This may seem hasty, unkind even. Thirty days in the saddle and the president, Muhammadu Buhari is being ‘assessed?’ All Nigerians who can distinguish between men and mice know that the tradition is to assess the President in the first 100 days in office. Why then assess Buhari differently?
Is it because he is different? Is it because he is more of a statesman and less of a politician? Is it because in all of his public and even private life, he has exuded a certain degree of surefootedness that his seeming lethargy is simply bewildering?
Anxious Nigerians (I am one of them) actually began assessing the current president from the first week. Some eager beaver patriots actually went a step further. They evolved the President ‘Buhari meter’ (silly not the sort to measure electricity consumption) but to monitor the performance or lack of thereof of our Commander-in-chief.
Opinions are divided-sharply. A visibly significant vocal percentage thinks the long limbs of the President are doing disservice to the anticipated fast pace of his administration. They are of the considered opinion that the length of his limbs is inversely proportional to the stride of his government. I disagree.
The really harsh likened the slow pace in naming names to fill yawning vacancies in the administration to a locomotive on the tracks of a bullet train. This particular category is of the yakking hue. They yak and ‘jab’. But they are no less trusting of the president. They wanted him to hit the ground ‘running’. But as it were, the president hit the ground ‘sauntering’. I strongly suspect that this class is fast getting disillusioned.
30 years ago as military leader, he hit the ground sprinting. Presently, he appears to be strolling.
This is dangerous
With hope in their heart, such admirers turned critics set to work to ‘pressurize’ the President to quicken the pace as to make it directly proportional to his long legs. But Buhari is no stranger to ‘pressure’. He has been under it since he made his incursion into the political grazing field. By his own admission, it was ‘pressure’ from the ordinary folks unconcerned with ‘zoning’ and the spoils it brings, that prompted his foray into partisan politics. But three unsuccessful attempts at the presidency and a concomitant long expensive legal battle could wear out the average person even if he is certain no nonsense general who bears the name Muhammadu Buhari. He nearly buckled under that ‘pressure’
In 2011,an apparently fatigued and wearied Buhari threw in the towel. He stated publicly that he was done running for the nation’s plum. It was ‘pressure’ according to Nasir-el Rufai, governor of Kaduna state and Faruk Adamu Aliyu that actually coaxed Buhari to run for this year’s election that changed history.
. Unlike the Americans who pioneered the concept of assessing their Presidents in the first 100 days, we, on this side of the Hemisphere actually started the assessment not from the first week in office but from the moment Buhari was declared winner of the presidential contest. We expected some magic that will banish all miseries stalking the land because of the mystic wand of Buhari. He was expected to be the genie that would singly clear the debris of the depravity of the previous disorder and magically too, working with a legislature that is insatiably degenerate, a judiciary marinated in corruption and a press dominated by crooked slave driving profligates with multiple interests.
Sure the 100 days tradition has spread beyond the US. 32nd President, Franklin D. Roosevelt started it. He took charge of America during the great depression of the 1930s.There were signs of economic ruins everywhere very much like contemporary Nigeria. But FDR moved swiftly. His legislative agenda is instructive. It has remained a reference point till date. A record 15 major bills were passed by the US congress in his first 100 days.
Consider the rigours of passing one bill. Consider, if you please, the severities that attended the passage of Obama health care bill in 2010. After a lot of legislative altercation that lasted a whole year, a slim majority of 219 to 212 votes expanded healthcare to 32 million more people, predominantly the poorest, and giving the country 95% coverage.
Before its passage and not surprising all the 178 Republicans opposed the bill. A few Democrats joined them in opposing it. In aligning with the Republicans, the Democrats were not motivated by clannish or material interests. They grounded their opposition to the bill on the argument that health care funds could be abused. Some Democrats specifically listed abortion as one possible avenue of abusing the provision of the bill.
But FDR managed to secure the passage of 15 bills in the first 100 days.
Juxtapose Obama’s legislature with our 7th Senate. It will go down in history as the most fraudulent and perfidious. It passed a jaw dropping 46 bills in less than 5 hours. It came a day before its mandate expired.
We all know our country is in ruins. Probably she suffers the same degree of battery as in the civil war. The nation needs a very strong leader in the mould of Buhari. The irony is that he will need to carry along the legislature which, heartbreakingly, domiciles some ‘enemies of the state’ masquerading as lawmakers.
When France faced a similar challenge after the collapse of its 4th Republic, it sought the strong hands of wartime hero Charles De Gaulle to salvage motherland. He proved his military as a military strategist during the first and second world wars. At the time he had even retired from politics but his proposal for ruling by decrees for six months as a condition was approv3d by 80% referendum.
I see a similarity between present day Nigeria and 1958 France. The kind of change we want will come at a cost. It is up to the president to strike while the iron is still hot. Nigerians have spoken and empathically so.