• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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BusinessDay

A week of mixed feelings

Buhari, the tortoise, and the iron that grew cold

The past week can best be described as one with mixed feelings. A part of our President that we can either relate to or be wary of played out more.

President Muhammadu Buhari broke his fast every evening with a different group of individuals and he spoke in different languages and about different facets of the nation’s endeavours. In this piece, we would scratch some surfaces.

The President, who strikes one mostly as an autocratic and dictatorial leader, if you hear him speaking at other times, seemed to have
borrowed a different leaf this time around.

Depending on the group he was meeting with, the President never seemed to forget what he said in 1985, over 30 years ago when he had his first shot at leading Nigeria. Well, he also remembers what it was like between 1967 and 1970, during the period of the civil war where many lives were lost in the Biafran struggle.

One thing I remember not hearing everyday was the blame game. The President did well without it this time around, just maybe he got the signal that Nigerians were tired of hearing the lines.
You see, the President continues to remember that over 30 years ago when he was the country’s Head of State he told Nigerians that they must develop their country as it was the only one they had.

“If we have problems, this is the only country we have. I said it more than 30 years ago. We quickly go out, we go to pray in Saudi Arabia, we go maybe to other developed countries, but this is home,” he said.

On a particular day when he received chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the President for the first time openly pleaded with the Niger Delta militants who have renewed hostilities in the region to give peace a chance and sheath their swords.

Even while considering the option of dialogue, the President’s tone had remained strong not showing any form of entreaty. So what changed? I have no idea, but I think deciding to deploy the fatherly part may work some miracles, though it may not be that easy way out. Watchers from different quarters have constantly supported the idea of dialogue. Let’s hope they can call a truce somehow and stop the nation from bleeding its resources.

Some parts of the region lauded the way he spoke on that night, but wait a minute, did he mean some of the party members have friends amongst the militants?
“For those of you who have friends either among the leadership or among the militants themselves, please beg them in the name of God Almighty to take it easy. We need to stabilise the economy to create employment,” the President said to party chieftains at the breaking of fast. I am still thinking about this too, so please don’t ask me.

It is impressive that after making this plea, the Presidency set things in motion to facilitate a meeting with leaders of the region.
The long-awaited delegation finally arrived Thursday. A three-man delegation from the Niger Delta Dialogue and Contact Group, led by His
Royal Highness, King Alfred Diette-Spiff, the Amanyanabo of Twon Brass, Bayelsa State, where he once again begged for the patience of
the region. This time, he told them he would rebuild the region amongst other parts of the country.

One notable thing we should talk about is the President’s seemingly displeasure at the decision to devalue the naira, still insisting devaluation is of no benefit to the country.
As you already know by now, the Central Bank abandoned an exchange rate peg of 197 naira to a dollar, after about 16-months, in a bid to alleviate the persisting foreign currency shortages that have strangulated growth in one of Africa’s biggest economy.

Recall that this new policy was announced while the President was far away in the United Kingdom attending to his health and leaving Vice
President Yemi Osibanjo to act in his stead.

Before now, the President widely expressed his aversion to devaluing the Naira, saying that Nigeria, which is not an exporting nation, would be worst hit if the Naira was devalued.
At the breaking of fast dinner with the business community, Buhari said: “How much benefit have we derived from naira devaluation in the past. I don’t like the returns I get from the CBN because that coupled with the demand that let us devalue the naira. In August 1985 the naira was N1.3 to a dollar but now you need N300 or N350 to a dollar. What do we derive from that? How much benefit can we derive from this ruthless devaluation of the naira?  I’m not an economist neither a businessman, I fail to appreciate the economic explanation. What has happen to us now is that we have maneuvered ourselves into a mono-economy which led to the collapse we are seeing now”.

Notice he made reference to 1985 again.
The President’s reaction leaves one wondering who is really calling the shots on matters regarding our economy, who is really in charge?
Is it that he did not approve the policy or that he doesn’t trust those who took the decision? Or maybe he just hasn’t gone past the shocks of 1985?
Well, whatever it is, I think the language is changing and it is a good thing.

 

Elizabeth Archibong