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Muhammadu Buhari After 365 days of change, it still feels the same

It was time for the General to learn the difference between a military regime and a democracy, and there's no better teacher than the Nigerian Senate, referred to by some as the "den of thieves".

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Buhari on his inauguration day play

Buhari on his inauguration day

(Pulse)

365 days ago, chants of "Sai Baba", "Sai Baba" reverberated around the whole nation, as President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as the President of Nigeria, after winning one of the most controversial elections ever held but Nigerians did not care.

They were dying for a change. They had had enough of the insecurity, blatant corruption, and insensitivity that characterised the past government.  It's leader President Goodluck Jonathan was seen by many as a puppet and that he could be out-rigged in an election conducted by his own administration, was all the proof Nigerians needed that he was truly clueless.

So, not even Orubebe's outbursts which provided some much needed comic relief, nor our pastors' 7 billion naira induced visions, of Goodluck as God's chosen, divine instructions and threats, could deter Nigerians from seeking the promise land under the direction of their freshly anointed prophet. Buhari's time had come. After failing three previous times, he was once again the President of Nigeria, only this time he was chosen by the people and not thrust upon them via a coup, as was the case in 1983.

Even before he was sworn in, his authority could immediately be felt. The disciplinarian was here and every government agency immediately sat up. The Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Police and even PHCN were on their toes. There was so much electricity supply that, Nigerians who had clamoured for 'change', began to long for the familiar 1 to 2hrs power supply per day, they were used to. I for one after enduring about 8 straight hours of 'light', and constantly on the lookout for our 'ladder carrying friends', joined others to sit in front of our houses, like we would normally do when there's no power supply. Unfortunately, it was an anticlimax.

It was time for the General to learn the difference between a military regime and a democracy, and there's no better teacher than the Nigerian Senate, referred to by some as the "den of thieves". 'Sai Baba' had to steer his 'forty thieves' in the right direction not by force but by guile and it became apparent that he was not a politician.

The very first lesson was the emergence of Senator Bukola Saraki as the Senate President. It was a well orchestrated move that saw Saraki an APC senator connive with the PDP minority in the house. He conducted the election at the same time other APC senators were in a meeting with President Buhari. In one smooth stroke, Saraki had displaced the Jagaban's annointed puppet, Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan and split APC which was a coalition of various political parties into different camps. Buhari had lost the Senate even though his party was the majority. His schooling had just begun but he is an absentee student.

 

Buhari who's been nicknamed "Waka Waka Buhari" (i.e a person constantly on the move), has been to at least 30 countries since he assumed office. He travelled so much the hashtag #wakawakabuhari trended on twitter, with some saying he's 'on a world tour'.

Notwithstanding he has done a great job in repairing the nations image, recovering looted funds and pushing for foreign investments in Nigeria but at what cost? According to Sahara Reporters a two-day trip undertaken by the President costs between $350k and $500k, this cost does not include those of his companions, and he has reportedly spent 68 days out of 307 days outside the country.

Nigeria is in the middle of its worst inflation ever, which is driven by a drop in global oil prices and the lack of foreign reserves. The Buhari administration blames the Jonathan administration for depleting the foreign reserves, which they say is responsible for the fall in Naira. In a country which depends on importation for basic things, an exchange rate of rate of N300 per dollar, has driven food and commodity prices sky high and a familiar foe, fuel scarcity resurfaced again.

10 funny but useful skills every Nigerian has mastered play

10 funny but useful skills every Nigerian has mastered

 

The queues were back and longer than ever and the Petroleum Minister Ibe Kachikwu, angered a lot of people when he dared to tell Nigerians the scarcity will prevail for a while. This was not the change they signed up for, Buahri had promised no more queues. While they were still shaking their heads, subsidy was removed, petrol was now priced at N145 from N86, and the queues disappeared overnight. Nigerians were too numb to react and NLC's call for a strike fell on deaf ears. The people it seems were more wary of NLC than the government.

Buhari however stood firm in his fight against corruption. He enlisted the help of the IMF, the World Bank and Western nations who had benefited from our corrupt leaders. Though some are of the opinion that his anti-corruption war is a witch hunt, the fact still remains that those indicted are corrupt. The fear of Buhari even made some people return stolen money without waiting to been asked. The BVN registration carried out by his administration helped weed out about 34,000 ghost workers that were draining government resources.

Buhari play

President Muhammadu Buhari meets rescued Chibok girl, Amina Ali Nkeki and her baby, Safiya at the Presidential Villa on Thursday, May 19, 2016.

(Sahara Reporters)

 

The government was also winning the war on terror. The army has liberated several towns previously occupied by the militant group Boko Haram, and the sect has been driven deep into the Sambisa forest and even one of the kidnapped Chibok girls was rescued by the army. Though the war's far from over, IDPs are beginning to return home and the North East has started to show signs of life again.

READ: Presidency lists President's achievements in one year

Fresh insurgency however broke out in the South South, with the emergence of the group the Niger Delta Avengers who are protesting against the marginalisation of the region by the Buhari administration. Oil pipe lines have been blown up and Nigeria's production capacity has fallen to it's lowest in 20 years.

There were also cases of armed Fulani herdsmen invading communities along their grazing routes, killing the indigenes, destroying their farmlands and burning down their houses. Even with all of this, security in the nation has improved in Buhari's first year in office.

The greatest complaint against this administration is, it's slow pace. Everything seems to be done at snail speed. It took Buhari about seven months to name his ministers, and five months to sign the 2016 budget. How can the budget for the year be signed in May? At this pace before he will be able to carry out the change he has in mind Nigerians would have elected a new President.

Lagos state Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, in his first year in office, lit up Lagos, kicked off the construction of the Fourth Mainland bridge and recently signed a contract to transform oshodi. He's not coming up with all these plans himself, he has a credible team working with him, they develop the plans, he implements them.

Though Buhari and his team has made some achievements in the economic sector, this is yet to be felt by the average citizen who needs something tangible, something he can identify with, something to show that change is coming.

For the next 365 days, I will like see the President concentrate on travelling in and around Nigeria. Let him go from state to state, get to feel the needs of the people. I don't want him to serve beans and pomo or rub shoulders with the agbo jedi sector of his citizens to prove he is the man of the people, but rather to prevail on Governors whose states are brimming with untapped natural resources and yet cannot afford to pay the N18,000 minimum wage, to generate revenue from within their states rather than come hat in hand looking for Federal allocations.

 

I want to see a noticeable improvement in power generation. Any government who claims they want to improve the economy of this country, without providing regular and dependable power supply is a joke. On what will the economy be built, diesel? How will you attract foreign investors? It's true the government has signed power generation deals with France, the World Bank and China but this is not the first time we are hearing of such deals. The government needs to see those deals through and lay the ground work for sustainable development.

I want to see the President exercise his political will. There should be a complete overhaul of the NNPC, government overhead should be cut and unnecessary portfolios should be weeded out.

This is the change he promised and the wave he rode into power and if he can't deliver, then that same wave will sweep him back to where he came from. Change is constant, but here in Nigeria it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.

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