A respectable reboot
finance, towards establishing laws and practices that would grant all politicians a level playing field at elections rather than leaving it to the richest and most unscrupulous.
The truth is that we can never have real democracy if elections are left, as they are now, to be manipulated and financed by ruthless godfathers for people who then become pawns in their hands.
There is no shortage of critical contributions to this subject. Buhari may want to remember that his party, the so-called All Progressives Congress, swore allegiance to the recommendations of the Justice Muhammadu Uwais report, saying it would implement them to improve the nation’s electoral process and enhance the independence of the electoral commission. Had the party been faithful to that declaration, Africa would be learning from Nigeria by now.
The same lack of character is what has exposed the general’s laughable anti-corruption ruse. The government could have used the same criteria developed by the Uwais Commission to restructure the anti-corruption bodies so that their leading officers emerge through a competitive hiring process mediated by an independent judiciary. The reason is that you cannot preach democracy or accountability, or establish them “with immediate effect.”
The second: Buhari reiterated his Democracy Day intention to liberate 100 million people from poverty. Again, he issued no details and announced no strategy. But time is running out: we are now just 10 years from 2030 when our Agenda 2030 pledges fall due. Liberating the poor is a major challenge, particularly in a society where the political elite appropriates everything to itself. Again, you can’t legislate against poverty, and you certainly cannot abolish it “with immediate effect,” alas.
Third, Buhari strangely alluded to something he called the “Nigerian Decade of prosperity and promise for Nigeria and for Africa” (sic), but did not elaborate. What is the description and content of this decade?
And now for the promise the general didn’t accommodate. He spoke a lot about his government’s plans, including in the railway sector, citing “tangible progress” in 2020 on the Lagos-kano line, the forthcoming commissioning of the Lagos–ibadan and Itakpe–warri lines, and commencement of the Ibadan–abuja and Kano–kaduna all in the first quarter.
But he studiously said not one word about the Lagos-calabar rail, one of the biggest rail projects in our continent’s history. First signed by China and Nigeria in 2014 for nearly $12bn, the deal was revised by the Buhari regime and re-signed in July 2014 for nearly $1bn less, and was to be completed in two years.
This is a project with major implications for the Nigerian economy, but why does Buhari demonstrate no interest? And why does Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi speak less and less about it?
Speaking of ministers, the general began his second term by cutting them down to size—and away from himself—by routing them through the Secretary to the Government (SGF) if they are to consult with him.
Three months ago, he unveiled new rules under which they are to travel abroad. In what was positioned as a “cost-cutting” measure, he declared that they are to make no more than two trips a quarter, only to very important events, and with limited budgets and entourages…