After 100 days in office and his engagement with ministries and agencies, President Buhari needs to start engaging Nigerians on programme implementation and the way forward. As for us citizens, we should all remain vigilant in assessing our leaders and ensuring they deliver on their promises.
Nigeria is definitely moving fast along the path of good governance. My confidence derives, among other things, from the massive debate among Nigerians over the performance of President Muhammadu Buhari, following 100 days in power. The President’s aides were so alarmed by questions being asked about promises in the document “Muhammadu Buhari: My Covenant with Nigerians”, which commits the President to specific achievements in the first 100 days that they dissociated their boss from the document. I don’t know the exact source of the document but whether it emanated from the Presidential Campaign Team, the All Progressives Congress (APC) or any of the public relations firms that worked for the then campaigning candidate, a promise is a promise and cannot be shoved aside. The campaign document in question is particularly well crafted and spells out in clear details specific deliverables Nigerians should expect from Muhammadu Buhari, were he to win the election. He won and therefore all Nigerians need to become monitors to ensure our President keeps to his words. I believe that the President made promises with every intention of keeping them.
There are two important issues about campaign promises that we as citizens should note. The first is that in a democracy, candidates are voted for on the basis of their promises to the electorate and the belief of voters’ that they will keep to these promises. In Nigeria, because we have had a long history of electoral fraud and godfathers, rather than voters deciding electoral outcomes, there is a very poor tradition of citizens demanding that promises be kept. Voters knew that they never voted for the said officeholders in the first place and therefore did not have high expectations. Nigerians did vote for President Buhari and it’s appropriate that they are scrutinising and assessing the President to ensure he keeps to his word. The second important issue about campaign promises is that candidates, pushed by public relations firms and campaign teams tend to promise more than they can deliver, if and when elected.
On assuming office therefore, they try to tone down their promises and engage in creating justifications about the difficulty of the realities they find in office. It is also the case that in certain situations, the nature of the problems encountered by governance teams is much worse than what they had anticipated. That might be the case for President Buhari who assumed power after voters disgraced out the most corrupt and irresponsible government in our history. In such situations, the best approach is to engage the people in a sincere discussion on the nature of the problems encountered. Citizens are not stupid, they usually have a clear idea of what is possible or impossible and what timelines are realistic.
The Buharimeter has collected data on the campaign promises by tracking the media, campaign rallies and publications, and identified 222 clear promises made to Nigerians. The promises and issues are displayed on the website and citizens and other stakeholders are invited to engage with the process of monitoring governance in Nigeria.
Sincere and committed politicians who have exaggerated in their campaign promises have every right and indeed the obligation to issue reality checks to the citizenry on their programmes with revised timelines. After 100 days in office and his engagement with ministries and agencies, President Buhari needs to start engaging Nigerians on programme implementation and the way forward. As for us citizens, we should all remain vigilant in assessing our leaders and ensuring they deliver on their promises.
In this regard, the Centre for Democracy and Development has shown its commitment to civic engagement by setting up the BUHARIMETER to continuously monitor the implementation of programmes and the delivery of the results candidate Buhari promised Nigerians. The Buharimeter (www.buharimeter.ng) is a monitoring tool that enables Nigerians to keep tabs on the implementation of the campaign promises of President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Congress (APC). It is an independent and non-partisan monitoring platform. The Buharimeter has collected data on the campaign promises by tracking the media, campaign rallies and publications, and identified 222 clear promises made to Nigerians. The promises and issues are displayed on the website and citizens and other stakeholders are invited to engage with the process of monitoring governance in Nigeria.
In general, Nigerians are happy with Buhari’s 100 days in office. One objective reason is that he has kept to his promise of prioritising the provision of security to Nigerians and combatting the Boko Haram insurgency with sincerity and efficacy. Since the relocation of the Military Command and Control Centre (MCCC) from Abuja to Maiduguri following his inauguration, Nigerians have seen considerable success in the war against the insurgency. His timeline of ending the insurgency within three months of the marching order to the defence team is realistic and needs to be monitored to ensure that the work remains on track. Meanwhile measures have been taken to rebuild the morale of the armed forces and also to provide them all the military assets they need. There are other forms of insecurity affecting the country such as rural banditry, kidnapping and oil theft, as well as the sabotage of infrastructural facilities, which need to be monitored also.
The other major war Nigerians are looking up to is the one against corruption. The Buhari Administration in its bid to block leakages has established a Single Treasury Account for all federal revenues. To institutionalise accountability within the Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs), the president gave directives that civil servants must henceforth respond to auditor’s queries within 24 hours and all pending queries must be responded to within 30 days. To strengthen the fight against corruption, a seven-member Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption headed by Professor Itse Sagay was constituted to advice the administration on the prosecution of its anti-corruption war. Meanwhile, Nigerians are awaiting indications on what will be done to revamp our anti-corruption agencies, notably the EFCC and ICPC as we await Pricewater Coopers (PWC) and KPMG who are conducting forensic audits into the accounts of all revenue-generating agencies of the government.
On the whole, the major concern Nigerians have is that the President is not talking sufficiently with them. He has to engage citizens more… 100 days is an important milestone but monitoring governance must be a continuous process if we are to continue deepening our democracy.
In terms of improving infrastructure, most eyes are on the issue of the dramatically increasing power supply in the country. Since Buhari came into power, there has been a noticeable improvement in electricity supply. At the tail end of the Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, Nigeria witnessed a decline in her power output, to an all-time low of 1,327MW in May 2015. On July 29, 2015, the management of Transmission Company of Nigeria announced that the national grid transmission has recorded an increase from 4,000MW in early July to its highest peak of 4,810.7MW as at August 25. Nigerians however need to know what the plans are to take Nigeria to a higher level where there is sufficient electricity to drive a major industrialisation programme. As for the petroleum sector, Nigerians have seen the promise of reviving our refineries. Major reorganisation is also ongoing in the NNPC. The government is however yet to take any concrete steps towards the implementation of its campaign promise to pass a workable Petroleum Industry Bill; to establish an independent Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority; to introduce a strong local content legislation; and create a domestic supply chain, amongst others.
On the whole, the major concern Nigerians have is that the President is not talking sufficiently with them. He has to engage citizens more. For their part, each and every Nigerian needs to be more aware of what our political leaders promised us and closely monitor them to ensure that they deliver. If they do not deliver, of course Nigerians now know that they have the option of voting them out. 100 days is an important milestone but monitoring governance must be a continuous process if we are to continue deepening our democracy.
A development consultant and expert, Jibrin Ibrahim is a Fellow of the Centre for Democracy and Development and Chair of the Editorial Board of Premium Times.