In my last post, I advised President Mohammadu Buhari (PMB) to go narrow and deep in his approach to governance. This requires him to focus on narrow areas of policy and dive deeply into them to embed irreversible change for the benefit of the people in defence of his democratic change mandate. I posited that this is better that a wide and shallow approach which tries to initiate change on too many fronts, but not effective in institutionalising change in any of them. Dissipating energy in too many areas but not concluding any of them. It’s like jack of all trade and master of non.
The kind of alliance that was cooked together in APC to get PMB elected requires compromise and a doze of reality. Had CPC won the election; PMB would have had the focus needed to effect his passionate change mandate with minimal compromise. But with the compromise necessary to produce APC, PMB has to reflect on this and know that he cannot implement all he had in mind in CPC and that APC contain people of dubious credibility just like the PDP. In fact many were in the PDP until recently.
The danger as I see it is that other than his fight against corruption; there is no discernible strategic direction to the workings of this administration. There appears to be a drift in policy that is not joined up, is disjointed and and lacking coherence. For instance, I do not see any strategic vision for the policies of the CBN in the management of our monetary policies. Each day is another directive from the CBN but all lacking clarity of purpose and no understanding of what the end game should be. The CBN was pursuing a cashless policy by encouraging Nigerians to use electronic fund transfers; yet the CBN Governor was happy to give Millions of Dollars in cash in a briefcase to the former national security adviser. Why did the CBN not ask to transfer the funds to a nominated account? Why pay in cash such huge amount in direct contradiction of its own cashless policy? Where is the cashless policy gone? And yesterday, the CBN introduced a N50 Stamp Duty Charge for every deposit (including electronic) made into peoples accounts by third parties. This N50 charge is fixed regardless of how much was transferred above N1000. A more equitable approach would have been to start at N50,000 transfers (this will exclude most of the poor) and then make it a percentage of the funds value starting from N1 to up to N100 maximum. Paying N100 charge on a N50Million transfer is negligible for instance. In most nations of the world, Stamp Duty is a percentage of the transaction concerned to allow for proportionality, equity and fairness. By introducing this fixed charge; it will drive more people away from the banking system in direct opposition to its Cashless society vision. Where has the cashless policy gone? With its ban on ALL use of Debit cards abroad; the CBN has succeeded in one swoop to reverse many of the gains of its cashless policy. Now many are back to cash is King frame of mind. Who can blame them?
In my opinion; probably the worst appointment made by PMB is that of the Information Minister. Lai Mohammed is a politician and good at spin and misdirection. He was effective as APC spokesman; but a government with mandate for change requires credibility and trust from the media and the public. Lai Mohammed seems incapable of delivering this. He is still in the spin mode and each time he speaks; he reduces the credibility of this administration further.
What is the solution you may ask me? The answer is as follows:
- PMB should set up a Central Policy Unit (CPU) in his office. This team made of experts will produce the policy direction of his administration across all sectors of the economy in a coherent way.
- These policies will then be handed over to the various ministers to implement in their respective ministries.
- The accountability of each minister will be for the delivery of the policies given to his/her ministry. This will have KPIs and targets for implementation. More importantly; there will be the assurance that the policies are joined up with that of other ministries in a way that creates coherence and compelling outcomes.
Without the creation of the CPU, each ministry will simply pursue there own agenda, conflicting policies will emerge from various ministries and the government will lose momentum and the drive to deliver its change mandate. The CPU also allows PMB to control the narrative of his government by managing the CPU directly. The CPU also allows impact of policies to be objectively tested across all sectors before its implementation. It allows the government to project a coherent posture with the direction of travel clear for all to see. This will help eliminate any perception of a reactive, uncoordinated, piecemeal and confused administration.
So, to avoid a misdirection of the change mandate given to him; the president should do the following:
- Create a solid leadership for EFCC (with the encouragement of the Chief Justice and other agencies) and allow these institutions to pursue and prosecute corruption official past and present. PMB should stop making corruption his main daily talking point. There is more to governance than fight against corruption. PMB should allow his team to lead on this war on corruption while he focuses on other things that are essential to Nigerians.
- PMB should create a CPU as stated above in the Presidency. This unit will produce a collective policy framework that will then be passed on to the ministers to deliver, sector by sector. It must not be left to each minister to produce its own policies. Doing so is a recipe for disaster and confusion. The left hand will not speak to the right hand. I also believe many of these ministers are better at monitoring deliver of policies than producing one themselves. Many of them lack the 360 degree thinking needed for a joined up operation.
- PMB should focus his press statements on how he is dealing with issues that affect Nigerians daily instead of a fixation with corruption statements. Truth is Nigerians will measure any fight against corruption by results and outcomes rather than just statements and press releases. So let your administration outcomes and actions speak for you on corruption, Mr President, rather than the daily statements we see with no legal conviction in sight for any of the alleged corrupt officials. PMB should speak about Power, Roads, Prices of goods, education, health and so on. Let the institutions you have set up deal with corruption matters in the background Mr President.
- Setup a quarterly State of the Nation Press conference where you will be able to explain what your administration has done in the preceding quarter in ALL areas of national life. Control your own narrative; rather allow yourself to be defined by the words of your enemies.
There is a blueprint on how all these will work that is tried and tested. I wish PMB all the best and God’s wisdom as he delivers on the change mandate given to him by the people. Change in Nigeria has to be one step at a time and the work begins now. It is doable and we all have a part to play. It is then we will all be able to say in the words of our true pledge to Nigeria: “…to be faithful loyal and honest. To serve Nigeria with all our strength…and uphold her honour and glory. So help us God”.