One thing that Nigerians will not miss about President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and its officials is the proclivity for failing on self-imposed deadlines. Botched time frames have become the signature tune of the administration, from lifting millions of people out of poverty; end to insurgency, kidnapping and banditry; collection of Permanent Voters’ Card (PVC), fuel supply and the new naira notes. In actual fact, some of the deadlines were unnecessary and uncalled for since there was no evidence to suggest that anyone was holding gun to their heads.
The president has given such countless targets and since no one is going to challenge him, he is at liberty to do so without any repercussion. That is the price for the presidential system of government that guarantees the occupant of Aso Villa a constitutional tenure which no vote of confidence can shrink.
While seeking the highest office in the land in 2014, the president vowed to revamp the economy, curb corruption and improve security in the country in the shortest possible time. The president reiterated the promises while seeking re-election in 2019. He promised to improve the economy through a number of policies and programmes that would enhance productivity and diversify the economic base of the country, while attracting more foreign direct investment.
The president also promised not to relent in the fight against corruption. Importantly, the president made a strong commitment in his inaugural address for the second term to lift 100 million people out of poverty in 10 years. The public is in a better position to judge the performance of the president and the various deadlines. However, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has demonstrated in the 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index publication that more people have now been thrown into poverty than at any other time in the history of the country.
In 2014, the former governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola, said electricity was not rocket science and any responsible government should be able to provide an uninterrupted power supply for the populace within six months. After winning the elections, the president in an unprecedented move saddled him with the responsibility of overseeing a combination of three ministries of Power, Works and Housing. It is for the public to judge whether he actually delivered after four years in that position as Minister of Power.
Aviation Minister Hadi Sirika equally promised that the country would have a national airline before 2019, later changed to 2022 and now May 2023. In the same vein, he promised Nigeria would be producing, not assembling aircraft by 2023.
How about Information Minister Lai Mohammed and other ministers that in their afternoon siesta were making promises and giving deadlines that they knew were unrealistic but good music to the ears of their principal and partisan supporters?
While politicians that are well known for their illogical pledges and statements that are laced with untruths with eyes on the next elections could be pardoned, it is ungainly when state institutions like the DSS joins that league of giving deadlines and allow such time frame to pass without any action. Then, ordinary citizens should be worried and can only imagine the many unfulfilled deadlines that could have been given to the president which they have failed to honour. Of relevance to the current situation in the country was the 48-hour ultimatum DSS issued on 8th December, 2022 to all stakeholders in the oil industry to resolve the fuel scarcity that almost grounded the country to a halt. It threatened to activate its operations across the country if the scarcity was not resolved at the end of the ultimatum.
Two months after, Nigeria is still facing the same situation it was before the defender and guardian of Nigeria’s security threatened NNPC and the stakeholders. It has now dawned on the saboteurs, whoever and wherever they are, that DSS is either incapable or the administration lacks the political will to take action against them. The fear of DSS should ordinarily be the beginning of wisdom for saboteurs, but what are we seeing? Nobody seems to care even when DSS in an unusual move announced publicly its intent to execute security operations in all its commands and platforms to end the lingering fuel scarcity. That is what Nigerians call ‘see me finish.’ Perhaps, there is even no saboteur anywhere but just government incompetence.
The DSS has enormous arsenal at its disposal to rescue this country if it is ready to do so and if the powers that be will allow it. Notwithstanding the long-lasting damage to the psyche of the officers who are witnesses to the history of the havoc being wrecked on the federation by politicians and their ilk, it is just a matter of time, the organisation will recover and remain truthful to its mandate of the prevention and detection of any crime against the internal security of Nigeria.
The irony of the present fuel and new notes scarcity is the resultant political ramifications and how it will affect the ruling party in its attempt at wining the next presidential election in February. If not addressed urgently, lack of fuel supply will suppress voting. This is the reason why the presidential candidate is alleging sabotage and he may be right. It is curious and strange that the power of incumbency is not being deployed to deal with the problems that seem to be tarnishing the image of the ruling party in the eyes and minds of the people, including collection of PVC, fuel scarcity and shortage of new naira notes.
While it is difficult to subscribe to the fallacy that the Federal Government has failed totally in its core mandate of security of lives and property, it is however logical for the administration to identify the institutions of government that are failing and sanction the incompetent leadership. On the other hand, there is also the realisation that the buck stops on the table of Mr. President who hires public service officials and can dismiss the ineffectual ones.
Oloko, a Policy Analyst, wrote via [email protected]