministers.
As the cabinet takes off, Nigerians expect to immediately begin feeling the impact of change and for the fulfillment of the numerous campaign promises made to them by the President and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). The school children nationwide will be looking forward to being fed daily. Millions of unemployed youths would be expecting jobs. Rather than devalue the currency as being proposed by some experts, Nigerians should be expecting one Naira to one dollar.
Even though like the famous American comedian Dick Gregory once mused, “political promises are much like marriage vows. They are made at the beginning of the relationship between candidates and voters, but are quickly forgotten”.
Nigerians should hold Buhari and APC accountable to their own promises because it is upon them that they were voted into power. May God bless the noisemakers as they settle down for the desired noise for the country.