Tuesday, January 18

Aftermath of President Muhammadu Buhari’s New Year interview

By: Abba Dukawa.

It is no longer news that President Muhammadu Buhari had an exclusive interview with Channels and NTA Televisions and he has spoken on several critical matters affecting the people in the country, including insecurity, economy, politics, Chinese loans secured by his administration, the poor state of power supply, and the condition to sign the Electoral Act Amendment Bill.

Those who watched the interviewed did not expected to hear something new from Mr President himself or from the administration’s appointees before the recorded interview aired in two batches.

The electorates never knew that Baba would head a government bedeviled with boggling poor economic policies, poverty and insecurity challenges with barrage of issues discrediting the government of the day.

The over 100 million Nigerians who are living in abject poverty actually expected better deal from President Muhamadu.

Year 2021 was one of the hardest years for millions of Nigerians because of inflation, dwindling economic fortunes and insecurity as well as woeful performance from other sectors.

Still Nigerians are hoping for Allah’s blessing despite losing much confidence in the federal government and in some cases state governments.

Asked about the administration poor economic performance with burden of foreign loans, President Buhari said that his administration takes (loans) when it is necessary as the government welcome, anybody that is prepared to come and help out in the infrastructural development of the country.

Economists have continue to express worries over the country rising debt profile.

In July, the National Assembly had approved President’s request to borrow $8.3 billion and €490 million loans contained in the initial 2018-2020 borrowing plan.

In the latter he wrote to get the approval to take the loan, the president said that the loan request is an addendum to the 2018-2020 borrowing plan and that the new borrowing is to meet “emerging needs and critical projects”.

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In mid-September, the administration sought another approval of the Senate to borrow $4 billion and €710 million loan from bilateral and multilateral organisations to fund the deficit in the 2021 budget.

In 2021 over N3.3trn goes to Debt Servicing and also N3.9 trillion will be spent on debt servicing for 2022 budget.

In spite of debt burden President Buhari’s administration is handing over to the present and unborn generations, yet over N15t fresh loans is being considered for 2022-2024.

Few days ago, Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) said that the Federal Government’s excessive borrowing from the Bank through the Means and Ways Advances window can have adverse effects on the Apex Bank’s monetary policy and subsequently harm domestic prices and exchange rates. This fact was disclosed in the monetary policy category of the CBN’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

In spite of the fact that Nigeria’s public debt has risen since 1999, and foreign debt has grown three times more than the combined figure recorded by the past three administrations of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Late Umar Yar’adua and Dr Goodluck Jonathan.

Nigerians to say the least are already perpetually condemned with the twin problem of heavy budget deficits and weak balance of payments position with the total public debt stock which includes the external and domestic debts of the federal and state governments and the Federal Capital Territory.

The federal government’s share of the public debt jumped from N3.55 trillion in 1999 to N26.91 trillion in March 2021. This means the nation’s debt stock has risen by over 650 per cent in 21 years.

DMO said there is need for the government to align cost of governance with economic realities because the country is poor yet keep borrowing to fund programmes. Ideally government should take loans only for projects that have the ability to repay the loans. If a project cannot generating cash flow, then there is no need taking loans for such white elephant projects.

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Asked about suffering and pains Nigerians go through to feed themselves and their families under his administration, President Buhari in his usual response said “I am absolutely aware of it but like I said, look at the vast population of Nigerians, only 2.5 percent of the land are being cultivated.” But how can the people embrace farming to solve the country’s myriads of economic challenges.

Does the administration expect people to go back to farm even at the mercy of armed gangs who are roaming towns and villages killing, maiming, raping and even destroying farmlands.

The rising cost of living is taking its toll on families, to be fair, I have come to terms with the reality that commodities sellers are the monsters behind all the hardship people are going through. Price hike on daily basis is a clear indication that they are the architects of the myriads of problems bedeviling Nigerians. In fact, the current commodities hike are artificial.

Poor Nigerians seeing the administration of being insensitive to their sufferings are not doing anything to checkmate the hardship caused by the heartless, wicked and arbitrary hiking of prices of commodities by manufacturers and sellers even when the government and her officials are aware of how much the shoe pinches since they live in their comfort zone while the costs of essential commodities are presently out of the reach of the common man.

It is very unfortunate that in the 21st Century, Nigerians are still talking about daily survival, crying because of the fact that food prices are beyond their earning power. Imagining, citizens of neighboring countries gone beyond the level of hunger and can afford three square meal daily.

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When asked about who he prefers to succeed him in 2023, the president said he had no favourite candidate and that he is not concerned about who emerges his successor at the polls.

He is right to say that he has no favorite candidate being the leader of party. Known and unknown presidential candidates are his party members but for him to say that he is not interested in who becomes the president after him is worrisome.

The next general election will be like the 2015 elections which will come with high hopes and expectations from the citizenry towards correcting the country’s anomalies.

Voters will love to vote for a leader who is abreast of social, economic, and political challenges facing the country and the candidate must have ready-mades proposals in the form of a manifesto to counter the challenges. 2023 general elections will avail Nigerians the opportunity to enthrone a responsible and responsive administration which would better their lives. 2023 election will be interesting because the status quo would change and there would be stiff competition for all the elective position irrespective of a political party or religious affiliation.

The incumbent administration will of course try to maintain continuity but that would be against a stiff opposition from forces demanding change. If the government of the day wants the All Progressives Congress (APC) to continue in 2023, the federal government must take proactive steps to reverse the current ugly situation and do everything possible to redeem itself.

Dukawa wrote in from Kano

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