By UMAR SA’AD HASSAN

Before the 2015 general elections, I told a Buhari praise-singer friend that he and his colleagues would start taking shots at him within six months if he eventually becomes president. Nigerians understand   how decayed our system is and how long it took to get this bad but the “ailment” of expecting things to change overnight with the least effort seems incurable.

I didn’t have to wait for too long. It’s been just a month, and if Buhari had a nickel for every criticism he has had to face, I’m sure he would have enough for next year’s budget.

I for one have lost count of how many times I have had to watch people go for him especially over the last two weeks; and, quite sadly, most of the criticisms I hear and read lack merit.

Now let’s take it from the beginning.

President Buhari had barely made it out of Eagle Square on May 29 before some started flaying his inauguration speech for being “shallow”, and I wondered if anyone actually expected him to “wow” us with a poem when he stood up to address us. There is not a single problem bedevilling us that he didn’t promise to tackle in that speech.

Though many attribute his victory largely to discontent with the Jonathan administration, the APC and President Buhari did make a lot of good campaign promises – good enough to land him on that podium. The modus operandi of getting us to the Promised Land had long been laid bare in detail: from how our economy would be transformed to how unemployment would be curbed and also the road-map to steady power supply. Inaugural speeches aren’t integrity tests where you seek to know if the story has changed by having same plans told you all over again.

More recently, PMB has been getting a lot of flak for not yet presenting his ministerial list to the Senate. I stand to be corrected, but the clock started ticking from the day Ahmed Joda submitted his committee’s report: on June 12. His committee perused the 18,000-page GEJ administration handover notes and handed in an 800-page report. For any serious-minded person who didn’t set up the committee as a formality or means of gratifying his cronies, how long would it take to give it a thorough study, deliberate on it and reach healthy conclusions? A week at the very least, if you asked me. So PMB is just a week late and understandably so if you consider the fact that some of their recommendations are far-reaching and could need to be streamlined with his earlier plans. He needs to merge the right ministries and also scrap the right ones as he has promised. We can’t eat our cake and have it. We can’t want a reduction in the cost of governance and at the same time fail to appreciate the work being put in that regard.

Secondly, I don’t think anyone really expected the Senate to screen would-be ministers without a leadership. This brings me to the most annoying criticism of President Buhari in his one month in office – staying off the NASS elections and the subsequent issues that arose.

I don’t think anyone should hate a man for not shoving his choices for legislative offices down the throats of his party members and, by extension, the rest of us. He should be celebrated for his firm belief in the tenets of democracy and not criticized for doing what is right. Let the will of the majority prevail, We wanted change and we’ve got it. This is what it entails.

He got involved only when he had to – after the party had made its choices in a mock election that the losers refused to accept. And when they chose the day he scheduled a meeting with the party’s legislators to stage their “coup”, he didn’t declare war on them .He accepted to work with them in our best interests. So what is the fuss about?

Now when I hear people complain about not having done anything worthwhile to boost our economy, I wonder which country they migrated from, because they certainly haven’t been with us. If they had been, they would know we are neck-deep in debt at a time when oil prices are low. The PDP can’t be saying it left $30billion in our treasury and yet couldn’t pay or at least hold off Oil marketers till our GSM companies were just a day or two away from shutting down and fuel was being sold for as high as N300 per litre. A lot of us agreed the most important task before PMB was getting us back on our feet in the shortest possible time and it would be most unreasonable to expect anything concrete in his first month in office, as far as the economy goes.

Did I expect him to end the Boko Haram insurgency in two months as he promised? No. I was particularly disappointed at those remarks. He of all people should know this is a type of war we haven’t fought before. It just won’t go away in that short while even if his predecessor had effectively confined them to suicide bombings before he left office. Over 200 lives have been lost since he was sworn in but I won’t blame him for that. He is taking the right steps towards ridding us of this menace and I would only criticise him for making a promise we all knew he couldn’t fulfil and nothing more. Even at that, Iowe him an extra month before taking up arms. I score him high as far as the war against insurgency is concerned, not just because of the relocation of the military command centre to Borno but also because of how he got our MNJTF neighbours to commit themselves fully to the war. And this hasn’t gone unnoticed as the US donated a token $5million to supplement our efforts. All they ever did to the previous government was send “experts” and refuse to sell arms. I guess they know where he is headed. The Chadian president had cause to criticize our military before the elections  and the other nations weren’t as involved as they presently are in the MNJTF. There was a need for reassurances and reaffirmations. Visiting the nations personally and hosting an extraordinary summit in the first few weeks of his administration where several key decisions were made are commendable. We can’t win the war alone and he fully understands that.

I have always supported every government in power until it gives me a good reason not to. And I understand that not everyone is that way, but we are all united in the desire to see a better Nigeria. Constructive criticisms are essential to the wellbeing of any system but anything other than that is tantamount to wanting to pull it down by any means necessary. God help us.

 

Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano. 

Twitter : @alaye26

email : umarhssn@yahoo.com

 

 

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