By ABBA MAHMOOD
In 2015, it took President Buhari three months to make his first appointment of his key aides. It took him 166 days to form his first cabinet. If in 2015 it was a transition from one government to another, this year it is a continuation of the same government. Nearly two months after his inauguration for a second term, Buhari is yet to make any major policy pronouncement or any appointment, as if he has all the time in the world or the world is waiting for us. It has even left space for rumours, speculations and fake news. This is not good for the country or the image of the government. It is time to act.
All his former aides have continued in office even though no one was re-appointed. The law says every appointee serves at the discretion of the one who appointed him or her but the tenure lapses at the end of the tenure of the one who made the appointment. Recently, the last occupant of the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, signed a letter for the reappointment of the Accountant-General of the Federation. Any two-for-one-kobo lawyer can go to court to challenge this as no SGF has been appointed by the President so far. To avoid unnecessary confusion, it is time to act.
Some civil society groups are seizing the initiative by demonstrating in some cities against a so-called “cabal” that is holding the country to ransom. There is no smoke without fire and there is a limit to how one can use 19th century tools of governance for a 21st century government. The visibility and overbearing influence of those mentioned fuels the perception, real or imaginary, about a cabal that holds and uses power, and the President is just their puppet. It is not about lame-duck rationalization or explanation. It is time to act.
The Buhari we know was decisive but the Buhari of today appears to be afraid of taking decisions. There are corrupt elements around him and even his government but they are not being dealt with. The Nigerian Army is very weak: the morale of the soldiers is very low and even the army chief had to cry that only God can defend Nigeria now. This is very embarrassing and very disgraceful. The security situation is deteriorating everywhere in the country but those given the responsibility of securing the safety and territorial integrity of Nigeria keep giving excuses instead of getting solutions. It is time to act.
President Buhari seems to enjoy working with those in retirement. The military chiefs keep getting extension of their tenure as they have since passed their retirement age. Most of the security chiefs have been brought from retirement. Talents abound everywhere in the country but the current set at the top have refused to give way to the younger ones. Many officers below those at the top are going on retirement but those at the top keep getting extension of their tenures. This stagnation is breeding frustration. It is time to act.
Apart from policies and programmes that emanate from campaign manifesto, the need for the right team to help in actualizing these programmes is key to the success of any government. Time is also of the essence. No leader has ever assumed office with the goodwill that Buhari enjoyed when he took office in 2015. That goodwill is getting squandered and the excitement is getting eroded. To save what remains of the enormous goodwill, it is time to act.
There is no more excuse for failure. The cog in the wheel of progress in the National Assembly has been removed. The ruling party has the National Assembly leadership that it chose. And they are willing to partner with the executive for the progress of Nigeria. The environment is just ripe for smooth governance but the executive arm of government is just not acting. The Senate President, Dr. Ahmed Lawan, is one of the most experienced legislators in the country and House of Representatives Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila is a team player. No one could get a better combination. Simply, it is time to act.
Buhari has the unique opportunity to leave a golden legacy for future generations. Second term is usually the time to take harsh decisions that are critical for the progress of the nation, as the President does not need to satisfy any interest for votes anymore. In our recent history, President Obasanjo’s first term was largely uneventful but in his second term he brought the reform team of dynamic, vibrant patriots such as Soludo, el-Rufai, and Ribadu and established enduring institutions like the EFCC. That defined his legacy. For Buhari also, it is time to act.
President Buhari should use this opportunity to heal the wounds afflicting the nation, create a national platform, treat the fractures and fault lines, unify the country in a more sustainable way, address grievances and feelings of alienation, treat everyone and every section fairly and justly, mentor the next generation of leaders, build a harmonious, stable, peaceful and prosperous nation, and retire peacefully in 2023. This is very possible and it is time to act.
History is on the side of the oppressed.