‘The President Must Address The Nation’
Chairman and Managing Director of IAR Nigeria Limited, Alhaji Ismail Adetola Lawal, spoke to DEBO OLADIMEJI on why President Muhammadu Buhari should address the nation and other topical issues about the political situation in the country.
WHAT is your assessment of the first three weeks of the new government?
It is too early to review this present government. We should allow the President to settle down.
It is because we have confidence in Buhari that we voted him in. We have no doubt that he is going to perform. All we need is just to be patient and support him.
I know that there are so many things he met on ground that he cannot say now. Though we have changed the government by voting a new party, the question is how far can they go with the crisis facing the government now?
The President should come and address the nation to give us the economic situation of the country. We need to hear from him.
How can states cope with backlog of workers salaries, especially as the Osun State government recently said banks were not forthcoming with further loans to pay salaries of workers?
How many of these banks are healthy? It is because the government has not told us the true position of the economic situation of Nigeria.
These banks are not healthy. Let us call a spade a spade. If you go into the various banks in the country today, hardly can we find about three to five that are healthy. Some of them are just making noise.
The country is facing a very serious economic crisis. We need the President to address the nation to find out what we need. We cannot sweep all these things under the carpet.
There are so many states that executed projects on behalf of the federal government that the federal government has not been able to reimburse and this has affected some of the states.
We want to know the details they should not keep it as official secret; they should come to the nation and let us know where we stand.
There is no magic that can be done now to pay salaries, unless we know what is happening globally and at national level. This thing has already exposed the deficiencies and lapses in the governance of the country, because so many of these states depend on the federal government for revenue. They don’t work. They don’t even embark on projects that can generate proceeds for them.
We want to know what is the plan for the nation. Let them tell us how they are going to revamp and diversify the economy.
Are you worried that the President is yet to appoint members of his cabinet?
We don’t need to stampede him in choosing a team, because he has already told us that the handover note was given to him late and he had to wait for his own transitional committee to submit its reports.
He cannot do anything without first of all knowing what is on the ground. If he appoints ministers, what are the ministers going to do?
Some states cannot pay salaries and there are some federal miniseries that cannot pay salaries. If he appoints the ministers, what magic are the ministers going to perform?
Moreover, the last government really planned for this government to fail. That is the reason for what is happening in the National Assembly.
What do you think is the solution to the National Assembly crisis?
There is no crisis! The President has done the best thing- ignore them and let them sort themselves out.
Let him first of all study the transition committee report and come out with his plan of action and start to work.
He should not bother himself with the National Assembly matter, which is political. Let the politicians sort themselves out.
The President is a cool and collected leader and has not been making noise and if he has been jumping up and down, people will be able to use that against him. He is trying to do some revolution behind the scene.
hroughout the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan, all refineries were closed down and there was no single refinery that was working and the last minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, embarked on crude oil swap, which is one of the things that have killed the Nigerian economy.
They sent million of barrels of crude oil outside to be refined and only small percentage was returned and the others were sold.
That was the genesis of the $20 billion that was not remitted to the federation account and which the former Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, now Emir of Kano, Lamido Muhammad Sanusi, said was missing. He did not say it was stolen.