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Buhari is still making haste slowly

EVERY society has its stock of critics and cynics. Quite often, the former are preferred to the latter because in the course of their criticism, some critics would throw in alternatives or proffer solutions to problems; while the cynics never see anything good in a situation.
The past six weeks of President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-entry into government may have produced a lot of cynics among Nigerians who see Buhari as running the country like a Sole Administrator because of the leadership tussle at the National Assembly.
While they hurry to the conclusion that the stalemate at the National Assembly cannot be totally blamed on President Buhari, they refrain from saying what Buhari should have done in the circumstance – maybe he should have adopted the Late Bola Ige’s prescription of “sidon look” – just look on and do nothing!
All the same, there is a silent revolution going on in Nigeria today. The Buhari-led Administration is still making haste slowly. But apparently, the citizenry is not being adequately informed of the goings-on in government. The ordinary Nigerian is hungry for information. He wants to know. Luckily, he is able to decipher when publicity degenerates into sloganeering.

We remember Harold Macmillan (1894-1986), one-time Prime Minister of Britain, who  opined that in times of war, the Ministry of Information should be re-named the Ministry of Propaganda. To Macmillan, governance is war by another name. We see here, the heavy emphasis he places on information.
For the third President of the United States of America, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without a press or a press without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”
There is no suggestion here that in government, the time for performance should be squandered on sloganeering as we witnessed during the immediate past administration. In any situation, “work-work” is better than “talk-talk”. After all, hard work still remains the major antidote for success.
We want to welcome Nigerians to our glorious past, where there was voluntary compliance to lawful orders. In those days, at the mention of “Wole-wole”, “Ikoiko”, or “Edokita”, people cleaned up their environment without waiting for anyone to stand by them with the headmaster’s cane. Government orders were obeyed by faith. People did not need to see government officials before they obeyed.
While President Buhari is yet to speak, his body language alone  is sending shivers across the land. Lately, even the electricity companies are gasping for breath, trying to stay afloat in the new order. Suddenly, those embalmed chicken and turkey meats are disappearing from our markets because the Customs Officers at the borders have woken up. The same thing is happening to all banned items. The thief catchers and the courts are waking up. “Ikoiko” is around. These are happening, not so much because the people like the administration but because they know the consequences of non-compliance. That’s leadership! And that’s what we call governance by body language.
The present scenario becomes the more relevant against the backdrop that Nigeria’s problem has never been the absence of laws but the near-absence of enforcement. Evidence of this has always been in the preponderance of the same banned products on our streets and markets. The moral messages communicated by our laws are sharply contradicted by the absence of enforcement. The public sees the conducts condemned in words but also sees in the dramatic absence of enforcement that they are not condemned in deed. This is undermining of fate in the entire system and, in the long run, it breeds cynicism and indifference to the process of law, which augments tendencies towards disrespect for those who make and enforce the law.
Full disclosure is not always desirable. But people want to be carried along. A situation in which our friends in Washington, DC were the ones that informed us that Buhari’s cabinet will not be in place until September, is not neat enough. It should have been the other way round. After all, charity should begin at home.
Still achieving, still pursuing. The Buhari administration has terminated two obviously repugnant contracts that were entered into by the immediate-past regime of Goodluck Jonathan: the $103 million (about N21 billion) maritime security contract awarded to Global West Vessel Specialists Nigeria Limited, GWVSNL, believed to be owned by former Niger Delta Militant, Government Ekpemupolo (alias Tompolo); and the Pipeline Protection Contract awarded to the Oodua People’s Congress, OPC, and Niger Delta Militant Group. The two most unconscionable contracts were terminated just a few days after Buhari’s re-entry.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government has given a marching order to the Nigerian Army and Navy to take over their constitutionally-assigned responsibility of protecting the pipelines and our territorial waters.
For too long, Nigerians have been opposed to the idea of outsourcing the security of our vital assets to the militants and ethnic militias. While the contracts lasted, the contractors were smiling all the way to the banks and our security agencies that had the constitutional mandates were starved of funds.
Among other things, the Jonathan arrangement exposed the nation to ridicule and open embarrassment because it has no parallel anywhere in the world. Besides, Nigeria did not get value for money as more than 400,000 barrels of crude oil were constructively stolen from us on a daily basis. There is no telling whether the contractors were the same people that were colluding with international shipping companies to steal the oil.
We commend the Buhari administration for doing the needful.
Need we advise that the security agencies that have just got back their constitutionally-assigned responsibilities must be properly equipped to perform? From whom much is expected, much must also be given. President Buhari has started well. But nothing vitiates the need to constantly tell the people what he is doing, for even the Bible enjoins us to, at least occasionally, make a joyful noise.

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