Last Saturday, September 5, 2015, it was exactly one hundred days of the Buhari presidency. It would be remembered that the retired major general was inaugurated as the 5th democratically elected president of Federal Republic of Nigeria on the 29th of May, in an historic and epoch making event that saw the nation and her international collaborators rise to an ovation to welcome and usher into office a man who we must give the credit Of being our own Abraham Lincoln on account of how much doggedness he showed in his ambition to rule this nation in civilian garb in the face of adversity. A man whom many Nigerians, especially the Muslim north, believed was a messiah to take Africa’s largest Nation, if you like, Economy out of the lurch.
As was expected, mixed reactions have continued to trail the achievement of this president in his first one hundred days in office, or expiration of his “honey moon” as is often couched in political parlance. This, no doubt, was a pavlovian reaction given the huge expectations president Muhammadu Buhari and his APC placed on themselves in the period leading to the elections engineered by a masterstroke propaganda machine that elevated Buhari into some demi-god who had a magic wand to wave and restore Nigeria to her lost dignity, if she ever had one.
While it was almost mechanical for unsuspecting Nigerians to fall for the antics of the propaganda mills, cool headed and discerning minds of our population understood all the razzmatazz as a game which must be played in a democratic setting to woo electorates.
Due to the success of such promising pre-election posturing, Nigerians had filed out in their numbers, defying the harsh weather to cast their ballot, and in many cases waited until they were counted, to ensure the victory of a Man whom they had been told by propaganda mills, was ascetic, led a Spartan lifestyle, was a metaphor for integrity and who had the Midas touch to see normalcy returned, and the ship of state steered out of the ice berg which it was headed at the time according to pundits.
On the occasion of the first hundred days, it is only natural for many of them to ask impatiently for the “manna rain” which was promised; and throws up the opportunity for the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to whine and wail, if in their estimation, PMB is not living up to his electoral billings. This too is excusable. But that shouldn’t be the question.
I think we must have to address ourselves whether one hundred days is a time enough to judge an administration which has no less than 1,460 day life span; Worst still write it off? An honest response to this poser would be a better compass for us to locate our reactions. At the time of writing this piece, there is already an ongoing social media campaign in the microblogging site Twitter, with the hashtag #100WastedDays by opposition elements in a bid to write off PMB’s “Honey Moon” for not having gained traction but has only continued to be rudderless and without focus since he came on board. I like to call the bluff of such carpetbaggers, dissenting and reactionary voices, not for any sympathy nursed for the Buhari presidency, but for their surreal and fantastic protestations which can barely find existence in reality.
For me, it is most uncharitable to write off PMB’s presidency on account of The “One Hundred Days Myth” or “Honey Moon”; as not everyman succeeds in impregnating the bride during the Honey Moon period but which does not automatically mean the union would not be blessed with a child in the future. We cannot in all sincerity, judge PMB’s #100Days on account of some bogus “Covenant” (whether claimed or disclaimed by the APC) had with Nigerians which for the most part of last week, was the rave. This is because, assuming APC admits authorship of the said document, one hundred days, is just little a gestation period for them to have germinated, much less harvested. The One Hundred Days circus is a myth. It is a fairytale. A fable and lacks any empirical evidence to substantiate it. In fact, it has been discountenanced by many renowned leaders time and again. Perchance, a brief incursion into history would be apposite to refresh our minds.
The first #100Days in a presidential term took on symbolic significance during the presidency of the 32nd president of the United States of America, Franklin Roosevelt, and is considered a benchmark for measuring the early success of a president. During The Great Depression, Roosevelt promised drastic initiatives within his first One Hundred Days. The “New Deal” Legislation( a series of domestic programs enacted in the United States between 1933 and 1938) he got passed, set a standard of action that subsequent presidents have been measured against, but which in reality has less significance as has been confirmed by many presidents including our own PMB.
Immediately after winning the American Presidency in 2008, 44th president of the US, Barrack Obama, told pressmen that he should not be judged by his first one hundred days. “…The first one hundred days is going to be important, but it’s probably going to be the first thousand days that makes the difference…” he said. John F. Kennedy once said, “…All this will not be finished in the first hundred days, nor will it be finished in the first thousand days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our life time on this planet. But let us begin”.
Addressing State House Correspondents on his first day in his office inside the presidential villa, Abuja on the 22nd of June on the culture of addressing government’s performance in the first one hundred days in office and the pressure that comes with it considering the mammoth work to be done and the unrealistic nature of “Change” in just one hundred days, PMB said, “…The culture of One Hundred Days in office brings so much pressure with treasury virtually empty, with debts in millions of dollars, with state workers and even federal workers not being paid their salaries….this bad management we’ve found ourselves, we really need your help (referring to the media) to protect us from people, before they march on us…”.
Several other world leaders have spoken similarly on the pointlessness in judging how an administration would hand over the baton, or asking for the “fruits” of governance within just a paltry, one hundred days in the saddle. But we will not go into such details here and now.
Dear reader, we had undertaken this discourse to put in the right perspective why Nigerians, expect a lot from PMB and the justification for same. To properly situate why One Hundred days in the Saddle is too trifle a timeframe to walk into the socio-political orchard of PMB and his APC to pluck the fruits of the much touted “Change” and finally, to acknowledge the little imperceptive steps the Buhari administration has taken thus far, to restore Nigeria to its “Factory Settings”. And these are not without compelling and convincing evidences.
From the very first day of this administration, I had consigned myself to the unenviable role of a conscious and cautious observer of what happens or ensues from the seat of power. In that capacity, I have had the coolness of head and the sanity of mind to follow the “Change” procession, howbeit, cautiously lest the leaders of this procession into a Budha-ian Nirvana, fall out of trajectory. From my vantage point like a Pythagorean “Lover of Spectacle”, I’ve had the honor to observe literally everything that happens in the market place of governance to see who is doing what and what not.
So on an auspicious event like this, unlike the retinue of presidential aides (known and unknown) who would traditionally run a litany of the achievements of their boss; real and imagined alike, I will not join the fray in their endless citations of what has happened since Baba came on board, but would rather concentrate on what drives such gains. Instead of going into details, I’d rather be more theoretical nay, academic in locating what is undoubtedly at the root of the “PMB revolution” as one man observed, which has seen some modicum of sanity and decorum which has eluded us for a very long time, returned to the business of governance.
It is nothing more but the “Body language” of Mr. President since he took captainship of this rudderless ship. This disposition of mind and body, has in no small measure, spread its tentacles across with the impressionistic message that a new era has heralded. A new era where things would be done how they ought to be done. An era which drapes governance in its signature or boilerplate apparel and allow it to walk resplendently to the admiration of courtiers. It is not an era that makes a ragamuffin of governance; but one which elevates it to Olympian heights. These, for us, above all other things is the cream of the Buhari presidency so far and which markedly distinguishes it from those before it and which sits well with the “Change” agenda of the present order.
Exactly one month into the life of this administration, I’d told a friend, an unrepentant “Buahrist” who sought to know my reaction with Baba’s governance at the time, that for the first time we have a leader who from his carriage, understands what is at stake and makes no pretenses that measures to find a way around them would be Sisyphean but not in any case insurmountable with the right discipline and character. Till this day, that is the impression the Man cuts for me.
It is really consoling that we have at the helm of our affairs, a man who appreciates that much of what has held us back, is deep seated in our paucity of attitude. A very, very assertive arrogance that thrives in cavalier management of national issues, and who has come with the sermon of “Attitudinal Change” for both private and public citizens─A veritable ingredient of National growth. And all of these can easily be gleaned from the “Body Language” of Mr. President. It is immaterial that it has been reduced to a pun by little spirits.
Some call it The Buhari bounce. Some, The Buhari Aura. For many still, it is The Buhari Effect. But whatever the semantics of nomenclature, the impression created is that: a “No-Nonsense” character is now the protagonist in our National drama. A man who has no tolerance for “Anyhowness”, a disturbing repugnance for kleptomaniacs and who is ready to rule from a very high moral ground, not minding if it warrants him rising to become the conscience of state, as was Gandhi to India; and Thomas Sankara to Burkina Faso.
Presidential spokesman on Media and Publicity to PMB and my pen friend, Femi Adesina perhaps captured it appropriately in an op-ed piece to commemorate the #100Days extravaganza titled “A New Sheriff is in Town” and I cannot agree less. Femi, in his vintage style of writing wrote, “…When a new sheriff comes into town, disorder gives way to order. Chaos flees. Impunity is swept away. Laxity gives way to diligence and people change their old, unedifying ways. When you have a Wild Wild West situation prevailing, the sheriff comes, and stamps his Authority, old things then pass away, behold everything becomes new…”
The foregoing is an artist impression of what is today unfolding in our polity. It is a perfect picture of the Buhari Effect. Like we have said before now, we’ve always needed an attitudinal change. “Anyhowness” have all these years enmeshed and entangled us and the leaders who took charge of our affairs wittingly or unwittingly ‘supported’ those era of disorderliness. Nigeria, for many, became a sort of game to be hunted by those with the requisite poaching skills and weapons. Holding a public office became an official invitation for such officials to enrich themselves and feed fat from the proverbial and never-finishing “National Cake”.And so we had carried on, leaving the elephant-Nigeria, comatose and behemoth.
But this is what PMB has come to correct it appears, from all indications. And this is what would stand him out from his contemporaries in the event he succeeds through and through. It appears it has been his boyhood dream to restore sanity to the Nation whenever the opportunity to lead presents itself. Small wonder then, why he had initiated the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) 30 years ago when he was the military Head of State─a programme that died with the administration. Even in civilian garb, he appears undone with that life dream. Indeed, what is bred in the bones, never goes out through the flesh. Adesina was right.
The birds of the homestead are now telling their colleagues in the bush that a “New Sheriff is in town” no doubt, and unnecessary chirping is forthwith ruled out, as the new sheriff also has the mandate of his “employers”, to shoot. And sitting up, is just the only option for Justice and Mercy may not ride in the same bus in the tribunal of the new Sheriff.
This is what PMB represents so far for us. And I do not think it is in sync with the cravings of the party which brought him to power. But this no doubt is debatable and would be the subject of another column. Like we have said, #100 days is too little in the life of an administration to write it off. It is too short a time to go harvesting but long enough to see how the farmer would plant. Too much of a time to gauge the poise, the stand, the attitude of that administration and all of these I want to believe PMB has shown much. It is for me, the most fundamental for it has a way of ushering in every other dividends of governance. It is the Launchpad that triggers or sets afoot, the programmes of the government. Call it the “Political will” and you would be just right and the effect is already cascading and nestling into the ministries, departments and agencies of government.
The other day, I was at the Police Station to get a Police Report for a client in respect of a non-received Re-Constructed Union Bank Share Certificate. This was after having sworn an oath of indemnification for Non-receipt of Share Certificate at the High court. After explaining the reason for my visit to the divisional police officer, he told me he cannot order his boys to make such report as there was no proof that the said document was lost in the post, since the company hasn’t written them to that effect. “Barrister, am sorry, I may not be able to order the issuance of such report as it violates protocol. This is an era of “Change” and we are mandated to observe strictly the force protocol” he said. I was instantly caught up in nostalgia. A mixture or joy and sadness took over me. Sad, because I had put too much effort into the process. And happy knowing that the practice of cutting-corners appears to have been ruled out. It brought to mind that with Buhari, “Business would not be as usual” anymore in the Police Force. I left his office happily after discussing national issues that border on the improvement of the Nigerian Police Force and other sundry issues. Dear reader,there cannot be a better evidence of the Buhari effect. An effect that has orderliness at the core of its philosophy and not the organized disorder that window dresses issues.
No doubt, opinions are bound to be divided on PMB’s #100 days and the achievements therein, but objective observers would readily admit that in the last one Hundred days, our affairs have been piloted by a septuagerian who at his age has seen it all, with an unbridled passion to bequeath on this nation a lasting legacy that would make up for her wobbling years and return her to where she belongs. A leader who understands more than anybody else how profusely this nation hemorrhages and is committed to be the physician to heal her wounds. A trailblazer who is not easily given to distractions and impetuousness; but most importantly, one who knows more than everyone of us, that The “Change” project is not negotiable and must be achieved even though not in one fell swoop. For me, this is the most important achievement(s) of the last one Hundred days. It is the Audacity of Hope.
Finally, I like to believe that if he remains consistent and fair for the remainder of his administration with this same attitude to governance, he will score a bull’s eye; and things might just start getting right with us. But until then, we must return to our vantage point once more and watch where this procession to “Change” avenue with baba in front leads. It is today, the 102nd day, but these days certainly, were not wasted days.
Raymond Nkannebe is a Lawyer and Public Affairs Commentator.
Follow me on twitter @RayNkah