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Friday, July 21, 2017

Before President returns...

….also published in Daily Trust

As the imminence of President Muhammadu Buhari’s return is being speculated, it highlights the need for him to conduct a comprehensive review of his administration’s performance now that more two years of its four-year tenure have already passed.

This is particularly imperative amid mild but potentially divisive controversy over the extent of the Acting President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo’s commitment to maintain the momentum built by President Buhari particularly in anti-corruption polices and measures. Admittedly, though, even before the President’s departure, there has already been a sense of disappointment among a growing number of Nigerians over the turn of events under his presidency, which fuels controversy over the extent of his personal portion of responsibility for the disappointing situation. 

President Buhari 

Anyway, though President Buhari has been away for quite a while on health grounds, he is nonetheless hopefully in a more relaxed mood now to monitor the performance of his administration back home from Abuja House in London where he has been staying and receiving medical treatment. Also, though he is currently under no legal obligation to monitor government operations back home, yet, as an ardent follower of the media, he now apparently has more time to spare for following events through the media, hence he is now presumably in a position to assess the performance of his administration not on the bases of officially prepared reports and figures, but in the light of the daily experiences of the ordinary Nigerians, which the media cover all the time.

After all, since his departure, there have been some quite controversial events that could be seen as indications of a gradual but persistent relapse.  For instance, there have been very questionable acquittals of some public figures facing serious corruption charges, and some unnecessarily long adjournments of serious corruption cases involving some privileged individuals, which are seen as a prelude to their eventual acquittals. Obviously, whether these instances are mere coincidences or not, they raise reasonable suspicion of possible compromise by the Osinbajo led-government, especially considering the apparent signs of compromise that the prosecuting counsels concerned began to betray during the proceedings.

Likewise, there have been instances of apparent favouritism in the Acting President’s handling of some corruption allegations against some top government officials, as in the ongoing scandal involving the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewale who, on alleged corruption charges, suspended the Executive Secretary, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) Prof. Usman Yusuf who in turn, however, denies the charges and instead accuses the Minister of witch-hunting him for his adamant refusal to cooperate with him (i.e. Minister) to perpetrate and perpetuate thievery of public funds at the NHIS.

Also, the steady but persistent loss of momentum in the ongoing war against Boko Haram terrorists as a result of which they appear to have regained the audacity to increasingly carry on indiscriminate suicide bomb attacks killing so many people and causing extensive destruction of properties, is yet another indication of the Acting-President’s alleged laxity and failure to maintain the substantial progress achieved in the war on terror since the beginning of the Buhari administration. 

There’s also the issue of dissatisfaction among Nigerians with the performance of most of the current members of the Federal Executive Council, which explains the growing call to dismiss the poor-performing among them and reshuffle the Council. 

Therefore, while Nigerians wish President Buhari a quick recovery, he should, in anticipation of resuming office in due course, God willing, leverage his apparently long spare time to independently review the performance of his administration so far, identify the strategic challenges that undermine its potential to perform better, note down the observations he has been presumably gathering, prepare and keep appropriate reform policies and corrective measures ready for immediate implementation once he resumes office.

He should also summon up renewed courage and imbibe a reinvigorated commitment to pursuing these reform policies and measures bearing in mind that he will necessarily have to go against the selfish interests of many of his political allies in the first place before his political opponents for him to be able to live up to the legitimate expectations of the ordinary Nigerians who voted for him counting on his reputation and integrity to enjoy better living conditions under his presidency.