Daily Trust

Hundred days of Buhari: Body language & beyond

Hundred days in power of any ruler’s governance has now become the crucial period of reckoning- of rendering initial account of stewardship. This is by no means a decree, a constitutional authority but a ‘copy’ of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt of the USA when he proposed the New Deal on his inauguration. He sought to be empowered by all existing laws so that he could bring a halt to the reverses on the land wrought on the country by the Great Depression; to in 100 days show clear direction in his bid to set the nation back on the cause of positive change through the four key priorities of the Deal. This included getting the country back to work, wealth and prosperity creation, relieving the sick and ailing in society and re-energising industries and agriculture. This was by no means a mean feat but by all means a relatively accomplished assignment.
There has since been many echoes of the Roosevelt stride such that in modern times its trivialisation has become the rule. Since then, the moment a government comes to power, the counting begins on the landmarks of its achievement in power. In this wise, most leaders would rather be counted, before their 100 days, to have made great exploits, achieved observable feats and to have made great strides and recorded a pass on the unwritten score-card laid before it by critics, opinion polls, political opponents and social beckoners – no matter how transient, how ephemeral and how transitory those achievements are in the life of the people and society under its suzerainty. It has been the case with Nigerian governments up till the present Buhari aegis, even before it was one month old in leadership, especially given the ‘change mandate’ with which it was believed to have ascended power!
Opinions have since poured in torrents of what Buhari and his government have successfully accomplished in these 100 (magic) days. True, there are not yet structured policies and strategies of governance that will provide envisioned framework of transforming the country but he has, unquestionably, breathed life and hope into the national membrane such that Nigerians have started to believe in the possibilities of national redemption and reawakening from the stupour and stasis that have characterised our national life since, in particular the 16 years of civil democracy.
Femi Adesina, the Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, has ‘without rolling the drums and tom-toms, eloquently captured what he terms as the “almost imperceptible and intangible” but positive and ramifying achievements of Buhari, ‘‘the new Sheriff’ who has hit town (who has taken over the reins of power in Nigeria).
According to Adesina, from inside the government’s closet, this attitudinal change has wrought concrete and positive improvement in lives and services, infrastructure and establishment; in electricity and refineries. Without lifting a finger, by Buhari’s own confession, the lighting situation has improved across the country as about 5,000 megawatts of electricity currently yield and provide illumination for our country. Billions of dollars have been pumped into the power sector – from OBJ through Yar’Adua to Jonathan – with a result of only shedding more and more darkness on the national landscape.
The refineries, which have not produced refined crude before now, have suddenly started to  supply refined fuel for national consumption; queues which have hitherto paralysed mobility and raised national discontent and mayhem since many governments ago, up till the  anti-subsidy revolt during Jonathan’s government, have disappeared like darkness at the un-rush on bright moonlight. The fear of Buhari and his anti-corruption crusade has produced panic in obscenely and opulently rich homes. Billions of dollars are galloping back into the national coffers as their illegal keepers are making returns in fearsome panic, even as the anti-corrupt agents are revving their operational engines back to life.
Read, for instance, Bala Muhammed’s back-page column in Daily Trust of last Saturday in the ‘memorable memento’ titled ‘100 Days? How Time Flies.’
There is, by and large, a favourable perception of the efforts of President Buhari in the key areas of his concerns – if the APC says that no promise has been made by them and their men in the saddle of power; security and the counter-insurgency war, the anti-corruption crusade and to some extent the economy, especially with the bailout of state governments whose noses have been bloodied by their inability to clear months of salaries arrears and whose workers are in one state or the other of industrial dispute and action. You can affirm this from the opinions collated by The Punch newspaper last week Friday, and many more.
There are, as expected in a nation as diverse in cultures, values and perceptions as Nigeria, less favourable views of the Buhari government in its three months in power. The Sun’s editorial of last Saturday gave a very critical and realistic load-down of ‘Buhari’s 100 days in office.’ While appreciating the government’s observed achievements in its ‘headlong’ battle waged against corruption, the raging terrorism and the struggle to rebuild the economy, achieved mainly, largely thus, through his body language, based on his unquestionable self-discipline and personal “image as a no-nonsense person” as well as the bold steps the has taken so far in these critical departments of activism, there are areas that of governance where his performance have not yielded space for commendation.
For instance, the editorial observed Boko Haram is still in combat and the Chibok girls are still at large or in captivity; the naira has continued to fall against the dollar and other international currencies, inflation is diminishing drastically, no thanks to the rapid fall in the price of oil; the prices of food items are at an all-time high; there is no clear-cut policy on employment and job creation, and so on.
A seminal analysis of the state of the nation with regard to government’s handling of structural and infrastructural matters was made, quite clear by Akinlotan in his Palladium of Saturday in The Nation, where he proposes that Buhari needs  “ethos and paradigm” if he wishes to take this nation out of the present socio-economic doldrums. An area which Palladium believes there is a lot left to be done but needs to be done for the desired change to happen in his regime in the four years of his tenure so as to make that critical difference in the social order of our country is to “conceive and implement fundamental policies that will touch every nerve and organ and hidden crevices in the body politic.” He thinks that so far, Buhari has neither “conceived nor implemented anything substantially evocative of the ethos and paradigm his government and this country sorely need.”       
These are very constructive analyses and perceptions of Buhari after 100 days in power. Any serious government, such as I believe this government is, must take these views and opinions seriously in the four years of its anticipated government of change. So much has happened to show that there is a lot of public confidence, faith and belief in the ability and competence of President Buhari to set Nigeria on the path of social transformation that it sorely needs and is capable of achieving. It is established that, based on his body language, the president has begun to make a difference. My view is that, body languages and their effects can be very transient if not raised to the level of concrete and sustained structured and systematic policy and strategic action. Change must go beyond body language toward envisioned system of implementable values and enduring actions upon which great nations are built. These are the expectations from President Buhari and his yet to be fully formed government by this anxious and hopeful nation.