By Yemi Adebowale
The biggest problem facing most African leaders is their inability to learn from history. I would have urged our dear President Muhammadu Buhari to watch the soap opera called “The Father and His Son”. This is a true life story of former President Goodluck Jonathan (outside power) and his “father”, Chief E K Clark. The Ijaw chief who was behind most of the actions and inactions of Jonathan when he was in power has suddenly started “exposing” the weaknesses of his “son”. This is the price Jonathan is paying for surrounding himself with mainly sycophants while in power. I won’t bother advising Buhari to monitor the soap opera. He has also similarly surrounded himself with a legion of sycophants. None of them is prepared to tell him to his face that he is dragging this country to the precipice. Those around him are thinking more about their gains; so, they are not prepared to drag him out of his delusion.
Only Buhari and those benefiting from his administration believe he is making progress in the war against Boko Haram, anti-corruption, the economy and other countless challenges facing this country. How can Buhari say that he is making progress in the war against Boko Haram when the situation in the North-east has gone from bad to worse? The earlier he faces the reality of his failure and changes his strategy in the war, the better for this nation.
The last five months have been horrendous for residents of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. Almost 1500 lives have been lost to Boko Haram in 151 days. We have never had it so bad. It is a shame that nobody is telling the President that he is not doing well in this war. The governors of Borno and Yobe states have suddenly become mute. Each time Buhari makes his unworkable trips to Western countries in search of help to tackle the terrorists, these sycophants hail him. They even tell us that junketing round the globe is an achievement.
We are obviously not feeling the impacts of his trips to France, Germany and United States in this war against Boko Haram. So, why is he not looking towards Russia and China? These sycophants won’t draw his attention to all these. Thanks to Allah, South African mercenaries are returning to battle the bastards called Boko Haram. I had spent the last four months agitating for this; those around Buhari were not patriotic to tell him this truth.
This is a President that told us that he would lead the war against Boko Haram from “the front.” Five months after, he is yet to visit our gallant soldiers on the war front. He is not even thinking about directly supervising the war by making himself Defence Minister. Our dear Buhari is thinking more about making himself oil minister. What an irony. As normal in this part of the world, those around him are still saluting him.
The economy of our nation is sliding and nobody around our President is prepared to tell him the truth. Several homes across the nation are struggling to survive. Many homes are sliding below poverty line. Inflation hit a record 9.4 per cent in September. Our Naira is badly battered. Our GDP is sliding. Industrial capacity utilization is plummeting. Companies are throwing out thousands of people into the labour market. Just look around you and you will see millions of jobless youth. There is hardly any home without somebody searching for job. About 60,000 construction workers have lost their jobs in the last four months, so says the National Union of Civil Engineering Construction, Furniture and Wood Workers.
The union’s President, Comrade Amechi Asugwuni, blamed the development on the country’s economic downturn. Asugwuni said: “The economy is slowing and promised infrastructure reforms are taking too long to implement.” An army of jobless youth is a time bomb that may consume this country if the government fails to act appropriately. Governance is not just about making noise about anti-corruption. A good government must create an enabling environment for industrial growth and optimum capacity utilization. Promotion of commercial agriculture is also pertinent.
Nobody is telling our President that all economic indices are on the negative side in Nigeria. The market capitalisation of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) depreciated by N489 billion in the third quarter of 2015 as it fell from N11.218 trillion as at July 1, to N10.729 trillion on September 30. Cautious trading by investors has continued to pervade the market as a lot of them continue to watch from the sidelines, awaiting a clear economic direction from Mr. President. The Nigerian Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) recently rated the nation’s economic performance at the end of the third quarter as “low and below expectations” following inability of the federal government to put in place, policy thrusts expected to drive the economy. “It is important to note that what an average Nigerian desire at the moment is for the ‘Change’ they voted for to be translated into a significant positive impact on the real sector and the economy in general,” declared Chief Bassey Edem, NACCIMA’s National President. Those around Buhari would not allow him to read honest remarks like this one from the real sector.
The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) also stated: “Significant disruptions, distortions and dislocations have been created in the business environment by the CBN as a consequence of the restrictions on the use of export proceeds, denial of access to foreign exchange market for many products, including critical inputs needed in manufacturing and service sectors, prohibition of cash lodgments into domiciliary accounts, tight exchange controls and administrative allocation of foreign exchange which are typically characterised by lack of transparency, corruption and considerable abuse.
“The economy is now faced with a scenario where there is much pressure to move funds out of the economy than moving funds into the economy. This can be likened to a run on a system. This is a typical scenario which a confidence crisis would create. Future international trade transactions, financial and investment relations are now at risk. Round tripping of forex has continued to flourish because of the disparity in the exchange rate between the official and parallel market. Inflow of forex into the two autonomous sources has been adversely affected.
It is worthy of note that Diaspora funds into the country was about $23 billion in 2013. The current policy will discourage the inflow of such funds which normally help to strengthen the supply side of the foreign exchange.”
It is a shame that those around Buhari are not urging him to respond to the reservations of a major stakeholder like NACCIMA and the LCCI on the economic crisis facing the nation.
Our President says he is making progress in the war against corruption and those around him are hailing him. There are too selfish to tell him that he is just deceiving himself. None of them is prepared to ask him to point to one high profile conviction he got in the last five months. Anti-corruption is not just about the number of people invited by the EFCC. What we have been witnessing in the last five months are mainly media trials and convictions of mainly his opponents. Nobody around him is prepared to tell our President that most people around him have big corruption questions hanging on their necks. Even Indi Dikko who headed Customs, regarded as one of the most corrupt government agencies, simply got a hand shake and pat on the back from our President.
Governors who stole their states dry are getting bailouts from Buhari. Most of these governors collected 8 to 10 months of allocations without paying ordinary one month salary to civil servants. I thought that in the spirit of anti-corruption, Buhari would first ask these squandering governors to account for the monthly largesse they collected from Abuja. He simply gave them over N500 billion bailout and those around him hailed the action.
Aside from ministerial appointments, 80% of Buhari’s other political and non-political appointments are lopsided in favour of the North. He is so happy with this. He does it with so much impunity. Those around are telling our President to ride on with his skewed appointments and that other parts of the country do not matter. He has continued without regard for the constitution and the fact that he was elected President of the whole country.
Buhari has simply abandoned governance and development. All we hear these days is war against corruption. Nobody around him is prepared to tell him that in almost five months, he is yet to impact on key areas like security, welfare, the economy, health, education, road, agriculture, housing, etc. They keep massaging his ego that he is doing very well and our dear President is enjoying all the salutations.
My message to Buhari this morning is very simple: Wise leaders listen more to their critics than supporters and friends.
Still on El-rufai’s Foster Sister
The drama in Kaduna State has entered another stage. For those who have not been following the soap opera, the recent development is that Governor Nasir El-Rufai’s foster sister, Zainab Ahmed is now the ministerial nominee representing the state. She is at present the Executive Secretary, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. But my dear El-Rufai has dismissed claims that he engineered Zainab’s nomination. “This is a figment of the imagination of some people who are not pleased with the drastic changes I am effecting in the state.
I did not even nominate anyone to President Muhammadu Buhari to consider for ministerial appointment,” declared governor Kaduna. This is clearly a ludicrous defence. We are in an era of “body language.” It is obvious that El-Rufai simply used his “body language” to ensure that Zainab got the ticket; or why didn’t Buhari pick Senator Shehu Sani’s sister? The sisters and brothers of so many others that worked for the success of APC in Kaduna State are also hanging around but Buhari did not see them. I am convinced that Buhari only saw El-rufai’s body language and picked Zainab. What a lucky woman. This “body language” thing is doing wonders.
Governor Darius Ishaku’s Record 132 Aides
Taraba State Governor Darius Ishaku holds the national record of having the highest number of aides helping him to administer the state. Ishaku has 50 special advisers, 62 senior special assistants and 20 commissioners totaling 132 aides. Aside from monthly salaries, there will also be official cars, accommodation and all sorts of allowances. Governor Taraba will probably need at least N300 million monthly to service these retinue of aides. This is clearly the height of profligacy. I can’t understand why Ishaku is doing this disservice to a poverty-stricken state like Taraba. This is one of the poorest states in the country, yet the limited resources that ought to be used for its development will be wasted on sustaining these aides. I am also baffled that Taraba legislators approved this nonsense. It is not too late for Ishaku to reverse his incongruity. We must all put pressure on him to do the needful.
The Return of South African Mercenaries
It is heartwarming to know that South African mercenaries are coming back to join the war against Boko Haram. I have spent the last four months agitating for the return of these guys. We saw the impact of the mercenaries towards the end of the Jonathan administration. My argument has always been that we should get the best hands from anywhere in the world to assist our gallant soldiers to kick out these bastards called Boko Haram. Russian technical assistants should also return. Buhari has to put aside his ego. The most important thing is for the job to be done.