Saturday, 6 June 2015

President Buhari's First Faulty Steps in One Week

Image result for Pictures of muhammadu buhari
Unity Bank Plc, the other day, made an unusual public announcement. The Bank informed its customers with bad loans to come forward to fulfil their obligations within 14 days. It warned that failure to do this would leave it with no option but to publish the names of defaulters, their addresses, photographs as well as directors and guarantors of the bad loans.

Being in serious debt is never a palatable experience for anybody. Our President, Muhammadu Buhari, appears to be in this type of situation currently. Seven days after he took over the mantle of leadership of this country, he presents the picture of someone who is highly indebted to some people. Never mind that he said in his inaugural speech, “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody.”
Take the case of his recent appointments, for instance. Mallam Garba Shehu is his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity. Mr Femi Adesina is his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity. Pray, who is the president’s main spokesman? And why appoint two people to handle the same function? Are we not going back to the same profligacy of the past, contrary to the public perception of Buhari as somebody who loathes waste?
Make no mistake about it, the two appointees are media gurus. I’m happy that they have been called to serve their fatherland. But they could have been given different portfolios. One could be a minister of information while the other remains presidential spokesman.
As if to add insult to injury, the President, the other day, sent a list of 15 aides to the Senate for approval. One wonders what he needs 15 advisers for? Or is it to repay some political debts? Remember that ministers will still be appointed. I thought that the days of job for the boys are over?
Some state governors are already toeing the same line. For instance, Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, was reported to have concluded plans to appoint 15 special advisers. Besides, the governor reportedly said he would also appoint one senior political adviser and one political adviser. These appointments, according to him, are part of the strategies by his administration to actualise the agenda of prosperity for all Deltans.
Prosperity indeed! How on earth will appointing a retinue of aides translate into prosperity for all Deltans, nay Nigerians? The major benefit I see in this is the building of stomach infrastructure for the appointees and their cronies and family members.
Our political leaders, especially President Buhari, should realise that many Nigerians expect a lot from them. They should not disappoint them. Already, a number of Nigerians are becoming sceptical about the ability of this new regime to take us to the promised land. There is a disconnect between what was said during campaigns and what is happening now.
Buhari had intimated Nigerians during an interview with a national daily that he would scrap the office of the First Lady if he became the President. This is in line with his public outlook as an anti-corruption and anti-wastage man. But from what we currently hear about the wife, Aisha, Nigerians may be in for a big surprise.
Aisha was reported to have spotted a Cartier Baignoire Folle 18-carat white gold diamond wristwatch worth 34,500 pounds or N10,453,000 during the inauguration of the new government at Eagle Square, Abuja last Friday. Since this news broke, neither Aisha nor Buhari has denied it. If it is true, then it contrasts sharply with the President’s advertised Spartan lifestyle. It runs contrary to the report that Buhari borrowed money to buy presidential nomination form. The President’s media team needs to clear the air fast on this.
The President also needs to address some concerns over the recent declaration of his assets. He had promised during his campaigns that he would declare his assets publicly. But he did that secretly together with the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, to the Code of Conduct Bureau. If the President and his deputy have nothing to hide, they should come clean with an open declaration of their assets.
Already, some civil society groups have sharpened their knives of criticism. One of them, the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety), dismissed Buhari administration as parading “the highest assemblage of doyens of corruption in the history of Nigeria.”
In a detailed statement entitled ‘Democracy Day Squandermania: How Nigeria Squandered N105.8 billion ($528 million) on 6,806 Public Officers in Seven Days’, Intersociety noted, “It is heartbreaking that Nigeria, which is a land naturally flowing with milk and honey has been turned into a land flowing with blood and tears, despair, anguish and torture courtesy of governance insanity, naivety and mercantilism; chronically inflicted on it by its 17,500-member criminal governing council.
“The Team Buhari that just came on board with anti-corruption parroting voice as its governance agenda remains the highest assemblage of doyens of corruption in the history of Nigeria dominated by the country’s five leading cartels; and as such, it has earned a new indelible name, All Progressives in Corruption (APC).”
I don’t totally agree with Intersociety. Though a number of corrupt people surrounded Buhari during the campaigns, he is yet to make major appointments and he is yet to stabilise in office. So, it won’t be fair to brand his regime an assemblage of doyens of corruption in the history of Nigeria.
That notwithstanding, the President must do everything possible to stop the looting of our commonwealth in any form. The financial haemorrhage called severance package for some former political office-holders is unacceptable. In the national and state assemblies, in Lagos, Akwa Ibom and some other states, politicians are settling themselves with state resources. Some got houses in choice locations in Abuja and Lagos, cars and jumbo salaries for life. Some settled themselves with television sets, rugs and even kitchen utensils. Our greed knows no bounds.
We should not lose hope, nevertheless. There are still some leaders whose actions are worth commending. For instance, Kaduna State governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, has announced a 50 per cent cut in his salary and that of some other political office-holders in his state. We have already clapped for him.
But we will clap with both hands and legs the day Buhari and the governors will decide to also reject security votes and run a lean, fiscally-disciplined government. Then, and only then will their names be published, not on the debtors list this time, but in our hall of fame.

By Casmire Igbokwe 
First published in The Union, June 5, 2015



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