Nigeria 2016 in Review: how Buhari’s regime fared in policy

Nigeria 2016 in Review: how Buhari’s regime fared in policy

The early 2015 political atmosphere that ushered the current administration into power was fraught with uncertainties. However, even functional democracies the world over bequeath and inherit political and policy burdens.

The enormity of the liability may vary but should not be a false reason to fail in any government’s sworn responsibility.

No new incoming government in a democratic setting ever picked up victory at the polls by echoing the same promises and methodology that its opponent or incumbent power professes. In other words, a well thought out campaign promises and approach that achieves triumph at the polls should be able to form a template from which a workable policy could be fashioned out. That the current government has not articulated a clear-cut course of action until now remains a puzzle and disappointment to knowledgeable Nigerians.

Fundamentally, policies are formulated by government in response to problems in areas of politics, economy, education, labour, agriculture, communication, transportation, housing, healthcare etc.

The posture of present government has proved that political campaign slogans may procure success at the polls but cannot create change. The incumbent regime at the centre successfully clinched power by performing a well-written campaign script of “change” without imbibing the action plan of that same script. Of all the campaign promises that shot leaders to the highest political office since 1999, none had dramatically goofed at resumption, defaulted repeatedly and dashed the hopes of Nigerian masses, comprehensively such as President Mohammadu Buhari’s. Approximately nineteen months in office, Buhari and his APC government is fast becoming a model of empty and superficial reforms.

Upon assuming his presidential duties in May 2015, Buhari commenced with complaints of meeting empty treasury and a glut in global crude supply which many empathised with his new executive. But only a few imagined that such complaint among others would be an excuse for executive ineptitude, nineteen months down the line. To further abandon watchers in guesswork, his government did not make public exactly how much was left in the nation’s coffers, the percentage of 2015 budget executed before it took over, and what was realised and spent at the end of 2015.

Throughout the first quarter of 2016, the executive and legislative arms of Buhari’s government were entangled in an acrimonious debate with the passing of the nation’s 6 trillion naira budget – a matter that portrayed Nigerian lawmakers as a bloody-minded lot stalling the nation’s progress. Some political analysts perceived the altercation between the two arms of national government as mere power tussle, but the late passing of the budget became the bridge too far to the present perilous state of the economy. So far, at the twilight of 2016, no record of the ratio of implementation of 2016 budget and what is to be carried over to 2017 budget has been made public.

Long after Buhari’s kitchen cabinet and ministers were appointed apparently on the basis of nepotism and political compensation, common folks who voted for change have not felt the positive impact of their offices and ministries. From Education, Labour and Productivity, Transportation, Petroleum, Works, Power, and Finance Ministry, etc., no one knows what their 2016 balance sheets look like.

As a result of Buhari’s nebulous and multiple monetary policy direction or lack of it, Foreign Investors (FIs), have taken flight while a sizable portion of Nigeria’s private sector has either closed shop or gone moribund. And the essence of public policy is to determine the activities of government and private organisations in relation to providing services designed to solve problems. No serious organisation, public or private can successfully accomplish any feat without a programme of action. The activities of public bureaucracies and the expenditure of public funds could hardly be monitored and accounted for without a specific plan.

Practically all Buhari’s ministries have been involved in policy somersaults with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) taking the front row. No nation’s economy can survive the numerous and baseless monetary policy flip-flips by its apex bank and survive. And only an incompetent government can retain Godwin Emefiele as CBN Governor.

Critics have repeatedly lampooned Buhari’s regime of lacking in expertise, educational qualification, political gravitas and sincerity of purpose by which serious governments around the world translate their political vision into programmes and actions to deliver desired outcomes to the electorate. And failure to articulate a clear-cut policy, directed at specifically achieving next year’s objectives, will relegate the trending 2017 7 trillion naira proposed budget as a pipe dream.