So now it is 100 days of the Muhammadu Buhari Presidency, and there is so much ado about it, almost like it is the time to carry out the first in a series of continuous assessment tests. The man has all of 1,461 days of his four-year term. So what is so fetish about the first 100 days as if he was expected to resolve all our problems within that period? But then, I recall that Buhari arrived the Presidency on the wings of ‘Change’, the agenda of the All Progressives Congress and waving the party’s broom, which many might have mistaken for a magic wand.
But guess what, there is a difference between campaign promises and citizens’ wishes on the one hand and reality of governance on the other hand. That seems to have dawned on everyone already. And the earlier we come to terms with it, the better for everyone so we know that real change cannot happen at the speed of light.
On Buhari’s emergence, I ran a series I called ‘My change wish list’. So far, I am glad to say the President has answered to some of these points, and if I may add, within the celebrated 100 days. Not that I cared if it happened so early or later, provided it was real. Here are some of my wishes which have so far been answered.
I had called on the President to limit the number of his political appointees to its barest minimum. I was specific that we do not need more than 20 ministers but that having regard to the provisions of the constitution, he should not exceed 37 ministers. I have yet to know if this would be answered until the President appoints ministers. But on his number of aides, the President requested Senate approval to appoint just 15, much fewer than we have ever had in recent times. If he sticks with that, he would have met my wish. But I also asked him to design clear job descriptions for every appointee to avoid overlaps and thus cut inefficiency. I still look forward to seeing that.
Another wish I made was for the President to ensure that proper audits are carried out when due and the reports of such audits implemented. The President recently directed the Auditor-General of the Federation to ensure that all outstanding audit queries are responded to within one month and every new one must henceforth be responded to within a day.
On the issue of cost of governance, I called on the President to show leadership by ensuring a drastic reduction in the budget of the Presidency and by extension the Executive arm so as to be on the right moral platform to request similar reduction from the other arms. Until I see his budget proposal for 2016, I may not be able to say conclusively that we are there. But I was thrilled to hear that the President and his vice are taking pay cuts, added to the reduction in the number of personal aides.
On corruption, I called for the immediate audit of certain government agencies which currently operate in an opaque manner, detrimental to the wellbeing of Nigeria and its citizens. These include the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation and the Central Bank of Nigeria. Happily, the makeover of the NNPC has started and I hope that of the CBN will soon happen.
No doubt the president has carried out a lot more changes, especially in the area of anti-corruption, an area that has become synonymous with his person. On Thursday, he and the vice-president finally issued a statement detailing the information they filed in their assets declaration with the Code of Conduct Bureau.
But it seems the citizens are in a hurry to feel much more changes than have been seen, especially in Buhari constituting the full complements of his cabinet. September is here already, the month he promised to appoint ministers. While at it, he must expeditiously reconstitute the Independent National Electoral Commission lest the governorship elections in Kogi and Bayelsa states run into a fiasco. I equally wonder the legal effect of criminal prosecutions at the federal level where there is no Attorney-General, the only official constitutionally empowered to commence, maintain or discontinue every criminal proceeding on behalf of the federal authorities.
Mr. President may have done well in the changes so far, but he needs to add some speed and urgency to the task.