Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Change for the better?

A year after his election, President Buhari is evaluated by novelist and writer Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani on the BBC's news page.

Buhari’s first year: Five ways Nigeria has changed
1. Are we safer?

Those of us who travel regularly in Nigeria's north-east had become used to what should be a 15-minute journey turning into an hour-long ordeal…

Today, the number of checkpoints has fallen significantly - even on the road to Chibok - thanks to enhanced confidence in the security of the entire region.

The army has regained swathes of territory that the Islamist militants had occupied as part of their so-called caliphate…

But while there is progress in the north-east, trouble in the Niger Delta, the country's oil-producing region, is resurfacing…

2. Where's my money?

In the months preceding last year's elections, the popular chant on the streets was "Sai Buhari, Sai Buhari", which means "Only Buhari" in Hausa - the most widely-spoken language in the north where the president originates.

"Sai Buhari" became an almost magical greeting, capable of earning you a discount from the sweaty chap pushing a wheelbarrow of tiger nuts or sugar cane…

A year later, the chant has changed to "Buhariya", which roughly translates to "Buhari's way" or "Buhari's time".

The slogan is now used to explain every unpleasant evidence of Nigeria's troubled economy and a time of austerity…

3. Where's our money?

This time last year, friendship with Sambo Dasuki, the former national security adviser, could have altered your economic circumstances forever.

He would have been besieged with invitation cards to be the chief guest at various events.

When he entered a room, almost everyone would stand in respect.

Today, he sits in an Abuja jail, awaiting trial for the alleged mismanagement of billions of dollars meant for the war against Boko Haram - charges he denies.

Several other big men, previous untouchables, such as former service chiefs, top politicians and government officials, are also sitting in jail awaiting corruption trials, or out on bail…

4. Where are the women?

Ensuring women's participation at all levels in political, economic and public life is one of the targets of the UN's sustainable development goals (SDGs).

But oly six out of Mr Buhari's cabinet of 37 are women, a meagre 16% and way down on the previous administration's 31%…

5. What are we wearing?

In Abuja the government in power influences the style of dress throughout the administration.

Staff of the government, friends of the government and aspiring friends of the government all aim to dress like the person at the top…

Olusegun Obasanjo is an ethnic Yoruba from the south but throughout his eight-year presidential tenure, he mostly wore babarigas

All this changed in 2011, with the election of Goodluck Jonathan…

Mr Jonathan preferred the long shirt and trouser outfit that is traditional among his Ijaw community…

Within a year of Mr Buhari, "resource control" outfits have almost completely vanished from view. The babariga is back…

Beyond these five areas, there are many more profound changes that Nigerians are expecting from our government, but those will take time.

The structure of corruption and mismanagement which previous governments left behind must first be dismantled before a new foundation of progress can be laid.

And President Buhari is no modern-day Hercules…

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