My article of last week which was in praise of Hajia Aisha Buhari, elicited some angry responses from a few of my readers. I assume that there may be many more who disagreed with my thesis but did not get around to comment on same. I hereby reiterate my support for Aisha and I believe she has done what is right and proper rather than keep quiet as everything disintegrates in this nation.
The citizens have a great role to play in ensuring good governance. If we put our money on a horse, it is our duty to ensure the victory of that horse. Ensuring victory will entail constant care, communication, truth-telling and constructive criticisms until the race is over.
Thankfully during the week, the governors of the ruling APC met and finally admitted responsibility for the situation of our economy. They promised to stop blaming the past; in an apparent appreciation of one of the basic laws of leadership. The joke therefore is on those blind and fanatic supporters of the old General Buhari who are misleading the new President Buhari by urging him on even when he fails in leadership, or takes very wrong decisions. I don’t do fanaticism, and so whereas I was one of his chief supporters during the campaigns, I was one of the quickest off the mark when it came to letting him know that the nation is adrift.
Look at where we found ourselves; now government appointees are rejecting their appointments because they weren’t contacted. Now the dissonance in the way we’ve seen government by a government of hope has become too obvious. Now the economy is a tailspin. The Naira has hit unprecedented lows. Now many families are in despair, children are out of school, parents are out of work, and businesses are closing down by the hundreds. Only genuine wickedness will make anyone continue to hail the manner of governance and an approach that has led Nigeria into so much trouble. It just can be right. I have so much respect for the president but the more important thing to do is to advise him correctly on this page and beyond. We as common men must develop an ability to know and speak the truth always.
Buhari may be a religion to some, but like all religions, people will only convert if they like what they see in the lives of its adherents and the beauty of the products of such religion. I hope that the adherents of the Buhari religion, who have separated themselves from the rest of us who try to be objective, are not hoping to put knives to everybody’s necks. Some of them are quite fanatic, bitter and mean. I shudder. But this country is ours collectively and we on the side of objectivity will not shirk our responsibility of constructive criticism of the person we backed into leadership.
It is again in this light that I call attention to the news during the week, that the Federal Government has sent a proposal to the National Assembly for a plan to borrow $30billion over the next two years for infrastructure and budget support. For me it still sounds like a nightmare and my straight out advice to the assembly is that such proposal should be rejected. I mean I never believed this could happen under a Buhari government. I can now confirm that there is an ideological capture and what Madam Aisha said is very true in more ways than one. The simple litmus test is to view the policies of the government which seem in total negation to what Buhari had always ‘stood’ for… or maybe some of us were played as fools.
Buhari never liked the idea of a currency devaluation but the currency was devalued in official and real terms right under his watch and the best some of us can do is to hail him on? He never believed in higher petroleum prices but we are living with N145 per liter with daily threats by NNPC to increase further. I thought he was on the side of the masses but we are hearing of more taxation for the poorest and the president is saying nothing. I hate regrets, so I will keep exploring to confirm exactly what is going on. Certainly something is very amiss and one feels totally conned. Look at the closeness of the man to the Americans, to the extent that he got one of them to write his own biography and the man was so flippant he wrote things that caught his fancy? Who would have thought? And we all know that these Americans are very sly people whose capitalist religion makes them devour other peoples and economies to fulfill their insatiable appetites. What advice have they ever given us that panned out for good? None.
I recall listing as part of the attributes of General Buhari before the elections, the fact that in his first coming he refused to take on more loans from the London or Paris Clubs but instead serviced what he met on ground, as different from Sani Abacha who simply repudiated the loans, refusing to service the interest and leading to those hawks charging Nigeria punitively high interest rates. At the end of the day, Nigeria paid more than a hundred times what it borrowed, because at the time we managed to )exit most of that debt in the year 2006, we repaid with Naira at 120 to the dollar even we borrowed when Naira was stronger than the dollar. This is aside from the compounded interests that those people charged us at every turn. Obasanjo used to comment then that Nigeria borrowed $12billion, paid back $38billion and was still owing $35billion! These are the people we are again toying with.
But it’s the sheer scale of our foolish ambition this time that guts me. I mean $30billion in two years? Who does that? How will we repay? What has government people been smoking? If we spend three decades accumulating $35billion and managed to escape with so many scars, why would we want to acquire more than that amount in fresh loans in just two years? Pray, who is advising this government? All this talk about infrastructure doesn’t cut it at all. And what is that about budget support in spite of all the claims to recovery of loots, better handle on government revenues through the TSA, and reduction in corruption… among other initiatives.
If you ask me, Nigeria has fallen into the trap of those I call the ‘dollar worshippers’. They think in terms of dollars and believe that the only problem Nigeria has is its inability to access dollars. Not for them any multidisciplinary approach to solving or economic quagmire. Not for them any homegrown approach that considers our socio-psychological peculiarities. They don’t have eyes for the plight and situation of the hoi polloi. Instead, their best thoughts are formed around conference tables and amidst their usually western friends whom they constantly strive howbeit painfully and unsuccessfully, to impress with their acquired accents and regurgitation of textbook theories they learnt at PhD level which have absolutely no bearing to our circumstance here. Those are the people Baba seem to be listening to. If they go for his loan, I’m afraid the war is lost, and generations yet unborn would have been shackled into a new slavery. I don’t know how we are thinking in this country. Sad, really.