One year of Buhari’s lead­er­ship

Daily Trust - - OPINION -

With one year of Muham­madu Buhari as Pres­i­dent of Nige­ria, there is no doubt that his ad­min­is­tra­tion has rekin­dled hope and op­ti­mism in the coun­try af­ter the rots of mon­u­men­tal mis­man­age­ment, cor­rup­tion, im­punity and ne­glect of in­fra­struc­ture and so­cial ser­vices left by the suc­ces­sive PDP gov­ern­ments since 1999 and the at­ten­dant mass poverty, mis­ery and de­spon­dency. So far, the pre­mium placed by the present ad­min­is­tra­tion on trans­parency, hon­esty and ac­count­abil­ity in run­ning of pub­lic af­fairs has gen­er­ated it wide­spread com­men­da­tions and sup­port within and out­side our polity.

Wor­thy of note is Pres­i­dent Buhari’s im­pres­sive an­ti­cor­rup­tion war, which has been waged with un­com­mon sin­cer­ity of pur­pose, courage and de­ter­mi­na­tion. This has wo­ken bod­ies like Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Crimes Com­mis­sion (EFCC), In­de­pen­dent Cor­rupt Prac­tices and other re­lated of­fences Com­mis­sion (ICPC) and Code of Con­duct Tri­bunal (CCT) from their slum­ber. The min­istries, de­part­ments and agen­cies (MDAs) of gov­ern­ment at all lev­els are not spared from the anti-graft search­light of the Buhari gov­ern­ment go­ing by the probes of pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions in crit­i­cal sec­tors like oil/gas and mar­itime.

In fact, never in the an­nals of Nige­ria has a gov­ern­ment em­barked on a large-scale an­ti­cor­rup­tion cam­paign as in the present na­tional lead­er­ship in the coun­try with no in­sti­tu­tions of gov­ern­ment be­ing made to be a sa­cred cow - be it the ex­ec­u­tive, leg­is­la­ture, ju­di­ciary or armed forces. The ongoing in­ves­ti­ga­tion by EFCC into $2.1 bil­lion arms scam shows how per­va­sive of­fi­cial cor­rup­tion was in the re­cent past in the polity, which un­der­mined na­tional se­cu­rity con­sid­er­ing its de­bil­i­tat­ing ef­fects on the war against the deadly Boko Haram in­sur­gency in the north­east states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. How­ever, it is re­as­sur­ing that with the ac­count­able lead­er­ship of Pres­i­dent Buhari, there has been a sig­nif­i­cant up­turn in the anti-in­sur­gency op­er­a­tions by the mil­i­tary against the sect in the past one year, with the bulk of the mil­i­tants de­cap­i­tated. Clearly, this heart-warm­ing de­vel­op­ment ac­counts for the re­cov­ery of most of the ter­ri­to­ries in the north­east of the coun­try and the marked de­cline in sui­cide bomb­ings by the group.

Hav­ing repo­si­tioned the armed forces and law en­force­ment agen­cies in Nige­ria, for ef­fec­tive­ness with im­proved fund­ing, there are high ex­pec­ta­tions that there would be a dra­matic de­crease in fac­tors threat­en­ing to tor­pedo our in­ter­nal se­cu­rity like in­sur­gency, mil­i­tancy, herder­s­farm­ers’ clashes, armed rob­bery, kid­nap­ping, cultism and van­dal­i­sa­tion of crit­i­cal na­tional in­fra­struc­ture like oil pipe­lines and elec­tric­ity ca­bles. Also likely to af­fect na­tional se­cu­rity in a favourable man­ner is Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion’s com­mit­ment to ad­dress mass poverty, youth un­em­ploy­ment and lack of so­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties through more than N500 bil­lion so­cial wel­fare pack­age set aside in the bud­get of this year. Ex­pect­edly, such a huge safety net pro­gramme would help, in no small mea­sure, in cush­ion­ing the ad­verse ef­fects of the re­cent re­moval of fuel sub­sidy by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment.

Come to think of it, the scrap­ping of the an­nual multi­bil­lion naira fuel sub­sidy regime, which in 2013 alone or there­abouts gulped N1.2 tril­lion, is a coura­geous step by the Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion con­sid­er­ing that the pol­icy was a grand fraud against ma­jor­ity of Nige­ri­ans by a ca­bal who ben­e­fit­ted from it. For one, it does not make eco­nomic sense to sub­sidise con­sump­tion like fuel but pro­duc­tion (in­clud­ing agri­cul­tural and man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tors), as seen in most de­vel­oped coun­tries around the world. For an­other, with the re­moval of fuel sub­sidy in Nige­ria, it would pave the way for a com­pet­i­tive sys­tem that would re­duce fuel price in the long run, check hoard­ing and fre­quent scarcity of the prod­uct, set in mo­tion the ma­chin­ery for estab­lish­ment of re­finer­ies by pri­vate in­vestors and end con­tro­ver­sial deals that have cost the coun­try bil­lions of naira like the so-called oil swap. In ad­di­tion to all these is the fact the funds saved from end­ing fuel sub­sidy will now be in­vested in in­fra­struc­ture and so­cial ser­vices, apart from so­cial pal­lia­tives, that will ben­e­fit the masses.

Part of the em­blem­atic fea­tures of Buhari’s hope­ful lead­er­ship in Nige­ria is solemn com­mit­ment to pub­lic ac­count­abil­ity. This is mostly ex­em­pli­fied by the bold im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Trea­sury Singe Ac­count ( TSA) by the ad­min­is­tra­tion in or­der to stave off wastes and leak­ages in the MDAs of gov­ern­ment. It is in­ter­est­ing to note that more than N2 tril­lion has re­port­edly been net­ted as sav­ings from the TSA, a gi­gan­tic sum one quar­ter of it usu­ally fil­tered into in­di­vid­ual pock­ets in the past through em­bez­zle­ment and fraud. Also note­wor­thy is the gal­vani­sa­tion of lead­ing rev­enue gen­er­at­ing bod­ies in Nige­ria by the Buhari gov­ern­ment like Fed­eral In­land Rev­enue Ser­vice (FIRS), Nige­rian Cus­toms Ser­vice (NCS) and Nige­rian Mar­itime Ad­min­is­tra­tion and Safety Agency (NIMASA) with ap­point­ment of hon­est and ca­pa­ble hands as their bosses.

Within the realm of in­ter­na­tional diplo­macy, the Buhari ad­min­is­tra­tion has recorded a re­mark­able feat in the past one year by restor­ing Nige­ria’s pres­tige among the comity of civilised coun­tries.

Fi­nally, with one year of Buhari’s lead­er­ship, Nige­ri­ans, re­gard­less of the pre­vail­ing eco­nomic chal­lenges fac­ing them, are im­plored to re­flect on the gains so far, mind­ful that to de­stroy is easy but to re­build is ex­cru­ci­at­ingly dif­fi­cult. Of course, un­der­pin­ning Buhari’s hope­ful lead­er­ship in the past one year are, es­sen­tially, its avowed pol­icy of no busi­ness as usual in manag­ing pub­lic af­fairs, its pro­cliv­ity to good gov­er­nance, its un­par­al­leled anti-cor­rup­tion stance, its com­mit­ment to eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion in the face of global crude oil price cri­sis and, above all, its keen de­ter­mi­na­tion to en­gen­der a new Nige­ria that will work for its peo­ple through due process, rule of the law, peace­ful co­ex­is­tence, na­tional se­cu­rity, so­cial in­clu­sion, equal­ity of op­por­tu­ni­ties, so­cial jus­tice, re­spect of basic hu­man rights, eco­nomic progress and sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment.

Daura, a so­cial com­men­ta­tor, wrote in from Garki, Abuja. sham­sydr@ya­hoo.co.uk

Nige­ri­ans, re­gard­less of the pre­vail­ing eco­nomic chal­lenges fac­ing them, are im­plored to re­flect on the gains so far, mind­ful that to de­stroy is easy but to re­build is ex­cru­ci­at­ingly dif­fi­cult

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