By Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
This is a special week for President Muhammadu Buhari. Though there have been public attention on him since mounting the saddle of government on May 29, a verdict will be passed on him and his fledgling administration this week.
Maybe, given the option to choose Buhari may readily not endorse this week’s exercise. But, Nigerians, as a matter of compulsion, will, in couple of days to come, examine and pass judgment on the President’s style and achievements in the last 100 days.
Marking100 days in office has been, inadvertently, etched in Nigeria’s democracy. Informed individuals , especially the opposition look forward to it . For a number of reasons, more Nigerians, even the international community seem keener to assess the road so far plied by the incumbent administration in the last 100 days. Buhari bumped former President Goodluck Jonathan from power on March 28. It was the first time an opposition party candidate routed a sitting President. And that is why groundswell of expectations are dotting the steps of the President.
The President and his henchmen are aware of these expectations and had, severally, yelled that Buhari is not a miracle worker . While such explanation may be in order, it is easily dismissed by many . It is on account of that that many are jostling to rate President Buhari and his government in the last 100 days.
The body language of the President clearly shows that he is not ready for such scrutiny. His Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, last weekend, issued a statement disclaiming documents purportedly from the table of the All Progressives Congress (APC) during the campaign to the effect that the President will showcase 100 achievements on diverse fronts after 100 days in office.
Shehu’s statement read “there is a certain document tagged “One hundred things Buhari will do in 100 days’ and the other ‘My Covenant With Nigerians’. Both pamphlets bore the authorized party logo but as the Director of Media and Communications in that campaign I did not fund or authorize any of those .
“I can equally bet my last kobo that candidate Buhari did not see or authorize those publications .
“Sequel to the publications, ,expectations have been raised unreasonably that as President, Muhammadu Buhari would wave his hands and Nigeria’s problems -insecurity, corruption, unemployment, poor infrastructure etc would disappear.”
Although Shehu is uncomfortable with the huge expectation placed on the shoulder of his principal, he believes Buhari deserves adulation and encomiums from Nigerians on the feat he has achieved in the last three months.
Hear him “”President Buhari has given the job his best shot and the whole country is saying that we never had it so good . He has re-instituted the values of hardwork and administrative efficiency .
“The President says time without number that this country needs to fix governance and that he won’t tolerate laziness .
“In the area of economic management, Nigerians are seeing things happen that they thought were not possible in so short a time . He didn’t put a kobo to finance the power sector. Yet reading his body language alone and knowing that there are things you cannot do and get away with under Buhari ,electricity supply all over the country has risen to unprecedented heights.
“In this country appointments and removal from office are done usually in accordance with a spoils system. A new government sacks officials on the basis only that it did not appoint them but the predecessor administration did. President Buhari has shown that his government is different . He wants to look at each case on its merit and it is clear by now that he is not ready to surrender the country to burnt out politicians . Technocrats will have a big place in his administration . He has appointed no ministers yet but the government is running smoothly”.
She continued “In this period of three months government certainly deserves a pat on the back for improved power, reform in the energy sector , foreign relations , fight against corruption and insurgency and the fact of Nigerians being at peace , not only among themselves but with their neighbours and the rest of the world”.
He predicted “President Buhari will turn out to be a leader in the tradition of Lee Kuan-Yu and India’s current reform minded Prime Minister , Modi, with strong and clear emphasis on detail and execution . He may however differ from them by not micro-managing things”.
Nobody would be surprised that Shehu exalted President Buhari to high heavens. In fact it would have been shocking if he had praised him sparingly.
Bright side of the 100 days
The President has , expectedly, attracted knocks here and there in the last three months but has also received huge kudos and thumps up in the handling of some sectors and challenges. Among them are fight against insurgency, corruption war, energy crisis and foreign affairs.
In the last couple of months Nigerians have not been in doubt about the commitment of the administration in battling Boko Haram . Soon after being inaugurated he visited Chad, Cameroon, and South Africa and Benin Republic in a bid to strengthen the existing understanding in the fight against sect. Last month he appointed new Service Chiefs and other top security officers and handed them three months to see off the sect. The military command centre, based on the directive of the President has been relocated to Maiduguri.
While many have lauded the renewed vigour in tackling insurgency , they have also been taken aback that bombings have, arguably been on the increase in Yobe and Borno states .
Beyond Africa Buhari also participated in the G7 conference that held in Berlin, Germany and was equally the guest of the United States government in July.
The key area that Buhari would be remembered as having made a mark in the last 100 days is in the war on corruption . The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC ) has been on the trail of some notable people . However, the development has attracted attention, has not enjoyed much plaudits from Nigeria. It is, at best, seen as mere smokescreen.
The last few months would be remembered as a season when civil servants were kept on their toes. Permanent Secretaries, on daily basis brief the President on programmes and plans of their ministries.
Several civil servants are unlikely to forget the President for granting bailout to governors with which their arrears of salaries were off-set.
Dark side of the 100 days
Buhari has not been insulated from criticisms in the last few months. His major criticism has bothered on the lopsided appointments he has made. He is accused of favouring the North in key appointments. The development has made some to accuse him of habouring an ethnic agenda and questioned his claim to be fair to every section of the country. His Special Adviser on Media and Publicity , Femi Adesina, has allayed fears that any part of the country would be neglected in the appointments. Whether the promise is taken in good faith by many is another thing.
Buhari is not pummeled only on the issue of alleged lopsided appointments, he has attracted strident criticisms for running his government without cabinet in the last 100 days. Some lawyers even went the extra mile to accuse him of engaging in illegality.
Renowned lawyer, Prof Ben Nwabueze (SAN) in a recent piece, aside questioning the constitutionality of running government without ministers said, the President, so far, is running a government of ‘personal rule’ .
He wrote “As for President Buhari’s regime, it is too early to classify it, beyond saying that it is, so far, not an institutional government, but a regime of personal rule, the main institution i.e. a council of ministers, to advise and assist him not having as yet been constituted. In the mean time, the nation is all expectancy, waiting to see whether he is truly a democrat as he, in his post-election statement, declared himself to be, or whether he is going to conduct the affairs of the country in the way his antecedents as former army commander and head of the military government, would lead us to expect. In any case, he should bring to an end, this unconstitutional regime of personal rule by announcing his ministerial nominees without further delay.
What is said in this write-up is applicable to some newly elected state governors who also rule without commissioners apparently taking a cue from the President.”
Nwabueze stressed “The consequences of the President not having ministers or not consulting with them collectively as a council are that his exercise of the functions of government noted earlier, is largely unconstitutional. By making it mandatory for the President to establish offices of ministers and, with the approval of the Senate to appoint persons to such offices, and by casting upon him, the obligation to hold regular meetings with the vice-president and ministers for the purpose of advising him on the exercise of his executive functions, the constitution does clearly manifest an intention that the President is not to govern without the restraining and moderating influence of the collective advice of an executive council. “Clearly therefore, in a situation where the President refuses or neglects to establish ministerial offices and to appoint persons to them or where, having appointed ministers, he refuses or neglects to hold regular meetings with them collectively as a council for the purpose of getting their advice on his executive actions, the administration of government by him in these circumstances would be a violation of both the spirit and letters of the Constitution, no matter how benevolent, liberal or beneficial to the public his actions may be. “I am of the view”, said the learned President of the Federal Court of Appeal, Justice Maman Nasir, “that if the Governor…….refuses to hold these regular meetings, he constitutes himself as a dictator and this will be in my view, not only contrary to the spirit of the Constitution but is clearly a breach of specific provisions of this section.” Lawal Kagoma v. The Governor of Kaduna State & Others, Ibid.
“What the decision of the Court of Appeal in the Lawal Kagoma case means, in clear, unequivocal language, is that the administration of government by a President without the restraining and moderating influence of a council of ministers is unconstitutional, null and void. A president under our type of Constitution ruling without ministers tantamounts, in an approximate or loose sense of the term, to a dictatorship but not in a strict sense, since a dictator, defined in the dictionary as “a person exercising absolute authority”, cannot co-exist with the system of limitations on power established by the Nigerian Constitution.”
Nobody has stepped out to fault Nwabueze’s submission neither has anyone applauded it publicly. However , as the nation takes a holistic view on the administration of President Buhari in the last 100 days, the truth or otherwise of Nwabueze’s claims will take centre stage.
Those leaving PDP now’ll return–Agukwe
By Iheanacho Nwosu
Chief Elvis Agukwe is a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP). Currently the Leader of a political group, Coalition of South East Pressure Groups, the former Commissioner for Information, Imo State, in this interview, believes his party is rediscovering itself and would soon dominate the political space. For him, members of the party who are decamping to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) will regret their step . He also examined happenings in the polity and gave President Muhammadu Buhari a pass mark .
Your are a PDP chieftain but a group you are leading is mobilising the South east to support the APC administration. Why are you taking such step?
The coalition of South East Political Pressure Groups , an amalgam of diverse associations, has decided to look at the realities on ground in the current political dispensation in Nigeria. We are looking at it in its totality, the nature of politics we play, the future of politics in Nigeria, and the current realities on ground. You will discover that, for instance, political party remains a vehicle for the achievement of political goals. It is not an end in itself, it is a means to an end.
If you take a little journey backward, you will realize that in Nigeria of today, no zone or tribe has been able to produce a president of Nigeria, Nigeria has never voted for a tribal or zonal president. Let me give you an example, when in 1998, the current dispensation started, Nigeria went to South West zone to pick a man who had just been released from prison, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. People from South West zone, his own people, never voted for him, yet he was made the president of Nigeria. In 2007, Nigeria voted a man called Umar Yar’Adua as president of Nigeria. Yaradua was never the choice of the North west at the time. Of course , his brother, the current president, Muhammadu Buhari also contested in that election and got more votes from the North West than him.
Now, following the death of Yar’Adua, power reversed to his Vice, who became a child of necessity as referred to in our political lexicon. Then, Jonathan came on board.
President Buhari ran for presidency a couple of times, he didn’t win. It took the intervention of the Jagaban of Yoruba land, Ahmed Tinubu, Chibuike Amaechi and some other break-away PDP top shots to campaign rigorously for him. They got Nigerians to vote for him and that was how he became president. What I am trying to say is that no zone has ever risen up to make itself president. It is not possible. That has remained the key to the unity of this Nation, that is what has kept us together.
Before the election, between 2012 and 2013, there was this prediction and rumors from certain quarters overseas, that Nigeria was going to break up after the 2015 general election . As God would have it, there was divine intervention. When some thought president Jonathan was going to sit tight, having lost the election, He didn’t. Even to the surprise of the person who won the election, he accepted defeat and relinquished power. Today, we are living in peace and Nigeria is moving forward.
The people of the South zone, wherever they find themselves are together. One, they must have their union, they don’t bury their dead outside Igbo land, they must go home every Christmas . There are so many things that unite them together which I have not seen any other tribe in Nigeria do. South East again, knows their leaders, they follow their leaders, they are basically republicans. Those who lead them and try hanging a lot of load on their neck, without appropriating what is due to them, they may not follow them as their leaders. But the person they know they choose as their leaders usually emerge and they follow the person. That is why there is this fear in this country every time the South East throw their vote as a bloc vote to anybody they want to support. They voted for obasanjo at the time, they voted for Jonathan the same way .
Your clamour for the South East to come together and support and work with the President is coming at a time many from the zone are accusing the President of ignoring the zone in appointments. Would you say such complaint is hasty?
It is too early to come to that conclusion. Let us give him a chance. I don’t think we should cry too much about appointments. We only need to come together and reason together politically . In the last dispensation the South West did that. The first ten government officials Nigeria had then none of them came from the South West zone yet the zone survived.
To a large extent I know why our people are fretting over the current situation . When Buhari formed his military council when he was head of state he never had anybody from the South East as a member .
However, I strongly believe that it is not going to be the same in this dispensation. He must make deliberate effort to get to the main stream Igbo in order to get their support.
You surprised many when you said Buhari should be careful of the people he deals with in the South East, that several people that parade themselves as Igbo leaders are not, what do you mean?
Apart from Dr. Orgbonnaya Onu who has remained consistent with the opposition in the South East and in Nigeria generally, George Moughalu has also been consistent, Osita Okechukwu, very few of them, the rest of the people in South east APC are office seekers, they are political jobbers . They are not opposition elements, they only go to where they will get appointed or elected positions. They are not opposition elements as far as politics is concerned in Nigeria, they have never played in opposition.
Of course, President Buhari knows that they are not the main stream Igbo, that is why they were not able to win anything during the election in the core Igbo area. Now, what he has to do is to make a deliberate effort to get the main stream Igbo so that, Igbos will be seen to support his government. Igbos vote en bloc they don’t divide their votes.
Why governor Okorocha got elected today, is because, when they saw that Buhari has emerged, people looked at it and resolved that at least a state in the south east must be controlled by APC. Of course you know that APC does not have a single senator, it has only two members in the House of Representative. So these are practical things.
What happened in Imo state was that some PDP people decamped to APC overnight and Gov Okorocha was reelected. Like I said it meant to have, at least, somebody who will be speaking for the people.
We are yet to see what Okorocha and APC in the South east can do. So far, what has happened shows that maybe they are not likely to achieve anything, that is, the APC people from the South East. The APC government represented by Okorocha and some of the leaders, they are not able to get anything yet for the people of the south east because their influence in APC is limited. So we are urging the President to make a deliberate move to get the people of South East to be part of the government.
Your group will be attending World Igbo Congress in U.S., what is the motivation?
Because of the realities on ground, Pro-democracy groups across party lines from the South East zone decided to come together. By coming together, the idea is to work out a new political road map that will help the South East zone to achieve further progress in the new dispensation. So we decided that come September 3rd 2015, our group will lead a high powered delegation to the Congress . I will the delegation to the congress, to convey a new political road map for the south east zone. The road map will seek to lay out clearly how the South East should move in order to move forward politically . We need to adapt to the current realities on ground in the country , we must move together as a people.
If I may let the cat out of the bag, the key agenda is to ensure that irrespective of the party you belong to in the South East zone, we have to work together as a people. Unity remains the key to our political survival.
That is what we are going to tell the Igbos in the Diaspora, represented by the world Igbo congress.
APC has spent some months in power, so far, are you satisfied with the way the nation is going?
First of all we have peace . The emergence of President Buhari ushered in a new peace in the country. There was so much tension before the 2015 election. Today one will say that there is relative peace in the country. Secondly, in governance, people have expressed fears on the way President Buhari is going about his governance. For instance, the constant use of the word “probe,” has put a lot of fears in Nigeria. Probe is a military language. The right language is ‘investigation ’, just like Father Crooker was preaching.
But so far so good, the President has tried, he has pleaded with Nigerians to give him time that he is going to unveil his government in September. Agreed some school of thought are somehow disappointed, because they expected that for a man who has run for presidency more than three times, and eventually got it, he is expected to hit the ground running but such argument is neither here nor there . I am sure he underestimated the problems of the country until he got there, and that is why they should praise the former President , who saw hell in the administration of this country. It is not easy.
Would you say that the PDP has done well as opposition party?
Yes. So far, I think the party has done well. But you cannot rule out the fact that the party is finding it difficult to adjust to the new realities. The reality is that members of our party are shocked, they never anticipated the defeat . But, they have to readjust. And in readjusting it is not something you do overtime, it is something that takes some time. Now you see a lot of people saying they want to go out of the party, they want to decamp to APC and things like that, some of them might come back, because it is not going to be as rosy as they think.
Those who worked with PDP saw people getting rich overnight, making stupendous wealth and things like that, you see the development the Abuja has witnessed within this period when PDP was in power, if the current President tightens the nut, I do not think that people will also come to sudden wealth, as was the case with PDP. So, you see that everybody has to gird his or her belt and be prepared to make sacrifices. It may not be as juicy as it was in PDP. So the idea of rushing to join a new party, many of them will be disappointed.
The disappointment of several people who are leaving PDP will start with the appointment of ministers. By September, the Ministers will be inaugurated, and you don’t know where they will be appointed from . They may not even be those that you expected will be ministers. There will be a lot of disappointments because this government is going to be government unusual, it is not going to be government as usual that we have heard all this period. The PDP is also grappling with the realities on ground, but I think they are showing signs of being good opposition so far.
In other words, you are saying that, all the people that left PDP for APC will come back?
Yes, there is no doubt about that. They are rushing into a decision that is borne out of selfishness. They are not real. Many of them will still return to PDP. PDP has remained a solid party, it is just that maybe, we needed this loss, in order for people to stop acting with impunity and realize that political parties, like a family, must always be together to win elections. A situation whereby you exclude others and few will continue to enjoy does not augur well for a political party . That is why internal sabotage weighed the party down, and caused it to lose . Now many of them are regretting what they need. We don’t need to lament as what happened has formed part of the history of the country.
Next time, members of the party are coming together, they will come together respecting each other’s feeling and know that everybody is important in the party . It will not be a case of some people playing god
Culled from SunNews
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