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Anticipating Buhari’s New Team. Monima Daminabo

Beyond any doubt, one of the trending issues among political pundits in Nigeria and even outside the country, is the complement of circumstances surrounding the emergence of a new administrative team and hence structure for the re-elected

President Muhamadu Buhari. Re-elected into office for a second term on February 23rd, inaugurated formally on May 29th and ‘celebrated’ on June 12th, public take on the President since then has featured mounting concerns over the delayed emergence of a ‘Team Buhari’, comprising the critical apparatchik of the administration.

Interestingly, the President last week, approved a few new appointments such as that of the retention of Ahmed Idris as the Accountant General of the Federation, (AGF) and Mele Kyari as the new Group Managing Director (GMD) for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC); along with other instances of re-positioning in the corporation, such developments have hardly assuaged public misgivings over the likelihood of another playout of the 2015 self-imposed, arrested development of the structure that will hopefully drive Buhari’s second missionary journey.

Not a few Nigerians refer to the 2015 scenario when Buhari took as much as six months before setting up an administrative team, which attracted basketfuls of issues for the country. Even at that, most federal parastatals and related bodies were denied active boards and governing councils, virtually all through the life of that administration. The fear of a repeat performance of 2015, is driving a new wave of disappointment with Buhari, among concerned Nigerians.

Among the several factors that are easily fingered for the delayed emergence of a governance team for the President are at least two. First is the President’s expressed intention to be cautious with core administrative measures including the appointment of persons into office, who after their ascendancy may prove to be square pegs in round holes. He had in a lighter mood once noted that people refer to him as “Baba Go Slow”, due to his unmistakably diminished speed in governance. This is just as he also questioned rather sarcastically, what extraordinary feat had those in a hurry achieved beyond his. He had also attributed his apparently slow speed to the need to allow the due process of democratic governance to run full course, in the playout of his administrative initiatives.

While his loyalists see such cautiousness as justified, it also carries with it some costs in performance rating of the administration as well as public buy-in into his agenda especially given the present state of affairs in the country. If nothing else the present state of affairs in the country – especially with reference to the three cardinal targets of the administration being the resolution of insecurity and insurgency, anti-corruption fight and re-growing of the Nigerian economy, clearly negates the slow pace of the administration.

As at the last count, the containment of insecurity and insurgency is still inconclusive, in spite of the heroic efforts of the country’s armed forces many of whom have paid the supreme price with their lives and loss of limbs. The anti-corruption fight has turned into a ding-dong affair as corruption is fighting back with unrelenting vehemence. Even the efforts at re-growing the economy are recording marginal dividends that are below the expectations of both the government and the governed.

Hence the imperative of a faster pace of action during this second term cannot be more clarified than as rendered by the reality on ground, especially when juxtaposed with the ambitious second term agenda as aptly captured in the June 12th address to the country. 

Among the highlights of his June 12th speech was the portion where he stated that “The principal thrust of this new administration is to consolidate on the achievements of the last four years, correct the lapses inevitable in all human endeavours and tackle the new challenges the country is faced with, and chart a bold plan for transforming Nigeria”.

In another segment he cited some modest achievements of the administration and proceeded later to observe that with “leadership and sense of purpose we can lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years”. To add accent to his observation Buhari cited China, India and Indonesia as countries that lifted millions of the citizenry out of poverty within a predictable time frame, and asserted that Nigeria could also perform accordingly.

Taken together, these and other equally poignant portions of Buhari’s June 12th  speech, conjure a dispensation that requires for actualization, a leadership that is made of sterner stuff, and which can galvanise the country into a new and faster pace for hitting the next level – the very dream of the administration. 

Nevertheless, if there is one dividend from the June 12th speech by Buhari, it is the inspiration it offers Nigerians to aspire to a notional next level, working along with the administration. That calls for congruence between the aspirations of the people and the operational pace of the administration. And for now such is not practicable, given the present state of belated set up of a working Team Buhari. An additional causative factor for this is that the new administration is inheriting a mountain of carry-overs from the first term which needs to be resolved in order to make way for attention on the second term agenda and its challenges.

Beyond the foregoing is the perception – whether rightly or wrongly by sections of the Nigerian public that the President may actually be operating as a victim of a hijack of much of his discretional powers and functions, courtesy of the over bearing sway of several of the aides around him.

A recent visit by this author to the Presidential Villa in Abuja evoked sympathy for President Buhari, driven by the easily formed impression that given the labyrinthine nature of the precincts and the multiple screening points for access to him by the public, he could actually be a hostage, restricted as it were by isolationist schemes of his handlers, from the actual pulse of the Nigerian society. Juxtaposing this scenario with some of the tendentious initiatives from his first term, raises questions over how many of such presidential initiatives actually originated from him as the one on whose table the buck actually stops.

The foregoing notwithstanding, Nigerians want for the second term a President Muhammadu Buhari, who runs early with a team that demonstrates capacity to provide a new deal for the country. And the earlier this is done, the better for all Nigerians, including himself.  Courtesy DAILY TRUST Newspaper.

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