Buhari's Change Has Begun in Earnest [opinion]

Since his inauguration on May 29, 2015 as elected civilian President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari has been striving hard to improve the security situation in Nigeria; he also has been fighting corruption with all his might as well as trying hard to revamp the Nigerian economy quietly.

To me this is a singular effort that should be commended by all Nigerians as there is a singular purpose and a renewed optimism by Buhari to give Nigerians reasons to cheer and new vista of hope to change the Nigeria project for the better.

The first thing he did on security issue was to move the headquarters of the military high command from Abuja to Maiduguri for them to be near the base of operation of the Boko Haram. He visited the neighbouring countries of Benin Republic, Chad, Niger and Cameroon and enlisted their troops in multi-national task force comprising about 12,000 soldiers instead of the paltry 1,200 troops of the Nigerian Army, Navy and Air Force to enable them perform their security operations.

In fighting corruption, Buhari should be commended for setting up the Prof. Itse Sagay-Ied Presidential Advisory Commission on anti-corruption but he must be seen to be total, not biased and not selective in the anti-graft war because justice and rule of law must reign supreme if the fight against corruption must be won. There is a renewed optimism over the war against corruption by President Buhari’s determination than any other leader before him. Nigeria experiences improved power generation recently as the highest ever power generation occurred in July this year at about 4,652 megawatts in electricity. This is in sharp contrast to what obtained before Buhari.

On his promise to place Nigeria on sound economic footing, Buhari has charged the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) to re-calibrate the high pay of political office holders in order, to rescue ordinary Nigerians from the wicked manipulators of the country’s oil industry by corrupt operators. We all should support Buhari’s economic policy to enable him grow the economy and return the country to a path of rectitude. Buhari should go for a policy that would attempt to deliberately reflate the economy and risk an increase in price levels as we do so, monetary policy should be similarly deliberately targeted at growing the economy as it is currently the case. An expansionary fiscal policy that would be targeted at achieving rapid economic growth which would result in the creation of employment opportunities to the unemployed population of the country back to work and boost the purchasing power of the masses, is highly recommended.

In addition, the injection of about $4 billion into agriculture in a drive to produce more food to enable Nigeria to be food-sufficient and stimulate economic activities by employing more youths in the agricultural ministry is a welcome development. The Buhari administration has very recently disbursed N18.3 billion of Nigeria’s N30 billion commitment as counterpart funding for the construction of the Second Niger Bridge. This effort will boost the transportation of goods and services across Anambra and Delta states and quicken economic activities across the Niger.

To put Nigeria on a sound economic pedestal, President Buhari has revived the Kaduna Textiles Industry as he performed the re-opening ceremony in Kaduna on Thursday, August 27, 2015. In the same vein, the president has terminated the controversial offshore and swap deal to save Nigeria about $13.8 million daily. Scrapping of the swap deal is also helping the nation’s refineries, which have been idle until the present Turn Around Maintenance (TAM) to get enough crude oil for refining for domestic consumption (The Guardian Newspaper, August 28:1).

Similarly, Buhari’s directives to all Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to start paying all government revenues, incomes and other receipts into a united pool of single account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is a bold and courageous move directed at one of the bastions of corruption in the polity, in public institutions. Apparently, a master stroke against a financial strategy emanating from an unholy alliance between banks and MDAs, the current implementation of this unified accounting structure, rightly called the Treasury Single Account (TSA), is laden with high expectations of economic prospects owing to its possibility of ensuring transparency and accountability.

Professor Ben Nwabueze complained about the “constitutionality of President Buhari ruling for more than two and half months without a Council of Ministers.” But without the ministers, Buhari is performing without any distractions from any quarters. Is it permanence we need in Nigeria or non-performance with the bureaucratic paraphernalia of ministers? With President Jonathan having 42 ministers, where did it land his government in terms of economic development of the country! For God’s sake I am enjoying President Buhari’s exemplary performance without the ministers whether it’s constitutionally right or wrong. He is an effective and result oriented leader that Nigeria badly needs now.

Indeed Nigerians should stop criticising the man so that our criticism would end up not distracting him from waging the tripartite war against insecurity, corruption and economic development. Whatever lapses there are whether in error of judgment or error of omission or commission, the man like any other leader, is prone to human hamartia or Achilles’ heel.

Buhari has worked diligently and adventurously hard to keep issues in focus and as a leader, he is galvanizing the potential of the country for greatness. His achievements so far have been the establishment of the need for a selfless leadership, good and transparent government that will cater for the people’s welfare and ascertain their rights to have abundant life plus democratic dividends. He is a leader not giving to primitive wealth accumulation but disturbed by the pestilential misery of citizenry; he is the leader Nigeria needs now because he can look beyond here and now and offer a direction out of the present political and economic quagmire. And no doubt, I will continue to thank Buhari for good purposeful leadership and good government as in “Song of Celebration in Ereko” in Femi Osofisan’s Twingle-Twangle: A Twynning Tayle thus: I thank you, Elereko // You make life easy to live // you practice leadership like sweetness itself //And so for these I bring my thanks // I greet you // please accept my thanks, Buhari.

-Prof. Muyiwa Awodiya is of the Dept. Of Theatre Arts and Mass Communication, University of Benin, Benin City. He is currently on Sabbatical Leave at Osun State University, Ikire Campus.

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