Buhari’s inadequate best
IN a very rare moment of candour last week, President Muhammadu Buhari admitted to Nigerians through his conversation with the Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo, Ewuare II, that the performance of his administration in the power sector was not “good enough.” The traditional ruler had led a delegation of the Edo State Council of Traditional Rulers and chiefs on a visit to the president to request his intervention in the power supply situation in Edo State, which the rulers described as “a pathetic situation.”
But then the power situation which the royal team from Edo State bemoaned and called a pathetic one is actually a reflection of the national experience, with very scant variances in a few places. Even then, those specific places can hardly boast of an uninterrupted power supply for 24 hours despite the humongous investments in the power sector by successive administrations. President Buhari eventually had to resort to appealing to Nigerians for calm, while urging them to be patient with the distribution companies as they strived to deliver on their mandates. A statement from his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, quoted the president as saying that even though his administration had put in its best to improve the power sector in the past four years, especially in the area of improvement in gas supplies, the performance was not good enough.
President Buhari certainly betrayed an uncommon, honest self-indictment here that was shorn of partisanship and for which he deserves commendation even from his vilest critics, at least for admitting the challenges ranged against him by reason of ineptitude and naivety. It would however be apposite if he would extend his critical gaze to other areas where his administration is equally hobbled by similar deficiencies. For instance, if the president would care to jog his memory a little bit, he would easily recall the three-pronged manifesto which spurred his ascendancy into office, namely addressing insecurity, revamping the economy and fighting corruption, all encapsulated in the change mantra. His performance, for the sake of fairness and clarity, will be scored on all these three by posterity.
It wasn’t too long after he was ushered in for his first term that a sleight of the hand by his trusted officials, in genuinely banal caprice, altered the change mantra to “change begins with me,” darkly suggesting that the citizens should be held responsible for any change if such ever occurred. From that point, not a few people lost confidence in the promises of the new administration and for which it arguably lost ample ground in popularity ratings as reflected in the recent general election.
The security of the country which really nosedived during the former administrations and for which Nigerians expected some degree of reprieve from the president on account of his military antecedents refused to yield to his expertise or experience. On the contrary, the security issues confronting the country actually worsened, aggravated by the herdsmen’s terrorism which has upped the death toll in the country in unprecedented numbers. Although the country managed to crawl out of the recession which heralded his first term in 2015, its current place in the global economy as the world’s poverty headquarters is certainly a downer in every respect. That ignoble position gives the lie to the much touted potential in human and natural resources. In any case, if the government has done its best in the economy, why is the country now the poverty capital of the world?
It is clear, going by the Corruption Perception Index, that the corruption conundrum in which the country was inextricably mired before this administration came on board in 2015 has not waned. Rather, it has worsened. And, what is more, the recent dropping of corruption charges by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against certain politicians perceived to have done the administration’s bidding during the recent elections in the National Assembly cannot be deemed to be helpful to the cause of the anti-graft ‘war’. The war has been largely hypocritical and selective in a manner that allows critics to infer that even the fight against corruption is itself frighteningly corrupt.
So, where then has Mr. President’s best been good enough in all of the three-pronged agenda? Where has he demonstrated capacity? To be sure, he needs all the assistance he can get from capable hands to steer the administration aright, but he must be ready to supervise closely and remain focused on the delivery of democratic dividends in order to establish his much vaunted dreams for the country.