As Buhari’s first term reaches its end…

As the first term of his administration reaches its end, President Muhammadu Buhari has asked for comprehensive status reports on policies, programmes and projects from his cabinet members on their respective ministries, department and agency.

The president directed that ministers have Wednesday, April 24, 2019, as the deadline for submission of their report to the Presidential Audit Committee in the Office of the Vice President, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Mr Boss Gida Mustapha said via a circular.

The government also requested members of the Federal Executive Council to “ensure that all outstanding memoranda they intend to present to the Federal Executive Council are submitted to the Cabinet Affairs Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, not later than Tuesday, April 30, 2019.”

This measure, no doubt, is taken to ensure probity and accountability and chart way forward for the Buhari-led administration as it enters its second and final term of office. No doubt, status reports on policies, programmes and projects from the current heads of government agencies would enable the government take stock of its activities, limitations, prospects and progress. 

Political accountability is, therefore, arguably the strongest means to exert political control or oversight in a democratic setting where appointed public officials are directly answerable to the president with responsibilities in policymaking, ranging from education, to national defence to environmental protection.

At the same time, they also possess a variety of authorities over rulemaking delegated from legislators. These responsibilities dictate that public administrators should account for their actions in the context of designing and implementing laws, rules, and regulations.

Heads of public agencies are expected to focus their attention on the priorities set for them by the president and, at the end of their tenure, account for their actions and inactions and state encumbrances, if any.

However, the president’s appointees should, ideally, also account for their actions or otherwise to the people. Thus, the other side of the accountability equation is whether citizens should demand accountability from their leaders and how would they be encouraged to do so?

There exists, therefore, an accountability gap that must be bridged and this must be done by the Buhari-led administration which has shown itself as caring for the principle of public accountability and against all forms of bureaucratic corruption.

If the culture of accountability in high official quarters is not duly and carefully established by this administration, chances are that after it Nigeria could slide back to the era of endemic corruption to be perpetrated by those charged with the responsibility of guarding the nation’s resources.

Again, the media has role to play here. It is certainly not enough to report that the president has ordered heads of government agencies to submit status reports on their policies, programmes and projects. In fact, if the media practitioners accept their watchdog function, they should fill this accountability gap by scrutinising the reports and public statements and make discrepancies, inadequacies and shortcomings known to the public.

Functioning of a bureaucratic accountability system requires provision of adequate information and the citizenry must be involved and encouraged to own the process for it to be successful.

Like Buhari, like Bill Gates

For the umpteenth time, President Muhammadu Buhari, this week, said that his administration would not fail Nigerians.

The president said so in a telephone conversation with Mr Bill Gates, who called to congratulate him on his election victory for a second four-year term of office.

The president thanked Gates for his initiatives in Nigeria. “I am very happy with the way your projects have touched the life of the average Nigerian,” he said.

The president commended Gates for his consistent and generous support to public causes around the globe, and specifically for supporting the eradication of polio and HIV diseases in Africa and Nigeria in particular.

The president told his caller that he’s grateful to Nigerians for their decision to reelect him to serve as the president for another round of final four years in office, saying: “This verdict says we have to work hard to meet their expectations. God willing, we will not fail.”

Gladly, during the telephone chat, Gates, like the president, expressed his willingness to do more for the country and said, of course with a good reason, that he’s happy to be associated with the Nigerian president.

Again, like the president, a man who has dedicated his entire productive life to the service of Nigeria and its people, Gates states his commitment to the success of the current administration and progress, prosperity and well-being of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The president and Gates can be compared in many ways. They’re both selfless, passionate about peoples’ wellbeing, humble and lead Spartan lifestyle, despite living in the midst of plenty.

Particularly, in the case of the president, this is a man who had held virtually all the most sensitive and important positions in government, but still owns far less than what some corrupt directors in state civil service possess. He is, therefore, a leader who has integrity, who does what he means and means what he does and, in the process, created a cult-like followership for himself and inspires his followers to shun corruption.

Though the president’s stand and fight for the common people is globally acknowledged and appreciated like the Gates brand, yet, it often pitches him in conflict with blood suckers in Nigeria. This is the irony of being a good leader, especially in this part of the world. Still, we need truly effective and inspiring leaders who aren’t driven to lead people but to serve them.

It is this subtle twist of logic that earns a good leader the loyalty and respect of the people. For a leader to be a leader, he or she truly needs following. Of course, individuals can only follow another individual when they feel that the person will look out for them and their interests.

Leadership is as much about environment as it is about practice. People should generally feel that the leader is there to help them be the best version of themselves.

Agreed, the current pitiable unemployment situation in the country and hopelessness among the population aren’t created by the Buhari-led administration, it’s the president’s job to help Nigerians, especially the youth, figure out how to make themselves employable and self-reliant, get things done and succeed beyond what they thought possible. This formed the foundation of the present administration’s policies and programmes in the last four years, and it is our hope that it would be sustained.