President Muhammadu Buhari said on Thursday that his experience as a military dictator is one of the major reasons he is not “in a hurry to do anything.”
The president said he prefers to seriously reflect on issues placed before him and ensure that his conscience had been satisfied prior to granting approval.
“I decided to drop the uniform and come back here (to be President of Nigeria), so I have gone through it over and over again. This is why I am not in a hurry to do anything. I will sit and reflect, and continue to (operate) with my clear conscience,” Mr. Buhari said during a Thursday afternoon meeting with his party leaders and supporters which was covered by Channels TV in Abuja.
“I had to invite you to let us eat together and I tell you that I am sitting here very much aware of the problem in this country. I will always reflect on historical antecedents,” the president added.
Mr. Buhari regularly draws criticism for his snail-speed approach to national matters, including issues that may be deemed urgent by many, like reacting to tragic incidents or updating citizens about his government’s activities.
Mr. Buhari delayed setting up a cabinet for about six months after he assumed office, an outcome that analysts partly blamed for plunging Nigeria’s economy into recession in August 2016.
The country had since emerged from recession after posting growth for two consecutive quarters in a row.
Lawmakers alarmed by the historic delay immediately moved to curb such occurrences in future by passing an amendment to the Nigerian constitution.
The amendment, passed last year, gave a newly-elected president a maximum of 30 days to appoint ministers and get the federal cabinet running.
The amendment was part of the more than 30 areas of alterations that the National Assembly entered into the constitution as part of its ongoing measures to rework the governing document and make it more acceptable to the citizens.
The amendments have been pushed to the 36 states of the federation where at least two-thirds are required to concur with each amendment before pushing it to the executive for presidential assent.
A political analyst, Eluma Asogwa, said the president’s comments were laughable in the face of his activities within the last two years.
“A president that promised to hit the ground running took more than six months to set up a cabinet, saying he wanted get the best hands,” Mr. Asogwa said. “But when he eventually announced his ministers, we discovered that the majority were those that had long polluted our political space in this country.”
Mr. Asogwa said the president’s failings emanated largely from his inability to critically analyse issues and take prompt actions in line with the requirements of the modern age.
“Nigeria’s problems under President Buhari are largely about inactions than actions that were taken in earnest but wrongly,” added Mr. Asogwa, an Abuja-based legal practitioner.
Mr. Asogwa also cited the national embarrassment over the release of board appointments last month.
“He took more than two years to appoint board members only for him to end up with ‘dead people,”‘ the analyst said. “Even to remove the dead people and replace them with those still alive has taken him nearly one month and counting.”
Mr. Asogwa said he still believes that the president could still record significant achievements for the country within the remaining time in his tenure.
“I believe he could still do something even though many have written him off that he can’t do anything within the remaining one year of his government.
“The president means well for this country and I believe he could still deliver for those of us who believe in him,” Mr. Asogwa said.
The president’s supporters have asked him carry on with his style, which they described as “slow and steady” adding that it had made it difficult for would-be treasury looters to perpetrate their ignoble acts.
Channels reported that Mr. Buhari thanked his guests and assured them of unwavering thought of their loyalties and efforts.
“I thank you very much for honouring my invitation and I am telling you that if I don’t call you, it is not because, for a moment, I ever forgot how you supported me at one stage or the other over the years.”