Five Reasons Buhari Is Failing - By Dr. Malcolm Fabiyi


IM

Over one year later, the promise
of change has become a premise
of doom. Nigeria is ravaged by
an economy in recession,
heightening insecurity, epileptic
power supply and a host of other ills.
In the 2015 elections, Mr.
Muhammadu Buhari convinced
Nigerians to do something that
had never been done before –
turn power over to the opposition party at the national
level. In return, Nigerians expect
him and his party, the APC, to do
something that is hard to do –
successfully steer Nigeria
through turbulent economic and political waters.
The Nigerian people have held
up their side of the bargain, by
sweeping Mr. Buhari to the
presidency and delivering the
Senate, House of Representatives and the Governorship of a
plurality of states to the APC. In
doing so, Nigerians provided Mr.
Buhari with every tool that a
President needs to succeed.
Over one year later, the promise of change has become a premise
of doom. Nigeria is ravaged by
an economy in recession,
heightening insecurity, epileptic
power supply and a host of
other ills. Here are five major factors that
have contributed to the Buhari
government’s failings in steering
the Nigerian ship of state.
Issue 1: No sense of urgency
Mr. Buhari is slow and steady. However, while a slow and
steady hand might be needed
for a pediatrician that delivers
babies, fast and firm hands are
required for a surgeon that is
working in the emergency wing of a hospital. Nigeria is in the
emergency wing. Patient
Nigeria’s condition cannot be
managed with aspirin. The
nation needs to be wheeled
immediately into the operating theater and worked on,
fervently, and with a sense of
utmost urgency.
Mr. Buhari does not seem to
have the same view of the
condition of patient Nigeria that the rest of the country has. Six
months into his administration,
Buhari was yet to name his
government. When the names
emerged, it was one that he
could have come up with on day one. No one knows how hard
Mr.Buhari tried to find capable
Nigerians to join him in steering
the ship of state. Yet somehow,
of the 170 million Nigerians that
are alive, some of whom are doing big things in Nigeria and
beyond, it was the present batch
of overused, recycled names and
faces that Mr. Buhari brought
forward.
No one knows how Mr. Buhari made his selection. No one
knows why it took him six
months to select a weak bench.
However, this is how the world’s
best nations and companies do
it: they commission experts to do the job. The experts would
be given a brief, told the types of
men and women that the
government is seeking, and
asked to roam the world in
search of talent. Nigeria does this all the time when we are seeking
for soccer talent to put in the
National teams.
Mr. Buhari’s lack of urgency
extends beyond how he
selected his cabinet. For the last two years, Fulani herdsmen and
farming communities have
engaged in what can only be
called ethnicwarfare - that has
razed villages to the ground and
killed thousands of people. Yet nothing has been done to stop
the killings. The power sector is
comatose, yet no workable,
practical plan has been put
forward for addressing the
issues. Militancy is on the rise in the Niger Delta, yet no coherent
plan for winning the war or
policing the peace has been
proposed.
And for a nation that is trying to
encourage foreign direct investment, it should not take
over one year to appoint
ambassadors.
Issue 2: Hiring for loyalty
Mr. Buhari values loyalty above
all things. It is easy to understand why this is the case.
Mr. Buhari was aided to power in
1983 by his friends. By 1985,
the same friends had toppled
him. Mr. Buhari seems to have
decided that he prefers brothers to friends. In speeches and
comments that he has made
since becoming President, Mr.
Buhari has used the loyalty
argument to explain away his
most baffling appointments. A President that is committed to
success, must act in the interest
of the nation. They must be
willing and open to making
themselves vulnerable, if that is
the price of progress. Without overcoming this inner battle that
drives them towards loyalty
above all else, they will be
doomed to embracing the
familiar but frail grip of
mediocrity rather than the uncertain but ultimately
successful grasp of progress.
Issue 3: Policy Vacuum
At the beginning of his
administration, Mr. Buhari told
Nigerians the many things he thought was wrong with the
country. He bemoaned the fact
that Nigerians imported things
as basic as toothpick. He talked
about how frustrated he was
that the judicial system was hampering his anti-corruption
war.
Almost one year later, nothing
has changed. Mr. Buhari, the
President of the Federal Republic
of Nigeria and leader of the party that controls the Senate and the
House of Representatives is still
lamenting.
Not a single coherent and
consistent policy framework that
is aimed at correcting many of the ills that Buhari has
complained about have been
put in place. Nothing has been
done to make it easier for
Nigerian businessmen to
manufacture toothpick in Nigeria than for them to import it. There
are no trains and inland water
networks that will help them
transport the wood that they
need from the forests to the
cities where their production sites and customers are. There
are no plans for providing them
with the energy they need to cut
the wood, shave and package
it.There are no policies that
provide investors with access to capital at interest rates that
encourage local production.
There are no environmental
policies that will regulate how
trees are cut down and ensure
that deforestation does not result, once we start making our
own toothpick.
It does not matter what sector
one looks at, the issues are
exactly the same – the Buhari
government is doing nothing of substance to enable Nigeria’s
growth. Till date, the Petroleum
Industry Bill, which experts all
agree is key to unlocking the
immense potential of Nigeria’s
downstream oil sector has continued to languish.
Issue 4: A Half Hearted Anti -
Corruption War
Mr. Buhari rode to power on the
back of the Horse called
Anticorruption. Over one year later, Nigerians are still watching
the horse show. Not a single
conviction has been secured in
any of the major corruption
cases. Despite over one year of
high drama, corruption has not been banished in the country
that is led by a man elected on
the platform of eradicating
corruption.
Buhari has complained about
the judicial system that drags out cases, and a judiciary that
appears complicit in corruption.
Yet, he has not sent a single bill
to the national assembly to
modify Nigeria’s laws so that the
walls of protection that the current laws offer to the corrupt
can be brought down. And for
those who would argue that the
National Assembly would never
pass such bills – here is what the
Nigerian people say: let the President at least try and then he
will see how a nation will rise to
defend a President that is
carrying out the will of the
people.
In poll after poll , Nigerians have demonstrated that they will
support the President if he as to
ask for speedier trials and stiffer
penalties.
Corruption comes dressed as
many things. In its most familiar garb, it is the pilfering of public
funds. But corruption is also
providing employment to ones
cronies and family members
without due process. While the
political expediency of ignoring corruption within one’s own
party can be understood, it
should not be tolerated.
Corruption is an infectious
disease. It cannot be managed.
It needs to be eradicated. So far, Mr. Buhari has not lived
up to the lofty expectations
Nigerians had. As time passes,
Mr. Buhari’s anti-corruption war
increasingly seems to be little
more than a handy distraction for an increasingly critical
populace.
Issue 5: Economy -Firefighting
Approach, No Strategy
When the history of Mr. Buhari’s
term in office will be written, Nigerians will not remember
how many people were locked
up for corruption. They will not
remember how many Boko
Haram insurgents were taken off
the battle field. They will not remember how many pipelines
were blown up by militants.
They will only remember
whether it was a period of
prosperity or a period of lack. So
far, Buhari’s term has been a period of abject lack and
debilitating poverty.
For those who say Mr. Buhari
inherited a mess that needs time
to be cleaned up, here is a simple
response: it was a mess he fought hard to inherit. Mr. Buhari
was not running for president in
Egypt. From 2003 till 2015 – 12
long years, Mr. Buhari fought for
the opportunity to lead Nigeria.
He knew that Nigeria was not saving for a rainy day. He knew
that oil prices were dropping
precipitously. He knew that the
national assembly was expert at
padding budgets. He knew that
politicians and civil servants were pilfering public funds. He
talked about all these problems
incessantly when he was
running for office.
Anyone looking to see how
courageous leaders respond when they inherit a mess should
look to Barack Obama. In 2008,
he was handed the worst
recession that America had seen
in over 40 years. His response
was epic. He rolled out the largest stimulus program ever
implemented by a nation, and
hired the best minds in the
country. He also threw petty
loyalties aside and invited former
rivals like Hilary Clinton into his cabinet. Seven years later, 15
million jobs have been gained,
and the USA is perhaps the best
performing developed economy
in the world.
Despite knowing Nigeria’s dire condition, Mr. Buhari did not
seem prepared for the challenge
of running a nation that was
overly reliant on a single
commodity for its sustenance.
One year later, nothing seems to have changed. While the Buhari
government’s fiscal policy is
supposedly geared towards
encouraging investment, the
monetary policy put out by the
central bank is geared towards mopping up liquidity. Raising
interest rates is a way to reduce
inflation if the reason for rising
prices is an excess of cash in the
system. In Nigeria’s case,
inflation was caused by the weakening of the Naira, not
excess liquidity.
There must be better
coordination in his government.
Fiscal and monetary policy must
be aligned. However, there can be no coordination until the
strategic aims of the government
becomes clear to all. What
exactly is the goal of the Buhari
government? Is the goal to
increase employment or to curb inflation? Is the goal to
encourage local production, or
encourage foreign direct
investment? Or is it to do all of
the above? What sectors are
being targeted for growth? The sad truth is this – no one in
Buhari’s government can
articulate what the strategic aims
are. And if they can, they are
certainly not sharing that
information with Nigerians. Conclusion
Mr. Buhari can still succeed.
However, to right this sinking
ship, he must do some things
that he has not shown himself
capable of doing in the last year – recognize the fierce urgency of
the moment, overcome his
innermost fears, and do right by
the Nigerian people. Nigerians
still believe in change. In the
balance of his term, President Buhari must show himself
worthy of the trust of the
Nigerian people by giving them
a government worthy of their
expectations.