Michael Ombu: President Buhari, Please Sell Hope and not Hopelessness


Since 1999 Nigeria has been fortunate to have Presidents that sell hope. From President Obasanjo who sold us the hope speech and rallied us with his “prison to villa” story, to President Yaradua who came to win elections “literarily from the grave” and President Jonathan who made us believe anyone could make it with his “from no shoes to corridor of power story”. Hope. Hope. Hope. That’s all they sold. President Buhari has only been able to successfully sell hope for one day, in fact one moment, (the reading of his inaugural speech). After that it’s been HOPELESSNESS all the way. He complains about anything and everything. He acts burdened, laboured, occluded and muddled. To put it appropriately, President Buhari constantly exudes an aura of nonchalance, despondency and total bewilderment, especially on economic matters.


As federal civil servant enter the month of July without receiving their June salaries (the first time this is happening in 5 years), the naira slumps to 230 to the US Dollar and fuel queues return, we need not be reminded whose table the buck stops. A month into the administration of President Buhari and the nation can comfortably be said to be adrift. A cabinet will not be constituted anytime soon. Boko Haram has regained its tempo, a tide we felt we were turning, Boko Haram suspects are being moved from maximum security prisons to medium security prisons and military personnel are being ordered from manning check points, thus aggravating the atmosphere of insecurity. The stock market is crashing as investor confidence is at an all-time low, estimated growth rate of the economy is put at 4.1% which is a huge drop from the average 9% growth experienced over the recent past. Amidst all of this one has to ask, was it not just 6 months ago Nigeria became Africa’s largest economy and 26th largest economy in the world? Where have all the gains gone? Have we really lost it all in just one month of the Buhari presidency? They seem lost probably because the current president is too busy searching for supposed missing funds rather than consolidate past gains and build on existing foundations. The manic obsession of Mr President in chasing the mundane and ignoring the needful is baffling.


Why the emphasis on what Nigeria earned during the last administration? Have our hydro carbon deposits dried up? Have we become so resource deficient or have no hope of future revenue sources that we want to kill ourselves on the matter of spent resources? Did Mr President expect Nigeria to starve these past 5 years? Did he expect workers to be owed salaries or contractors to be owed? Did he want a freeze on developmental projects so we can have an overflow of cash in the treasury when he comes into office? This kind of thinking is quite pedestrian, elementary and in my humble opinion it is petty of the presidency. Mr President should focus on income that comes in during his tenure, after all Nigeria still sells 2 million barrels of crude oil daily. The emphasis of this government should be on managing scarce resources rather than harping on how some other government managed or mismanaged resources in the past.


There is the constant claim by this government that the immediate past government was wasteful. Talk they say is cheap, prove your government is prudent by actions, save were they didn’t save. President Buhari, you claim the past administration gave inflated contracts, give right priced contracts, you claim there was corruption everywhere, and then be the change you chant, stop corruption in your own government. You say they spent $16 billion on power and yet we produce only 3,000MW of electricity, so prove to the electorate that you are the man by using $500 million to generate the same amount of megawatts.


You keep harping on the falling price of crude oil, you say it will hamper your work. I beg to disagree. The level of prudence you claim you will bring to governance should make you do things with much less expense, so you don’t need to sell crude at $100 per barrel to achieve your goals, work with the current price of oil, don’t worry oil prices will go back up, the last government started out with low oil prices too, they didn’t die neither will you.


President Buhari you talk about loan and debt profile in bad light, you expose your lack knowledge on modern financial systems so doing. Sir there is nothing wrong with borrowing. For its size and abundance of natural resources, Nigeria is even under borrowed. You of all people should know the importance of loans, without a loan you would not have been able to get your nomination forms to run for office. I don’t believe you have finished paying that debt. You will have staggered the payment over months if not years. You were given those funds based on personal recognition and relationship with the bank, which was your collateral. Nigeria has its own collateral, its security, an abundance of natural resources, it is an underground treasury, please use it and stop making embarrassing statements like “I met empty treasury”. It is unwise for you to make so much noise about how bad it is for the country borrowing to pay salaries when you will most likely do the same thing in future. You see Sir, there is a time lag between sales of crude oil and remittance of funds into the federation accounts. You might be caught off guard sometimes and will not have cash at hand to carry out some government function. This doesn’t mean there is no money or the treasury is empty. It simply means the money is on the way, “you never get alert”, you can draw on this, and it’s not a financial crime. The debts we owe as a nation aren’t bad, it’s servicing of debts or an inability to service debts that is the issue. Please service our national debts. Dangote is the richest man in Nigeria; he is also the Nigeria’s largest individual debtor. The United States has the largest economy on earth they also have the largest debt profile of $11 Trillion!! Believe it or not even Dubai takes loans, that you sell millions of barrels of oil per day doesn’t make you debt free, please try to grasp this concept. Greece is in trouble today because they can’t service their debt, they don’t have 2 million barrels of oil a day, so I guess they are screwed but you do have 2 million barrels of crude daily, so you are not screwed.


Nigeria isn’t in as bad a shape as you make it to be. You took office when Nigeria was amongst the top 3 global investment destinations, we had the fastest growing economy in Africa, one of the fastest growing economies in the world, the largest economy in Africa, the largest market in Africa and our economy had grown to become the 26th largest in the world. For the first time in our history we were on course with a set developmental goal, which was to become a top 20 economy by the year 2020. The fact is that Nigeria had a novel and enviable financial policy over the past 5 years. Yes. I said it. It’s on record that various countries came to see how we managed to successfully scale 2 severe global recessions and how we managed to keep prices of food and other essentials low. A quick check on other oil economies like Russia and Venezuela to mention a few will tell you that we weathered storms that crashed other nations. Greece, Portugal and Spain are examples of first world nations that could not weather the storm. They’ve fallen from first world to third world (at least financially). If these are not positives to you I wonder what is. You Mr President have “poured sand sand in our garri” with your negative utterances and lethargic attitude. The nation is suffering financial drain and it’s not the fault of the past administration, it’s the fault of the present one. No matter how hard you try you cannot ascribe your failures to President Jonathan. Your failures will be wholly yours. Stop dampening the national morale because you want to score cheap political points. Stop selling hopelessness to Nigerians.


In conclusion, I will advice you to avoid those who urge you on with diverse praise today, everything you do is good, they will say, for so they did to your predecessor. Of the federation account, they said, “Share it all”. Today they sit on committees to find out what happened to money that they collected. Leadership and followership in this country is one big tragic comedy. Mr President, I can’t leave without wishing you Goodluck.


Michael Ombu writes from Yenagoa. He is a social analyst, social critic and social commentator who desires social justice and good governance.


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the position of Hypestationng.com. Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of this media platform!


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