By Prof Pita Ogaba Agbese
One American tradition that has been copied by many other countries is to assess a new administration’s performance after its first 100 days. By itself, there is nothing magical about the first 100 days. Nor is the number, 100, sacrosanct. Nonetheless, the logic behind assessing the performance after the first 100 days is that the tenor, the zeal and the overall direction of how the administration would perform for its entire term can be gauged from how it has fared in its first 100 days.
For political leaders like President Muhammadu Buhari who get re-elected, one can assess not just their first 100 days in office but a reassessment of their performance in their first term and to evaluate the what amounts to a second first 100 days against the background of their performance in their term in office.
President Buhari went through a rigorous re-election campaign. He won convincingly. He won both on his performance in his first term and his promise to take Nigeria to the “Next Level.” What do the first 100 days tell us about the trajectory of the Next Level? What can and should Nigerians expect in the next four years from the Buhari administration? Can we use the first 100 days to get a glimpse at what Nigeria would look like four years from now?
As was the case in 2015 when Buhari was first elected, his administration in the second term, was off to a slow start. Ministers were not immediately appointed as many of us had hoped and expected. Even after the ministers had been nominated, it took several weeks before portfolios were assigned to them. Now, the ministers are in place and the business of governance has started in earnest. Many of these ministers are going to be met with enormous difficulties. Take the state of roads for instance. As usual, the rainy season is upon us and that means that many roads in Nigeria are virtually impassable. Recognizing this, the administration is seriously committed to improving the conditions of our highways by repairing roads and building new ones but it seems, given the enormity of the tasks, that more efforts have to be made to create more conducive driving conditions on our roads. The administration must be commended for what it has done so far on this score but the more must be done.
Insecurity, particularly in terms of kidnapping for ransom and armed robbery, continue to be a major issue in Nigeria. Although Boko Haram is still able to launch sporadic hit and run operations, its ability to maintain arduous and sustained attacks has been seriously degraded. The Buhari administration deserves a high commendation for taming the menace of this bloody terrorist group. The police and the armed forces are doing much to curtail insecurity in its many manifestations but it is clear that the first 100 days of President Buhari’s second term have been very challenging on the security situation.
The war on corruption seems to maintain its tempo although the administration lost a few high-profile anti-corruption cases in the first 100 days. Some more recoveries of the stolen commonwealth were made and the administration must be applauded for this. I urge the administration to use proceeds from recovered assets to building infrastructure or providing some other visible means of showing the public that recovered assets are being put to use to improve the welfare of Nigerians.
Unemployment, particularly among young people, is one of the most difficult tasks in the Nigerian economy. New employment initiatives must be designed to reduce the scourge of unemployment. The administration’s commitment to raising and paying the new minimum wage must be fully acknowledged.
Bumper agricultural harvests have been recorded in many sectors of Nigeria’s agriculture. Consequently, the prices of foodstuff continue to decline. The tempo of local production of foodstuff and the curtailment of food imports must be sustained. The administration has doggedly pursued the goal of increasing local production of foodstuff and it appears that sustained local production of agricultural products will be one of the most important legacies of the Buhari administration.
All in all, if the first 100 days are anything to go by, we should expect a much better Nigeria by the time President Buhari finishes his second term. It will be a less corrupt Nigeria. More Nigerians will be gainfully employed. Stealing of public money would no longer be a directive policy of the government. New and better roads and railways will be constructed. Insecurity will be greatly curtailed.