We voted for change didn’t we? By Muyiwa Adetiba

 

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The Buhari Government recently celebrated its hundred days in office, if celebration is the word. The ruling administration was certainly not in a celebratory mood. It claimed it was in for a marathon; not a hundred meter dash and did everything to discourage any rolling out of drums.

This certainly was a change from other previous administrations that went to town celebrating real and imagined achievements. And we voted for change didn’t we? So we should not be too perturbed if someone decides not to follow the old order.

This however did not matter to the many Nigerians who felt this was not part of change and insisted on marking Buhari’s hundred days in office with or without his permission. Typically, the score cards were as wide and as subjective as their respective ethnic and political leanings.

There were some who believe, and argued forcefully to prove their point, that this government is the worst thing to happen to Nigeria since the dreaded Ebola. One ‘celebrated ’columnist, who had never seen anything good in Buhari was true to type in his analysis.

There was nothing diplomatic about the language used and message of hate he meant to send out. Being pessimistic is one thing, being negative is another thing altogether. According to him, every step made, every decision so far taken, every appointment so far made were actions of a man who was determined to destroy Nigeria.

There was no attempt at balance. None of understanding of the kind of economy and the Nation State that was inherited by this Government.

And speaking of balance, there were many others who believe from their writings, that this administration is the best thing that ever happened to Nigeria since we discovered oil. They made us believe that we have a near genius in government who has done no wrong and can do no wrong.

One writer tried very hard to defend the lopsided appointments so far made by saying they were all on merit and Nigeria should move away from ethnic considerations when it comes to appointments as long as the man performs. Now, I am all for merit and I believe Nigerians put too much emphasis on state of origin to the detriment of performance.

I have also argued with friends that having your townsman in a position of authority does not guaranty that your life would be touched in any positive way by his appointment. But that is not to ignore the constitution which says our appointments must have a federal character.

Besides, common sense if not equity, means you should run an inclusive government. And I certainly don’t believe that only one section of the country has the monopoly of merit. Never mind that those who are shouting the loudest now, were the worst offenders in the last government. But then it is early days yet. After all it is just hundred days!

Others have talked about improved electricity and the refineries that are now working without giving any recognition to what the previous administration must have done to get them to that stage. That is disingenuous. Finally: Nigerians have been used to certain things which we do not expect to change—even when we voted for change.

We are used, for example, to having the cabinet announced within the first couple of weeks of a new government. It is a sign that a government is now in place and ready to work. But very often, what really happens is that the President has no clue as to the ability of those he is bringing to his cabinet and the people who have forwarded the names are not particularly interested in competence or performance; only political patronage.

The result is that the Nation gets short changed as sloppiness and incompetence continue to reign. Surely this should change if really we voted for change. Also, the abuse and recklessness of the Ministers which we all agree must be curbed can only be done if accountability returns to the Civil Servants. This cannot be done if we keep rushing in Ministers without changing the mind-set of the Civil Service.

Having said these, surely you don’t need 150 days (including the time he was President Elect) to do due diligence? The people that he is going to use are not from Mars. And if they were, we are now in the communication age.

This administration inherited a very bad economy. There is no sugar coating it. There was a time this country earned 120, 130 dollars per barrel at two million barrels per day. Where did the money go? It galls that the Jonathan administration forgot to make hay when the sun was shining.

There is no critical area that we can say was brought up to par despite the huge financial windfall. Now we are doing 40 dollars and people expect the economy not to be affected. In fact, it is a pointer to the resilience of our country that we have not been brought to our knees. But we will soon be if a well articulated economic programme is not announced soon.

I think this government has been too tardy on that front. The speed with which it moved against Boko Haram is the same speed it should have used to tackle the economy. Fever hardly improves without drugs and the pills are usually bitter. Fever also gets worse if unattended to. The economy must be addressed: NOW.

But the change that I see which heartens me is intangible. But it is there; and it did not take a hundred days to achieve. It is in the air and you feel it as surely as you feel the harmatan chill in December. There is a seriousness around governance which we have not seen in years. And it is not just in the area of corruption alone.

People are beginning to feel accountable, or better put, that the system will make them feel accountable. The culture of impunity is threatened not just in the public sector, but also in the private domain.

The seriousness and the growing discipline, even among the polity, are palpable. Leakages are also being plugged and ostentatious life style is reducing. And with it is a grudging respect for Nigeria in the international community.

This is indeed a positive change and shows what can be achieved with a different attitude to governance. It seems we are no longer a country of anything goes.

VANGUARD