“Next President Will Spend Tenure Fixing rot created by Buhari.”
Governor Nyesom Wike, February 3, 2021.
By Dele Sobowale
Late Prince Tony Momoh got me involved with Buhari’s campaign for President in 2010 when he was Chairman of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC. A tireless writer, we met at Uncle Sam’s house – where he came to present his latest book to the Publisher. An avid reader, I immediately begged for a copy. He agreed on condition I came to his house to collect it.
I followed him and after collecting a free copy decided to at least return some of the favour.
“Sir, your Presidential candidate has not outlined an economic programme for the country. How do you expect us to vote for Buhari without that?” I asked.
“Dele, you are an economist and Nigeria belongs to all of us. Why don’t you help us with an Economic Blueprint for governance?” That was his reply. With that I was trapped into working for a political party and candidate, without being a card-carrying member, for the first time in my life. Hitherto, I had avoided politics like the plague. It was agreed that a brief summary be produced and brought to Abuja and later on work on a complete economic programme. I needed assistance and, at my own expense hired three people.
We finished the draft which was presented to a select group of campaign Managers, including Engineer Buba Galadima, at the Wuse office of Dr Usman Bugaje. The next thing was to brief Buhari. After four trips to Abuja, mostly at my expense, I gave up. Why? Because I finally got one of Buhari’s closest associates, name withheld, to disclose to me why appointments were being cancelled. Buhari had seen a copy of the draft but could not make himself available to discuss it.
Still, I supported him in 2011 and 2015 because insecurity and corruption topped the list of national concerns. Momoh also said that Buhari’s shortcomings in economics will be rectified by appointing world class Nigerians to manage the important Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs. I felt relieved.
When Buhari and Tinubu eventually agreed to form the nucleus of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Momoh’s influence on Buhari was sharply reduced. In 2014, realising that APC’s candidate, Buhari, was not mentioning economic programmes, I contacted late Alhaji Ismaila Funtua to arrange an appointment. I finally gave up after three more abortive trips to Abuja. More alarming, the man who was later to become our President had no interest in economic policies, programmes and projects. But, I rejected Jonathan because it never occurred to me that any President could be worse than GOJ – who was a well-educated disaster. Now, I know we have not reached the bottom yet…
“If you don’t know where you are going; you will end up anywhere.”
Yogi Bera, late US comedian.
Buhari came into office, unlike Biden, without an economic plan. Unlike the American President who started to assemble his top subordinates before date for inauguration, Buhari slept through five months after he reached office.
Again, unlike Joe Biden, who appointed tested individuals as Economic Team Managers, Buhari came up with light-weights as Finance Ministers – people not previously known beyond the confines of their communities.
They were given no economic road maps, no compass and no chosen destination for the trips on which they have been taking us. We are winding up anywhere else but where the people would want to be. Below is one port where Nigerians don’t want to be; but, where they will land nevertheless.
“Poor Nigerians’ll increase by 15 million soon – W’ Bank.” News.
The World Bank, which recently provided that bit of bad news, elaborated by saying “our estimates are that the number of the poor will increase by about 15 to 20 million people by 2022 from the about 83 million people in 2019. and the 2019 numbers are from the Nigeria Living Standard Survey of 2018/2019.”
Some explanations are required; but they all point in the same direction. First, the 83 million people acknowledged in the 2018/2019 survey represent mostly 2018 estimates. As usual, more people would have been added to the number by the time the survey results came out. Second, even if the relevant figure remained 83 million, adding 15 to 20 million in two years will mean 98 to 103 million poor with less than one year of Buhari administration to go.
Third, it is also implied that Buhari’s promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in ten years has now been exposed as, at best, a mission impossible ; or, at worst a deliberate fraud. Fourth, the worst is yet to come. The number of people who tumbled into poverty in 2020 was the worst in history in many countries since the Great Depression of the 1930s. We are still waiting for the actual figures.
WHY THE FUTURE AFTER THIS GOVT IS BLEAK.
“Invariably, the most dangerous people seek power.”
Saul Bellow, 1915-2005, VANGUARD BOOK OF QUOTATIONS, VBQ p 124.
Saul Bellow lived long enough to see the likes of Jomo Kenyatta, Hastings Banda, Mobutu, Idi Amin, Abacha and Robert Mugabe rule different countries in Africa. No continent on earth proves his assertion more than Africa. We seem to be particularly cursed with regard to those who have ruled us since “the wind of change” blew all over Africa.
No African leader has performed better than the colonial masters. All have destroyed most of what they inherited in terms of governance. Nigeria was a middle income country up to 1965; ahead of South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia under Sir James Robertson — Governor General.
When Buhari departs in 2023, this country will be light years behind all those countries. We were not among the poorest in 2012. We raced up to the leader, India, and overtook her by 2018 to become the poorest nation on earth. Worse still, under Buhari we have been adding more people living in poverty every year than half the nations in the United Nations. By 2023 about 35-40 million more.
It is an axiom of development that it is easier to destroy than to build. For instance, the World Trade Centre, New York, which took years to build was reduced to rubbles in less than two hours by Al Qeda on September 11. But, economic destruction needs not be that sudden. At a national level, it generally takes several years of macro-economic mismanagement; during which each succeeding year builds on the ravages of previous years. Nigeria is in that unfortunate situation now.
By May 29, 2021, Buhari would have been six years at the helm. Yet, the cumulative Gross Domestic Product, GDP, for the period will be a mere 0.4 per cent. Meanwhile, population had grown by 18 per cent. The mere contrast between the two – GDP and population – growth summarises all the previous gains that had been erased.
More depressing is the fact that Buhari still has more than two years to go – two more years of demolition; that is. It is difficult to imagine the man changing his mind-set and setting the country on the path of growth once again. The next President will need close to two terms to undo the damage to the Nigerian economy.
My last meeting with Momoh was again in Uncle Sam’s house about 15 months ago. He was presenting another book. “Egbon, is this how to manage an economy?” I asked. “Dele, let’s change the subject.” He promptly replied. He remained loyal; but he was fed up.
May Prince Tony Momoh’s soul rest in perfect peace.