Top Issues In President Buhari’s Inauguration Speech
IT is not surprising that the chunk of the President’s speech dwelled on armed insurgency and internal uprising in the country. Even as he delivered the speech 16 deaths were recorded in Boko Haram and security forces confrontation. And in a manner suggesting challenging the resolve of the new Commander-in-chief of armed forces, Maiduguri came under Boko Haram heavy bombardment resulting in the death of a taxi driver and 11 other passers-by.
Short of fresh declaration of war on the insurgents, Buhari speech on Boko Haram was laced with anger the situation demand. Likening the terrorists to a typical example of small fires causing large fires, Buhari dismissed the founder of the deadly group as an eccentric and unorthodox preacher with a tiny following, who was given posthumous fame following his extra judicial murder at the hands of the police.
“Through official bungling, negligence, complacency or collusion Boko Haram became a terrifying force taking tens of thousands of lives and capturing several towns and villages covering swathes of Nigerian sovereign territory,” Buhari said
He dismissed the group as a mindless, godless association of people who are as far away from Islam as one can think of.
For immediate action, and what could be the first official step of his administration, Buhari ordered the Nigerian Army command to Maiduguri until the group is totally defeated.
But Boko Haram is not only the security issue bedeviling the country. Few hours after his speech, unidentified gunmen, numbering at least 500, attacked Riyom Local Government Area of Plateau State and sacked over 200 houses.
Noting that the spate of kidnappings, armed robberies, herdsmen/farmers clashes, cattle rustlings all help to add to the general air of insecurity in the country, the Buhari-led government is going to erect and maintain an efficient, disciplined people–friendly and well–compensated security forces within an overall security architecture.
FOLLOWING on the heels of security, power is another area of concern that attracted evident discomfiture of the President. Buhari was under no illusion when he declared that power deserve most urgent attention of his government.
Alluding to generally held believe that no single cause can be identified to explain the country’s poor economic performance over the years than the power situation, Buhari described the present situation as a national shame. He was alarmed that an economy of about 180 million people generates a paltry 4,000MW, and distributes even less.
Even at that, the President may have decided to soften the embarrassment, as the nation currently generates less that 1,400MW. But the continuous tinkering with the structures of power supply and distribution and close on $20b expanded since 1999 have only brought darkness, frustration, misery, and resignation among Nigerians. Buhari vowed that his government will not allow this to go on. According to him, careful studies, which started during the transition period, are under way to identify the quickest, safest and most cost-effective way to bring light and relief to Nigerians.
Devolution Of Power
THE executive has been accused of meddlesomeness in the affairs of the legislature and the judiciary and consequently undermining the principle of separation of powers, as well as, checks and balances. To this end, President Buhari may have had this mind when he declared that the federal executive under his watch will not seek to encroach on the duties and functions of the Legislative and Judicial arms of government. He stressed that the law enforcing authorities will be charged to operate within the Constitution.
However, Buhari warned that the legislative arm must keep to their brief of making laws, carrying out over-sight functions and doing so expeditiously. Similarly, the judicial system, according to him, needs reform to cleanse itself from its immediate past. Buhari stated that the country now expects the judiciary to act with dispatch on all cases especially on corruption, serious financial crimes or abuse of office.
According to him, it is only when the three arms act constitutionally that government will be enabled to serve the country optimally and avoid the confusion all too often bedeviling governance in the country.
Also, the relationship between Abuja and the states have to be clarified. Buhari warned that, despite constitutional limitations, the Federal Government should not be expected to fold its arms and close its eyes to what is going on in the states and local governments.
Of particular note in this regard is the operations of the Local Government Joint Account. Reiterating that while the Federal Government cannot interfere in the details of its operations, Buhari said his government would ensure that the gross corruption at the local level is checked. “As far as the constitution allows me I will try to ensure that there is responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government in the country. For I will not have kept my own trust with the Nigerian people if I allow others abuse theirs under my watch,” he said.
Restructuring, National Constitutional Dialogue
DISAPPOINTEDLY however, if the President had any serious inclinations towards restructuring of the country, such was merely given a passing remark in the form of assurance of non-interference in the affairs of the states, which may mean freedom of states to create local governments and source for revenues. Nothing in the speech suggest fundamental shift in revenue sharing and allocation. President Buhari may have tactfully avoided the term, ‘fiscal federalism’ or ‘true federalism’, just as he made no mention of the reports of the 2014 National Constitutional Dialogue.
While the APC, as a political party, boycotted the National Dialogue, many of its key officials represented their state governments or professional bodies at the Confab. Also, issues of fiscal federalism and restructuring are common mantra among many key officials of the party, especially those in the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) caucus.
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