Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Buhari, Politics and Economic Management

         President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria
A critical observation of the Buhari led federal government shows the policy thrusts of politics and religion. Everything President Buhari has done since assuming office on May 29, 2015 is embedded with politics and religion. Due to politics, Buhari operated a one man government for six months, searching for incorruptible individuals to form his cabinet. At last, the unveiling of his saintly ministers left many Nigerians agape as many of his ministers were people who couldn’t manage their previous assignments effectively either as governors, ministers, commissioners or chairmen of their former political parties etc.
Thus, his cabinet comprises only politicians at the exclusion of technocrats from the private sector who are usually the drivers of every economy across the world.
His economic team comprises Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, a Prof. of Law who also leads the team. Other members of the team are: Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, Minister of Finance, Okechuckwu Enelamah, Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Godwin Emefiele, Governor of Central Bank, Audu Ogbe, Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information and Culture and Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, Director-General of Debt Management Office. These are the members of the Buhari’s economic team! The questions are: (1) who are the technocrats in this economic team? (2) Who are the economists in this economic team? What does Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo who is a Professor of Law know about the economy that motivated President Buhari to choose him as the leader of the economic team? These questions are indeed germane because we all know the state of the economy presently.
Apart from having a cabinet that consists of only politicians, Buhari is also pursuing a northern agenda hence he has spent about $500 million prospecting for crude oil in the north while there are no functional refineries to refine the crude oil being produced in the Niger Delta. Can’t $500 million build a moderate or modular refinery? At this critical recession, is it prospecting for oil in the north that should be the priority of the federal government or to build new refineries that will refine our crude oil locally? If our crude oil is being refined locally, the huge foreign exchange being spent on the importation of refined petroleum products could be employed to shore up the depreciating naira. The prospect for oil in the north has revealed the insincerity of Buhari on his policy of diversification of the economy into agriculture and solid minerals. It is incomprehensible that Buhari would ask Nigerians to go into agriculture yet he is wasting our scarce resources searching for oil in the north.
Additionally, what is the wisdom behind the ban on the importation of rice when a moratorium has not been given for its production? Would it not have been better for a time frame of say one or two years to have been set aside for its production before it is banned? Now that rice is banned, are Nigerians not buying it at a much higher price? A bag of rice which was sold for N7,000 early last year now sells for N22,000 owing majorly to its ban! The ban on the importation of rice only promotes its smuggling into the country and also deprives the government of the revenues derivable from it. Since I was born, every successive government has banned one product or the other without putting in place measures that would promote the production of such products. With the policy of diversification of the economy into agriculture, what measures did Mr. Buhari put in place that will enable Nigerians access lands, tractors, rice seedlings, fertilizers and funds? Has Buhari built silos and preservation centres that will preserve the harvests that will emanate from the new agricultural enterprise? What is the security measure put in place to guarantee the safety of farmers considering the troubling activities of Fulani herdsmen in the country? If it is just by banning the importation of products without putting measures in place to produce them, that will encourage Nigerians to produce such products locally, Buhari should also extend the ban on the importation of petroleum products, after our four refineries are functioning at fifty percent capacity as we were told.

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