By Reno Omokri
How we respond to an issue is in many cases more important than the issue itself. And one such issue is the current economic travails Nigeria is currently grappling with.
The response to this issue is definitely more important than the issue itself and will determine how long we remain in the sinkhole with our economy.
What our leaders have unfortunately failed to realize is that how we got into this situation is not as important as how we will get out of it it and if we must look backwards it must be for the purpose of learning how we got to our present situation and not for the reason of searching for scapegoats.
There is no virtue in looking for blame. The virtue is in looking for solutions. That is what an executive must preoccupy itself with. The apportioning of blame is the preserve of the judiciary. Leave that to them.
After blaming the current economic crash of the economy on former President Goodluck Jonathan on multiple occasions, I was shocked to read in today’s (Tuesday the 20th of September, 2016) papers a direct statement by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in which he blamed Nigeria’s economic recession on Niger Delta Militants.
The Vice President, while speaking at the maiden meeting of the Presidential Quarterly Business Forum on Monday the 19th of September, 2016 said “If we did not have vandalism in the Niger Delta as we are currently suffering, we will not have this recession today.”
Now do not get me wrong, I do not speak for, advocate for or encourage any militants group in Nigeria’s Niger Delta or in any other theaters of belligerency in any part of the world. On the contrary, I am a pastor and preacher of the peaceful message of the one and only Prince of peace, Jesus the Messiah, yet I must say that Vice President Osinbajo’s comments betray a very serious character issue that may affect his capacity to assist President Muhammadu Buhari in piloting the affairs of Nigeria.
Why do I say so? Well, for one, Nigerians have been regaled with multiple statements from Mr. Osinbajo himself, his boss and their mouthpieces in which they blamed Dr. Goodluck Jonathan for Nigeria’s economic recession.
The latest attempt to pin the blame on Dr. Jonathan came via an article by Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu, entitled ‘What is President Buhari doing with the economy?’
Said Garba Shehu “Believe me; episodes from the Jonathan era can fill books, and other possibilities, such as courtroom drama thriller.” Going further, Mr. Shehu declared that “The current pain is due to the mismanagement of the past.”
And now today, Mr. Shehu’s ‘cousin in office’ (to borrow a phrase that Garba Shehu himself used to describe the relationship between Dr. Reuben Abati and I) has contradicted him and said it is no longer former President Goodluck Jonathan that is to blame but Niger Delta militants.
Please, can this administration make up its mind? Choose a story and stick to it. Choose a scape goat and stick with him.
I will not be surprised if tomorrow they blame Mr. Chinakwe, the man who was sent to prison and is right now facing prosecution for naming his dog after his hero, President Buhari, for the recession.
The truth does not shift. You cannot have one truth today and another truth tomorrow. Truth is as stable as a rock. And one would think that Professor Yemi Osinbajo, himself a pastor, would know it.
What you are is always more important than what you can do. Your character is what you are. Your skill is what you can do. It is important to know the difference because if your skill takes you to a height and you do not develop your character to match that height, you will come crashing down!
Mr. Osinbajo’s skill as a legal professional par excellence has taken him to such heights from a professor to a commissioner and now to the Vice President of Nigeria. But if pastor Osinbajo does not have the character to tell the inconvenient truth to his new boss and to the nation he now leads as a co pilot, then this character flaw may very well be the undoing of their joint administration.
And what is the truth?
Well, without mincing words, the truth is that the major reason for the crash of the Nigerian economy is not any alleged mismanagement by former President Goodluck Jonathan or the Peoples Democratic Party (to be sure, they were not perfect and had their flaws) but that for six months President Muhammadu Buhari did not appoint ministers in a nation where nothing substantial gets done at ministries, departments, agencies, parastatals or embassies without ministers giving the nod.
And before pastor Osinbajo sends his media hounds to argue with me, I suggest he leaves his car unattended for six minutes without a driver in the middle of Third Mainland bridge and see if it does not crash. If he survives the experience, then by all means he can send his hounds to come and take me on!
But there is an even deeper reason for why Nigeria is experiencing this unprecedented economic recession and that is that even when President Buhari eventually came around to constituting his cabinet, he peopled it with individuals whose capacity to deliver the goods is at best suspect.
Let me elucidate this with a statement made by President Buhari’s minister of sports and broadcast on Channels television today Tuesday the 20th of September, 2016.
Said Mr. Solomon Dalung, ‘the disabled athletes have shown that all you need is a winning mentality and not too much preparation.’
Can you imagine that coming from a minister and member of the federal executive council?
But why should we be surprised? Nigerians are witnesses to the utterances of the minister of information, the aptly named Lai Mohammed, who blamed any good thing that happened in Nigeria immediately after President Buhari’s inauguration not on any form of preparation but on the President’s ‘body language’.
Early rains fell in obeisance to the President’s body language. Barren women became fertile as a result of President Buhari’s miraculous powers of non verbal communication. All kinds of orishirishi were attributed to body language.
One wonders where the fabled ‘body language’ was when it came to fighting the recession.
The truth is that preparation, pure preparation (that word that Mr. Dalung and other operatives of this administration hate to hear) is the only thing that can increase the likelihood of success in any venture including governance. As it is commonly said ‘those who fail to plan, plan to fail’.
And the reason why Mr. Osinbajo and his co travelers will continue to shift blame from individual to individual is because they do not have the strength of character to accept responsibility for their actions.
At this juncture, it will be pertinent of me to remind Lai Mohammed of his words uttered on the 25th of May, 2014 when he said ‘a government that is unwilling to take any responsibility for anything, should not be counted upon.’ Right back at you Mr. Mohammed, right back at you!
President Buhari has to quickly learn that the more you blame others, the more power you surrender. The more you accept responsibility, the more power you take.
Early in 2015, Pastor Osinbajo called then President Jonathan’s administration a ‘visionless’ government. As I end this piece, I would like to define the vision of change that Mr. Osinbajo and his boss promised us based on what we have seen so far.
Mr. Osinbajo’s vision for change is defined as a sports minister who believes athletes do not need training, a finance minister who thinks recession is just a word, a science and technology minister who aspires to produce pencils in two years, an information minister who wants to generate jobs via masquerade dressing, an interior minister who uses his security to publicly shine his shoes rather than secure the interior of his country, an agriculture minister who fights for land for cows instead of farmers, a labour minister who threatens banks with revocation of license when they retrench workers due to bad economy, a communications minister who wants us to pay 9 per cent tax on calls, a transport minister who gives one President credit for a railway built by another President, an economic adviser who wants women to donate their jewelry to help government fight recession and a Presidential spokesman who believes critics are ‘wailers’ all led by a President who believes #ChangeBeginsWithMe not him, though he was the one who promised it!