President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria
The implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) in one fell swoop is disadvantageous to the economy. It would have been better for the policy to be implemented in phases rather than gathering all the monies in the country and locking it up in a vault without Nigerians having access to it. If the money realized so far from the TSA is deployed into the provision of infrastructures, it will trickle down to the masses and also revamp the ailing economy to a large one. Where lies the wisdom for a father to have hundreds of billions of naira in his bank account when his children are dying of starvation?
President Buhari was portrayed to Nigerians during the electioneering as an austere and frugal man but his actions since assuming office don’t represent these two qualities. The expenditure of an estimated N64 billion in one year by Buhari on foreign trips aimed at attracting foreign investors into the country doesn’t demonstrate frugality. Interestingly, Nigerians are trooping into Dubai daily to hold marriages, birthday parties and also buy merchandise but neither President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates none any government official has come here to solicit the patronage of Nigerians! In a time of recession as the country currently in, is it advisable for the President Buhari to maintain 11 aircrafts? One would have expected Mr. Buhari to have sold some of the aircrafts to reduce the cost of governance as former President Joyce Banda of Malawi did in 2012. The funds realized from the sale of the aircrafts could be deployed into the much noised agriculture sector. Likewise, the Senate, the Executives and the members of the State Assemblies are living in profligacy. After the Senate was inaugurated last year, the upper chamber bought 36 Land Cruiser SUV cars at the cost of N36.5 million each yet they want ordinary Nigerians to tighten their belts!
Another undoing of the Buhari’s administration is his predilection for religion. At a time when manufacturers, importers and students have no access to the American dollar, he mandated the CBN to sell the dollar to Christian pilgrims going on pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 2015 at N160 to $1 and this year at N191 to $1, for Muslims going on hajj to Mecca. Each pilgrim was entitled to purchase a minimum of $750:00 and $1,000:00 as Pilgrims Traveling Allowance (PTA). There were about 70,000 Christian pilgrims last year and about 65,197 Muslim pilgrims this year. One can imagine the total sums of dollars this would have amounted to. This is an aberration considering the fact that religion is a personal thing and Nigeria has no state religion. Why was the government involved in subsidizing the dollar for pilgrims at the detriment of manufacturers that need it to purchase raw materials for the production of goods?
Recall that former President Olusegun Obasanjo, late President Umaru Yar’ Adua and former President Goodluck Jonathan appointed technocrats like Prof. Charles Soludo, Alhaji Tanimu Yakubu and Dr. Nwanze Okidegbe from the private sector as Chief Economic Advisers respectively. Thus, the economy boomed to some extent during these administrations. Undoubtedly, many Nigerians will query this position because they never see anything good in the entire 16 years of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leadership which is rather unfortunate. The appointment of Prof. Charles Soludo, led to the rejigging of the economy at that point in time. Later, he became the Governor of the Central Bank, this brought about a total overhaul and reform of the banking sector leading to the recapitalization of each bank to N25 billion and cumulated in the emergence of 25 strong banks.
For the economy to be revamped, there is urgent need for President Buhari to appoint technocrats from the private sector to help manage the economy. All over the world, the running of governments is not limited to politicians or those who helped the president to win election. Again, Mr. President should divorce himself from religion as the country is a secular state. The subsidy on dollars given to both Christian and Muslim pilgrims was not necessary as religion is a personal affair.