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Monday, 7 September 2015

The First 100 Days of Buhari By THISDAY Editorial Board Members




The Morning Shows The Day…
All over the world, newspapers are known for taking positions on contemporary issues within their environments in anonymously authored pieces that officially represent the views of the publication. That then explains why editorials command more weight than the opinions of individual writers, essentially because in the case of the former, the publication is putting its reputation behind every word. But there are those who argue that to be taken seriously, views and positions on critical issues must be attributed to known authorship for the sake of transparency and accountability.
According to Tom Clark, an opinion writer with The Guardian of UK, “without named authors and affiliations, readers lack information to judge the objectivity and credibility of the articles. Although this practice is the norm for newspaper editorial pages, it has fallen out of use in most peer-reviewed journals. One rationale for anonymity has been that editorials, signed or not, represent the official opinion of the publication or the owner of the publication. However, such anonymity distances the real author(s) from accountability.”
As a newspaper, THISDAY publishes editorials from Sunday to Friday (only the Saturday edition does not carry an editorial) and as members of the editorial board we take positions on behalf of the publisher who has entrusted to us that responsibility. But in continuation of a tradition we started in October 2011, we are today conveying, not the position of the newspaper or its publisher, but the individual opinions of the editorial board members as we seek to expand the frontiers of journalism in our country.
The occasion of course is the first 100 days of President Muhammadu Buhari, the first Nigerian to defeat an incumbent in a watershed election which was held in March this year. What we present in this edition is not necessarily a report card of the president in the last 100 days but a reflection of the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians for the new administration.
In “Buhari’s Ambiguous Adventure”, Chidi Amuta examines how the president can quickly translate good intentions into measurable positive changes in the lives of ordinary people while Eddie Iroh argues in his intervention on perception and image management that “in politics a reputation built over a life time, and promises made during a long and arduous campaign can be damaged by a single act of omission or commission.”
President Buhari’s style in his first 100 days in office, according to Waziri Adio, “seems to be defined by two words: inscrutable and unpredictable”, even when “the two tendencies are further yoked together by an unexpressed, and possibly unconscious or subconscious, desire by the president to do things simply on his own terms.” That disposition may have explained the appointment, in acting capacity, of Mrs Amina Bala Zakari as INEC boss, a decision X-rayed by Maryam Uwais against the background of some deliberate misinformation.
In his piece, “Time to Imbibe Democratic Ethos”, Sonnie Ekwowusi states that Buhari “has managed, even if symbolically, to pass across the strong message that the days of profligacy, reckless expenditure and looting of treasury in government are over”. But he warns the president to resist the strong temptation of running a monolithic hierarchical government. On her part, Eugenia Abu reminds us that Nigeria is not a jungle hence the need for discipline and orderliness, virtues which the president successfully preached in his former life as a military Head of State.
Apparently dissatisfied with the last 100 days, Tony Ipriye Uranta contends that that “with political appointments as well as that of security agencies all picked from one section of the country (which he claimed gave him 97 percent of their votes), President Buhari has opened himself up to legitimate accusations that he is now perceived as more of an ethnic champion than the leader of Nigeria.” But Peter Ishaka believes that the president is doing exceedingly well by following his own path and living a simple life, devoid of any razzmatazz. With his artistic strokes, Bisi Ogunbadejo sends his message loud and clear!
In “Changing the Corruption Paradigm”, Angela G. Attah canvasses for the rule of law and a clear strategy in pursuing the war against corruption. That position was complimented by Ekanem Etim-Offiong who argues that “in order to stand a chance at meeting our expectations of ourselves, and the expectations of others on us, the insecurity issue, which was the top of the nation’s wish list, has to be tackled head on, and now.” And for this reporter, “whether he succeeds or fails, the answer is now in President Buhari’s hands”.
We hope readers will enjoy what we serve today as we, members of THISDAY Edtorial Board, wish President Buhari the best today and always.
---OLUSEGUN ADENIYI


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EDITORIAL BOARD
Chairman: Olusegun Adeniyi; Members: Eddie Iroh, Chidi Amuta, Maryam Uwais, Waziri Adio, Tony Uranta, Eugenia Abu, Angela Attah, Ekanem Etim-Offiong, Femi Falana, Akin Osuntokun, Sonnie Ekwowusi, Bisi Ogunbadejo, Peter Ishaka and Okey Ikechukwu.


Buhari’s Ambiguous Adventure
BY CHIDI AMUTA
The euphoria of the newness of something old and familiar is nearly gone. The cascade of expectations around President Muhammadu Buhari soon after inauguration have now crystallized around two broad questions: How does he prove to the broad majority of Nigerians that he can convert his cult popularity in parts of the country into a force for the common good? Will he leave office with the aura of his famed integrity and personal mystique intact?
The first question implies that President Buhari quickly translates good intentions into measurable positive changes in the lives of ordinary people. The mantra of change on which he rode into office must become ‘change we can see and feel!’ The second question dictates that, given his age, he owes it to himself, his children and indeed the nation to quickly enter into a legacy mode and begin to contemplate how he wants to be remembered.
The fierce urgency of the moment is how Buhari ensures that the throngs that came out to hail him on the campaign trail do not transform into disappointed angry mobs that would hurl stones at his convoy four years down the road or even sooner. In my experience of the trajectory of popularity of political leaders, ‘Hail Caesar!’ very often soon becomes ‘Nail Caesar!” The dividing line can be very thin indeed.
President Buhari’s return to power is largely predicated on one major overriding collective need: our communal desire for a leader whom we can respectfully ‘fear’ in the serious business of doing Nigeria right. Given that predication, Buhari’s task, as a national leader is ultimately the management of that fear. He has surprisingly not said or done much to frighten anyone since donning the Presidential toga. Beyond routine predictable pronouncements on mundane issues of governance and public accountability, he has hardly threatened anyone. But the threat of consequences is inherent in his body language. And that body language is sufficiently threatening as to compel the signs of conformity that we are beginning to see in some spheres.
The President has functioned more like a lonely old chap who returned to a devastated homestead after a prolonged absence to find that there is so much housekeeping and repair work to do. And he has set about the mending process to the best of his understanding. In the process, he has set in motion a torrent of contradictory forces that will, for good or ill, determine the fate of his presidency.
For obvious historical reasons, this president is not likely to be judged like any other leader in this era. The parameters for his evaluation are inbuilt in the nature of his tedious career and fortuitous second coming. He will be judged first as an ‘old soldier’, a member of that elite corps of nationalistic officers who appropriated to themselves the task of re-uniting Nigeria by fighting and concluding a most unfortunate civil war which, in any case, the armed forces helped to precipitate. Next, he will be judged as someone with previous experience in the leadership of the Nigerian behemoth, albeit one whose previous signature drips of draconian excesses. His allowance for apprenticeship and avoidable error is therefore meager.
Then there is the burden of age, the albatross of a generational curse. I believe he belongs to a generation that Wole Soyinka once characterized as ‘wasted’. His return to power becomes in that sense a last desperate attempt by a member of that generation to redress what is arguably a historic betrayal. People therefore expect Buhari to salvage himself, his generation, and the military profession and, in the process, re-establish the missing beacons of Nigeria’s tortured nationhood.
It is only fair to admit that so far President Buhari has displayed reasonable understanding of the imperatives of his unenviable job. He literally scrambled the presidential jet a day after inauguration and headed for Chad and Niger in hot pursuit of Boko Haram. Armed with neither a foreign policy template nor any known corps of foreign policy advisers and accompanied mostly by an incoherent assortment of party faithful, friends and otiose bureaucrats, the man has travelled to G7 in Germany and the African Union in South Africa. He has played mascot guest of the White House, flying the flag of a more orderly and responsible Nigeria.
While most of his foreign trips are excusable junkets in the line of his new job, his diplomatic excursions to encircle the rag tag Boko Haram terrorists need commendation. The likelihood that he will rein in the Boko Haram miscreants in a couple of months is indeed high. The signs are good as soldiers sent after Boko Haram militants have started capturing more of cattle than terrorist war prisoners. The imminent defeat of Boko Haram will be no mean feat in a world where terrorism tends to proliferate and stubbornly endure.
In President Buhari’s progress so far, one can discern a measure of altruism and seriousness of purpose. No one can deny that in today’s Nigeria, there is a feeling that someone is in charge. For those who have insisted that the problem of Nigeria has been largely one of leadership, it is safe to say that Mr. Buhari has so far stepped forward to provide the much-needed leadership. For one thing, most Nigerians believe that the president and his deputy possess the requisite moral credibility and honesty of purpose to lead the nation at this point. Therefore, integrity of the leadership persona may be the defining contribution of the APC to our political history if matters remain the way they are.
To this extent, very few can deny that Buhari has altered the mood of the nation from one of utter hopelessness to one of conditional optimism in so short a time. All that has been done without a roar. Just the knowledge that there is a man at the helm who is likely to demand accountability and fiercely exert consequences has forced the leadership of a good number of public institutions to begin to self-correct.  The feeling is palpable as you step into any of the international airports from outside the country. Officialdom has regained a certain sense of duty and seriousness. A sense of order is visible even though the fog of recent lawlessness remains evident. Electricity supply in most parts of urban Nigeria has inched up. But people remain skeptical as to whether it will last.
No one expects that the president will have tackled the more serious structural economic problems in only three months. He has hardly even indicated the direction of his economic policy. All we have had so far is an avalanche of ever changing fiscal and monetary policy twitches from the Central Bank. In the absence of an economic team, an effete Central Bank has been saddled with developing and implementing both fiscal and monetary policies for over 90 days with arguably disastrous consequences.
Most of the recent financial regulations seem geared towards catching the bigger public sector thieves of yesterday and hedging against dwindling oil prices. But there is great work to be done on the economy. The Naira remains on a free fall due partly to record decline in oil prices and the greed of bankers who insist on sitting on troves of American dollars acquired mostly for speculative purposes. Youth unemployment will have to be addressed while our decrepit infrastructure waits for attention.
Expectedly, Buhari has declared a limited operation against corruption. Perhaps more than the confrontation with Boko Haram, this engagement is a rather tricky but necessary one. It has too many targets ranging from your gateman to the faith merchant at your church; from the presiding judge over your land case to the big government minister in Abuja. But at least a beginning is being made somewhere. But the president must expect the captains of the corruption industry to fight back. And people who have enough cash to float bigger private armies than some African countries should not be underrated. But the anti-corruption war is a pre-requisite for any talk about Nigeria’s development both as a democracy and as a fair society without the prevailing frightening inequality. At this stage, the most important aspect of the anti-corruption crusade should be the retrieval of looted funds. Simply put, just follow the money Mr. President and let the courts do their part.
Since assuming office, Buhari has not said much about the manifesto of his party. But that is mostly all that Nigerians should have to hold him and the APC to their campaign promises. That document and the pre-election pronouncements of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo indicate a clear social democratic idealism. Matters like mid-day free school feeding, affordable universal primary healthcare, free primary and secondary education and cash handouts to the poor and unemployed indicate that the APC as a party dreams of living up to its ‘progressive’ epithet. These incidentally are the areas that will appeal to Buhari’s mass followership especially in the northern half of Nigeria. But how will Mr. Buhari find the money to pay for El Dorado? I am not sure that the people who inserted these utopian items into the manifesto were armed with any pocket calculators to fathom the cost correlates.
Even then, these are hard times for left of center social democratic parties all over the world. In Europe, they have all been roundly trounced in recent elections (Portugal, Hungary, Spain, Australia, New Zealand etc.) except in Sweden. The masses like the rhetoric of bridging the gap of inequality but it is still the ‘dirty’ capitalist pigs that create jobs and generate prosperity. And the APC, if it has any ideological core, had better learn from the recent political history of Europe.
It is curious however that the old general has done the business of Nigeria in the last 100 days mostly as a sole administrator. Assisted mostly by bureaucrats in Abuja, the President has embarked on a personalized fact finding mission to get some understanding of the state of the nation. That process seems to have come full circle and must now yield place to a properly constituted government of ministers and myriad other appointees. That is the only way the business of Nigeria can be done with the benefit of the collective wisdom of people who represent a broad spectrum of our people.
Already, we can detect some ambiguity in the Buhari enterprise. By deliberately insisting on disparate elements from the old north in the majority of his strategic appointments, he tempts one to see his stubborn quest for power as something informed by a narrow provincial sense of political hurt. The president needs to quickly pull himself back from the potential abyss of political suicide and reputational hara-kiri.
While Buhari’s earnestness on major national issues coincides with the anxieties of majority of sensible Nigerians, it is arguable that his approach to the problems is rooted in any firm set of ideas. Common sense may dictate that we should combat corruption, straighten the bureaucracy, secure life and property and generally bring back some degree of respectability to the conduct of the affairs of state. The best that can be achieved with reforms informed by commonsense would be the emergence of an ordinary functional state.
But time has past. Dreams of national greatness are never achieved by ordinary states. The world has changed radically and nations that seek unusual recognition have to do unusual things. They dig into the depths of developmental ideas for innovative policies and ideas that would leap frog them into global reckoning. Our problems are rooted in both the past and in the future: First, we need to briskly right the wrongs of a mismanaged past and transcend them. More importantly, we need to seek modernization of the Nigerian economy and society with religious tenacity and fierce obstinacy.


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Politics, Image and Perception
 By Eddie IROH
If, as former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson once said. a day is a long time in politics, then 100 days is more than a life time. In politics a reputation built over a life time, and promises made during a long and arduous campaign can be damaged by a single act of omission or commission. I believe that this slippery terrain is part of the reason that the press and public in the advanced democracies allow a newly elected leader to enjoy a relative period of benign neglect to make and get away with all but the most catastrophic blunders in his first 100 days.
The United States President Franklin D Roosevelt was the first world leader to be judged by his first 100 days in office. Roosevelt entered office in March 1932 with the American economy and unemployment not unlike the one President Muhammadu Buhari inherited. Roosevelt confronted the economic depression with an aggressive presidential and legislative agenda that produce an unprecedented twelve laws in15 weeks and by the end of his first 100 days Americans were beginning to sense recovery in the air.
If we measure Buhari by Roosevelt’s achievements in his first 100 days he will not score a pass mark in the area of the economy and unemployment. But one can argue that this is a self-inflicted minus because unlike Buhari Roosevelt had a cabinet in place. Of course Roosevelt did not have to fight a domestic war and did not face a foreign war until nearly a decade later.
However, it is only fair to recognize that Buhari had identified security [and of course corruption] as a priority in his Agenda of Change. When you consider the wholesale change he made in the hierarchy of the armed services, and the appointments of new field commanders and the sensible relocation of military command control apparatus to the very theatre of the war, as well as his determination to equip the military suitably, you cannot take anything away from him in the area of security. Similarly the “War against Corruption” appears to be gathering steam, with the announcement of panels to look into various areas of national concern.
Buhari’s well advised trip to the US appears to have produced a new rapprochement between Aso Rock and the White House, and with the pledge of American support, will strengthen his hand in the fight against Boko Haram and economic saboteurs. The public have largely pledged their support for his anti-corruption crusade so the president has little excuse if he did not pursue malfeasance and its purveyors and beneficiaries to the bitter end.
The idea of a special court to try corruption cases sounds good and expedient, but it must be carefully examined to ascertain its constitutionality and implications for human rights and the rule of law which must never be abridged under any circumstance. Buhari’s advisers must constantly bear in that the president’s image as a stiff-necked military autocrat is one that persists even after 30 years and his committed critics will pounce on any perception of vestiges of the military dictator in the civilian president and his actions.
Buhari’s inauguration will for a long time be remembered for one simple yet trenchant line: “I belong to everybody and I belong to no one.” That is a statesmanlike reaffirmation of the cardinal wisdom that while a party and its supporters may elect a candidate, when elected he becomes the president of all. He rises above party, group and any parochial affiliation. But Buhari’s US trip, which I have duly acknowledged as well advised, also produced a rather unfortunate statement which has the potential to vitiate both his inaugural commitment to all as well his oath of office. In reply to a question regarding the Niger Delta and their clamour for suitable attention, the president basically said that it was not good politics to give equal attention to a state that gave him 95 percent votes and one that gave him 15 per cent.
To use a common Nigerian parlance, that statement was “most unfortunate”. If any of his future actions should give any semblance of credence to this statement, his critics and political opponents, especially in the Nigeria Delta, will have a field day. Another faux pax by Buhari  was the relocation of Book Haram prisoners to the Southeast, a move that provoked an outcry of “victimization” from that zone.
The explanation that Buhari inherited the decision from Jonathan, while true, was belated. The perception of victimization had already taken hold. It is this sort of carryover policy that nearly marred John F Kennedy’s first 100 days. Having inherited the Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba to overthrow Fidel Castro on April 15 1961 from his predecessor Dwight Eisenhower, Kennedy was advised that the operation was too advanced to be aborted. The fiasco of the invasion was only overcome as a foreign policy disaster by Kennedy’s other spectacular successes especially the Missile Crisis involving the same Cuba in October 1962. There is a lesson there for Buhari
I am not one of those who make excuses for Buhari that in 100 days he could not find 36 Nigerians who can pass his needle-eye test as Ministers of the Federal Republic. That is not possible in a country of 170 million people. We cannot all be corrupt and incompetent by whatever stringent measure he applies. More importantly, Buhari has been questing to be president of Nigeria for more than a decade, an ambition only matched by that of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
If that ambition was truly inspired, as I believe it was, it must have been accompanied by a certain amount of preparation. In his quest, he would and should have encountered the sort of people that can pass his test. His delay in this area has led to tags of “Baba Go Slow”, ala Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and more seriously by Professor Ben Nwabueze that Buhari prefers to rule as a dictator, a sole administrator of Nigeria; another case of image and perception.
Finally in Buhari’s politics of change there is one solution looking for a problem. The president should give serious attention to the Oronsanye Report on Federal parastatals. There are too many agencies with overlapping and wasteful responsibilities. I see no reason why, for instance, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission [NBC] cannot be absorbed into the Nigerian Communications Commission [NCC], or why FRCN, NTA and Voice of Nigerian [VON] cannot be merged into one Nigerian National Broadcasting Corporation [NNBC] under one Group Chief Executive as in BBC and SABC. Similarly we have Federal Road Safety Corp, Police VIO and Traffic Wardens stumbling over one another for what are essentially the same functions.
Change is waiting to happen in these and many other areas.


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On His Own Terms
 By WaziriAdio
Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt—Sun Tzu in“The Art of War”
President Muhammadu Buhari’s style in his first 100 days in office, to me, seems to be defined by two words: inscrutable and unpredictable. I think the two tendencies are further yoked together by an unexpressed, and possibly unconscious or subconscious, desire by the president to do things simply on his own terms. It is a style that clearly departs from the norm, and dashes some expectations about how things are done in the political cum governance arena. It is a style that unsettles or delights depending on who you are and your interests. But is this enigmatic style sustainable or useful only for the moment? Is this just an inception style or the style that will serve him well for the rest of his tenure? Well, we have to wait on the next sets of hundred days.
To start with, there seemed to be a near universal expectation that appointments would be made immediately President Buhari took over on May 29. Convention, at least, supported that. The three presidents before him appointed their Chiefs-of-Staff and Secretaries to the Government of the Federation almost immediately and had their cabinets in place within their first 100 days. President Buhari has bucked this trend, to the disappointment and consternation of high-heeled members of his own party, the political class at large and even a sizeable number of his hard-core loyalists. He didn’t announce his Chief of Staff (C-o-S) and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) until August 27. That was just two days to his three months of being in charge.
Beyond the issue of established pattern, there is also the not-so-small matter of public expectations. Given the way the campaign was conducted, the length of time between his announcement as the winner of the March 28 polls and the inauguration, the absence of a distraction in terms of post-election litigations and the enormity of the task at hand, the excitement about a new administration coming on board was also undergirded by a thick sense of urgency. More than a few, pundits and ordinary folks alike, expected and indeed expressed the desire for him to “hit the ground running”. And a big part of that hit-the-ground-running narrative is the need to quickly have in place a competent team that will assist the president to actualise his mandate. It was neither conceivable nor foreshadowed during the campaigns that the president would be without ministers in more than three months after inauguration.
Well, we have gone past three months, and ministers have not even been nominated. In fairness, President Buhari did promise, via an Oped in Washington Post, that we would have ministers this month. This was previously unimaginable. In a way, the president has shown that another path is possible. Some have even argued that the country has not fallen apart despite being without ministers for so long. But not everyone is impressed. Definitely, not those who expect themselves or their protégés or friends to be ministers. Politicians don’t like being kept in abeyance. But it is not only the politicians that are bothered. There are those who are worried about the pace of things. Some are concerned that the president has become a one-man ruler, a sole administrator. Some even feel he is contravening the constitution, though the constitution does not put a time limit on when ministers should be appointed.
In the absence of ministers, President Buhari has been receiving briefings from and governing with the bureaucrats. This has been interpreted in many ways. One explanation is that he is trying to get direct briefings from permanent secretaries and heads of agencies so as to get a full picture of what is on ground beyond the briefing notes of the previous administration and the report of the transition committee. Some contend this exercise will allow him to know who to send where and what terms of reference to give them.
Another explanation is that he is trying to personally size up the permanent secretaries and heads of MDAs for him to decide what to do with them; just as some contend that he, as a systems person, is doing this to restore primacy to the bureaucracy. There are also those who believe he is just buying time, either to put his direct appointees in strategic places before the ministers come on board or to source for untainted ministers because his initial background checks on potential ministers reportedly came back shockingly negative. Some or all of these may or may not be the reason it took the president an unusually long time to fully constitute his government. The president and his spokespersons have not given any reason on record. We can only guess, as being inscrutable is coming off as a major plank of Buhari’s presidential style.
The president is not just keeping everyone guessing, he is also keeping many supposed kingmakers at bay or in their place. In his inaugural address, the president notably said: ‘I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.’ On account of post-inauguration distancing, palpable frustration is now the most common denominator in the camp of politicians and technocrats who contributed enormous time and resources to the campaign that led to the victory of Candidate Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Many are miffed at not having access to him again. And the few who have access to him are bothered about not being consulted on important decisions or not being told his position on anything or not being given any commitments on requests they take to him.
The second plank of the president’s style is his seeming distaste for being predictable. He has surprised more than a few with some of his appointments so far. It is not only that some names widely written against certain positions get famously by-passed but also that the president seems to a knack for coming up with names that manage to escape the otherwise sharp radar of both the political and the media establishments. The president is earning the endearment of his ardent supporters and even some who are not his greatest fans on account of the resume of some of these unexpected appointees and the fact that he is putting to the swords some presumptuous politicians and godfathers.
In trying to piece this puzzle together, I am inclined to think that President Buhari being a retired general might be a fan of the Chinese general, strategist and philosopher, Sun Tzu, whose quote at the beginning of this intervention may typify Buhari’s style so far. Another nugget from Tzu confirms this suspicion for me: “It is the business of a general to be serene and inscrutable.”I am tempted to wager that that was crafted with the president in mind or that he has taken it as an article of faith. I also think that the president might have adopted a war-like approach to governance. He seems to be saying that politics is war by other means, an inversion of Carl von Clausewitz popular saying that “war is politics by other means.”
My sense is that what the president has done in the last 100 days is marking out the territory and making the point that he is the one in charge of this war, the war for reinventing Nigeria. He also seems to be saying that this war would be prosecuted on his terms, and that he cannot be stampeded or intimidated. He keeps to himself. He says little. He promises nothing. He resists pressures. People call him names and impute motives, but it seems they have also learned to give him his space. This could be who he has always been, possibly a well-absorbed part of his military training. If it is a latter-day trait, then it may be in response to how being predictable, flowing with the tide, and allowing people too much space did not prove useful to him in a certain past.
No matter what it is, the president seems to have got away with his uncommon style. At least for now. This could be because of the readiness of both the politicians and the populace to concede that every president is entitled to his/her style. Or it could simply be because of the willingness to grant every president his/her honeymoon. But while there is something to be said for a president who has a mind of his own and keeps everyone guessing and is not hostage to vested interests, there is also the danger of developing costly blind-spots, of being susceptible to counter-productive group-think, of leaving major flanks open, and of pushing allies to make common cause with opponents. To be sure, having strong convictions is very valuable for a leader, but there might also be need for leaders to move from what psychologist Robert Kegan typifies as a self-authoring mind to a self-transforming mind.
There is also a limit to how much surprises a people can take. And there is the need for every president to create a robust constituency of support not just among the populace but also within the political establishment. A general needs, and is as good as, his foot soldiers. Whatever the assumed or evident similarity between war and politics, the terrainsof confrontation and contestation are different. The political terrain is not always governed on one person’s terms. Governance and policy agenda need collaboration of other actors who cannot always be whipped into line. Besides, honeymoons are made in China. Times are not always good. And in this business, it is inevitable that sometimes some things will hit the fan. Politicians will only sort out the mess or stand in the breach if they have been given stakes, and not when they are made to feel useful only for winning elections or re-elections. Astute political management will thus be an invaluable addition to the president’s armoury, I think.


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Beyond The Vacancy at INEC
 BY MARYAM UWAIS
 One of the decisions made by President Muhammadu Buhari in his first 100 days in office was the appointment of Mrs Amina Bala Zakari as the Acting Chairperson of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). But given the way things are in Nigeria, and despite the fact that she was first and foremost an appointee of former President Goodluck Jonathan, there have been all manner of insinuations against a woman who is most fitting for the job.

 First, full disclosure: I first met Amina Bala Zakari when we both gained admission into Queens College, Yaba, Lagos, on Kano State scholarship, in January 1972. Within a short period, we became friends and commenced studies in earnest. In our five years of secondary school, Amina came across as quiet, focused, diligent but self-effacing. Never aggressive or disagreeable, Amina remained somewhat reserved, friendly but meticulous in her studies. Having been an 'A' student even from her primary school days in Kano, Amina won many prizes before bagging a Division 1, with distinction, in the1976 WAEC exam.

 Thereafter, both of us obtained admission into the School of Basic Studies, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria. Amina, in typical fashion, painstakingly embraced her studies, excelling in her chosen subjects of Physics with Mathematics, Chemistry and Biology, and immediately secured admission into the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences. At the conclusion of her BSc degree in Pharmacy, Amina won the Global and the Glaxo prizes for the best overall student in the Faculty, for the year 1980.
From then, Amina began to grow surely but steadily in the service of our country. As a young pharmacist, she was responsible for establishing the first clinic in Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi State. She also worked with the Afri-Projects Consortium, then Management Consultants to the Petroleum Trust Fund. In that capacity, she served as a member of the team that managed the PTF-funded health projects. With a sound background in computer programming (from Mount Vernon High School, Virginia USA, in 1993), the development of comprehensive systems and processes, as well as in establishing effective monitoring and evaluation frameworks in the implementation of all the projects, Amina ensured the sustained access of drugs to government hospitals around the country.
At the Federal Capital Territory as Secretary of Health and Human Services, Amina's appreciation of her task and determination was evident in the manner in which she immediately set about overhauling the Satellite Town Hospitals of Kuje, Bwari, Abaji, Kwali, Karshi and Kubwa. She also successfully supervised the concessionary of the public private partnership with Garki Hospital, a facility that continues to provide excellent service in the FCT, today. Her expertise in systems and procedures, as well as her monitoring and evaluation background ensured efficiency in the enforcement of ethical practices in the registration and inspection of FCT private hospitals.

 At different times, Amina also served as Secretary of Social Development and in acting capacity, of the Agriculture and Rural Development Secretariat of the FCDA. The outsourcing of hospital cleaning services and the monitoring and evaluation of health and social development-related services led to the decision to build two new orphanages and sports facilities, as well as strident efforts at implementing the provisions of the Child Rights Act.
Amina is a member of both the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria as well as the Nigerian Institute of Management. In between her stints in public service, she successfully operated a healthcare consulting outfit. She has also participated in several executive programs at the International Drug Agency in Netherlands, The Crown Agents in the UK as well as the Harvard Business School.
Tragically, Amina lost her very supportive husband in May 2000, after he slumped suddenly at work. He left her with five children, including a baby, to raise alone. As a single mother, Amina was determined that her children would be availed sound education without compromising on her values or the pedigree that comes with being the daughter of the late Emir of Kazaure, Alhaji Hussaini Adamu, himself a renowned advocate of girl-child education. To her credit, four of the children have since graduated with distinction in various fields of endeavour. She also has two adorable grandchildren.
After her service with the FCDA, Amina was appointed INEC Commissioner in July 2010, under the Chairmanship of Prof Attahiru Jega, by President Jonathan. She was an intrinsic member of the team that successfully delivered credible elections in Nigeria both in 2011 and 2015. Her initial mandate included supervising the Political Parties Monitoring Committee, which efforts led to the revitalization of the Inter-Party Advisory Council. Her efforts at strengthening alliances between political parties, while aligning discrepancies in the system, culminated in a significant reduction of the number of registered parties. In her usual effective, efficient but very discreet manner, Amina set about improving partnerships between political parties and with INEC, in the run up to the 2015 elections.
Amina was subsequently appointed Chair of the INEC Planning, Monitoring & Strategy Committee where she revived key compliance monitoring mechanisms through an internally driven process of election management system automation. This effort culminated in the attainment of over 80 percent voter material distribution in the 2015 elections. As part of her mandate, Amina also managed the INEC/NYSC Bilateral Committee, having oversight of the recruitment, welfare and the training of ad hoc staff, particularly youth corps members. She succeeded in establishing a transparent online recruitment platform, complimented by a seamless payment system, thereby curtailing the adverse influence of politicians at local level.
Astonishingly, despite this string of verifiable and notable accomplishments, Amina's appointment as Acting Chairperson of INEC in July 2015 has been vehemently opposed in certain quarters, premised on untrue and unfair allegations of close kinship with the APC leadership and/or also, with President Buhari. There has indeed been an orchestrated campaign against her possible confirmation as the first female Chairperson of INEC. Interestingly, nobody has impugned her integrity or questioned her competence for the job; what the public is treated to are false allegations. One example is the assertion that President Buhari lived with Amina's father, the Emir of Kazaure, in his palace. Fact is, Amina's father only became Emir in 1994, by which time President Buhari had already retired from the army. One wonders if a former Head of State would relocate to and reside in an Emir's palace, having nowhere else to go!
Mrs Bala Zakari is in contention for the position of substantive INEC Chair because of her reputation for hard work and her remarkable antecedents, even as INEC Commissioner, and has never been accused of being partisan in her service to this country. So while it is true that in the past, Amina worked with the Management Consultants to the then PTF (headed by President Buhari), and that she also worked with the FCDA when Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai was FCT Minister, these antecedents were well known to the then PDP administration and President Jonathan before appointing her as INEC Commissioner in 2010. The question then is: Why has her background suddenly been magnified to assume such threatening dimensions?
It is on record that as INEC Commissioner, and indeed everywhere else before then, Amina performed her duties with distinction. For many, an insider, with the requisite experience, expertise, knowledge, capacity and institutional memory should naturally succeed the erstwhile Chairman and his team, if only to sustain their laudable performance during the last electoral exercise. Ultimately, therefore, it is hoped that the criteria for the selection of the substantive INEC Chairperson would include performance-led indicators such as integrity and the requisite competencies to conduct credible, free and fair elections in our nation.
 Whatever the President ultimately decides to do with INEC, nobody can question the integrity, transparency and competence of Amina Bala Zakari.


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Time to Imbibe Democratic Ethos
 BY SONNNIE EKWOWUSI
 President Muhammadu Buhari’s first 100 days in office, at least judging from his political appointments, clearly shows that he is an ambitious smooth operator. He has guts. He is disciplined. He makes demands on himself even when age is no longer on his side. He knows what he wants and stoically strives to achieve it in a way that suits his fancy. Interestingly, since he came to power, electricity supply in Nigeria has improved appreciably although President Goodluck Jonathan deserves credit too for this. More importantly, President Buhari has managed, even if symbolically, to pass across the strong message that the days of profligacy, reckless expenditure and looting of treasury in government are over.
However, President Buhari’s potentials to lift up Nigeria should not compromise constitutional democratic principles. Pursuant to section 14(1) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution, the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a State based on the principles of democracy, and social justice. And one of such principles which will shore up Buhari’s public image, if he strictly adheres to it, is the principle of popular participation. Too much concentration of power on one man removes government from the people and waters down constitutional democracy. Therefore, Buhari should resist the strong temptation of running a monolithic hierarchical government that puts him out as the only centripetal power that discharges the functions of government.
What must be clearly understood is that presidential democracy doesn’t admit of tyranny so instead of appropriating or personalizing federal powers or making himself “the sole government”, or “sole administrator of Nigeria”, President Buhari should open up and seek the consultation and consent of those who voted him to power in the discharge of his duties as president. The American founding fathers aptly recaptured this ageless truth when they said many years ago that, “governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”.
Additionally, President Buhari should adhere to the principle of Federal Character. He should ensure that there is “no predominance of a few state or a few ethnic or other or sectional groups” in his government as stipulated in section 14 (2) © (3) of the 1999 Constitution. So far, all Buhari’s “juicy” political appointments have gone to the North particularly the North-West geo-political zone. Thus far, no Igbo of South-East extraction has been appointed into Buhari’s government.
This constitutional violation, at the moment, is diminishing President Buhari’s public stature, and therefore it is advisable to remedy it. The beauty of participatory democracy lies in creating equal opportunities for different people from different strata of society to meaningful partake in running a government that would affect their destiny. In participatory democracy, the fears of every one across board are taken into account, whether the fears are real or imagined. In any case, fear of marginalization has become an important feature of modern democracy that it cannot be ignored.  Therefore, in the coming months, Buhari should consider running an all-inclusive government, a government that reflects the various diversities, peoples and cultures that make up Nigeria.  He should form a people-centred government, a government that is responsive to popular will.
Another essential principle of democracy which the Buhari government should imbibe is that of rule of law. Peeved by the arbitrary and capricious exercise of power in the country, the National Peace Committee had already visited President Buhari and told him to allow the rule of law to reign in Nigeria. The Committee’s timely visit underscores the importance of the rule of law in nation-building. Subversion of the rule of law is the cause of our ruin. Nigeria has been pursuing economic reforms centered on management of public finance and improving the efficiency of business and the regulations of public institutions. But the legislation designed to sustain that management and improvement has not moved forward over the years.
Strengthening the rule of law is therefore critical to empowering individuals, enhancing competition, promoting decent human condition, promoting economic prosperity. It is essentially critical in the prosecution of the anti-corruption war and the probes. Let there be no political witch-hunting in the prosecution of the anti-corruption war and the probes. No character assassination. No Nigerian should be called a thief or presumed guilty until adjudged so by a court of competent jurisdiction. No selective trial. No selective justice. No morbid mudslinging. No persecution of perceived enemies. No setting up of special courts to try alleged specially-corrupt persons. No recourse to vengeance. No extraction of a pound of flesh. Those points encapsulate the subtle message of the National Peace Committee to President Buhari, and it is advisable he listens to them.
In case President Buhari forgets, the first war to be won is that against Boko Haram. According to section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution, it is the primary responsibility of the Federal Government to protect the citizens. President Buhari promised during his political campaign that he would defeat Boko if voted into power. Since coming to power, he has renewed the same promise. He also promised that the Chibok girls would regain their freedom.  Beyond promises, we need sophisticated military forces to deflate the ever bourgeoning Boko Haram attacks and bombings.
 Again, despite the self-serving character of international politics and diplomacy as we witnessed during Buhari’s visit to President Barak Obama, the Buhari government should seriously take into consideration the values, attitudes and opinions of the Nigerian people in the making of its foreign policies in consonant with sections 19 and 21 of the 1999 Constitution. It shouldn’t allow any foreign power to dictate to us how to govern ourselves or make our laws.
 Finally, hope remains our greatest asset in Nigeria. We cease to live when we cease to hope. We hope that the Buhari government will deliver Nigeria to a safe harbor.


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The Need for Value Re-orientation
BY EUGENIA ABU
The queue is meandering to the ends of the building. You have been on your feet for two hours and while your company on the queue is funny and street smart, your feet are hurting and the queue is not moving. You decide that the men and women in uniform on the sidelines might be able to provide some information about why you are still on the same spot for two hours. They promise to look into it and return with only a promise and a look more confused than you. “It will soon move” they assure you. In the meantime, two persons of interest have attempted to infiltrate the queue. One is a “fixer” who is trying to get someone ahead of everyone on the queue. The second one is “Mr. helper” whose new role is to convince you to jump the queue. “Aunty, this queue no go move today, let me tell my guy who knows the guys at the top of the queue. I can move you forward.” I tell him I am happy where I am and will much rather remain on the queue as I don't like jumping queues. He was quite frustrated with me and moved on to find a believer.
My friendly queue companion who is a white South African, by the way tells me, “I don't understand why Nigerians think there can be shortcuts to everything”. I smile wryly and tell him it’s not all of us. I am boiling inside. I have spent the better part of my life in the defence of my countrymen for all manners of corner cutting, queue jumping and rule breaking. It is not all of us but because it has become such a public display of brazen wrong doing, it is beginning to define what it is to be Nigerian.
Let us return to the queue. We finally move forward a little bit and I am yet to see what is clogging the queue. Welcome to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport Lagos where my flight is to depart in two hours and I have been on a queue for two hours. I had come to the Airport early to allow me time to work and leaf through magazines. A woman races past us and plots her way into a gap in-front of us pretending not to understand that this is a queue with twenty persons behind us. She is four persons ahead of me and goes into some animated conversation with herself. A weak “Madam you have jumped the queue”, emanates behind me. The woman acts insane until I walk up to her and demand that she goes to the tail of the queue. I remind her that we are all here to board a plane and she is certainly not better than anyone on the queue. The erring interloper looks at me curiously as if I spoke in alien language and angrily returns to the end of the queue. Self entitled, conceited, ill behaved, selfish and disrespectful. There has to be something in the brain of those who think everyone else except them are smart when they jump queues, break traffic lights, deliver poor customer service, are rude in public spaces, have poor work ethics and everything else in between. Nigeria is a good country and can still be if the national ethos is transformed.
On this day at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, something happened which affected everyone’s travel plan but a few persons felt they were entitled to go ahead of others without caring whose ox is gored. This though is not the first time this would happen at the Lagos International Airport. Clearly something needs to be done.
Returning to the transformation of Nigeria’s national ethos, there is no better time for President Muhammadu Buhari to engage with this challenging issue than now. In a lot of service areas these days, from Airports, to supermarkets, to Security posts at public spaces, many service providers are daily demanding gratification in a most unfortunate manner. People salute you at gates of schools and office buildings demanding for what you brought for them. It started like a whisper, we ignored it and felt that it would go away but now it is a loud din wherever you go. It seems there is a conspiracy to strip Nigeria of all it has gained through this indiscipline that is pervasive.
In 2004, President Olusegun Obasanjo introduced SERVICOM into the Nigerian workforce. It was a service compact between service providers and customers to provide effective service delivery especially in Government establishments. Overtime Nigerians put it aside and continued to behave in ways unbecoming. In fact posting to the SERVICOM unit in most ministries, departments and agencies was punitive. If your boss did not like you, he/she posted you to SERVICOM. That is how Nigerians viewed service delivery; at the bottom of the rung in terms of priority.
As President Buhari clocks 100 days in office, it would be auspicious for him to look the direction of service delivery, work ethics, national values and all those things that made us wholesome as some of us were growing up in this nation destined to be great. President Buhari’s anti corruption stand is well known and respected and he has already kick started his activities in this direction. It is also understandable that he is addressing different sectors as well as big ticket items that require immediate attention. Nigeria is a big and complicated nation to manage and Mr. President certainly has a game plan in responding to issues that Nigerians are clamouring for.

 In 1984 we fell into decent queues and the “checking out Andrew” promo, to encourage us not to depart Nigeria but to salvage it together became part of our national fabric making an instant star of the late Enebeli Elebuwa. These promos for the famous and value correcting War Against Indiscipline (WAI) reminded us that a nation like Nigeria needed to clean up its Augean stable to be respected in the comity of nations. The entire value chain system had not collapsed this badly. President Buhari was able to get us to sit up and think, respect queues and deliver on our customer service quotient. Here is a quote from the launch of WAI in a speech delivered by the then Chief of staff supreme headquarters, the late Brigadier General Tunde Idiagbon which is still relevant today:
“I want you to bear in mind the need to emphasise self discipline and leadership by good example. Begin by drawing public attention to little but important everyday manifestations of indiscipline such as rushing into buses, driving on the wrong side of the road, littering the streets, parks and dwelling compounds, cheating, taking undue advantage of scarcity to inflate prices for quick monetary gains, constituting ourselves into public nuisances, working without commitment and devoting little or no time to the upbringing of our children. Up till this moment, there has been no formal declaration of War Against Indiscipline, it is my pleasure therefore to declare today a launching day for the War Against Indiscipline”.
Nothing beats national values taught to children from when they are very young to ensure it stays with them for life. I am over fifty but I cannot bring myself to throw paper/rubbish out of my car. My father who has long left us insisted when I was a kid and it has remained with me. We must do something to get young people to hold on to our positive values and traditions and to do the right thing. All agencies of government with jurisdiction for changing mindsets and reminding us that Nigeria is not a jungle must be prepared to put out messages that will keep us on the path of discipline and orderliness.
Mr. President Sir, you know the route for WAI. We must return to those structures that provided us with a platform to behave better and improve the image of our country. We know that your hands are full but as you hit the 100 day mark in office, it is important to place transformation of our national ethos at the top of your agenda. Conversation not coercion and a paradigm shift for all would be the way to go.
The beggarly behaviour we see at Airports and other public places, poor customer service and other social malaise dogging us collectively affects security, the economy, tourism and lifestyle and is giving us a bad name.
As you strive hard to give us the change that we so desperately desire, let the transformation of the national ethos occupy your thoughts as these are the values that will eventually turn Nigeria around. A great economy is not really a great economy if people exhibit indiscipline, disorderliness, poor national ethos and disrespect for one another. Together we can build a strong nation. We pray for that time when people are up and doing and orderliness is respected and we are kind to one another.


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The Omens Look Good
 BY PETER ISHAKA
 One hundred days is a fleeting time in a four-year administration. But it is also a good time to start looking at the direction an administration is headed.
 It is not important to split hairs over some of the campaign documents now being disowned by the presidency and spokesman of the party, including those like “One Hundred Things Buhari Will Do in 100 Days” which falsely raised peoples’ expectations. “Buhari never promised he was going to do anything in 100 days, that’s the honest truth,” said Lai Mohammed, spokesman of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
So what exactly did President Buhari promise? Why this dodgy claim now? Why didn’t the APC deny this during the campaigns, when the materials were out in the public space? After reading the statement, my friend turned away in embarrassment. People and indeed parties should make only promises that they are prepared to keep.
However, the president is doing exceedingly well.  He is following his own path. He lives a simple life, devoid of the razzmatazz associated with the office in the past. Indeed, he has made the office look so ordinary. He has saved tax payers a whopping sum of money by turning down those criminal contractors from enriching themselves in the name of renovating the State House. He decreed that his wife be addressed simply as the “Wife of the President,” a more homely title than the First Lady.
The president and the vice-president have slashed their pay by 50 per cent. It is an uncommon feat and he is driving the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission to trim the salaries of political office holders – both elected and non-elected -including that drainpipe called the National Assembly - to reflect the current socio-economic reality. But that is not to suggest that he
 lives like a monk or like that South American ex-president who drove the roach – the Volkswagen Beetle car- and watched over at night by a one-legged dog. Buhari and Yemi Osinbajo drive the limousines and fly the jets when necessary.
Yet, anyone who watches the president in the last 100 days of his administration must be impressed with his dedication to duty. He works hard to enhance the image of the country. He cares about the security of the people and of the nation as evidenced in his shuttle diplomacy to the United States and all our neighbouring states to ensure that Boko Haram is hemmed in and clobbered. He has given his generals till December to end the bloody rebellion and thwart the criminals that have murdered more than 15,000 innocents and displaced more than one million people.
President Buhari came to power with reputation as a stern disciplinarian and an honest man. He was swept into office with his vow to fight corruption. He has not disappointed. He is pursuing his passion. The anti-graft war has taken a life of its own, dwarfing every other activity in government. The President could be excused. He has said it repeatedly and rightly so: that if Nigeria does not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. Large scale corruption has reduced Nigeria to a country of potentialities, a country whose promise is bigger than the people. Sources of leakages are being blocked and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the home of sleaze, is being reorganised and cleansed. Buhari has set up an advisory panel on corruption.
But even before the panel goes to work, the anti-graft war is winning converts, by what Nigerians have come to know as Buhari’s “body language.” It is a combination of rhetoric and actions. He inspires awe and confidence. It is a fight that has to be total to make the impact enduring and sustainable. It must not be limited to perceived political enemies and foes, as in the past. People are becoming more careful and orderly, doing their work without any prompting.
The other day a delegation of five went to South Korea to represent Nigeria at a conference.  The last time such conference held, some 30 people went on the trip. Self-check. The supply of electricity has improved remarkably in spite of the fact that the administration has not added one megawatt of electricity. The chorus of laments is dwindling.
President Buhari rode into office on the promise of change. His memorable lines at inauguration: “I belong to everybody, but I belong to nobody” swell the confidence of many Nigerians. But his major appointments so far are one-sided. Indeed, they have become a source of general unease in the polity. They were done with widespread indifference and are thus stoking, once again, the endless conversation over the distribution of privileges.
President Buhari would make good on his inaugural speech if he steps back and correct this awkward aspect of his leadership.


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Changing the Corruption Paradigm
 BY ANGELA G. ATTAH
 The election of President Muhammadu Buhari was propelled by the discontent of the people at the impunity and deep-rooted corruption which the former administration of President Goodluck Jonathan was unable to control. Nigerians therefore clamoured for change and candidate Buhari, who presented a track record of waging war against indiscipline thirty years ago, promised to deliver the much desired change.
It has been 100 days since he took the oath of office and people can already feel President Buhari’s impact. His mission to fight corruption is evident in the words he speaks, the behavior of his officials as well as in his actions.
For sure, many Nigerians would have liked more to have been accomplished within these first 100 days. We would have liked to see some corrupt officials already tried and jailed. However, Buhari demonstrates the importance of planning to winning wars, and is worth commending for doing this quite meticulously. He has taken precaution to ensure that the rule of law is followed in pursuing his mantra and that there is a strategy to wage and win the war against corruption.
The President seems unperturbed at the criticism to move at a faster pace, preferring to screen potential appointees thoroughly before engaging them. He appears to be carefully selecting people whom he expects to deliver on his mandate, rather than those who will hijack the presidency as was experienced with the prior administration. President Buhari sends a message of hope to Nigerians not to be hasty in action but to plan carefully in order to ensure victory. He typifies the words of the popular military strategist Sun Tzu that "All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved."
Some criticize the President for taking too long in looking into the past when he should simply start today to build the Nigeria of our dreams. They accuse him of being 'Baba Go-slow' and of filling up positions with Northern gentlemen. The debate on federal character or competent character is still on. However, most Nigerians would select competence over mediocrity irrespective of the geography of origin. It is therefore of little importance to this discourse where the political appointees hail from but that they are credible and decent individuals who can assist the President to deliver on his mandate to the people.
Notwithstanding, the President has accomplished many feats on corruption over these 100 days. He has requested the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) to probe top officials of Ministries, Departments and Agencies. He set new benchmarks for the Auditor General's Office to resolve outstanding audit queries within 30-days, a change from the open-ended processes of the past. He appointed a seven-man Presidential Advisory Committee against corruption, headed by Prof. Itse Sagay, for the implementation of required reforms in Nigeria's Criminal Justice System. The President has empowered anti-corruption agencies to effectively discharge their duties without interference.
However, the President must treat members and non-members of his political party with the same scale of justice, punishing corruption irrespective of person and political affiliation. He must resist granting amnesty to those close to him or in the APC in order to ensure that the process is credible and that there are no sacred cows. Lastly, the President must look beyond the public sector to deal with corruption at all levels and inspire change in all Nigerians to do right, live right and be right.
The Nigeria we seek is one where embezzlement of public funds is regarded as a crime and decisively punished. It is one where the scales of justice are equal for all, whether rich or poor; one where there are equal opportunities for all people despite creed or religion. It is a country where hard-work is rewarded and dignity is restored to labor. A Nigeria where evil is punished fairly and squarely and the young grow to appreciate values over money, distinguishing good from evil and shunning wickedness and sharp practices. President Buhari, many believe, will deliver on that mandate.
In all, it has been 100 days of strategizing and planning and a few days of action. We eagerly anticipate many more days of strategic implementation and action to rid Nigeria of the plague of corruption that has eaten deep into the fabric of this nation, restoring us to a place of opportunity, hope and accomplishment. We encourage the President to keep it going and deliver more in this direction over the coming months and years.


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The Blindness of Impropriety!
BY TONY IPRIYE URANTA
"So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."--John 8:7
As a student of history and warfare, I have long been fascinated with the trajectory of the 19th century United States President, Mr. Abraham Lincoln. A resolute man who did not let being defeated at the polls four times stop him from running yet again, and this time to win! As America's 16th President and Commander-in-Chief, he led the country into its bitter Civil War that ended the slavery of millions of Americans of African descent. What a man!
As a patriot resolved to seeing a better-structured and united Nigeria in his lifetime, I have been equally fascinated with the never-say-die determination that saw Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) pick himself up from the dust as he was defeated repeatedly at the polls, like Lincoln...until he ended up becoming the President of Nigeria.
The whole world knows that I, unapologetically, supported my friend, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, at the general elections but there are also records that some people now conveniently choose to forget. As National Spokesperson of the then "Nigerians United for Democracy" (which operated out of The Buhari Organisation's office in Abuja, and counted Bola Tinubu, Buba Galadima, Okwesilieze Nwodo, Olu Falae, Attahiru Bafarawa, Ben Obi, Lai Mohammed, Pat Utomi, Atiku Abubakar and Tunji Braithwaite among its Leaders in 2007), I was party to the birthing of the movement that metamorphosed, through stages, to become what is now the APC.
This perhaps explains why I am proud and happy that President Jonathan did what even Buhari could not do in the past, by conceding defeat and congratulating his opponent, even before Professor Attahiru Jega's INEC proclaimed him (Buhari) the victor. And this, in spite of the many glaring electoral abuses (especially the preponderance of child voters in some Northern states)! And, so we now have President Muhammadu Buhari...and we have had him for 100 Days now. Hmmmmnnnnn.....100 days!
President Buhari stepped on the stage, Day 1, with a very inspiring and enervating inauguration speech filled with promises of a change from "business-as-usual", and the whole world (as excited as Nigerians) awaited his next few days in anticipation that he would hit the ground running, having had over sixteen years to prepare and finetune his "Change-Nigeria" Agenda. But we are still waiting!
Let me reiterate here, as I have done several times, via numerous local, national and global media, since  President Buhari’s second coming, that it is in the enlightened self-interest of every Nigerian to support him and ensure that he succeeds to make this country a better place for all of us. It is in this light that one must recognise that no Nigerian President, before Buhari, had assumed office with as much political capital and goodwill, both nationally and globally. That then explains why we all eagerly awaited his choice of cabinet, his declaration of policies and programmes in line with his grand and robust campaign promises etc. Thank God, we did not hold our breath...for it has been, to date, like "waiting for Godot", with a few frightening twists to the tale!
First, President Buhari spent his first four weeks globe-trotting, admittedly, at the invitation of some world key leaders who wanted to be associated with the "regime-change" in Nigeria. At that point, President Buhari had nothing but praise and appreciation for how President Jonathan's very-statesmanlike concession to him ensured that Nigeria did not implode....this appreciation is being downplayed more recently by his aides and major associates, including the now unnervingly garrulous Edo State Governor, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who seems to have acquired the reputation for making wild and unsubstantiated allegations.
Then President Buhari went on to commit the Freudian slip of revealing that he would favour sections of Nigeria that voted more for him over others. The world was aghast! This, from a man whom we all expected a strong nation-unifying thrust from? He, inadvertently, birthed what is now termed "The Proudly 5 percent" Movement based on his claims, in public, in the USA, that it would be normal to sideline sections that gave him 5 percent of their votes! And, his appointments to date have shown that he meant what he said, regardless of the spin his handlers tried to put on it.
With key political appointments as well as that and security agencies all picked from one section of the country (which he claimed gave him 97 percent of their votes), President Buhari has opened himself up to legitimate accusations that he is now perceived as more of an ethnic champion than the leader of Nigeria.
Now, we are being reassured daily, that this month, September, the President will pick a wider-spread of Ministerial nominees but on that score he really has no choice as he would only be adhering to provisions of the Constitution. Therefore, when he eventually does that, as he must, it would not necessarily add to his image of not being an adroit bridge-builder and nation-unifier.
When you add to this, for example, his fixation with "securing" the Niger Delta through heavy collateral-damage inflicting Odi-like bombings of Akwa Ibom villages, and the recent harsh and brazen killings of scores of Nigerian citizens who were merely exercising their Rights to Association, Free Speech and legitimate aspiration for Self-Determination in the South-East, then you get a drift as to the direction President Buhari is headed. As to the lynchpin of his campaigns in the last decade and a half to curb/end corruption in Nigeria, I am sure every citizen supports him on that score.
However, what many of us find perplexing is how he intends to even begin this anti-corruption war if he is still surrounded by, and giving support to, many folks around him that most reasonable Nigerians have concluded are no more than crooks? Why can the President not begin with such globally-prominent cases as the Halliburton and Siemens sleaze scandals that have been well-investigated in other climes with convictions for foreigners while their Nigerian accomplishes (and receptacles of bribes) walk the streets free? Does the President still believe, as he has argued repeatedly in the past, that the late General Sani Abacha was clean, even after the humongous amounts of dollars etc that have been retrieved and are in the process of being retrieved from his family?
But much more importantly, what is the motivation for this ill-digested attempt to criminalise certain people with 'media trials' as is being done by presidential handlers, without him censuring them? For instance, the U.S. Government has denied telling Governor Oshiomhole that a Minister stashed $6billion in their country while the claim by the new Auditor-General of the Federation that N185billion was missing from the NDDC is as fictional as the claim that General Buhari, as Petroleum Minister in the seventies "supervised" the stashing of N2.8billion in Midlands Bank!
Gaffes, promises-somersaults, insensitivity and all, I honestly believe that with time, and a lot of soul-searching by President Buhari, his coming will be good for Nigeria! It will teach all of us that no condition is permanent. It will spur the parties in opposition to realize the necessity of getting their acts together. It will give the Niger Delta an opportunity to demand its rights, without the region being accused of seeking favouritism. It will force feudalistic forces to better relate with the 21st century. And, it will, ultimately, help us to forge a united Nigeria, not premised on coercion or exclusion, but on inclusiveness, justice, equity, respect for diversity, all these founded on the rule of law.


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Dare We Dream?
 BY EKANEM ETIM-OFFIONG
 The tradition of assessing the achievements or otherwise of a newly elected president in the first 100-days of his tenure was given currency by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1933. It might seem like an arbitrary measure, but it is now generally accepted that it provides a way for the electorate to keep tabs on the new government and score the President against campaign promises. It can also be seen as a barometer for the remainder of the presidency.
 President Buhari came into office on the crest of a wave. Promising to tackle insecurity, corruption, and good governance amongst other things, the Buhari-led APC campaigned on a platform of ‘change’. Nigerians voted for ‘change’. The incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat. Democracy had truly won. It was widely considered a big, indeed seminal moment in our country’s history.
 To the extent that Nigeria is Africa’s biggest economy, the success of our elections has sent a strong message across our continent and to the world. As a people, our confidence in our abilities and ourselves has been raised. But, in order to stand a chance at meeting our expectations of ourselves, and the expectations of others on us, the insecurity issue, which was the top of the nations wish list, has to be tackled head on, and now.
 The activities of Boko Haram have not been curtailed, and the Chibok girls are still not home. In these first 100 days of the Buhari Presidency, about a thousand people have been killed as a result of the insurgency. Boko Haram, which had been pushed back in the last weeks of the last government, has returned with a vengeance. Nigerians were sure that in electing President Buhari the scourge of Boko Haram would be a thing of the past, or at least considerably contained. During the campaign Presidential Candidate Muhammadu Buhari promised to crush Boko Haram.
 In April shortly after his electoral win, President-elect Muhammadu Buhari said “Boko Haram will soon know the strength of our collective will and commitment to rid this nation of terror, and bring back peace and normalcy to all the affected areas.” All were optimistic and in a Bloomberg report on the President elect, it was declared that he had “talked a good game” on both insecurity and corruption. All were now waiting to see how he would deliver.
 In his inauguration speech, President Buhari referred to Boko Haram as a ‘mindless’ and ‘godless’ group. He announced that army command centre would be moved to Maiduguri and remain there until Boko Haram is completely subdued. Within hours of that statement, Boko Haram launched an attack in Maiduguri.
 On the heels of that attack, the President embarked on his first foreign trip to Chad and Niger for talks with his counterparts on the Boko Haram insurgency. A meeting in Abuja swiftly followed at which Chiefs of Defence Staff from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin held talks to determine strategies for a new African Union-backed regional force against the insurgents. Nigeria would lead the regional force.
 In June there were at least four suicide bombings in Maiduguri alone. A statement condemning the attacks quoted the president as follows: "They will not find Nigeria a safe haven, because they would be hunted down without mercy and compromise…."
In July, alarmingly, Boko Haram bombed Maiduguri whilst the Vice President was visiting a camp for Internally Displaced Persons. Soon after, President Buhari ahead of his visit to the United States to meet with President Obama, and in a move seen as taking back the initiative on the fight with Boko Haram, sacked and replaced all service chiefs – Chief of Defence Staff; the Chief of Army Staff, the Chief of Naval Staff, and the Chief of Air Staff. In that same month there were also bomb attacks in Kano, Kaduna, Katsina and Plateau states. Major General Isiah Abbah was appointed to lead the AU backed regional force fighting the insurgents.
 We are now in September. The attacks have not stopped. The President continues to assert that the insurgency will soon be a thing of the past. Most recently at an event in Cotonou, he announced, “I assure you that we will defeat Boko Haram by the end of this year.”
A few days later we were told that the United States Department of State and Department of Defence has said that it will soon relax or completely lift the restrictions imposed on Nigeria under the country’s Leahy Law, which prohibits the Department of State from giving assistance to foreign military units that allegedly violate human rights with impunity.  No date has been given for this relaxation, but we assume the President’s categorical statement is informed by this report.
 Nigeria and its neighbours have finally strengthened their coalition and increased their capacity to deal with Boko Haram, and now have an 8,700 strong force. This should clearly address the previously reported challenges – an ill equipped force, and the decision by ‘certain countries’ to deny Nigeria weapons, as reported by former Chief of Defence, Alex Badeh.
 As the government marks 100 days in office with the inevitable question on the report card of progress made thus far, presidential spokespersons informed us that the “president never promised he was going to do anything in 100 days”, and that the president can only be judged on the constitution and manifesto of the party, as these are the “only two documents that are registered with INEC”.
Finally, President Buhari at a recent youth event assured his audience that the campaign ‘change’ chant was not just a political slogan. But the Chibok girls should also have been at that event – it has been more than 500 days since they were abducted.
 May the next 100 days focus the hearts and minds of the administration on what needs to be done to bring about the promised ‘change’. And, may the President succeed in his promise to bring back the Chibok girls to their parents and indeed all Nigerians.


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The Choice Before The President
 BY OLUSEGUN ADENIYI
 When it comes to describing the government in power, Nigerians thrive in superlatives. To supporters, such a government is usually the best. To opponents, it is almost always the worst, no matter its achievements. Even with just 100 days in office, there are those would swear, without any shred of evidence--and none is ever needed--that President Muhammadu Buhari is the best thing to ever happen to Nigeria. There are also those who believe that with the present administration, Nigerians have unwittingly loaded themselves into a “One Chance” bus.
However, the fact of the matter is that it is far too early to make any meaningful judgement call on President Buhari and his administration. For sure, there are a few positive things to signpost that the era of impunity is gone and critical agencies of government now seem more alive to their responsibilities. The President has also demonstrated that he is on top of the situation with regards to the Boko Haram insurgency. But there are also a few disturbing signals.
Pledges made in the campaign document, 'My Covenant with Nigeria’ are now being disowned. And Nigerians are now being told, even though a different semantic might be employed, that the spouse of the president will play roles in his government. While this is not a bad idea in itself---and I personally consider it unfair to deny space to a woman whose physical presence on the campaign podium helped in no small measure to positively change Buhari’s image, especially among the youths--it runs counter to the commitment made before the polls.
Fortunately for the president, these are intangibles that people can, and indeed will, easily forget once he begins to deliver on the more fundamental promises of tackling insecurity, fighting corruption and revamping the economy. Yet, one thing that the president must take account of is that whatever he chooses to make of our nation or the kind of leader he wants to become is now a function of the choices he makes in the days, weeks, months and three years ahead. And it is for that reason that I will conclude this short piece with a timeless (and very common) story I have told before.
In one village was an all-knowing legend who had answers for every question and solutions to every problem. But also in this village was a small boy who took delight in confounding people and he was determined to demystify the old man. One morning, the small boy went to the old man with his hands clasped behind his back, holding a live chick.
 "I hope there is no problem my boy" the old man asked on sighting the boy.
"No problem Sir”, replied the boy, “but I am here to put your knowledge to test. I am holding a chick in my hand and I want you to tell me whether it is alive or dead." The plan was that if the old man said it was alive he would squeeze the chick dead before presenting it and if he said it was dead, the boy would then present it alive.
But the old man was wise to the plot. Smiling, he said: "whether the chick is alive or dead is a simple problem my son. The answer is in your hands."
 The message from the old legend is simple to grasp. Whether he succeeds or fails in his mission to reposition Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has become the master of his own destiny: The answer is now in his hands.

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