“Leadership is always somewhat mysterious. Leadership can be summed up in two words: intelligence and integrity, or to use two synonyms, competence and character.” John Brademas. VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ.
This article was held up for three days while waiting for President Buhari, who walked away on May 29, 2019 after his swearing-in instead of addressing a nation on the verge of anarchy and provide reassurances that he is really the leader to get us out of this unprecedented mess. The June 12, 2019 address by our national leader was an anti-climax. On that day, Nigerians were served a salad bowl of platitudes, intentions, half truths and even some falsehoods. I wept for my country.
“Every country has the government it deserves”, said Joseph De Maistre, 1708-1820, but posterity will judge most harshly those who imposed Buhari on us. During the years the man received my total support, I had thought that his failure to go beyond School Certificate was not an indication of low intelligence; that he was a victim of poverty. Now, we are stuck with a President who, contrary to his claim that “with leadership and a sense of purpose, we can lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in ten years”, is set to add 40 million more Nigerians to the number living in extreme poverty by the time he departs in 2023. More on that claim later in this column.
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santayana, 1863-1952.
After reading the entire June 12 address over three times, one fact hits the reader like a whack on the head with a hammer. The President of Nigeria is either totally forgetful of what happened even only four years ago or he is deliberately ignoring his failures. A leader who, on account of wishful thinking, will lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in ten years, did not once mention electricity power supply in the address. He drew attention to China, India and Indonesia who achieved the feat without mentioning that they did it by growing their economy at seven to ten per cent per annum for more than ten years while, under Buhari, from 2015 to 2019, Nigeria averaged less than one per cent – with recession thrown-in in 2016. But mostly, they did it by increasing the power supply to their nations steadily because no nation grows rapidly without adequate power supply. At this point, readers should read what Buhari said on May 29, 2015 at his inauguration:
“No single cause can be identified to explain the Nigeria’s poor economic performance over the years than the power situation. It is a national shame that an economy of 180 million generates only 4000MW, and distributes even less. Continuous tinkering with the structures of power supply and distribution and close to $20bn expended since 1999 have only brought darkness, frustration, misery and resignation among Nigerians. We will not allow this to go on.”
History will record that on May 29, 2019, four years after Buhari spoke those words, Nigeria’s power supply stood at 3,306.3MW. Failure of a government and a President to keep their words cannot be more objectively documented. It was not surprising, therefore, that on June 12, 2019, Buhari ignored the power situation. A leader knowing that there can be no rapid economic growth without increased power supply would have admitted his failure openly and set before Nigerians and the global community the plans for solid improvement. Does Buhari actually believe he can lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty on 3,306.3MW of power supply?
While acknowledging the possibility that Nigeria’s population might reach 411 million by 2050, he again failed to mention the fact that 87 million Nigerians out of 180 million are now classified as living in extreme poverty and that under his administration 20million were added in four years. Unless a drastic positive change occurs and Nigeria’s economy grows at seven per cent, 20 million more Nigerians will be added to the number. The first quarter, Q1, of 2019 is over and the growth was under two per cent. Experts forecast less than two per cent again for Q2. Thus, 2019 is likely to end with less than 2.2 per cent increase and Nigerians will end the year poorer than when we started. When exactly is the magic going to start that will make it possible for Nigeria to grow at 7 per cent.
“Buhari Does Not Read”- Former Minister under Buhari.
It is no longer a secret; neither is it news anymore that the Nigeria President is probably the only Head of Government who abhors reading reports, documents or newspapers. If he does, he would have read the statement by one of his former Ministers who proclaimed in May this year that “ERGP 7% target not achievable by 2020.” So with 2019 and 2020 out for the magic of rapid growth to be achieved, that leaves only eight years. A good leader does not make promises he cannot keep. Buhari cannot keep this one.
“You cannot adopt politics as a profession and remain honest.”
Louis M Howe, 1871-1936.
When Buhari said that “our social intervention programs are a model for other nations”, it was obvious that the man had parted ways with honesty. Just a few weeks earlier, his own wife had exposed the scam called Social Intervention Programme? Which nation will spend N400bn on a project whose accounts have not been audited or the claims verified? Is it China, India or Indonesia or Singapore? The nations growing their economies at seven to ten per cent are working very hard to achieve the feat. The world had become more complex and nations now need, as leaders, people with well-developed minds, capable of further expansion by active reading and self-education. Nigeria does not seem to have such a leader right now. The rest of the nations must be laughing at us when they Google for information on the Giant of Africa.
It was not only on economic issues that Buhari was less than truthful about his account of events. He is most economical when he came to insecurity in Nigeria. According to Buhari, “When I took the oath of office on May 29, 2015, insecurity reigned. Apart from occupying 18 local governments in the North-East, Boko Haram could at will attack any city including the Federal Capital, could threaten any institution including bombing the United Nations building and Police Headquarters in Abuja.
Admittedly, some of the challenges still remain…”
Notice once again that our President ignored the fact that bandits have taken over the entire North-West; that communities in his own state pay protection money to bandits, that there was no inauguration ceremony in Katsina State on May 29, 2019, for fear of attack by bandits; that herdsmen now kill Nigerians at will in all the 36 states of Nigeria; that kidnapping is now the nation’s largest employer of labour. Is this leadership? How many of the party members sitting in the audience actually believe that Nigeria is safer now than in 2015?
“And our country is a great country”, according to Buhari. And to prove that ridiculous statement he states: “According to United Nations estimates, our population will rise to 411 million by 2050, making us the third most populous nation on earth behind only China and India.” God help us! Can he be serious? When has population alone conferred greatness on any nation? Can a nation of 411 million, with over 200 million almajiris, be regarded as “great” by other nations? Already, Nigerian illegal immigrants, invading every nation on the globe have made us outcasts everywhere. Will doubling the number of those trooping to Libya only to get drowned while attempting to cross to Europe make us greater? Apparently, merely having a larger population than the United States, Japan, Germany, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Brazil, England, Canada etc will make us greater than those nations.
“Now without hope, we suffer and we mourn.” William Wordsworth.
I have never read a Presidential address so devoid of hope for a troubled nation as this one. I honestly cry for my country. There was no specific measure or plan of action tabled before those present and the rest of us watching on television to reassure Nigerians that we have a President who can handle the myriad of problems facing the country. The promise to continue to dedicate himself to working for Nigeria must sound to some as a death sentence. In four years under him Nigerians got poorer according to several reports from global study groups. The African Development Bank, AfDB, recently released a report saying that “debt servicing gulps 50% of Nigeria’s revenue” – meaning that only half of what is available can now be spent on salaries and infrastructures.
Even the Social Investment Programme has not been well-funded despite all the lies the FG tells the world. In 2016 and 2017, N500bn was budgeted while less than N130bn was spent in each of the two years. The budget was reduced to N350bn in 2018 and 2019 for each year. Still, less than N120bn was actually spent. So, instead of N1.7 trillion budgeted for four years only N410bn or less than one quarter of the budget was actually spent in four years and most of it was on overhead and office staff. The poor received less than ten per cent of the funds. Which nation would consider a fraudulent SIP as model for it to follow? Nigeria is not benefiting from this programme because the President is out of touch with reality.
“25,794 killed in violent clashes during Buhari’s first term” – Nigeria Security Tracker, a project of the Council on Foreign Relations.
No President or Head of Government, other than during the Civil War, 1967-1970, has ever had so many deaths charged to his account in four years as this one. Certainly, no President has ever had his own state and home town taken over by armed men as we now experience. The District Head kidnapped in Daura, Buhari’s home town, has not been rescued till today. No traditional ruler from Ibogun, Katsina and Otuoke were kidnapped when Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan were Presidents. All these calamities have befallen Nigeria under the man who promised to serve us in the next four years as he did from 2015 till now. Only God can help us now. As the new Inspector General Of Police, IGP, said recently, “We are helpless”. TOTALLY.
“All hope abandon, ye who enter here.” Alighieri Dante, 1265-1321, in INFERNO. After creating a hell for us, our leader promises to work harder!!!