For the Attention of This Administration


Now that President Buhari’s cabinet is in place, it is time to give an assessment of the journey covered so far and to proffer solutions where necessary. The takeoff of any administration is like the takeoff in a race. It took Buhari three months to make his first key appointments and it took him five months to release the names of his ministers. In a race, that means vital time has been lost at a time both the government and the country do not have any time to waste. This is not a good and successful takeoff.

It is true that President Buhari still enjoys enormous goodwill. This is because his integrity and good intentions for the country are not in doubt. That is why people have been patient with him and his administration. But the people will never be patient forever and the government must know and understand that it does not have forever. And a lot of things are still not clear with the current dispensation. We hope with a new cabinet these things will now be made clearer for the public to understand where we are heading to. Otherwise, the opposition is already changing the narrative as the government gradually loses momentum.

The new ministers must know the philosophical foundation of the change that we voted for, this year. The cabinet must understand the ideological and intellectual assumptions that separated the oppressed and the oppressors which led to the change. The new federal executive must come to terms with the sociological and economic factors that have influenced where the people stood as well as the political motives and factors that were at work, leading us to where we are currently.

President Buhari must also be aware that, five months into his administration, no one is aware of his economic policy, foreign policy, security policy not to talk of education and health policies so far. The president must also know that what his government is doing and not doing is hurting everybody. But one thing that the Buhari administration cannot afford to do is to alienate the masses. As it is now, the party, the governors, the National Assembly, the youths and women who constitute the bulk of the voters are all complaining of being neglected, alienated and excluded by the government.

Yes, this administration has a commitment to fight corruption but, so far, no suspect has been effectively prosecuted. Even the queen of corruption, Diezani Allison-Madueke, was arrested and is being prosecuted in the UK and not Nigeria. All those who have looted the treasury in the last couple of years are still walking free, as none of even the glaring cases has been made example of so far. Out there in the public, the current Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has the image of being a corrupt institution but the change mantra has not reached there up until now.

The CBN is the only economic institution that is currently in place and the policies coming out from the CBN so far are, to say the least, ill-advised. For instance, how can a modern economy be run on the basis of stopping deposits into domiciliary accounts? Does it not make more sense for the government to allow legitimate and illegitimate foreign currencies to come into the financial system which will make it easier to trace and track? Or how do you justify limiting people from withdrawing their money?  As it is now, many are keeping such funds in their homes instead of putting it into the economy, and businesses are suffering for that, which is seriously affecting the economy negatively and scaring away potential investors.

Then, there is the issue of Treasury Single Account (TSA). It may be a good policy to put all government revenue into a single account, but there is so much confusion in the implementation with the result that governance and indeed the economy are suffering. Obviously, there are mistakes as some of these funds are not supposed to be lumped into the TSA. In some cases, even petty cash accounts for running offices have been closed. There is need to quickly look into this to make amends before the economy comes to a standstill. Even town unions are not run in this voodoo-economics style, let alone the largest economy in Africa!

The new secretary to the government of the federation has just set up a committee under his chairmanship with one of his aides, the controversial Mr Gideon Sammani, as secretary, to reconstitute the boards of federal parastatals. This is clearly ill-advised and ill-timed. The committee was set up where there were no ministers in place. Most advisers and no ambassadors have been appointed and many agencies do not have even substantive managements yet. Why the hurry? And why are both the chairman and the secretary to the committee from the north?

And that brings me to the next point: the need for this administration to build a strong national platform. President Buhari inherited an obviously fractured nation. It is imperative for him, therefore, to reach out to all the segments; to give every section a sense of belonging; and to run an inclusive government. There is a lot of genuine grievances which need to be addressed. There is hopelessness in many sections with feelings of marginalization by many. It takes very little to bring back hope and engender a sense of belonging to all. And the president must know that this is the last hope for Nigeria; and we do not have forever to do what is right, proper and just. Threats of secession, after all, are not solved by alienation but by inclusion.

The other thing is the ongoing fight against terrorism in the country. The new security and service chiefs are doing commendable jobs in this regard so far. But the government must remember that there are many reports of violations of human rights by both state and non-state actors. A committee ought to have been set up by now to look into these, especially with the new service chiefs in place, so that those who perpetrate these acts are properly prosecuted. This is something that the new defence minister can immediately do. This will be of immense value and benefit to Nigeria now and in the future.

History is on the side of the oppressed.


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