Editor's note: Journalist, Simon Ateba in this article ,focuses on the challenges President Muhammadu Buhari will face in his second week in office as the president of Africa's largest economy.
- Between 31 May and today 6 June, Buhari has not made any other appointments, except for the list of 15 advisers approved by the Senate this week
- Buhari would need to appoint ministers as soon as possible to give Nigerians and international observers a hint into the kind of government he is trying to lead
- Buhari will need to assure his partners that he would carry them along in decision making and will not discard them now that he has become president
This article expresses the author’s opinion only. The views and opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Legit.ng or its editors.
The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, began his second week in office on Saturday with at least five pressing issues to resolve.
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Buhari defeated Goodluck Jonathan on 28 March and had to wait for two months and a day before he was sworn into office on 29 May, but more than a week after he was put in charge, and two months after he knew he would form a cabinet, he has only made three appointments.
On Sunday 31 May, three days after he was sworn in, Buhari appointed Femi Adesina and Garba Shehu as his spokesmen.
While Femi Adesina serves as Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Garba Shehu is the Senior Special Assistant (Media and Publicity). The same day, the President also appointed Lawal Abdullahi Kazaure as the State Chief of Protocol.
Between 31 May and today 6 June, Buhari has not made any other appointments, except for the list of 15 advisers approved by the Senate this week.
Buhari would need to appoint ministers as soon as possible to give Nigerians and international observers a hint into the kind of government he is trying to lead, observers say. The president promised during campaign and after winning the election to form a small cabinet and many argue that it should not take too long to appoint few people.
Appointing them early also gives the public and the media time to scrutinise their records before they go to the Senate to defend their jobs.
Buhari has not said it publicly, but there have been reports that a list of ministers sent by state governors was rejected as he insisted no one could dictate to him and he was capable of choosing the best hands himself.
These disagreements may be behind the prolonged delays of appointing ministers and other heads of Parastatals. No matter what, these issues should be soon resolved for Nigerians to have a clear idea of where they are headed, many say. That’s the first issue Buhari would need to resolve as soon as possible.
The second issue is as important as the first. Although Buhari has said in statements that he would be ready to work with any leadership at the National Assembly, it seems Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his partner in the Yoruba region, would want the Spearkership of the House of Representatives to go to the South West.
Many people in the region already argue that if the President comes from the North, and the Senate President goes to the North as planned, what was the whole Southwest – North coalition for if the Speakership also goes to North?
Although, a Speakership will not bring any money or development to impoverished folks in the region, it would convince millions of people in the West that the coalition was worth it, some people argue. It will also give Bola Tinubu, they say, something to cheer about. That’s the second issue Buhari would have to resolve behind the scene as soon as possible.
The third issue Buhari will have to resolve is a clarification of his statement on inauguration day. On that day, Buhari declared in a speech “I belong to nobody, and I belong to everybody “. That statement went viral on Facebook and many people around the world cheered it as they saw it as coming from a man who will not be pushed around or who would lead from behind.
But feelers have it that his political associates who ensured he became President with their resources and platforms were left confused. Some people even argued that the statement was directed at Tinubu who might have thought that he would play a bigger role in the APC central administration, having invested all he had to chase Jonathan out of Aso Rock. Buhari will need to assure his partners that he would carry them along in decision making and will not discard them now that he has become president. Doing that would ensure the survival of his coalition and dimish attacks from the opposition party that may see cracks in the coalition right from the day one.
The fourth issue has to do with relocating the military command from Abuja to Maiduguri until Boko Haram is defeated. Although many cheered the move at the Eagle Square in Abuja, senior officers have told journalists that it wasn’t a great move to relocate the command centre to the heart of insurgency. Many who read their reservations wondered why did Buhari not consult them before announcing such a strategic decision. Many argue that Buhari would need to sit down with senior officers and take the best decision together. After all, Buhari left the army 30 years ago and many things might have changed between 1985 and 2015.
The last immediate challenge Buhari will need to resolve is to visit Maiduguri and Yola where more than 100 people have been killed by Boko Haram in the one week that he has been president.
President Buhari needs to show that he would be different from Goodluck Jonathan who spent years before travelling to Maiduguri even as thousands of people were being killed there by those Buhari describes as the “mindless, godless ” militants.
Failure to do that, Buhari may appear as an uncaring president who talks tough but acts slow.