By Dele Sobowale
Good day Uncle Dele. This is the first week of December. The 2019 Budget is yet to get to the NASS. They would soon proceed on Xmas holidays. It’s not even known when it would be presented! 2019 is election year. Most of them would be involved. Who are the policy makers of this administration? What is in their brains? Saw dust? When and how did we offend them? Is this still being caused by GEJ and PDP? Who did we offend in this country Uncle?”
THAT lamentation of a totally frustrated Nigerian arrived just as I was getting ready to throw in the towel on writing about the Buhari administration and the absolute neglect of all the measures that would make Nigeria a great economic power and reverse the trend towards deeper poverty and deprivation for our people. Make no mistake about it, the average Nigerian would continue to get poorer as long as we have Buhari and his economic advisers in government.
The message summarised so well many of my thoughts and those of leading economists worldwide about Nigeria that it has to be quoted verbatim. Nothing needs to be added to the charges against the Buhari gang which is steadily but surely destroying Nigeria’s economy. Four more years of these people and we will certainly become the world’s worst basket case and a failed nation.
Sensing the sender’s anger and despair which probably reflect the views of millions of our fellow citizens, it became impossible to stand aloof from the impending calamity. Again, make no mistake about it; the 2019 Budget is dead long before arrival and Buhari and his government officials don’t care as long as the man is re-elected to continue the demolition job on the economy.
But, before presenting the evidence for the verdict on the 2019 Budget, it is only a matter of courtesy to answer some of the questions asked in the message – for no other reason than that the same questions have been thrown at me by thousands of Nigerians in every state and the Federal Capital Territory.
“Who are the policymakers of this administration? That is easy to answer. The chief policymakers are: President Buhari, Vice President Osinbajo, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, the Governor of the Central Bank, the Minister of Finance, and a few other mediocre officials constituting what is called Economic Damaging, sorry, Management Team, EMT.
Of the dozen or so officials who influence economic policy I can only vouch for two individuals when it comes to discussions about brains – the Governor of Central Bank and the Minister of Budget and National Planning. Those two have grey matters in their cranium. Permit me to leave the rest untouched. But, anybody who at the top of government after three years still fails to understand that next year’s budget should have been with the National Assembly by now might need to have their tool box checked.
Deliberately or inadvertently, they have sabotaged next year’s budget and have ensured that Nigerians will get a lot poorer in 2019 than we are now. Any EMT which has managed for four years to get the people increasingly more impoverished is a team which does not deserve a second chance – especially when it is realised that they have nothing on the table to get the country out of the economic quagmire.”
Who did we offend? Well try this for an answer. “The more you read and observe about politics, you’ve got to admit that each party is worse than the other…the one that‘s out always looks best.” (Will Rogers, American comedian in VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ, p 192). Nigerians, including this writer had become very disenchanted with President Jonathan (most of us still are) that we jumped to the assumption that anybody but GEJ would be better. We were half right and half wrong. Jonathan, an accidental president was deficient in all the qualities successful leaders must have. He was treated with disdain by his appointees and even his wife.
Barefaced robbery of the public purse was carried on by people who were obviously not scared about being found out. Four more years of the PDP government with Jonathan in charge would have ruined Nigeria irretrievably. His failure to check grand larceny by top military officers, many of who are now forfeiting billions to the FG, paved the way for strengthening Boko Haram and the collateral damages including loss of agricultural productivity in the Northeast and an increasing percentage of our revenue going to fight a prolonged war. So, we were right to get rid of GEJ.
According to the law of the hammer, if you give a young boy a hammer, he suddenly discovers that everything needs hammering. Buhari’s election is a classic case of giving somebody uncontrollable a hammer. Now, everything, including the economy is being hammered. Unfortunately, the political class presented us with two choices – Goodluck or Muhammadu. Even if that contest is repeated today, I will certainly not vote for Jonathan. It was choice between two badly flawed candidates. Again, it was the political class – Tambuwal, Saraki and Atiku among others – who persuaded us to vote Buhari. I did my best too to get him elected.
Now, I am convinced that the man lacks the basic education, the scope of previous work experience and the mental capacity to manage a complex political economy. The fact that budgets had been delayed longer under him and with each passing year and with obvious negative consequences point to some one who cannot learn new things. You simply cannot bend dried crayfish or teach an old dog new tricks.
Yet, what the country urgently needs now to halt and later reverse the trend towards worse destitution among our people is a leader with large capacity to handle complexities, highly computer literate, fast reader, energetic and highly intelligent. It is difficult to consider a person brilliant who repeats the same mistake all the time.
Right now, we are faced with the disastrous outcome of this year’s budget which was signed in June. And, the government is getting ready to bring about a worse situation next year. The question about brains has answered itself. Nobody with brains commits the same mistake three times in a row and makes it worse each time.
Every reader can find his own words to describe the Buhari EMT. But, brilliant cannot be one of them. Yet, we desperately need bright people managing the economy and growing the Gross Domestic Product, GDP, faster than the population. Otherwise we will die slowly as a nation.
VISION 2020 NOW A FADED DREAM
Few Nigerians now remember that it was not too long when Nigeria was pushing vigorously towards becoming one of the top 20 economies in the world. Under Babangida it was a goal achievable by 2020; with Abacha, we were expected to reach that status in the year 2010. Reality forced us to redial back to 2020 under YarÁdua and Jonathan before the dream was temporarily postponed. But, we managed to emerge Africa’s largest economy.
Then, progress ended. Last week, the G-20, the world’s biggest twenty economies met in Argentina without an African nation in attendance. President Buhari was in Poland laying wreaths to the victims of holocaust. In the past, Nigeria was invited as an observer when the world considered us a contender for top 20 position. Now, nobody invites us. The reasons are not hard to discover.
Our President would not understand the complex issues on the agenda and would be in no position to make any meaningful contribution or defend Nigeria’s economic interest. Why invite someone to come and dose? Or worse still ask dumb questions? Yet, Nigeria should be representing Africa and arguing for the continent. That tells all of us what we need to know about what the world thinks of our President.