Responding to the growing public perception that the Buhari-led administration is moving at a snail’s pace, the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday said though the government had started slowly, it is a strategy designed to avoid the pitfalls of the past and to ensure that it fulfills its promises to Nigerians, adding that it was already making remarkable progress.
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Muhammed, who addressed journalists in Lagos yesterday, said President Muhammadu Buhari was already charting a new path for Nigeria with his early steps, despite having to contend with some impeding problems put in his way by the immediate past administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
“Let me say straight away that my party, the APC, understands and appreciates the concerns of Nigerians as far as the perceived pace of the administration is concerned.
“Justifiably, the expectations are high and urgent, and the Buhari administration has started addressing them, despite the enormous challenges that it faces, including an empty treasury and an economy that has virtually collapsed,” he said.
Admitting that the APC government could not make excuses, Mohammed attributed the seeming slowness of the administration to the delay in getting the handover notes from the previous administration, which he claimed did not avail the government the opportunity to appraise the situation of things and the fact that it was the first time the country had experienced a transfer of power to an opposition party at the national level.
“The Buhari administration got the handover notes from the former government just four days before the inauguration, hampering its efforts to have a clear understanding of the situation on the ground before taking the necessary measures to address it.
“If any disease is not appropriately diagnosed, it cannot be effectively treated. Any government that is truly desirous of bringing about real change will not act hastily and without the necessary understanding of what is on the ground. Coupled with the delay in getting the much-needed information, that takes time.
“Secondly, Nigeria has never before witnessed this kind of transition. What the country has been accustomed to is transition from one government to another under the same ruling party, not from the ruling party to the opposition as we have now. The implication is that this is a new learning curve, with its attendant hiccups.
“Thirdly, never before has the ship of Nigerian state been steered aground as we have it now. Never before has Nigerians been this expectant from any leader or any government.
“These are all the more reasons to get things right once and for all, so we won’t need to continue with the vicious cycle of hopes raised and dashed,” he said.
According to him, some of the achievements of the administration within the 30-day period were in the areas of tackling insecurity, corruption and restoring Nigeria’s glory among the comity of nations, noting that Buhari’s reputation as a man of impeccable character was already bringing a change of attitude among public office holders.
“Tackling insecurity and the fight against terrorism is one area in which the Buhari administration has hit the ground running. The president had hardly been sworn into office when he embarked on a shuttle diplomacy to rally Nigeria’s neighbours to act as a common front against the terror group – Boko Haram.
“The president travelled to Chad and Niger, and then hosted a summit of the Lake Chad Basin Commission that comprised Cameroun, Chad and Niger, with Benin also invited.
“The result is the decision to deploy the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), with headquarters in N’Djamena, Chad on July 30 to pep up the fight against Boko Haram. This is the same force that the past administration could not get off the ground in six years!
“That’s what we meant when we said what the Jonathan administration could not do in six years, the Buhari administration has done in three weeks, not minding that some mischievous elements decided to quote us out of context.
“President Buhari has also rallied the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to work with Nigeria in battling the Boko Haram insurgency.
“A joint summit of leaders of both economic blocs is to be held shortly to concretise these efforts that will complement the one by Nigeria and its neighbours.
“Outside our sub-region, the president travelled to Germany to meet with G7 leaders to present to them a wish list that included getting their support for the battle against Boko Haram.
“The leaders of the countries affected by the Boko Haram insurgency have compiled their requirements which are being forwarded to the G7 for appropriate action.
“While waiting for that, the US has announced a $5 million assistance for the fight against the terrorists who have been ravaging our country and our sub-region. Added to the relocation by the Nigerian military of the command centre to Maiduguri, these are no mean achievements.
“Only a few weeks back, Nigeria could not enlist the support of any Western nation in the fight against Boko Haram, could not get the military hardware needed to pep up the fight and had to resort to using mercenaries to confront the bandits, even though the country boasts of a military that has been globally acknowledged for helping to restore peace to many countries around the world,” Mohammed stated.
In the fight against corruption, he said with the efforts of the new government, some Western nations have now assured the Buhari administration of all possible assistance in its efforts to recover the billions of naira that was spirited away from the public till by public officers who abused their offices during the immediate past administration.
“Only yesterday, it was revealed that the president has ordered revenue-generating agencies, including the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigerian Customs Service and the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), to close all illegal revenue accounts and to remit all funds generated to the Consolidated Revenue Fund.
“This is a momentous step considering that those illegal accounts are being used to siphon public funds.
“Thanks to the painstaking efforts of President Buhari, Nigerians now know that out of N8.1 trillion generated by the NNPC in three years, N3.8 trillion was not remitted to the Federation Account. Nigerians now know that the cash in the Excess Crude Account has been depleted by $2 billion without explanation.
“A panel of four governors has been set up to investigate what happened to the money that was not remitted to the Federation Account. The rot met by the Buhari administration is sickening, and the president is working hard to plug all loopholes for siphoning public funds, in addition to recovering looted public funds,” Mohammed said, adding that “this is just the beginning of the fight against corruption”.
He urged Nigerians to grab a front row seat so they can watch clearly as events unfold in the anti-corruption fight in the days ahead.