Thursday, 1st June 2023

The era of lame duck is here – Part 3

By Eric Teniola
23 June 2022   |   2:40 am
General Muhammed did the same for his staff made up of Ambassador O. Esan from Ilesha who later became a Minister, Taiwo Ojo, Bisi Ogunniyi, Gbolade Osinowo, Tunde Olushile, Chief Mrs J.O. Ayo

Buhari. Photo/FACEBOOK/FemiAdeshina

Continued from yesterday

General Muhammed did the same for his staff made up of Ambassador O. Esan from Ilesha who later became a Minister, Taiwo Ojo, Bisi Ogunniyi, Gbolade Osinowo, Tunde Olushile, Chief Mrs J.O. Ayo, Inua Baba, Ambassador W.O. Baiye, Mrs G.M. Shasore, Bodunde Adeyanju and others. 

Of all the departments in the office of the Secretary of the Government of the Federation, the most guarded and protected are the office of the special services office and The Cabinet secretariat. The special services office deals mainly with special assignments. That office has produced eminent civil servants like Alhaji Baba Gana Kingigbe, Mr Buka Usman, Dr Hakeem Baba Ahmed and many others. As for the cabinet secretariat, there you will get hardcore civil servants. 

When we refer to the office of the Secretary to the government of the Federation as the heartbeat of government, we are referring to the CABINET secretariat and that is why the Secretary to the Government of the Federation is the Secretary to the National Council of States, the Secretary to the Federal Executive Council, Secretary to the Defence Council and Secretary to so many panels and commissions. The CABINET secretariat stores all the vital documents of the nation from 1914 to date. The Head of Service does not just post anyone to the CABINET secretariat. Any one posted there must have gone through a lot of surveillance and security checks.

The staff of THE CABINET secretariat keeps secrets and guards jealously the secrets of government. From 1996 to 2007, top officials that have served in that CABINET secretariat included Dr Kaigama, Chief Olusegun Ogunkua (Baba Ijo), Funsho Osobukola, Venerable Peter Olukayode Okuromade, Babangida Aliyu, Mr Akin Arikawe, Ambassador Joe Keshi, who was Nigeria’s Consul General in Atlanta and others. In the lame duck era of President Obasanjo, Ambassador Joe Keshi was the Permanent Secretary and it was a busy period for him and his staff. 

In the coming weeks and months, the CABINET Secretariat will become centre of activities to entertain memos from various Ministers and heads of government agencies. The question now is what will President Buhari do in the era of his lame-duck Presidency. In the third Schedule of the Constitution, Section B states that The Council of State shall comprise the following persons- the President, who shall be the Chairman; the Vice-President, who shall be the Deputy Chairman; all former Presidents of the Federation and all former Heads of the Government of the Federation; all former Chief Justices of Nigeria; the President of the Senate; the Speaker of the House of Representatives; all the Governors of the States of the Federation; and the Attorney-General of the Federation. 

The Council shall have the power to advise the President in the exercise of his powers with respect to the- national population census and compilation, publication and keeping of records and other information concerning the same, prerogative of mercy, award of national honours, the Independent National Electoral Commission (including the appointment of members of that Commission), the National Judicial Council (including the appointment of the members, other than ex officio members of that Council), and the National Population Commission (including the appointment of members of that Commission); and  advise the President whenever requested to do so on the maintenance of public order within the Federation or any part thereof and on such other matters as the President may direct.

Between January 20, 2019, and April 21 this year, the National Council of State did not hold any meeting. When the Council met on April 21, the Council pardoned 159 persons. To date, the gazette on the pardon of the affected persons had not been released. Since President Buhari got to power on May 29, 2015, no Nigerian has been given National Honours. The last time such honours were bestowed on distinguished Nigerians was on September 10, 2012, by the then President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR. Does that mean no Nigerian deserved to be honoured by President Buhari? If we are to go by the provisions of the Constitution, giving out National Honours and the prerogative of pardon, is obligatory.

For a start, President Buhari has no choice but to support the Presidential flag bearer of his party, Chief Bola Tinubu. He must support him with all the means at his disposal or else it will be assumed that he never wanted him all along. It will be dangerous for President Buhari to allow the political opponents of his party to win the presidency. Even with his lame-duck Presidency, he can, if he wishes ensure the victory of the Presidential flag bearer of his party. 

Shell has shut down all land facilities in the Eastern Niger delta (Bayelsa and Rivers) for about 12 weeks now. And there is no plan to restart them. There is no point. You are pumping over 200,000 barrels of crude into the pipelines and receiving only 3,000 barrels at Bonny terminal. The rest are stolen along the way, illegal bunkering. Shell is just marking time, waiting to dispose of all their onshore assets. They are not worth the trouble anymore.

The Federal Government’s borrowing from the Central Bank of Nigeria has jumped to N23trillion. The amount as it currently stands is a 2,701 per cent increase under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari when compared to the N648.26 billion it stood as of June 2015 a month after coming to power.

The Federal Government takes loans from CBN through the Ways and Means Advances facility used to finance the government in periods of temporary budget shortfalls subject to limits imposed by section 38 of the CBN Act, 2007.

Breakdown of CBN data published on its website shows in 2021 alone the government turned to the apex bank for a loan of N4.34 trillion to push its total debt to N17.45 trillion. Another N704 billion was borrowed in January 2022. A breakdown from CBN data shows that as of the end of 2015, CBN loans to the government stood at N856.33 billion before increasing to N2.23 trillion in December 2016. The amount grew from N1.08 trillion in 2017 to N3.31 trillion. It rose further by N2.1 trillion in 2018 to N5.41 trillion. Government borrowing from the CBN surged by 61.18 per cent (N3.31tn) to N8.72 trillion at the end of 2019. Borrowings hit N13.11 trillion in 2020 after FG collected another N4.9 trillion to plug its fiscal financing gap.

As of now, the economy is getting worse and worse daily. It is clear that the economic strategy of President Buhari is not working. The issue of the failed Economy is affecting all Nigerians as of today. Every home in this country is feeling the pinch. 

History will be unkind to him if he fails to act on the economy. He came to the scene seven years ago that he will do something about the economy and look at where are now.

In the past, when there is a security lapse, it is customary for President Muhammadu Buhari to summon his service Chiefs to the Villa. He is yet to do the same to the economy. The situation of Nigeria economy is much worse than the security challenges we are now facing. He does not need to hand over a dead economy to his successor. That will not be a befitting legacy.

Teniola, veteran journalist and writer, is a former director of Press in the Presidency.

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