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Friday, 10 July 2015
Mr President ,"The Honeymoon" Is Over.
I believe every new government deserves a Grace Period. A time frame to overcome inertia, put its house in order, develop a policy statement without undermining prevailing circumstances in the polity. Selecting capable hands to pursue its policies, clean the "mess" of the outgoing administration if any and settle down fully to the business of governance. Within this period, obvious gaffes from the government can be overlooked, they can be spared of strong criticisms and pampered to gain confidence to steer the ship of the nation. These concessions are within the context of "ceteris paribus".
The resurgence of Boko Haram activities with its attendant loss of innocent lives, destruction of properties and fear in the populace has altered the status quo and automatically ended the grace period the new government was enjoying. Issues of Insecurity, Economy and Corruptions were the three major points the APC based its campaigns on. The last administration inability to tackle these issues with the urgency it needed led to its ouster. The inauguration of the new government took place on May 29th, 2015.
Nigerians waited with bated breath to see how the new government would tackle these pressing issues. They hope to enjoy true changes for the first time in 16years of its democracy, but events in the last 42 days has started raising question about the direction of the new government. The inability of the new government to form a cabinet has created uncertainty in the polity. Investors are still watching and waiting; a cursory look at the decline in the stock market gives credence to this fact. The Naira to Dollar rate is at its lowest in the Nation's history. Economically, the nation is on standstill.
Some pundits are of the opinion that the government can do without ministers. They base their argument on the fact that even without a cabinet the government has been running, this argument is laughable. The Nigerian polity is tailored in a way that it can even run on autopilot. There will always be motion, but having movement is what matters. Ministers are needed to coordinate activities in the various ministries in order to bring the policies of a government to fruition. There is a limit to what permanent secretaries can do.
Ministerial appointment is also a constitutional requirement. Although, the time frame to make such appointments was not explicitly stated in the Nigerian constitution, but their appointments and importance cannot be undermined. The delay in forming a cabinet has left many in doubt especially political circles; this is also responsible for the many internal wrangling in the polity. Even the secretary to the government of the federation is yet to be named despite its importance.
Today, Boko Haram insurgents who had earlier been routed out of Nigerian territory now carry out simultaneous attacks in the country with impunity leaving death, blood, pains and ruins in its trail, reminisce of the heydays of insurgency. What are the new government security policy and/or marshal plan to end or curtail this resurgence? More often, the presidency releases a statement that the insurgents will be crushed. But then release another statement that they will negotiate with the insurgents.
This flip-flop approach was the path the previous government took and paid dearly for it. The fight against terrorism no doubt requires a multi-disciplinary approach, but without taking a firm decision on how to kill the cancer, we will keep moving in circles. Is the government continuing with the policy of the previous administration? If no, why is the present government retaining the NSA and service chiefs of the previous administration? Suffice to say that the present government criticized their handling of the insurgency? So why still retain them? What has changed? These are the questions in the mind of Nigerians home and abroad.
Other decisions and/or indecision of the present government during the grace period can be excused or rationalized but the security of lives and properties of its citizens, which is its foremost responsibility, can never be overlooked. Boko Haram has ended Buhari's honeymoon. These recent attacks has brought to fore the urgency of having a competent cabinet to pilot the affairs of the nation. Fighting insurgency is not a piece of cake, every hand must be on deck, and every arm and apparatus of governance must function at its highest ebb to achieve meaningful progress.
Finally, President Muhammadu Buhari must realize that he is viewed as the most prepared president in Nigerian's history. Apart from the fact that he has ruled this nation before, he contested for the office of the president four consecutive times. It would have been better if he had lost again and join the league of the "best president Nigeria never had" than to win and fail especially with the huge expectations in the nation. His delayed decisions/indecision is causing a lot of uncertainty in the polity and that is a luxury we cannot afford at this time. We need to know the direction of the new government to guide our expectations and give support where necessary.