‘Stop the blame game, tackle Nigeria’s economic problems’
Former president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), after an assessment of the state of the Nigerian nation, concluded that the country is not being properly governed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Specifically, he called on the President to stop playing the blame game and take a cue from United States (US) President Barack Obama by tackling the economic problems headlong.
Besides, Olanipekun, who is the Pro Chancellor of Ajayi Crowther University (ACU), opposed the sale of the country’s national assets, saying wealthy Nigerians must bail us out of the present economic quagmire.
Speaking to journalists in Ibadan during the dedication of the multi-million naira Vice Chancellor Lodge he donated to the institution, the senior advocate expressed concern over the state of the economy, saying Buhari should forget about what his predecessor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, did or did not do and come up with his own plans for the country and how to revive the economy.
He reminded the President that the US economy was in a bad shape when Obama took over, but was able to turn things around within one year of coming on board.
He stated: “In a situation where we are talking about economic recession, who are the people who are managing our economy? What do they know about economy and economies? “
“It is not everything about the past governments that are bad. For example, has anyone of us gone back to the archives to scrutinise those retired military heads of state appointed as ministers?
“I believe leadership must not be intimidated by some people in the country. Rather, call them, use them and tap their brains, tap their resources.
“When you have a nation that is being held captive, you have to use the people you have.”
On the sorry state of the nation, the former Pro Chancellor of the University of Ibadan (UI) said: “I insist, and I have a right to insist, that Nigeria must be governed properly. As at today, Nigeria is not been governed properly. There is rudderlessness on the part of the governments, both at the federal, state and local government levels. They are leaving things that they should do undone.”
He added: “The other day, I heard Mr. President saying he would support the National Assembly to make the local government independent of the state government. Is that the business of the federal government?
“Local government is under and belongs to the state government. Why is the federal government that is overburdened concern about the local government?
“We are not even running a federal system. What we are running is hydra-headed unitarism. So, why is the federal government not saying we have a lot of items on the exclusive legislative, list like tourism, fishery, agriculture, among others?
“Why is it not encouraging the states to be more independent? Why is it not going to the real definition of real federalism? Why is it not talking about security, and to that extent, I am talking of state police? Why is it not talking about liberalising the electoral body and making it more independent? Why is it not talking about building institutions more than individuals?
“What we have in Nigeria today is powerful individuals, not powerful institutions. And the powerful individuals, if care is not taken, are already becoming lions and when lions roar, will devour.
“I hope those individuals who are richer than Nigeria don’t devour us. A time will come when Nigeria will start borrowing from them to survive.”
Olanipekun urged Buhari to seek expert opinion on how to revive the economy, pointing out that a country that wants revival must identify with those who matter.
While opposing the sale of national assets, Olanipekun cited the case of Ethiopia, which looked for a way out while been ravaged by drought and today is the fastest growing economy in Africa.
He also asked Buhari to engage Nigerians more on happenings in his government and the country, rather than leave the task to his aides.
He said: “Let us start with this principle, do as I do, and not do as I say. And in that wise also, we need to plead with Mr. President to engage with Nigerians more.
“The President must engage and feel the pulse of the people. And again, there is too much distance and too much gap between the government and the governed.”