If adherents of the President and backers of this administration are in search of men who will always concur and stand in agreement with all their steps and missteps in government; if they are in a frantic dig for those who will always say “yes” to things sometimes they ought to voice “no” against; if they are dredging for applauding docile minds and scouring for saluting submissive souls, there are many Nigerians, including this writer, who don’t belong in that league.
Without parti pris, if those who stand in strong in opposition to this government are also combing around for allies who will join in the badging and battering over frivolities driven by shallow-mindedness, unfairness and untruth, there are millions of Nigerians who will not sign up in that angry army. Most Nigerians that I know are not driven by ethnic hate, religious intolerance or partisanship. Nigeria’s progress is their preoccupying yearning.
In the opening part of this treatise last week, I encapsulated that riddling ruckuses and ructions against President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration are as a result of Nigeria’s stifled and smothered economy, among other things. Is the dashing of fiery darts of criticisms at this President foul play or fair game? I can assure you that the answers will be as splintered as Nigeria itself. There will be no consensus.
Nigeria’s present trials predate the enthronement of Buhari and his men. But it was the General who promised Nigerians that he would troubleshoot the hiccups in the polity; not to shoot out more troubles. There are more troubles now. However, for years, we had been alerted about the unfolding tribulations. We had been told about the weakening legs upon which the Nigerian economy stood. Forewarnings were issued by allies of the then ruling party that all was not well. These facts are unchanging.
A former Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Charles Soludo, in September 2010, wrote a piece entitled, “2011 Elections: Let the Real Debate Begin” and published by a major daily newspaper. He said: “…Jonathan’s record on the economy is a clear ‘F’ grade.” Former President Olusegun Obasanjo also added his voice to the fear around the same time at a book launch in Abuja: “The International Energy Agency has predicted that the price of oil has not bottomed yet and that the price will continue to go down through the first half of 2015, if not for the whole year… In the end, more businesses will close down, businessmen and women, entrepreneurs and investors will incur more debts. Foreign investors may temporarily stop investing in a downturn economy…” There were other respected voices of admonishment. Today, Nigeria is dealing with the consequences of her behaviours yesterday. We are sleeping in a bed of economic discomfort today as a result of how we tucked in the sheets and comforter yesterday.
Nigerians don’t want to keep blaming the 50 people who stole $9bn and soared into eternal jamborees on private jets and personal yachts. But the thievery is a fact. Nigerians want only history to remember the days of over $100 per barrel crude oil price while the proceeds percolated into the drainpipe and turbine of profligacy. But, the waste are facts. Nigerians do not want to be reminded of one million barrels of oil lost daily as a result of brigandage on our pipelines; or the unremitted $12.9bn received by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation over an eight-year period. These nefarious activities are facts. God must help Nigerians forget the treacheries that have compromised the destinies of Nigerians especially the youths so we can move forward.
But to cure an ailment, you’ve got to determine the source. An honest knowledge of yesterday’s missteps will only keep the country from stepping on landmines today. Who cares about what men who are no longer in power did or didn’t do? No one advances by always retreating. Backpedalling, the last time I checked, is not how one rides forward a tricycle of progress. A nation moves forward only by refusing to get stuck in the past. We will not dwell in the past. Referring to nefarious acts of the past now called a “blame game” by some people is called accountability. Whether we like it or not, they have become part of our ugly history. Facts are embedded in history. Culprits must still be held accountable despite their screams of “blame game” or “witch hunt”. Nigerians want total relief which will hopefully soon come as we are facing bitter facts.
One of the landmark achievements of President Goodluck Jonathan was the Treasury Single Account policy which was started in February 2015. Its full implementation came in September 2015 by the current administration. This process has reportedly helped save over N3tn. Dr Ibe Kachikwu’s Petroleum Resources Ministry has also reportedly saved N1.4tn since removing the subsidy on petrol. By year-end 2015, the Customs mopped up almost N1tn from duties and levies. In the month of August this year alone, it generated N95bn. If there had been no vanguards put in place against vagabondage in government, the funds would have crept into bank accounts of corrupt government officials instead of finding their way into the nation’s treasury to revive Nigeria’s dying economy. It’s gratifying to know that major conduits of corruption have been blocked; acknowledging, however, that the mission is far from being accomplished.
Can Buhari fight, kill and bury corruption in Nigeria? If I bragged and blustered with audacity in the affirmative, then you should know that I have a 100-mile Chinese bridge to sell to you in Imesi-Ile, my home-town. Governments work with human beings. In Nigeria, a chunk of people in government business speak the corruption language. That’s why many of them signed up; and that’s all they know. Men, by nature, are corrupt; but other men by determination should strive to stop them.
The world’s perception of an incorruptible character is Buhari’s glowing asset and pedigree. But when raging stories of corrupt practices swirl in his government and he is cold quiet, we ask why? If Buhari does not address the N500,000m MTN cumshaw scandal against a very close and powerful member of his inner kitchen cabinet; the $1.5m Dubai bling brouhaha of his Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai; and Minister of Internal Affairs, Abdulrahman Dambazau’s cozy real-estate deal in Boston, he will soon have no legs to stand on in the fight against corruption. In wars between nations, if fight strategies are not fair, they are called war crimes. Corruption fights that focus on “Peter” but question not “Paul”’s questionable business activities are nothing but “war crimes”. It is a whack on the fighter’s character and a smudge on his integrity.
Times are tough and roads are rough for millions of Nigerians. But I believe that the foundation for a better tomorrow is gradually being laid. The originalists of term-limits during the American Revolution knew that no government could record a significant size of accomplishment in less than four years. That’s why the presidency in most parts of the world is set at four years or more.
Nigeria is all of our fathers’ property; and we are rebuilding together. If Buhari drops the ball on the economy and more people are dying of hunger; if there are still wailings and gnashing of the teeth in the land and no visible end in sight to the misery, 2019 is only a few hours away, my friends. My verdict? Crucifying Buhari; foul play or fair game? It’s foul, and it’s fair!