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Buhari needs no recession experts


President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari

In their tepid search for solutions to the current economic crisis, our political leaders are fixated on two culprits that gnaw at the nation’s wellbeing.

It is either the past that is chastised for not catering for its future or the militancy in the Niger Delta that has driven oil revenue to its nadir.

Our current leaders can keep avoiding culpability for the nation’s economic recession. The danger is that any optimism about overcoming the crisis in a short time may soon evaporate as long as our political leaders fail to recognise that it is not only the past that is sullied by the administration of Goodluck Jonathan and his predecessors that should be blamed, but the present that is anchored on the current administration is equally complicit.

We are on the right path to economic redemption only when we appreciate the fact that the affliction that is the source of the recession is simply that our politics reeks of a crude conflation of national and personal interests by political leaders. Actuated by the credo of politics that negates national interest, politicians pursue purely selfish goals and present them to the citizens as targeted at engendering national transformation.

Thus no matter how potentially workable the recommendations from the citizens for the development of their nation, most political leaders do not have that capacity to accommodate them. And this is why all ideas about development, no matter how ill-bred , must come from their cronies because they would not pose any threat to their interests. Or why have all the great proposals for the development of the nation for over five decades not launched it into the league of the developed?

Now that there is a flurry of suggestions from the citizens as regards how to overcome the recession, our leaders may only take the ones that would not threaten their personal interests. President Muhammadu Buhari has been asked to invite experts to help him salvage the economy. Some citizens want him to invite the nation’s best economists to proffer solutions to the economic problems. Some have even canvassed the return of former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The former minister has already said she would not be ready to serve under the Buhari government when she is invited as she wants other people to contribute their own quota to development. Okonjo-Iweala may not even be an acceptable choice having been tainted by her association with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) when she served its government. She is still subjected to excoriation for triggering the crisis in the first place by her feckless economic management.

But the president has not really said that he needs experts. If the president had needed experts to run the administration with him, we would have known from the beginning. Before the president announced his ministers, he kept the citizens in suspense. But he did not justify the suspense as those whom he unveiled as ministers were not the experts that the citizens expected. They were rather recycled old politicians. It was the same attitude that he did not need any experts, that he could single-handedly change the nation that made him to ignore naming his economic team early.

If the president had needed experts, we would have seen this in the choice of his kitchen cabinet. The president filled his kitchen cabinet with his family members and friends from Daura. As far as he is concerned, these are the people he can trust and the issue of expertise does not arise.

Less than three years ago, some of the nation’s leaders were drawn from all the parts of the country to articulate how to solve its problems. These people who would normally disagree on several issues overlooked their differences for the sake of the nation and worked together. The result was the national conference report of 2014. Nigerians expected Buhari to implement these recommendations. But to the shock of the citizens, he disclosed that he would never even open the report. Does this president need experts? Does he not know that some of the proposals that could be given by any experts for the development of the nation are already contained in the report?

Because the president does not need experts to manage the country with him, he is asking for emergency powers that would enable him to solely determine how to run the government. After all, the president loves the country more than other citizens. As he often reminds us, he has made so much sacrifice to preserve the unity of this nation. Perhaps, as regards this peculiar patriotism, he has only former President Olusegun Obasanjo to contend with. After securing the emergency powers, Buhari is free to replace the board of the Central Bank with his wise men from Daura.

In changing the fortunes of the nation without causing them personal discomfort, our senators and the president are fellow-travellers. They do not want any experts to advise them to do away with their humongous salaries and allowances. Part-time legislature? So why did they kill, lie and cheat to be in public office? And because the senators do not want to make any sacrifice, they have conveniently made suggestions to the executive to take the country out of recession.

Just last Tuesday, a former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) , Nuhu Ribadu, repeated a point that other citizens have kept stressing . At a lecture during the Nigerian Institute of Management 2016 Annual Conference in Abuja, Ribadu challenged Buhari to stop receiving security votes. This is another advice the president does not need. Buhari, governors, lawmakers and other public officials would keep taking security votes. They would keep taking travel allowances that are 500 times more than their salaries while telling the people that they should make sacrifices.

So those who think that they have ideas about how to run the country should keep them to themselves. Let the likes of Aliko Dangote who want Buhari to sell some of the nation’s assets keep their proposals to themselves .The best they can do is to accept the new mantra of change beginning with them. They can do this by not giving any advice to the president; they just have to wait until the promised change comes. The citizens who cannot pay their children’s school fees should keep them at home and wait for the president’s wisdom to improve their economic condition. And those who are complaining of hunger, if they cannot endure, they are free to follow the path some of their fellow citizens have taken before – swell the economic hardship-induced suicide statistics.

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