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Opinion: Tinubu’s 20 nuggets of follies



OPINION: Buhari’s presidency at Nigeria’s expense [1]

THE expectation is that after the underwhelming, low energy and indeed ruinous eight years of the regime of the immediate past President of Nigeria, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari [rtd], his successor will bring a breath of fresh air, concern and empathy to governance. With Buhari’s incompetence and widely acknowledged lack of performance, the bar was already low so much so that a little effort in improving the lot of Nigerians by a new President would easily have been appreciated and lauded across board.

It has turned out not to be so. What Nigerians are going through today can be likened to the Biblical era during the rule of one of King Solomon’s sons, Rehoboam. The impostor-successor to the divided throne of Israel [in Judah] had promised to double or triple the misery of the people after they had complained about the hardship they suffered under his father. A reading of that account could be instructive for our present rulers.

At the onset of Buhari’s regime in 2015, a minority of us said that Buhari will fail and that any semblance of success in any sector would be an unintended fallout of his sectarian outlook and agenda. We were right. But even after the fact, some of us are not happy that we were vindicated. The price Nigerians are paying and the price the country will pay for a foreseeable future are too dire for triumphalism by those who saw through Buhari. While the former President can be accused of being extremely lethargic and indifferent in office, his successor, Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was proclaimed winner of the February 25 presidential election, has demonstrated and displayed what my late aunt used to describe as the ‘courage of a thief’. My aunt was not literate in English language having not attended formal western school for even one day. So when and if any one of us did anything daring but which bordered on criminality [for want of a more appropriate word] Dee Anna would say that s/he had exhibited the ‘courage of a thief’. In Igbo language: “Ikara okika ohi”. She did not mean it as a praise or approval for that act or action.

Tinubu and his supporters saw his unscripted ‘fuel subsidy is gone’ blurt at his inauguration platform on May 29 as an act of courage. No! It was not. It was an act of folly which is already unravelling. And Nigerians are just contending with the initial consequences of the affliction of that shallow and reckless statement.

What President Tinubu blurted out on May 29 was neither a policy nor a programme. It was a personal flight of fancy that was imbued with neither wisdom nor rigour. A serious administration thinks through a policy with an eye on the consequences. A thoughtful administration also builds a scenario for the consequences and the negative impacts of any policy or programme on the citizens. And plans how to cushion the potential adverse effects. No sane government rushes to implement a policy and then pretends to be scrambling to address or ameliorate the devastating aftershocks.

An elementary illustration will suffice. It’s for some reasons that governments in saner climes will never allow certain projects or programmes to be executed or undertaken before an EIA-R [environmental impact assessment- report] is conducted and publicised. Multi-billion dollar projects with capacity for humongous profits and indeed some benefits are known to have been discouraged and aborted because of their potentials to adversely and negatively impact on the environment in the immediate term or in the long run.

But Tinubu and his chorus singers regard Nigerian citizens as disposable and dispensable canon fodders. For them government is a profit centre as long as they will not be required to make sacrifices.

Let us, for whatever it is worth, grant this regime the indulgence that its unplanned and chaotic removal of the so-called petrol subsidy was informed and driven by altruistic motivation to revamp the national economy. But pray, how do you revamp and reflate an already comatose, paralysed and paranoid economy by inflicting pain on the people and impoverishing them? Could this be a fulfilment of Tinubu’s campaign promise to reduce Nigerians’ disposable income and widen the tax net? If it is then cruelty and Tinubu can, and should be, used interchangeably.

The resort to arm-twisting in the removal of the phantom petrol subsidy by the this regime came straight from the play book of an aspiring dictator. Dictators do not brook conversations, dialogues and consultations. They have no patience for divergent views that come from engaging stakeholders. Dictators know it all. In Igbo they are called Eze onye agwalam. They are also known to go to the market square with faecal smears on their royal apparels. When a policy that has not been thought through is hastily implemented and there is a backlash or resistance, more mistakes will be committed in the rush to make amends.

That’s why this regime is now grappling with the back and forth of the proposed N8,000 per household per month for six months palliative. There is confusion. And the confusion has led to miscommunication. And the miscommunication is leading to citizens’ anger. Anger, not just at the sum but at the regime’s valuation of a typical poor Nigerian household. It’s worth N8,000 a month, the size of the household notwithstanding. One paint bucket of garri sells for a minimum of N1,500 and may not last a family of six for one week. Well, a serving governor has said that N8,000 means so much for many families. He should know though many of his type are so aloof from ordinary folks.

Our rulers hold us in utter disdain and contempt. And this explains the temerity in the publication last weekend of Tinubu’s 20 Nuggets for Nigeria’s economic recovery. We will overlook the manifest illiteracy in the fly-by-night publication issued on behalf of the president by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator George Akume, a strange office in a federal system.

They are nuggets of platitudes and follies. Nuggets are valuable ideas or facts. They are akin to a ‘small chunk or lump of gold or other precious metals found ready-formed in the earth’. Tinubu’s nuggets are not valuable ideas. And they are not facts. They are follies. And follies mean ‘lack of good sense; foolishness’. An online dictionary further describes it as ‘a costly ornamental building with no practical purpose, especially a tower or mock-Gothic ruin built in a large garden or park’.

The later part of this description of follies is haunting. Doesn’t Nigeria look like a ruined garden [of Eden] and a disused and abandoned pleasure park? It is worse because it’s in addition a crime scene.

The sad summary of Tinubu’s nuggets is tax, tax and more tax of the hapless citizens; revenue, revenue and more revenue for an insensitive and irresponsible government; sales, sales and more sales with refineries and the NNPC listed by name. By the way, where are the regime choristers and the All Progressives Congress [APC] apologists who abuse those who say that the so-called conversion of the NNPC to a private enterprise by Buhari was bogus and phony? How can NNPC be a private company and yet be run like a fiefdom and its operations opaque? How can it be a private firm and still retain unqualified and incompetent staff who owed their employment to political patronage and state capture? If it is already private why has the Tinubu regime listed it as one of the national oil assets for sale to generate more revenue. Under Buhari the obsession was to borrow and borrow and borrow with the country almost in debt peonage. With Tinubu and for as long as his presidency lasts, it is to tax and tax and tax the citizens and then sell off choice national assets to fund an inefficient government and its bureaucracy and the vulgar lifestyles of the rulers. In Tinubu’s nuggets there’s scant mention of direct investment in human beings nor curbing the waste in government. There’s nothing in rationalising and streamlining MDAs- Ministries, Departments and Agencies- of government as recommended by the Oronsaye Committee many years ago.

Buhari coveted Nigeria’s presidency for so long that he had to cry on national television when he thought all hopes of attaining it had vanished. He eventually got there and failed. As it turned out attaining the presidency became an end in itself for him. Tinubu said the presidency was his life-long ambition. Will he also travel the path of Buhari? His situation is even worse than that of Buhari because he is a minority president with the lowest vote tally for any candidate who has been declared president in the past 24 years. He is also dogged by real or perceived illegitimacy.


Articles published in our Graffiti section are strictly the opinion of the writers and do not represent the views of Ripples Nigeria or its editorial stand.

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