How does Buhari measure up?
What can you tell about a presidency in 100 days? According to Ni g e r i a ’ s med i a commentary last week, everything. Beyond t he bluster, I have been thinking about the ways in which I have noticed a di f f erence s i nce Muhammadu Buhari was inaugurated at the end of May – a one-woman survey if you will. ELECTRICITY This i s def i nitely bet t er. I r a n out of candles t he other day and didn’t instantly run to the shop in anticipation of an evening in the dark. Some days we have no power cuts at all, making me (and certainly many others) more productive. Recently, t here have been days where I ’ ve wondered why it was so quiet around town, only to realise it’s the lack of roaring generators. You can attribute t his to Buhari or to rainy season, which helps hydropower generation. The drier weather later this year and early next will be the test. CORRUPTION I can only really check this at street level by how many policemen and soldiers are asking for bribes, how often I am still being pulled over for ‘ traff ic infractions’ and so on. The answer is that I am asked for cash just as often as I was under the Jonathan administration, but my refusal on the basis that the president wouldn’t approve is now taken seriously rather than shot down as hypocritical. Still, it ’s the corruption at ministry level that needs fixing in order for a trickledown effect to start and, without ministers appointed, there’s no one but the president to lead by example. President of Nigeria Ministerial appointments are expected this month, but Nigeria-time means that could be any time. FUEL QUEUES Described in a national newspaper article by Buhari’s spokesman last week as having ‘ vanished’, the fuel queues took longer to evaporate after the inauguration than expected, and a mammoth structural overhaul of Nigeria’s fuel procurement is necessary to prevent a return to day-long waits for petrol. That said, some of Nigeria’s oil refineries are said to be back up and running, which should help cushion t he countr y f rom f urther supply shocks for now, and the government has started a harsh crackdown on illegal refining activities in the Niger Delta, which could limit the hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil thought to be lost to theft every day. SECURITY Abuja (I am crossing my f ingers as I write) has been safe from bombings since the election, but speaking for myself isn’t useful. If I was in the northeast, it would be a different stor y; Boko Haram continues its bloody campaign and hundreds have been killed by the sect since Buhari’s inauguration. Much of the momentum Jonathan gained against Boko Haram in the last weeks of his administration seems to have been lost. Buhari’s recent pledge to end the insurgency within three months looks unwise at best: while Buhari has been working on regional cooperation with its West African neighbours and has rebuilt diplomatic ties with the US, there’s a very long way to go and similar promises came back to bite Jonathan.