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Where do we go from here? President Buhari has shown that integrity is not enough to govern. Politics and disparate ambitions among key actors in government is consuming this administration. Buhari is messing up his own legacy. He can wrestle his administration back from the hands of amphibious destroyers in his government but has he the requisite capacity to do so?


Never in the history of Nigeria has a government frittered away its enormous goodwill within a year like the Buhari presidency has done. The administration is single-minded and does not care about optics. Actually, it has no problem shooting death rays on itself. Optics is perspective, point of view, the outward appearance of burning, rivaling content. Half of politics is optics. It is the management of public perception of a decision more than the substance of the decision itself. Buhari administration’s management of public perception is as outlandish as it is contemptible. For any government, the people constitute the most important asset. Lose them and lose goodwill. No government loses the people and succeeds. The people and their support are important to the success of government, and perception of the government by the people is central to getting that support.

Buhari came to power bearing the high hopes and aspirations we invested in him. Within 18 months, hope has been replaced by despair and aspirations by disillusionment. It started with the management of petroleum scarcity before the price increase. The nation groped for weeks in the dark, looking for answers. The president and his information managers kept mum. When they chose to speak, they rubbed iodine on our festering wounds. What started as a mistake here and a mistake there graduated and manifested more and more as sheer incompetence and insularity among Aso rock loyalists and even in-house saboteurs. The result is a government at war with itself, a party in disarray, and a people in despair.

It bears no telling that performance is the currency of any government. Performance is important because it promotes trust in government. Without measurable performance, citizens cannot trust the government. It is a relationship that feeds itself. No government can work effectively without the trust of the governed because trust is essential to obtaining resources for executing vital programmes. There can be no available resources if the people do not trust government to spend their money wisely. That is why the public has shown very little enthusiasm for the $30 billion loan the president seeks to fund his plans. How many times have we heard from Buhari? A leader must seek to engage, educate and inform people on his vision for the country. Has he ever taken his case to the Nigerian people? How about having a townhall meeting? How about meeting with ordinary Nigerians and assuaging their pains and frustrations at a time of economic uncertainty like this? Has his hijackers prevented him from talking to Nigerians? There is no doubt that President Buhari lives in a cocoon of indifference. Unless he wants to compete with Goodluck Jonathan on incompetence, he has to change and fast too.

Every misstep, goes to confirm the sense that this government lacks vision, direction and a roadmap. It is also evident that a lot of people are working at cross purpose within the administration with focus on who becomes the president in 2019, instead of working to improve the lot of ordinary Nigerians.


Last week, a faceless, yet to be ientified individual within the Nigerian Communications Commission issued a directive in support of unfair competitive advantage to some companies without the approval of the minister. He authorised rate hikes for telecoms network providers without ministerial approval. The furore over data rate hikes caught the minister and the presidency flat footed. Why? It shows that Nigeria is a country of anything goes. It shows that there is no one in charge.

The minister hurriedly issued a reversal of the directive. Since the suspension of the rate hike, no one person has been punished or sacked for causing embarrassment to the minister and the president. It is how Nigeria rolls! Actions do not have consequences. Every senior public office holder is a tin god, an untouchable. What about the optics of 30 custom made Louis Vuitton boxes for his daughter’s wedding at a time when workers are owed six months salaries in some states?

Every misstep, goes to confirm the sense that this government lacks vision, direction and a roadmap. It is also evident that a lot of people are working at cross purpose within the administration with focus on who becomes the president in 2019, instead of working to improve the lot of ordinary Nigerians. As they say, perception is everything. The mood on the street is sour, Nigerians are not connected to their president. Most Nigerians do not experience their political leaders first hand; they rely on the media to learn about their elected officials and what is going on. These days, there is nothing in the media except political fights and the jostle for the heart and soul of Nigeria. The anti-corruption fight has not recorded any successful prosecution, the economy is in free fall, more than half the budget has already been implemented yet no one feels it, Boko Haram seem to be regaining strength and killing officers with ease, Nigerians are treated to policy somersaults with no clear path to development.

The electorate knows what constitutes good policy when they see it. Efficient, transparent, accountable and honest implementation of good policy choices will always produce positive outcomes. Go back to these tested basics and regain the people’s trust or risk a legacy of no achievement and incompetence.


Where do we go from here? President Buhari has shown that integrity is not enough to govern. Politics and disparate ambitions among key actors in government is consuming this administration. Buhari is messing up his own legacy. He can wrestle his administration back from the hands of amphibious destroyers in his government but has he the requisite capacity to do so?

Here are the metrics. President Buhari cannot succeed unless his government delivers value by providing infrastructure and creating the enabling environment for creating jobs that will produce public goods and services. It is called efficiency. To gain trust, the people have to be able to see what is going on for themselves. Perception is often reality, so showing the public what is really happening can inspire positive perception. It is called transparency. You can’t be aloof, indifferent and be a great leader. Tell us, and tell us often what you are going to do, and give us an account of your performance at the level of outputs and outcomes. It is called accountability. Promote honesty and ethical behaviour by creating a culture that does not tolerate cutting corners or lowering standards. Give Nigeria good policy development processes that translate public needs and conditions into a coherent set of actionable strategies; it is called good policy choices. The electorate knows what constitutes good policy when they see it. Efficient, transparent, accountable and honest implementation of good policy choices will always produce positive outcomes. Go back to these tested basics and regain the people’s trust or risk a legacy of no achievement and incompetence.

Bámidélé Adémólá-Olátéjú a farmer, youth advocate and political analyst writes this weekly column, “Bamidele Upfront” for the PREMIUM TIMES. Follow me on Twitter @olufunmilayo