It is exactly 100 days to day since the country’s uncommon epitome of integrity, who is “for everybody but belongs to nobody,” assumed office as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It would be difficult if not impossible for a leader who inherited a near-collapsed country to have within his first 100 days in office fixed all the critical challenges, which for years bedeviled the nation; with the worst period being the past six years.
The main policy thrust of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration include a re-invigorated and sustained fight against insurgency; declaration of total war against corruption; and poverty reduction through job creation. To corroborate the priority given by his administration to end insurgency in the country, President Buhari ordered the Command and Control Centre (CCC) of the military to move to Maiduguri. He immediately strengthened this directive soon after taking oath of office by visiting leaders of neighbouring countries of Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin Republic to seek their co-operation in the war against insurgency.
With the removal of service chiefs who believed that the war against insurgency should be fought from Abuja, there has been considerable progress in the counter terrorism effort since the new service chiefs assumed duty. The Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, and the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar are respectively leading their troops on land and in the air to fight and defeat the insurgents.
The deadline recently given by President Buhari to the service chiefs to defeat the terrorists and end their activities within three months is a practical demonstration of the president’s commitment to the war. Of course, it has yielded results. In addition to dislodging them from the Sambisa Forest, the spate of suicide attacks has evidently reduced; an indication that the insurgents have substantially lost balance and that the end to the war is hopefully in sight.
Talking about ridding the country of the endemic corruption that has deeply permeated out public and private lives, the stage for the crusade could be said to have been set. President Buhari has declared his administration’s intent to probe, among others, the oil sector and the purchase of arms by government since 2007. This is with the aim of recovering looted funds from public officers and their cronies. The greater percentage of Nigerians is in support of this move by President Buhari as the prosecution and conviction (after trial) of offenders will deter potential criminals among public officers from looting government treasury.
What most Nigerians recently found amazing though disturbing is the weird message of the National Peace Committee (NPC) which under former head of state, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) visited the president on Tuesday August 11, 2015, at the Presidential villa in Abuja. Speaking on behalf of the NPC; Bishop of Sokoto Catholic Diocese, Most Rev. Mathew Hassan Kukah, said Buhari’s anti-graft war ‘should be guided by the rule of law’ as, he continued, “it is no longer a military regime.” If my respected bishop was rightly quoted, there are some basic questions that one is prompted to ask. What, for instance, is the rule of law that Bishop Kukah is asking for? He needs to confirm to Nigerians if those who looted our national resources were actually guided by rule of law.
Besides, why should anyone (in or outside government) who has no skeleton in his cupboard be scared by the probe of public agencies? Moreover, it is the anti-graft agencies, not President Buhari that has the statutory responsibility of carrying out investigations. One then wonders why probe should be defined in the light of vindictive motives as if it were the president, and not over the 150 million Nigerians, who suffered (and are still in pains) from the consequences of treasury looting. It was as if Bishop Kukah was speaking with tongue in cheek while commenting on the proposed probe by Buhari.
It is considered a wide-of-the-mark observation when Bishop Kukah told journalists that “the former president (Goodluck Jonathan’s) commitment and what he did still remains spectacular.” When did conceding defeat become an alternative for an aggrieved person to seek redress in a court of law? When, if one may also ask, did conceding defeat become a favour to Nigerians which they ought to reciprocate by overlooking crimes that are as grave as the under-development of the country through treasury looting?
A colleague, an economist by training, noted in one of our recent discussions that the total value of the looted funds is put at $150 billion amounting to about N29.4 trillion. With the 2015 budget of N4.5 trillion, these looted funds can finance a total federal budget of 6.5 years. Even if it were 25 percent of the total stolen public funds which value is $37.5 billion or N7.3 trillion that President Buhari is able to recover, this figure can achieve either of the following: (1) Construct 735,000 housing units at the cost of N10,000 per house with an average of 12-15 people employed as artisans to build each house; (2) Generate 37,500 megawatts of electricity at internationally agreed benchmark price of $1 million to 1 megawatt of electricity, which is attainable in a period of six years. The positive impact this will have on the production of goods and services in the country is priceless.
From what trailed Bishop Kukah’s remarks, it appears that he was not actually speaking on behalf of all members of the NPC as the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar, a member of the committee, was quick to dissociate himself from the position when, a few days later, he declared full support for the anti-corruption crusade; calling on the federal government to jail looters and seize their assets.
In terms of job creation, the federal government has directed the Nigeria Police to recruit 10,000 personnel. Other measures taken by President Buhari to earn the confidence of Nigerians include the directive to the Inspector General of Police to withdraw policemen attached to unauthorised persons.
To tackle wastages in government activities, no delegation would be sent by the federal government for the 2015 hajj exercise. More reassuring to Nigerians and to the nation’s economy, is that the federal government is no longer borrowing to pay workers’ salaries. President Buhari’s administration, given these and several other measures is, so far, so good. May Allah (SWT) guide him to, once again, make Nigeria great, amin.