May 29 marks the beginning of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term in office. The swearing-in ceremony is historic as it is exactly 20 years since the military government of General Abdulsalami Abubakar handed over power to a democratically elected President.
The Next Level administration, as the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has branded it, promises better tidings for Nigerians who, in the last four years, have had to live through tremendous challenges. The expectation is that the President and his team will use the next four to better the lot of Nigerians.
However, as has become traditional, citizens will look forward to Buhari’s scored card on his first 100 hundred days in office. During this period, he is expected to move very quickly and execute quick fix solutions to deal with immediate challenges.
Here are 6 things Ripples Nigeria thinks President Buhari can, and must achieve, within 100 days of his Next Level administration.
1. Declare assets publicly
On May 27, 2019, President Buhari received his asset declaration form from the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB). Acknowledging the document from Chairman of CCB, Prof. Muhammed Isah, the President promised to deal quickly with it, alleging that he realizes he would be object of attacks once done with public service in 2023.
Declaration of assets is a constitutional requirement but the President must go beyond the usual ritual of conducting the exercise in secret. A public declaration of his assets would send very strong and clear signals to team members about the need for transparency in governance.
The overall impact of this act is sure to generate even a bigger momentum for his anti-corruption agenda.
2. Sack Service Chiefs
Following the continuous rise in the level of insecurity in the country, President Buhari needs to, as a matter of great urgency, overhaul the country’s security architecture, beginning with the sack of his service chiefs. This should include the Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Defense Staff, Chief of Defense Intelligence, National Security Adviser, Chief of Naval Staff and the Chief of Air Staff.
This, it is believed, will inject fresh blood and ideas into the fight against the never-ceasing Boko Haram insurgency, killings and maiming of unsuspecting Nigerians by herdsmen, as well as banditry across the norther States of Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina and Kaduna.
More so, allegations are rife that the military hierarchy has become deeply enmeshed in scandals leading to diminishing morale within the rank and file.
3. Implement Govt/ASUU MoU
On the May 21, 2019, the Minister of Education, Prof. Adamu Adamu, in a valedictory press conference in Abuja said that the federal government had approved an additional N25 billion as Earned Academic Allowances for the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
Unimpressed, ASUU, a day after Adamu’s revelation, argued that the said amount was mere tokenism as it only represented ‘part payment’, and not a significant step in resolving the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) reached with the Federal Government.
In 2017, the Buhari-administration had said it did not abandon the MoU wherein it acknowledged that government would release N1.3 trillion over a period of six years. The government was expected to release about N220 billion each year.
To prevent a further mess up of our universities, President Buhari must fully execute the MoU with ASUU as a show of faithfulness and integrity. The instability in the country’s education system, especially within the tertiary sector, must be resolved in favour of the teachers and students.
4. Facilitate release of Leah Sharibu
Leah Sharibu marked her 16th birthday in captivity on May 14, 2019. It has been nearly two years in the den of her captors. The global outrage is unceasing. This is especially so as the captors targeted her because of her beliefs. Leah’s abduction leaves a huge dent on Nigeria’s international image as it relates to defense of human rights.
Though the Buhari administration continues to assure that it was doing its best to ensure the release of Leah, the promises have largely come to nought. The argument is that the Presidency has not pushed hard enough on the issue and must now commit itself to ensuring Leah’s safe return, no matter what it takes.
It must be said that each day that Leah remains in the hands of her captors, the more danger the country faces in its bid to hang on to its fragile unity smothered by ethno-religious divides.
5. Stop medical tourism
Coincidentally too, on May 14, 2019, House of Representatives members killed a proposed law in its third reading which was meant to stop public officials from going overseas for medical treatment. The lawmakers did not allow the bill to scale through on the basis that it would discriminate against elected officials.
The disappointment has become subject of wide debate. The President had substantially been guilty of this, having spent hundreds of days seeking medical attention in Britain.
The argument had been that a lot of financial resources was being frittered by the country on medical tourism, a major set back at efforts aimed at strengthening the nation’s health institutions.
In quashing the bill, the House argued that it amounted to denial of individual rights as enshrined in the constitution. As plausible as this sounds, it is certain that medical tourism cannot be a sustainable venture.
The President can, and should give another life to the dead bill, taking advantage of the numerical advantage that would be enjoyed by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 9th Assembly. This has become pertinent if the nation must reverse the current decay being witnessed in the health sector that has seen the nation’s doctors leave in droves for foreign lands.
6. Initiate a new constitution
On May 10, 2019, President Buhari, against every prediction, made a call for a return to true federalism. “We remain committed to improving the point to say that true federalism is necessary at this juncture of our political and democratic evolution,” he said.
The President must walk the talk, and should, therefore, quickly set the ball rolling for the actualization of a new constitution and restructuring of the federation. The road to executing this project may be two-pronged. He can either work for the establishment of a National Confab, having dumped that initiated by former President Goodluck Jonathan or lobby the National Assembly for radical amendments to the existing constitution.
The President must act in haste as his party had already committed to a restructuring of the federation given that it had even set up a committee, headed by Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai as Chairman, which had since proposed 12 areas to the APC leadership for consideration.
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