• Wednesday, June 12, 2024
businessday logo


Bankruptcy: Do not complain, just fix the economy, Nigerians tell FG

Charting Nigeria’s path to renewal: A blueprint for forward thinking

Across the two terms of Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, the government and many of its supporters kept blaming Goodluck Jonathan, former president, for the economic malaise Buhari’s administration was battling with then.

Lai Mohammed, the then Minister of Information and Culture, who better served as the ruling party’s mouthpiece, never failed to blame Jonathan’s administration for the inability of his principal and their party to fulfill campaign promises, especially protecting Nigerians and restoring the economy.

Today, the blame game has continued and seems to become a culture, as the current administration is also blaming the Buhari administration for the worsening economic situation in the country today.

Sadly, the blame this time is coming from a respected Nigerian, who many think should be wiser despite his appointment as the National Security Adviser (NSA).

Recently, Nuhu Ribadu, the NSA, blamed the Buhari administration for the insecurity challenge and economic hardship in the country, which the current administration seems to be confused on how to tackle.

As expected, Ribadu’s comment went viral and incurred the wrath of many Nigerians.

While that may be laughable, the reality is that the present administration inherited lots of baggage from the immediate past one.

Yet, many right-thinking Nigerians are insisting that the present administration lacks the moral power to blame the immediate past because it has been a one-party affair in the last eight years, same people, same ideology and little or no development at the end of the two terms in office.

“Ribadu’s comment is hypocritical because he wants to be in the good books of President Bola Tinubu. It is unfortunate that such a comment is coming from someone many look up to for sanity,” Sani Yakubu, a security expert, said.

Yakubu, an indigene of Pankshin in Plateau State, decried the inability of the various administrations to address the challenges in the country, yet they reel out achievements at the end of their tenures.

Read also: How bankrupt is Nigeria?

“Innocent people are still being killed, farmers and villages sacked even last month in my state. So, what happened to the security budget, they said people diverted it under Jonathan, they also diverted the fund under Buhari and are diverting it now. But for how long should we blame the past leaders, are we not deceiving ourselves that a child born eight years ago is still one year, no growth. Ribadu is in charge of security and we have not seen much of the improvements they promised,” Yakubu lamented.

According to him, the blame game should stop because it endorses the continued incompetence of the government and deception of the gullible masses.

“We elected you to work, do the work and blame nobody but yourself for not performing,” Yakubu urged.

Angry at the blame game, Davidson Teghfa, a lawyer and environmentalist, noted that with the blame, the present administration is telling Nigerians that it does not have solutions to the many challenges it promised to tackle during election campaigns.

“Despite all the billions spent on fighting insecurity, many innocent Nigerians die every day from bandit and terrorist attacks and someone has the courage to blame the predecessors. It is your turn, do not blame, turn things around and prove yourself,” Teghfa told Ribadu.

On the economy, the lawyer asked Nigerians to hold the present administration accountable for the worsening situation, saying that they were elected to fix the country and should do so without blaming Jonathan or Buhari.

“We have seen some of the policies of the present administration that were aimed at restoring the economy and most have backfired, especially currency floating and subsidy removal. Their failure should not deter the president and his team. He should continue to seek other measures and not blame failed administrations, which they were part of,” Teghfa said.

For Kunle Alade, a corporate executive, the Nigerian economic situation requires genuine solutions and sincere people to salvage it and not the blames because those who voted along ethnic and religious lines are all suffering the hardship today.

“We have failed to understand politicians. The election is over, dreams fulfilled and sharing now is based on familiar grounds. So, we need to pressure them to work and leave the blame. Buhari said he needed more money to fight insecurity, he borrowed and nothing happened, now they said he did not do well, they also said Jonathan failed, but the ball is in their court now, let them work and no excuses,” Alade said.

For Onyewuchi Akagbule, a senior lecturer at Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka, instead of the blame, government appointees like Ribadu should encourage their principals to work in defence of the votes and confidence people repose on them.

“During their campaigns, they all said that they have solutions to Nigeria’s security and economic challenges, so why are they blaming their predecessors. They should work or leave those with solutions to come,” Akagbule said.

He argued that though Ribadu may have a point that the former president did not do well, a new government is in charge and should take charge of the economy, security and every other challenge the country is experiencing.

“We have blamed enough, my father also blamed the British colonialists, some blamed the first republic politicians, some blamed the military and others Obasanjo. Let us leave the blames and work. India, colonised also by Britain, has gone far ahead of us, Rwanda has prospered after its genocide, we must move forward, but sincerity of purpose will get us there and not blames,” Akagbule said.

It would be recalled that Buhari’s administration exerted much of the energy it would have used to fight corruption, insecurity and to fix the economy in blaming the Jonathan administration.

Funny enough, indecision on urgent national issues, late appointment of ministers under Buhari, appointments of less competent people, nepotism, rising insecurity, unemployment rate and poverty level, were all blamed on Jonathan’s administration, after long he left office.

Nigerians are insisting that the same should not continue in the present administration considering that it is the same party and the same people.

“The government should rather share the blame and work to address the challenges in the country with competent people, no matter their party, religion or tribe. Nigeria’s interest supersedes every other in the country. Work, not blame,” Yakubu concluded.

Others who spoke to BusinessDay said it was unfortunate that a party is hauling blame against itself. They recalled that till the last day, Buhari continued to blame his predecessors.

“Buhari blamed Jonathan’s PDP government for eight years and ended up being the worst government Nigeria has ever had.
“Tinubu’ APC government is now blaming Buhari’s APC government. The blame game continue while the masses suffer.Personally, I don’t see anything that give hope that this administration would be different from the previous one,” John Otu, public affairs analyst, said.

Buhari ruled the country for eight years from ‪2015 -2019‬ under the change mantra in his first term, he assumed office with overwhelming public support among Nigerians, who saw him as capable repositioning the country after the troubled five rule of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

However, the Buhari’s administration was plagued by security challenge during his eight years rule, while several economy policies where unpopular and perceived as anti-masses.

In the eight years of Buhari’s presidency, the inflation rate rose to 22.41 percent from 9.01 percent that the administration inherited from the Jonathan government, a development that pushed millions of Nigerians into poverty.

It is believed that the inflation rate was caused by weak monetary and exchange rate policies as well as excessive government borrowing from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

With such high interest and inflation rates, the unemployment rate also hit the roof. Under Buhari, 33.2 percent of Nigerians have no jobs while 63 percent of the population or 133 million people are multi-dimensionally poor.

This is the same administration that promised to lift millions of people out of poverty. In reality, its poor and inappropriate policy choices pushed many more people into poverty.

The Buhari government’s poor economic management style is manifested in the value of the naira in exchange with the dollar. From N157 to a dollar official rate in 2014, it moved to N439 when Buhari was about to leave office.

The black market value of the dollar rose to N1,200 naira to a dollar when it was just N200 at the advent of the administration. Also, the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflow was $26 billion when Buhari took over in 2015 fall to $ 8 billion by 2021.

Of course, this was a response to the poor economic policies, harsh business environment, heightened insecurity, and inability of the President to endear himself to foreign and local investors.

However, upon assuming office in May President Tinubu under the Renewed Hope mantra has instituted large scale reforms aimed at repositioning the economy of Nigeria.

But many Nigerians are increasingly getting apprehensive as his economic policies induced unprecedented inflation and inflicted agonies.

Tinubu had, immediately after replacing his predecessor, Buhari, eliminated the fuel subsidy regime, a decision that instantly triggered a 200 per cent increase in the pump price of petrol, a strategic commodity that influences pricing and cost in other sectors of the economy.

Read also: A bankrupt nation should channel available resource into funding critical development sectors – Obi

The Tinubu administration jacked the fuel price from a range of N187 to N255 per litre obtainable in Lagos and Abuja, respectively, to a new price now about of N680 per litre in Lagos to N700 in Abuja. The prices are higher in some other states across the country.

Experts say the government’s direct announcement and strict implementation of its key policies reforms without unveiling mitigation strategies is not pro-poor, as the poor have been left to absorb the shocks.

“Let us not be carried away by the positive reactions in the capital markets by these policies. Above all, we should remember that the economy is meant to serve the Nigerian people.

“The reality is that Nigerians are suffering greatly because the cost of living has risen beyond their means,” a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Kingsley Muoghalu, said.

Tunde Daramola, Public affairs commentator said the current administration had not shown enough courage to check the high cost of governance and lavish lifestyle by public officials.

“The is nothing to show that this administration is serious and would be different from the past governments. What is the use of policies when there is no impact of the lives of Nigerians.

“Check the cost of governance and how much they are spending on buying vehicles for themselves and the First Lady. Nigerians are dying of poverty and unemployment, I mean things are hard and people can bearly eat twice”, Daramola said.

Many Nigerians have urged the Tinubu’s administration to fix the economic challenges, rather than complain about inheriting bad economy.

As the economy bites harder, the administration has made the largest number of appointments of media aides, and also holds the unenviable record of the highest ministerial appointments since the advent of democracy in 1999.

Temitope Musowo, public affairs analyst said Nigerians should give the Tinubu’s administration more time to deliver, but added that the government must put in place measures so that policies would not make Nigerians poorer.

“Maybe, it is too early to say we are not seeing the impact of Tinubu policies yet, I also think Nigerians should give him more time. But I think any policy that makes Nigerians poorer is not good enough it,” he said.