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All the President’s men: Time for change

President Muhammadu Buhari

On May 29th President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) will be sworn in for his second term of office. The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria doesn’t envisage the nation being ruled by an expert in everything or a King who can govern according to his whims and caprices, but rather by an elected President who should surround himself with intelligent, competent patriotic individuals as Advisers and Ministers. If there is one area in which PMB let himself down during his first term, it was in appointments into his inner circle. After spending a seeming eternity over the matter of selecting a Cabinet, recycled political deadwoods prone to public ridicule and with ideas firmly stuck in the past were appointed.

PMB’s success in his bid for re-election was in spite of his cabinet and advisers not because of them! This time round the nation would be better served if he discards them and appoints renowned vibrant technocrats who can fashion out appropriate policies to solve the nation’s pressing problems as Ministers, and people who can communicate better and improve his public image as Advisers. A major problem requiring appropriate solutions is the crumbling economy. It’s not difficult to fathom why unemployment is increasing. “Banker Emeritus” Tony Elumelu said that while in Ghana taxes, VAT and Interest rates are being reduced in order to encourage private enterprise and increase GDP, in Nigeria despite lack of an enabling environment businesses pay 48 different taxes! It’s no surprise that the nation is unable to attract investors and government relies on foreign loans while businesses continue to relocate to Ghana. It’s poor advice that has led to the adoption of policies which served to kill businesses and worsen mass unemployment. Another major problem which requires immediate attention is the over-expensive nature of government. Citizens are being forced to pay more taxes just to subsidize the extravagant lifestyles of a greedy and avaricious political class.

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In Senegal lawmakers were divided between a 150 seat National Assembly and a 100 seat Senate, in order to reduce the cost of governance they abolished both the Senate and the Office of the Vice-President for being “a mere symbol of government waste”. They have managed quite well without them ever since. It’s poor advice to encourage continuous borrowing to finance government salaries, while ignoring the clamor for political restructuring. Another serious problem which suggests government thinks they are above the law and indicates a failure to recognize human rights is the ill-advised continued detention of Dasuki and Zakzaky despite Court Orders to the contrary. In light of the worsening security situation and unchecked killings the question remains – upon whose advice are the Security Chiefs remaining in place and not being held responsible for their failures? Comparisons can be made with Sri Lanka where after the horrendous Easter Sunday bombing their President addressed the nation and promised that heads would roll in leadership of the security agencies. Three days later on Wednesday morning both the Minister of Defense and the Inspector-General of Police were sacked. It was made clear that unlike in Nigeria, high office comes with responsibility and the buck must stop somewhere.

Another problem which requires better handling is the poor perception of the anti-corruption war as a selective and vindictive sham designed to deal with political opponents. Not only has there not been a single high-profile conviction but the “pardoning” of Maina and Gambo of pension and NHIS scams respectively was ill-advised. Perhaps the most visual indicator of the worsening economy is the return of legions of northern children begging on the streets in southern states. Referred to in Edo State as “Buhari children” nobody cares about them. Whoever advised that the Almajiri School system be ignored only succeeded in portraying PMB as being callous and uncaring. This view is reinforced by the fact that while he never comments on gruesome killings in Nigeria, our President embarrassingly sends prompt condolences to foreign government when bad things happen overseas. Perhaps most embarrassing our President has been ill-advised to commission uncompleted projects.

In 2016 the then Governor of Edo State Adams Oshiomhole conned him into commissioning a purported world class medical centre in Central hospital Benin City. More than two years later the abandoned building is home to undisturbed rodents! Over a year ago our President was misled into commissioning the Ikeja Bus Terminal in Lagos, and similarly up until today it’s yet to take off.  Quite incomprehensibly he returned to Lagos this Easter to commission another bus terminal at Oshodi which isn’t expected to be completed this year! Four years after he was first elected and despite government claims to be industrializing, the nation still imports sub-standard Chinese products, fake drugs and expired baby foods unfit for human consumption. Government officials steal from pensioners, widows and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP’s). The nation still builds sub-standard roads, schools and hospitals at the expense of human life, and not a single refinery has been built. This is the sole achievement of those who were appointed in 2015 to advise and manage our President and who do not deserve to be re-appointed.

NOMINATE AFRICAN OF THE YEAR 2019

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