19 June 2017

Nigeria: Open Letter to the President of Nigeria - Who Ever He Is

Photo: Daily Trust
(file photo).

“Buhari Administration Mid-Term Fact Sheet.” Advertisement in Vanguard, June 9, 2017, page 23-26.

The four paged advertisement was not signed by anybody or Ministry or the Presidency. The shameless purveyors of a great deal of the half-truths and outright falsehoods in the narrative could not summon the courage to claim responsibility for it. But, given my close study of this particular government, it bears all the finger prints of two people - the first is a Federal Minister; the second is a Senior Special Adviser to a very, very, very top official of Buhari's government. The last time the President or Head of State of Nigeria was served by such individuals who have no regard for truth was during the Abacha regime. That horrible government had a Senior Special Adviser, Wada Nas, who was nicknamed by me as Wada Nasty. It also had a Minister of Information, who could not distinguish between lai and falsehood. For Abacha's "dandy duo", two plus two could be four or any other figure that was in the government's interest. Buhari has his own now.

The reason for this open letter to the President is simple. The Presidency has done itself irreparable damage, irrespective of whether it was Buhari or Osinbajo who authorized the publication of that advert. It is so abysmally devoid of anything resembling information, while at the same time representing amateurish propaganda as to be disclaimed by anybody expecting our regard as the nation's leader. The opening paragraph betrayed the intention to deceive. Under the heading Growth in Agriculture and Solid Minerals, it claimed as follows:

"The number of sub-sectors of the economy experiencing negative growth has almost halved; falling from 29 sub-sectors for the whole of 2016 to 16 in Q1 2017. Growth in manufacturing has returned to positive territory after five quarters of negative growth. It grew by 1.36% in Q1 after falling to 7.0% in Q1 2016." There was no preamble; no overall summary of the economic situation and trends in the two years under review. Readers were not told what the targets were and the actual achievements for the period under review or for the last full year, 2016, when Buhari was in charge.

Only discernible readers of that nonsense quoted above would realize that the inept defenders of the Buhari administration had just partly confessed the economic disaster of the last two years. Manufacturing was down 7% in Q1 of 2016 - after seven months of Buhari stewardship. It went down even more in Q2-4 of 2016. But, the report deliberately failed to mention that. The authors of this atrocious report even missed the implication of a mere 1.36% growth after falling more than 7% in previous quarters - manufacturing is still well below where Buhari found it in 2015! That is a fact they want us to ignore.

"Every government is run by liars and nothing they say should be believed." (I.F.Stone, US Journalist, 1929).

As an under graduate in the university in the US, I was shocked when reading an article, in 1965, in the Boston Globe, the largest selling paper in New England zone of the US and I.F. Stone's remark was quoted. Growing up in Nigeria, top government officials - Governors, Ministers etc - were presumed to be decent people who would not deliberately deceive the people they govern. It was incredible to me that, there in God's Own Country, governments could be run by liars. Today, I know too well that Stone was right; that the last group of people to trust absolutely is those in any government. I have learnt that eternal vigilance is essential if people are not going to be misled by the compulsive liars running all governments. Buhari administration with very little to show for two years in office and sending out this report has just reinforced that belief that you can't trust these people anymore.

Instead of providing a standard report which would highlight various aspects of the economic performance, the propagandists went for selection. They presented what they though would portray success where there was none and they relied more on the 2017 achievements, instead of providing report covering the two years of Buhari.

It is an established fact that Buhari came into office in May 29, 2015, and unlike other Presidents in history set a record of five months before appointing the Ministers who were to assist him to manage the economy. Sycophants praised him for what was a serious blunder - especially for a President who self-admittedly knows little about economics. The fate of Nigeria was thus left in the hands of civil servants in the first seven months of his tenure. It is not only in politics that a week is regarded as a long time. It is true of national economies too. That is why serious presidents wake up calling their Chief Economic Adviser first and he is the last person they talk to before tucking into bed. Buhari had none. Worse still, he has an unhealthy disdain for Ministers as he made clear in those early months.


The young, 39, new President of France, Macron, campaigned on a comprehensive economic programme. He took office less than a month after he was elected and he has a cabinet in place and the framework of his economic policy is almost ready - all in less than a month. He made them clear in his inauguration address. Buhari took office at 70-plus after a campaign bereft of any ideas about economic policy and his address on May 29, 2015 revealed that the country was building without foundation and flying without compass. Two years have shown we are in serious trouble. This government only has a plan to borrow and spend. God help us... .


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