Gradually, the clock timing President Muhammadu Buhari’s four year term is ticking away. It is already over 30 days since the President took the reins on May 29, 2015. Those who look back to the Presidential election of March 28, 2015 would recall how the President won a historic victory. For the first time since Nigeria’s independence in 1960, an opposition party defeated the ruling party to claim power. President Buhari and his party defied the odds and swept to office on the back of a near hysterical clamour for change.
In the process, both the President and the All Progressives Congress made hundreds of promises to the Nigerian people with respect to what the administration would do to change the direction of the country, and put it back to the path to stability and prosperity.
On its part, the civil society, which remained vigilant all through the electoral process to ensure that the votes counted, have moved to the next stage of monitoring governance and deepening democracy. Being good students of history, civil society now feels the compelling need to mobilize citizens to put a close eye on governance to ensure the politicians deliver on their promises.
The objective is to avoid the mistakes of the recent past in which the people became mere appendages in the governance process, when they should be the focal point of governance. The big challenge became how to innovatively monitor the performance of public office holders, including the President, through a rigorous and fact based approach.
The launch of Buharimeter on June 1 2015 birthed a public engagement tool with which civil society would be engaging governance to ensure the President fulfils the promises he made to the Nigerian people. Buharimeter was conceptualised by the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) to address the challenges of governance, civic participation and effective service delivery in Nigeria. The central focus of this initiative is to bridge existing gap between the government and the governed thereby facilitating a process through which democratic accountability becomes the norm. It is a platform to ensure that the dividends of democracy are delivered to Nigerians who overwhelmingly voted for change during the 2015 general elections.
It is reckoned that through Buharimeter, civil society groups, citizens, the media, academia, practitioners, political parties and other stakeholders will have access to reports on the status of the implementation of promises made by the President. This is because all the promises made by the current government are documented in different sectors for easy identification. The project is designed to ensure that citizens contribute in deepening democracy in Nigeria. Already the very first of the monthly reports has been issued. The first report for June 2015 provides updates on the status of implementation of campaign promises within the first 30days of President Muhammadu Buhari in office.
Buharimeter on anti-corruption promises
The report notes that out of the nine promises made as measures to prosecute the war against corruption, the President is at the moment “working towards the achievement of the pledge on public declaration of assets and liabilities. In that regard, he has filed his declaration with the Code of Conduct Bureau—as mandated by Section 140 of the 1999 Constitution.”
It however notes that there is yet to be movement on other promises fundamental to winning the war against corruption. In this regard, the President’s promises to inaugurate a National Council on Procurement, and implement the findings of the Nigeria Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (NEITI), have not seen relevant steps being taken to fulfil them.
Similarly, the President’s pledge to enact the Whistle Blower Act, and strengthen the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) through financial and prosecutorial independence, cost cutting in governance as well as the presentation of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy have not seen any publicly known steps towards fulfilling them.
Buharimeter on Security
One of the major soundbites from the President’s inauguration speech was the announcement that the Command and Control Centre in the war against the insurgents in the North East, would be relocated from the nation’s capital to Maiduguri, the main theatre of the war. This was followed up with diplomatic shuttles to neighbouring Chad and Niger to exact commitments and build consensus on how to defeat the insurgency. Thereafter, the President ordered the release of the sum of $21 million to the Multi National Joint Task Force for the prosecution of the war. While these steps have been applauded as early indications of the President’s resolve to stamp out the insurgency, the Buharimeter report for June notes no traction on specific campaign promises on other aspects of insecurity.
The report states: “In spite of these efforts, the President Buhari-led government is yet to deliver a Marshal Plan on insurgency, terrorism, ethnic and religious violence, kidnapping and rural banditry after 30 days in office. Also, no visible steps have been taken towards the achievement of state-guaranteed life insurance to security personnel, activation of regular meeting of the National Police Council, recruitment of 100,000 police officers, creation of Local Government and State policing systems, etc. which are some of the promises he made to strengthen security capacity of the country.”
Under the key concerns section, the June report observes that over 400 innocent Nigerians have been reportedly killed in several bomb explosions and attacks perpetrated by Boko Haram’s insurgents in the states of Adamawa, Yobe, Kaduna, Plateau and Borno.
“Similarly, clashes between farmers and pastoralists are taken huge toils in human lives and property in North Central States. While practical efforts of the PMB administration to end the constant bloodletting in the North-Eastern states are commendable, it is important that immediate intervention be made to end the farmers-herders conflicts.”
President’s Scorecard After 30 Days
With over 30 days gone, the Buharimeter assessment has a scorecard for the President in percentage terms. It notes that while “campaign promises made by PMB to be achieved within his first 100 days in office constitute 58 promises (33.7%) of the tracked 172 promises, whereas those timelined within 4 years represent 114 promises (66.3%). Out of the 58 promises, 4 (6.9%) are rated “Ongoing”.
“Hence, within his first 30 days in office, the President has ONLY worked towards the achievement of 6.9% of his 100 day covenant with Nigerians. If the trend continues, PMB will achieve not more than 30% of the 58 promises at the due date, which is September 9, 2015. In the same vein, the actionable steps taken within his first 30 days in office represent ONLY 2.3% (4 out of 172) of President Muhammadu Buhari campaign promises. This underscores the fact that no observable steps have been taken to achieve 97.7 percent of the promises.”
However, the June report did not merely pin point the problems with respect to the President’s promises that are yet to be matched with action. It made some recommendations on how the President can fulfil the promises he made to Nigerians.
Specifically, it was recommended that the President should swiftly deliver his “Marshal Plan on insurgency, terrorism, ethnic and religious violence, kidnapping and rural banditry” as he promised to do within his first 100 days in office”. The report equally called on the President to stagger ministerial appointment that “will involve the immediate nomination of officials to man critical sectors, viz finance, agriculture, power and justice.”
Beyond the content of the report, it is of importance to take a look at the methodology used in putting this very first report together. The monitoring of tracked campaign promises of PMB was conducted by CDD. Reports of newspapers, radio and television broadcast which had bearing on aspects of the promises were generated through daily media monitoring. Also, expert analyses on sectoral issues were also collated to aid formulation of informed analyses, from problem identification to policy recommendations.
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