The first three months in office of President Muhammadu Buhari has been declared a huge waste by the International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety). In the second in a trilogy of press releases on Buhari’s first days in office, the rights group says that the new government in Nigeria is ill-focused and a manifestation of the legendary Julius Nyerere’s prophesy of bad leadership in Africa.
Intersociety says that it arrived at it’s conclusion after a comprehensive assessment of Buhari’s performance since he was sworn-in as President on May 29, 2015.
READ INTERSOCIETY’S FIRST STATEMENT: Buhari Taking Nigeria Back To The Cave: Rights Group Assesses First 90 Days (READ)
“We had in the first part of this all-important public statement firmly submitted that the Buhari administration has no vision and capacity to turn the country around to catch up with its peers and inferiors of the 60s and the 70s,” Intersociety said in a statement issued August 30, 2015 in Onitsha titled, 90 Days Of Buhari’s Ill-focused Administration: A Manifestation Of Nyerere’s Gloomy African Leadership Prophesy. “Even the war and dry resources ravaged Vietnam and Cambodia are in a verge of overtaking Nigeria in global socio-economic and political leadership settings.”
The statement was signed by Intersociety board chairman, Emeka Umeagbalasi; head, Campaign & Publicity Department, Uzochukwu Oguejiofor-Nwonu, Esq.; head, Democracy and Good Governance Programme, Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, Esq.; and head, Civil Liberties and Rule of Law Programme, Obianuju Igboeli, Esq.
The group noted that 90 days after his swearing-in, Buhari is yet to set up “a federal cabinet to put governance into full swing and engender a sense of nationality representation and federalism”. In addition that the group said that the President has introduced unconstitutional means in making appointments ignoring the requirement for Federal Character in constitution of his team right now. “Buhari has introduced a bastardization policy and a dangerous precedent in the Civil Service of the Federation, governed by the 1999 Constitution,” the group said.
Read the full statement by the frontline human rights group below:
Worried by chronic rigmarole in leadership absurdities by political leaders in Africa, President Julius Nyerere of the United Republic of Tanzania (Tanganyika and Zanzibar) had in 1994 raised an immortal theoretical question and threw it in the direction of roguish and primordial African political leaders. Former President Nyerere (1922-1999), as he then was, had asked: “Why is it that when Europeans, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEANs) and North Americans are busy finding their ways to the moon, Africans are busy going back to the cave?”.
President Nyerere answered his theoretical question by attributing it to lack of leadership vision, statesmanship, selflessness and institutionalization of kleptomania by African political leaders, making it possible for Africans including Nigerians to be led back to the cave.
It is correct to say that Nigeria of today’s Buhari administration is a clear manifestation of the Nyerere’s immortal question. We had in the first part of this all-important public statement firmly submitted that the Buhari administration has no vision and capacity to turn the country around to catch up with its peers and inferiors of the 60s and the 70s such as Taiwan, China, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, as well as Brazil, Philippines, Kuwait, Iran, Venezuela, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, UAE and Saudi Arabia. Even the war and dry resources ravaged Vietnam and Cambodia are in a verge of overtaking Nigeria in global socio-economic and political leadership settings.
Presidential Sole Administratorship:
While it took the Buhari administration ninety (90) days to appoint the Secretary to the Government of the Federation who ought to be appointed days after the President’s swearing in so as to get government running including recording and documenting official government conducts and correspondences; there is still no Attorney General of the Federation to handle sensitive legal matters and opinions; and no Federal Executive Council or Federal Cabinet to put governance into full swing and engender a sense of nationality representation and federalism.
There are also no substantive appointments into certain federal executive bodies like INEC, etc; and no presidential adherence to geopolitical spread in his appointments in accordance with Section 14 (3) of the Constitution. President Muhammadu Buhari has since his swearing in on 29th May 2015 been running Nigeria as a presidential sole administrator. He also took recourse to procedures unknown to the 1999 Constitution in many, if not most of his presidential appointments particularly those he made in DSS, Custom Service, INEC and AMCON. He has introduced a bastardization policy and a dangerous precedent in the Civil Service of the Federation, governed by the 1999 Constitution.
The Civil Service Rules of the Federation, guided by the 1999 Constitution are constitutionally and procedurally characterized by recruitment, remuneration, ranking or promotion, demotion, posting or transfer, reward, sanction and retirement . These characteristics are also the international best practices. The Civil Service Rules of the Federation govern all civil and public service institutions in Nigeria including the armed forces (i.e. Custom Service and State Security Services). But in the recent presidential appointments as they concern the acting Chairman of INEC, the DGs of SSS and AMCON and the Controller General of the Custom Service, the President inexcusably breached these grand rules and the Constitution by appointing a statutorily retired director of SSS as its serving Director General. This is despite the presence and availability of serving Deputy DGs and Assistant DGs in the Service.
In the Custom Service, the same breach manifested when he appointed a retired army colonel as its Controller General despite the presence and availability of serving Deputy Controllers General and Assistant Controllers General. In INEC, the Buhari administration defied the Constitution and appointed a National Commissioner whose five year tenure has expired as the “acting National Chairperson of INEC”. To appoint somebody in “acting capacity” to head any of the federal executive bodies created by Section 153 of the 1999 Constitution including INEC, the Constitution directs the President to appoint the next most senior officer in such body whose tenure is still running. In AMCON’s DGship, the President violated the law creating the Management by “appointing without statutory consultation”.
Policy Directions On Employment, Business Growth, Budget & Fiscal Management, Investment & Power Sector: In employment, no policy direction of international standard exists so far under Buhari administration. The employment growth is even going from zero to super-zero. The latest development following the presidential suspension of the Controller General of the Immigration Service over alleged ISIS insurgency conspiracy is a clear case in point.
As reported in the media, a presidential directive from the Buhari administration has been given for the ongoing recruitment training involving newly recruited Immigration cadets to be discontinued. Just last March (2014), fifteen young graduates attending the Immigration Service recruitment screening exercise died summarily and unceremoniously. Now, if those in training are sent packing, is the employment growth not dying under Buhari Presidency?
Further, it is a global consensus that government is not the highest employer of labour but private sector. Yet, private sector cannot thrive without full government support and aides through investment friendly policies and creation of investment friendly environment. Now, our question is: what is the policy direction of President Buhari administration with respect to employment growth in Nigeria?
In Nigeria, presently, there are no security and freedom from want and fear that will propel industrial investments and direct foreign investments, which, in turn, will swallow 60% of unemployment in the country.
A number of existing multinational companies have shut down and relocated to other countries including Ghana owing to power epilepsy and government corruption and hash trade and investment policies including over taxation, criminal taxation, multiple taxation and lack of international standardized industrial vision. Till date, Nigeria has no modern trade and investment or industrial (development) vision. Skill acquisition policy including macro and micro credit facilities is nonexistent.
The worst of all is that the public funds needed to turn things around are legislatively siphoned and criminally diverted by political office holders. We ask again: what are the Buhari administration policy directions towards these?
In the area of agents of industrialization, Intersociety is not in the know of any government projects so far awarded or ongoing by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. In the past three months of the Buhari Presidency, his Federal Government has withdrawn at least N700 billion ($3.5 billion) from the Federation Account out of the total allocations of N1.439 trillion ($7.15 billion) shared by the three tiers of Federal Government, 36 States & the FCT and 774 Local Government Areas. Yet, no single major public contract has been awarded within the three months fiscal period.
Instead, a number of ongoing strategic public projects awarded by the past administration, such as the 2nd Niger Bridge project, have been put on hold on flimsy grounds. A total of 34,400 kilometers of the country’s 198,000 kilometers of road network and 3,600 kilometers of railway in the country belong to the Buhari’s Federal Government. And our further question is: what are their conditions and policy directions?
We also ask: Are there national carriers for Nigeria? What is the condition of the country’s 22 local and international airports? Is there any policy direction for them under Buhari administration? As they concern other social services like health, food production and food security, housing, water, environment, education, physical security and social security, what are their policy directions under President Muhammadu Buhari administration?
On business growth, President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s destructive policy direction is starkly manifest. In his clear bid to destroy the Igbo nation for voting against him as a protest for steady massacre of her sons and daughters in politically oiled insurgency and other civil disturbances in the North; he has approved the closure of importation using infantile economic excuses like “control of trafficking in hard currencies” or “checking money laundering activities”.
It is globally indisputable that no country can do without importation no matter how rich particularly as it concerns products not produced locally in commercial and industrial quantities. The simple meaning of “global village” is that no country can stand on its own with others.
In the United States of America, for instance, importation policy is sustained despite its ability to produce and export most of what it imports in commercial quantities. The US also has crude oil discovered decades ago, yet it still imports it. It also imports textiles and electronics from Asia following high costs associated with their production in USA. This is for the enhancement of the social lives of its down-top citizens. In trade and investment, balance of trade and payment or trade surplus remain the global best practices. And these are not achieved by outright banning of importation hiding under any cover.
To fight money laundering or to get the Naira to appreciate against dominant foreign currencies, strategic economic policy turnaround is required. President Buhari’s current monetary policy is akin to Uganda under Idi Amin Dada, who pointed a gun on the head of his Central Bank governor and commanded him to make his national currency thicker than that of British Pound Sterling.
During the oil boom of late 70s in Nigeria, Naira was strong following oil-economy growth courtesy of sharp rise in the international price of crude oil. Today, Naira has depreciated steadily losing over N40.00 to US Dollar less than three months in 2015 under Buhari.
To make Nigeria strong and its Naira internationally competitive, there is need for economic development or industrialization of the country’s 33 solid mineral deposits and agriculture, as well as steady advancement in science and technology including information computer technology. These must be must be propelled by purposeful and visionary political leadership, certainly not one provided by a born before computer and a livestock next door neighbor.
In budget and power sector management, President Buhari has no solution in sight, policy direction wise. The Nigerian budget is still dominated by legislative corruption with 70% of same legislated into the pockets of the public office holders using outrageous overheads including security votes and remunerated allowances as cover. The budget policy in Nigeria is also loan and recurrent oriented. Their formulators and implementers are grossly corrupt and deformed.
In all, funds needed for public governance are officially hijacked and diverted by most of the country’s public office holders leaving 170 million Nigerians to wallow in chronic penury and political slavery. The Buhari administration has also demonstrated its public borrowing friendliness and may most likely surpass his predecessor, whom he criticized over the country’s debt profile and eventually become Nigeria’s greatest presidential loan borrower.
In three months of his administration, over N100 billion has been borrowed mostly by the APC-controlled States including Edo State’s recent external loan of $75 million or N15 billion. The Presidency has already announced its plans to secure a World Bank loan of $2.1 billion or N420 billion for a white elephant program called “Northeast post insurgency reconstruction”.
In power sector, a presidential policy direction known to international power sector management best practices is not available under the Buhari administration. Over 60 million homes and industries in Nigeria still use fuel and gas generators (CBN 2010) leading to trillions of Naira spent annually on fuel and gas. These have also exposed the country and ranked it internationally as one of the world enemies of environment and a major environmental polluter by steadily depreciating the ozone layer and shortening human lives by extinguishing oxygen and polluting the atmosphere with harmful automobile and power generating fumes harmful to environment and human living.
The Nigerian power sector is haunted by three hydra-headed monsters: generation, transmission and distribution challenges.
These are powered by corruption and greed. The privatization of generation and distribution sub power sector has not solved the country’s power epilepsy. The power consumers in Nigeria are extorted uncontrollably by the distribution companies under the watch of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
Distribution transformers are hardly provided and maintained by the distribution companies, yet there is imposition and forceful collection of monthly “service charge” of N650.00 per consumer running into tens of billions of Naira monthly. Issuance of outrageous and criminal bills based on estimation are indiscriminate and provision of prepaid meters are hoarded and frustrated owing to their capacities to checkmate official extortion, fraud and other billing graft practices by the distribution companies.
In China, 40% of world’s coal production is still controlled by the country. The Republic of Japan still generates 40% of its electricity from coal. But in Nigeria, the power generation is still rested on gas and water or hydrogen.
The country’s coal deposits have remained largely untapped and subsistent. Out of the world’s four major electricity sources of gas and coal (fossil fuels), wind, solar and biomass (hydroelectric) and nuclear, Nigeria is still battling to generate its electricity from “gas and water”; provocatively at subsistent level.
This is why the country is lagging behind its peers and inferiors of the 60s and the 70s in all forms of human, capital, industrial and environmental developments; no thanks to the Buhari typed political leadership that had strangulated the country and impoverished its 170 million citizens over the years.