Buhari’s forever excuses
Apparently, there is an official conspiracy to hide such knowledge from the citizens. But when the country is in dire economic straits in the reckoning of the leaders, that is when they would inform the citizens of such troubles. This was the trajectory in the days of former military president Ibrahim Babangida. He told Nigerians to tighten their belts under the cruel regime of an infamous Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP). Under former President Goodluck Jonathan, the government also unleashed several austerity measures because it believed that the nation was faced with economic perils.
Buhari’s statement that Nigeria is broke is an admission that the country was rich before now. Yet, if the country had been rich, it was only the political class and their acolytes who enjoyed the economic boom. For the lot of the Nigerian citizen who has no access to government has been unchequered deprivation. The citizens who voted for him did that with the consciousness that he was the right person who could break the cycle of their poverty. Therefore, Buhari has no excuse not to deliver on his promises. Buhari ought to apologise to the citizens for not unfolding his grand economic vision that would improve a lot of the people five months after being sworn into office.
Buhari has not hidden the fact that but for the demand by the constitution, he would not have appointed ministers. Yet, these are the people he needs to rescue the economy from the doldrums. How does the president expect the ministers to give their best when he says things that show that he believes they would not offer anything good to him and the country? Buhari should give them the charge to earn their salaries instead of interiorizing some of them by making them not to have portfolios and only to attend the meetings of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Buhari must discard his smug omniscience that underpins his position that he does not need ministers. He must come to terms with the fact that he needs a good team to be able to serve the nation well. He must realise that whether he fails or succeeds would to a large extent be determined by the quality of his ministers. For leaders who ordinarily would have failed have been helped to transform their countries with the aid of competent ministers.
Although we are always reluctant to credit Adolf Hitler with any virtue because of his atrocious crimes, it is on record that the transformation he brought to Germany in the early years of his reign before he became a monster was facilitated by his team. Two days after Hitler emerged as chancellor on January 30, 1933, he promised to turn around his country of some six million jobless citizens in four years.
To achieve this, he appointed Hjalmar Schacht, a banker and financier who had recorded huge successes in the private and public sectors as the president of Germany’s central bank, the Reichsbank, and later as a minister of economics. Schacht was not a National Socialist, but within the four years’ deadline Hitler set, he was not only able to overcome the unemployment challenge, there was national labour shortage between 1937 and 1938. It has been said that if Hitler had died shortly after the four years, he would have remained a national icon of transformation in Germany.
In the same vein, Buhari needs men and women of great capability to help him solve the nation’s problems. We hope he has found such capability in the men and women he has made ministers. It is left to him to set them to work and harness their expertise. Nigerians expect Buhari and his ministers not only to implement the policies of his party but to consider other means of developing the economy. The country must not depend solely on oil; it must think of diversification.
Despite the valourisation of a lean government as the way to go, it is not the statutory salaries and allowances of public officers that deplete the treasury and imperil the prospect of serving the people. Rather, it is the plethora of leakages in the treasury orchestrated by government officials that is the problem. Already, Buhari has expressed his readiness to block these leakages. Nigerians expect him to use the revenue to be recovered through the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and reforms at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to improve the economy .
Besides, Nigerians expect the president to get funds from his anti-corruption campaign to revamp the economy. If as the president and his political party have always said, past government officials stole the nation’s money and ran the economy aground, he should recover this money and use it to improve the economy. The president should add to this Nigeria’s money stashed abroad.
Thankfully, some foreign leaders have promised to help him recover this money. In this regard, he should not give the excuse that some powerful Nigerians are frustrating his anti-corruption crusade. He should use all the constitutional powers he has to bring all corrupt persons to justice and recover all stolen money from them. If the frustration he complained about is the criticism of his skewed anti-corruption drive, he must deem it necessary to make the campaign holistic.
Instead of wining and seemingly ruing why he chose to lead at this time, the president should consider the dire situation of the economy as an opportunity to demonstrate that Nigerians did not make a mistake by giving him the job he sought for 12 years. All the citizens want is for him to translate his plethora of sweet promises into policies and programmes that would improve their lot. All that Nigerians need now is his performance and not excuses.