Unrealistic Expectations from President Buhari Administration

Nigerians had unrealistic expectation from the inception of President Buhari’s administration. Some even naively felt that he could perform magic and fix Nigeria problems overnight. It has been more than one year and Nigeria economic problem appears to have gotten worse from all available economic indicators.

Why is Nigerian economy in such dire stress? The main culprit lies in the steep fall of oil price. A barrel of oil now sells between $46 to $50 per barrel compared to $80 to over $100 per barrel during president Jonathan’s administration. The drastic fall in oil price started towards the end of Jonathan’s administration to the extent that his Finance minister had to borrow money to pay federal employees. Federal budget was pegged at about $73 per barrel in the last year of President Jonathan’s administration, but oil price slipped to less than $50 per barrel and went down further to less than $30 after president Buhari took over. Unfortunately for Nigeria, past leaders never had the foresight to diversify the economy in order to guide against low oil price.

It is not surprising that president Buhari now appears indecisive and lost on how to move the country forward. Nigerians need to understand that revenue shortage is beyond his control because of low oil price at the international market and instability in the Niger-Delta where militants are blowing up oil pipeline. The instability is so bad that Nigeria cannot even meet their OPEC allocation of 2.2 million barrel of oil per day. The effect of this irresponsible act by the so called Niger-Delta Avengers is that they are laying foundation for more dire economic stress next year when the full effect of their activities will manifest itself.

In spite of the difficulties facing this administration, they need to start addressing the myriad problems facing the country in a decisive manner. President Buhari need to pick two or three areas and make a mark before leaving office. He could pick infrastructural development which includes roads construction, power, agriculture or school reform or other areas that interests him and make a visible mark in that area which will be recognizable by all or most Nigerians before the next election. Anambra state residents never forgot how former governor of Anambra state, Chris Ngige who is a member of this administration focused on road construction and proceeded to rebuild most dilapidated roads in Anambra state within 3 years of his administration. Every resident of Anambra state still remembers his accomplishment and still held him in very high esteem up till today. Prior to his arrival, Anambra state was messed up by his PDP predecessor. President Buhari could do the same thing in any area he chooses to focus on.

President Buhari so far have laid some firm foundation that will help Nigerian to develop. Full implementation of the Single Treasury Account (TSA) which was conceived by former president Jonathan’s administration is an achievement that must be commended. In an era of dwindling federal revenue, the responsible thing for any government to do is to effectively manage the meager resources that is coming into the government treasury. TSA will make it possible for the federal government to monitor what comes in and out of the treasury on a daily basis compared to what we had before, when ministries, Departments and Agencies had their own accounts which made it easy for government officials to steal fund. President Buhari is actually fighting a real war on corruption even though the war is lopsided. Some members of his party are as corrupt as the people EFCC are prosecuting today, but they are working free. Mr. President needs to be even-handed if he wants Nigerians to take this fight seriously.

Removal of Fuel subsidy is another courageous action taken by president Buhari. Fuel subsidy became corruption cesspool and frankly unsustainable in the long run. Free market was allowed to take its course and the result so far is very encouraging. The saving from the subsidy will be used to build infrastructure and meet other federal government obligation. Removal of fuel subsidy will encourage competition and investment in local refineries. The answer to Nigeria fuel crisis is building of local refineries. Some Nigerian business men are building refineries right now, and in a few years, Nigeria will be self-sufficient in production of domestic refined oil so Nigerian government will not have to worry about sourcing scarce foreign currency to import refined fuel.

Floating exchange rate policy adopted recently by the Central Bank of Nigeria is another laudable milestone for Nigerians. Prices of goods and services are already priced based on the parallel (black market) rate before floating exchange rate was introduced. More foreign currencies will now flow to Nigeria which will make it easier for businesses to buy enough foreign currencies for their raw material import and other products. Nigeria economy would have contracted further and may collapse in the future if pegging Naira to dollar policy was allowed to continue. I was disappointed to see president Buhari insisting that he still does not believe in devaluation. Such statement kind of make him look like somebody who does not understand how economy works. A country can peg their currency if they have enough foreign currency to satisfy local and international demands.

War on corruption is another area the present administration is doing a good job on. I am one of those who believes that Nigerian economy would have collapsed if the corruption and looting that took place under Jonathan’s administration and past leaders was allowed to continue. What these criminals disguised as governors and other public officials were doing is totally unacceptable. Having a government job became a license to plunder and loot government treasury to the point that they have graduated from stealing millions of Naira to billions. Which country on earth can withstand that level of wanton plunder of the national and state treasury with impunity. It is so refreshing to see that Nigerians are no longer rallying around these criminals when they scream that their prosecution is based or ethnic, religious or political differences. Nigerians are no longer defending these criminals because they have figured out what is happening and what the truth is. They are now largely on their own and are facing the consequences of their actions. May God punish them all in addition to their prison sentences, asset forfeiture and fines they will pay. Hopefully, the judicial will get their act together and expedite these trials. Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) need to beam it searchlight on the sitting governors where corruption and looting of treasury is still prevalent. Governor’s immunity does not prevent EFCC from investigating them and freezing their accounts and properties like what EFCC is doing with the governor of Ekiti state, Mr. Fayose. Waiting for 4 years before conducting investigation is too long. I hope federal judges and supreme court judges will find the courage someday to strike down the immunity conferred on governors. It should be limited to civil and never for criminal matters since nobody should ever have license to steal and loot government treasury with impunity.

The area president Buhari administration is seriously lacking is in upholding the rule of law. Two wrongs do not make a right. President Buhari administration must abide by the rule of law. Adherence to the rule of law is the cornerstone of any democracy. Any attempt to circumvent that will fail. If Nigerian judges are corrupt, president Buhari need to identify those judges and report them to the Nigerian Judicial Commission so that appropriate sanction will be taken against them or refer them to EFCC. It is very important for this administration to set example and fair standard in this area so that successive administrations will try to leave up to the high standard or try to exceed it. More important, setting high standard with regard to adherence to the rule of law will make it more likely that Nigerians will look for similar quality in the person they will vote for in every election. It is how democracy and rule of law will be entrenched in the national conscience. I will give president Buhari C- so far when it comes to adherence to the rule of law.

President Buhari has implemented tough but necessary reforms in his first year which will augur well for his administration. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are living in a dream world if they think that the next election will fall on their lap because of the present harsh economic realities. If they are smart, they need to do some soul searching and purge criminals from their party before presenting themselves to Nigerians in the next election if they want to regain power. The economy is more likely to get better for this administration before the next election because they have made unpopular by necessary reforms within the first year of the administration. Nigerians need to exercise patience and should realize that it takes years of good administration and governance for any nation to develop and become great. Nigerians need to also understand that government can only do so much. The destiny of Nigeria actually lies in the hand of ordinary Nigerians. Getting up every morning and working together to better the country is the only way for Nigeria to succeed. One thing any person will notice as soon as they visit any advanced country is how hard ordinary citizens of those countries work on a daily basis. Wealth acquired from corruption and looting of government treasury must be shunned by all Nigerians. Only wealth acquired by legitimate means should be admired and praised.

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