2016 the year that defeated Buhari
By Joseph Edgar… As we bask in the celebration of the seeming defeat of Boko Haram with the capture of Sambisa Forest, I cannot help but look at 2016 as the year that blew the ill wind which exposed the bottom of the Buhari administration.
This year virulently exposed the ill preparedness and the lack of vision of an administration that came in with so much much promise and hope. The administration had risen on a crest of popular disgust with the Jonathan administration which had pursued a nerohistic lifestyle of making merry while Rome burned. They borrowed to maintain a sacrilegious lifestyle which seeped down even to the lowliest in the society. At the peak, Nigerians were known as the largest consumers of luxury champagnes, created billionaires in dollars through nepotism and corrupt government patronage with a significant proportion of private jet owners not being productive. All these on borrowed money.
The fact that oil prices which is our main stay was weakening and the economy had begun to show likely signs of a downturn the Jonathan administration continued on its highway of profligacy.
It was no surprise that at the polls Nigerians swept the whole motley crowd of shoeless wonders away and installed an administration we all believed could stop all these nonsense and put us back on the path of economic recovery.
However this year has more than shown both Nigerians and I suspect even the President that what we had hoped for was just a mere mirage. Inflation which during the thoughtless Jonathan era remained at a single digit has adopted and held tightly the double digit zone as its birth right. Today it is hovering at about 18%. Unemployment I hear is closing in on the 30% mark of employable Nigerians. The GDP is weak and political cohesion is at its weakest ever with the administration unable to contain ethnic agitation.
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The war against corruption is reeling and this remains sad as it is the main platform with which the administration scampered into government. The one sided nature of the war is now so apparent that you begin to want to see the Fani Kayodes of this world in another light. Reports have shown monumental corruption amongst those who are very close to the Presidency. Just recently MTN had to do away with one of their top Executives due to some alleged infractions with a top government official very close to the President. All these accusations have not met the government showing a strong resolve to tackle it like they did or do when it concerns an opposition personality.
The year saw the President’s wife cry out. She was reported to have said that the administration has been hijacked by people even the President does not know. The statement was light heartedly discounted but recent events have more than proven her right. It is beginning to look like the President has indeed lost control of the ship of state. We are beginning to see very powerful Argonauts emerge. Argonauts who really do not have the interest of the country as they continue the pillage.
To me I feel that this administration still remains the best hope for Nigerians. Buhari can still stem the rot. He can draw from his immense standing as an incorruptible and firm individual to rebuild a strong platform to tackle the myriad problems facing his administration and Nigeria by extension.
He must first tackle the issue of his cabinet. That cabinet was in my own estimation a contraption built to reward and pander to the egos of those who worked for his electoral victory. I think the gratitude is enough, it is now time to put serious minded people in places like finance, solid minerals, sports, information.
The economy should now be the main focus. He should work very closely with the Statistician General’s office in monitoring the temperature of the economy. Using data gotten there as a guide in appointments, measuring performances of the Ministers and deciding which areas should be paid more attention judging by its potentials as can be seen from ensuing data. For me, he should concentrate in developing tourism, services, hospitality and entertainement. Agriculture should be given priority. We are beginning to see its emerging contribution to the GDP and its huge potentials as one of the largest employers of Labour.
Government institutions need to be strengthened to seriously support agriculture as a matter of urgency. Government should no longer be paying lip service to these sectors and in its cabinet reshuffle if it will listen to the people, appoint capacity in these areas. Grants should be given to those interested in processing, for there lies the gold mine. Producing just raw materials is no longer enough. We must build the capacity to process these farm produce for better revenue generating gains.
The corruption battle while very positive especially in the light of our recent past has also come with its own wahala. It has stymied the economy as we no longer see free funds floating. The mantra in the business world is that those who have the funds are afraid to bring them out for fear of the corruption war. This is a sensitive and challenging issue. The BVN, TSA while being effective in the war on money laundering, terrorism and corruption has also hit the economy with an unexpected negative consequences.
We have to look for a balance so that funds can also come in from privately held hands to reflate the economy especially the car and manufacturing industry which has suffered almost an 80% decline since the inception of this government. Today, the scenario has reversed with Government being the major spender in the economy unlike in the past when whole sectors like entertainment grew exponentially with little or no government support employing millions and generating trillions in revenue.
In conclusion, Buhari has to take back the reigns of his Government from the Pharisee if he is going to give himself half a chance to succeed. He has to show the kind of forthrightness he has shown with the corruption and war against terrorism with the economy. The issue of the next election if he is interested will be the economy especially now that Sambisa Forest is down and with his brothers sabotaging his corruption battle.
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A cartoon From VANGUARD Newspaper