Nigeria: Buhari's Ghost - It's the Economy, Stupid

20 February 2024

The sum of $6.2 billion disappeared from the coffers of the Central Bank of Nigeria under Muhammadu Buhari, and believe me, we have been told by his chief scribe that the president was 'not aware' of the crime.

The CBN was supposed to regulate our currency by law, but its head at the time, Godwin Emefiele, picked up a form to run for president under Buhari. Obviously, Buhari was not aware, and when told, he said he was not aware that there was a law, legal or moral that could have stopped him from the misadventure. Today, Emefiele is being rightly blamed for everything that has happened to the economy while Buhari remains a saint.

For the eight years that he misruled the nation, Buhari appointed himself oil minister. Evidently, Buhari was not aware that he promised to build four new refineries for each year of his first term as president. Nobody has brought Buhari back to ask him how many barrels of petrol or crude that the nation processed during his term in office.

Evidently, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the man who benefitted from Buhari's non-awareness is very reticent in blaming him for the evident lack of supervision or awareness under him. Tinubu might blame the global recession. It is sad that for eight years, Nigeria had no leader in Aso Rock. Nigeria should pray for its own survival that the new man in the saddle is aware of happenings around him. For his sake and for ours, it had better be.

Nigeria cannot survive another term of an unaware leadership in Aso Rock. It is evident that an unaware Buhari was happy not to allow the opposition to win last year's elections. If they had won, the scenario happening in America between a slightly aware Joe Biden and his predecessor would have been repeated here. Maybe, just maybe if such an opposition had the balls, they would have recalled Buhari to a grand jury hearing to tell the nation what he was aware of.

It would have been wonderful to test Buhari's state of alertness on most of the things that Nigerians are blaming President Tinubu for today. That would have rendered the meme going around on social media that the man who built Lagos and promised to build Nigeria discovered that cement had finished when he showed up in Aso Rock. Literally last week, the price of cement went up by over 100 per cent in a week. Nobody knows if Tinubu was aware.

What is evident is that the incumbent president should have been told that things are not going well in the country. As the elders say, it is so that the deaf can hear the complaints of those with hearing abilities that complaints about him are made in the hearing of his family members.

Last week, the Emir of Kano sent a message to President Tinubu through his wife, Senator Oluremi Tinubu. Emir Ado Bayero's message to the president is that the people are suffering. It did not end there, Sultan Sa'ad Abubakar sent a similar message to the president. He said things are critical. If Yoruba obas are not being killed in their palaces, they would have tackled their northern counterparts and possibly set the polity on fire. They are too busy trying to save their own heads. When kings are helpless, what can their subjects do?

One could argue that the two turban-heads are hypocritical because they hardly made a whimper in the eight years that Buhari was in the saddle. Perhaps somebody needs to tell them why things are hard. They are hard because Buhari chose like matter, to use his weight to occupy space rather than do the job for which he was elected, twice.

True, there is a global recession, but Nigeria need not be severely affected if Buhari had tackled the insurgency he promised to tackle when he was first elected in 2015. He had subscribed to the Abacha dictum that an insurgency that lasted more than 48 hours had the hand (and probably leg) of those in government. No sooner had Buhari become president than he regarded his feet as too dainty to even pay homage to those who were affected and afflicted by insecurity.

Unfortunately, President Tinubu is in the same shoe. Instead of working to end insurgency, the President has chosen to stay away from anything that causes insecurity preferring to delegate that responsibility to his deputy. The president is also not keen on accountability from his service chiefs. As a result, those ones are sitting pretty in their posh offices in Abuja and drinking tea or coffee while the nation burns. We should not be regaled with another - I was not aware from Tinubu. Nigerians are still waiting for the outcome of the inquiry he ordered on Tudun Biri and other disasters. Merely promising enquiries without hearing the outcomes is a lame excuse of indolence in governance.

To his credit, Tinubu assembled all state governors to Abuja. He asked them to make their impacts felt on the states they govern. It is a good order although one that cannot be followed up. Tinubu toys with the idea of state police provided, he says, it would not be politicised. Politicising things is what all politicians do. President Tinubu knew he had no power to create new local governments when he was governor of that state attempted it in Lagos State.

True, most governors are indolent kleptocrats. But the ruining All Progressives Congress, leads the pack here. They control more states than their opponents. That does not remove the fact that most of the challenges of insecurity and the poverty it engenders today are beyond the control of state governors.

The usual thing for governments to do in times like this is to mobilise people to the farms. With insurgency, many have been killed in their farms and the ones who sneaked in to plant and weed have discovered that when it is harvest times, their hard-grown crops are either destroyed or harvested as feeds for flocks or to feed those they kidnap. The reason insurgency persists is because it has become business for those with access to security funds. Nobody can convince anyone with knowledge of Nigeria's prowess in fighting and winning a civil war, and the roles it played in Liberia and Sierra Leone that it's incapable of ending insurgency.

Tinubu has a good excuse. Global economy is in recession and even Joe Biden accepts that. The last time he spoke to Francois Mitterrand of France, Helmut Kohl of Germany and Abdel Fattah al-Sissi of Egypt he got confirmation that times are tough. From London through Berlin, Paris through Washington and Ottawa, life is hard and leaders are on their feet trying to tackle food crisis and rising poverty.

It's a global recession quite alright, what it should not be is an excuse for indolent leaders to conduct the usual grand orchestra of excuses. Global recession should not be the patron saint of procrastination or the purveyor of possible government deniability. The votes have been counted and manipulated, it is time for the winner to rise to the occasion and get Nigeria out.

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