How does Buhari mea­sure up?

Finweek English Edition - - IN BRIEF -

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.

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