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Buhari’s economic mismanagement, corruption hobble President Tinubu’s govt

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Buhari's economic mismanagement, corruption hobble President Tinubu's govt

The current administration of President Bola Tinubu, as an extension of the previous APC government of former president Buhari, is seriously hobbled by the twin malfeasance of that regime, namely corruption and policy mismanagement. Ordinarily, the two failures of the Buhari administration would have provided him the platform to reset the policy agenda and as well provide him the opportunity to attract public sympathy.

But he squandered both options by binding himself irretrievably to the same government that may have guaranteed the failure of his own government. By tying himself to Buhari, President Tinubu has become equally guilty by association and now lacks the moral integrity to move against the government.

Two of the major policy headaches to this government are direct off-shoots of Buhari. The fuel subsidy removal was shackled on him, and he thoughtlessly bit the bait in a bid to wear the toga of a liberal policy reformer, which has become his nemesis and albatross. It is a policy a prudent leader would have taken careful calculation before rushing to implement.

Buhari set four deadlines to remove the subsidy and balked at every one of them until he left. Now President Tinubu has no hiding place.

Again, Buhari’s handling of insecurity during his tenure was simply a disaster, and having left it largely unresolved, Tinubu is now saddled with the responsibility of finding the solution to it. For a problem that is northern in nature, and security oriented, a civilian southerner, rather a northern soldier, is the most unlikely person to provide the answer. The recent abductions of over 600 people in Kaduna, Borno and Sokoto are indications that President would spend the next four battling this scourge.

However, contemporary and future historians will have a lot to say about Buhari and much of what will be written about his eight years in office will be negative, given the inglorious romance his administration had with corruption, the very same cankerworm he avowedly came to stamp out.

That corruption was one of his biggest hubris is a tragic irony for the Katsina- born Army general turned politician.

About a month ago, the news broke in respect of Buhari’s dalliance with the now disgraced former Central Bank governor Godwin Emefiele over the controversial N30 trillion Ways and Means returned to front burner of national discourse following the decision of the Senate to look into the sleaze, which they believed was one of the reasons for the parlous state of national finance.

The Senate to get to the roots of the matter decided three weeks ago to probe the N30 trillion Ways and Means loan obtained by the administration of former President Muhammadu Buhari from the Central Bank of Nigeria CBN).

The resolution was a sequel to a report of the Joint Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Finance, National Planning, Agriculture and Appropriation presented during the plenary.

Chairman of the joint committee, Yahaya Abdullahi, who presented the report, explained that the ways and means loan was one of the major factors that caused the current economic hardship and was laced with corruption.

In his defence, the former senate president clarified that his leadership approved a total of N23 trillion for the ways and means and not N30 trillion.

“What the 9th National Assembly approved or rectified in terms of Ways and Means was not N29 or N30 trillion. It was N22 trillion but there was N819 billion to address a very serious infrastructure dilapidation that we have across the country.

“So, it was not N30 trillion. It was N22 trillion and then, of course, the one we had made it almost N23 trillion. If we have a ways and means that is N30 trillion today, that means something happened between then and now and it is for the National Assembly to find out what happened” Mr. Lawan said.

There is also the over N800 billion that went into the CBN Anchor program for rice production, which was neither repaid nor the rice produced.

Curiously as farmers are looking for cheap funds to produce food for Nigerians, over N75 billion of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s Anchor Borrowers Fund (ABF) is reportedly in the tills of Guaranty Trust Holding Company PLC (GTCO), also known as Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB).

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In the second quarter 2023 financial statements released to the Nigerian Exchange Limited, the Tier-1 bank has N75.359 billion of the Anchor Borrowers Fund sitting in its coffers, which has not been lent to farmers.

Based on the details on the financial statements, GTB had N78.424 billion ABF in December 2022 but lent out only 3.065 billion in six months to June 2023, leaving a balance of N75.359 billion.

The pervasive corruption that the former Central Bank governor Godwin Emefiele committed while in office, which has become public knowledge following the Jim Obazee presidential committee set up by Tinubu to probe the apex bank, is not only mind – boggling, but another huge indictment of Buhari’s laxity for corruption.

There was also the Social Investment Program, managed by Hajia Sadiyya Farouk Umar, which involved free school feeding, conditional cash transfers to the most vulnerable people, and consumed over N1 trillion. The scam came to light during the Covid 19 period when they that over N200 billion was spent. Attempt by the Senate to probe further led to fire in the Accountant General’s office, where documents for the expenditures were kept.

Last year, Transparency International came out with a report brimming with fresh evidence that in spite of fervent and repeatedly mouthed avowal by President Buhari corruption waxed strong in the bowels of his administration.

In its released 2022 Corruption Perception Index, TI classified Nigeria among the most corrupt countries globally.

According to IT, “Though Nigeria has moved up four places in the latest index, it did not improve on its previous year’s points. While it maintained a score of 24 out of 100 points in the 2021 assessment, Nigeria’s position went up to 150th in the new index compared to its 154th position out of 180 countries assessed in the rankings.

The disgraced former Accountant-General of the Federation, Idris Ahmed, allegedly pilfered N109 billion out of which he was reported to have returned N30 billion, according to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

To underscore the fraud in Buhari’s anti corruption posture, the N24 billion fraud case against Jonah Otunla, a former AGF, has been mired in legal abracadabra till date.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission way back in 2021 said ministries, departments and agencies padded the 2021 budget to the tune of N300 billion. The padding, which they did by duplicating projects, shot the budget to N13.59 trillion, it stated. The MDAs also allegedly padded the 2022 budget with duplicated projects amounting to N100 billion.

This is aside from the N49.9 billion discovered as salaries for ‘ghost workers’ between January and June 2022.

Nothing exemplifies Buhari game with corruption than macabre, if not bizarre pardon extended to Joshua Dariye and Jolly Nyame, ex-governors of Plateau and Taraba states, respectively, a few years into their jail terms. Many commentators agreed that the pardon clearly showed that Buhari all this while was playing a game of Russia roulette with corruption.

The oil and gas sector was one area where corruption became lord of the minor as a result of vagueness of its books which are never made public. The opacity that defines oil revenue and receipt in the country has been widely interpreted as the strongest catalyst for corruption in the oil and gas sector.

Between January and July 2022, an average of 437,000 barrels of oil a day estimated at $10 billion were stolen by criminal entities and individuals who illicitly taped pipelines onshore and offshore in the Niger Delta region.

In the 2022 Basel Anti-Money Laundering Index, Nigeria was labeled high risk with a score of 6.77 out of 10, with the country being 17th out of 128 countries. A United States Department of Commerce report suggests that at least 40 per cent of all public sector procurement funds in Nigeria is lost to corruption.

The scandal of the former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru shocked the nation . He was accused of defrauding the nation to the tune of $25 billion by awarding contracts in foggy circumstances. While the scandal festered, Buhari did not speak on it. Instead of expressing umbrage at the egregious case of official abuse by Baru, Buhari’s seeming connivance made the accuser, the Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu to be the hunted. While Baru could have easy access to Buhari, Kachikwu was seen as the enemy of the government, ostensibly for his failure to keep silent in the face of official ruination of the treasury.

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Buhari using toga of ethnicity to commit further corruption when he ordered each international oil company operating in the country to pay $100 million towards the rebuilding of the north east. He further asked the World Bank to focus its developmental agenda on the north east. This is despite the fact that there is already a dedicated scheme for the development of the region.

“Nothing could be further from corruption than this was”, Professor Aliyu Dankawa, a political economist told Business Hallmark.

Not too long ago, the Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, said that Nigeria witnessed the ugliest face of corruption during the Buhari years. Corruption festered under the ex-president’s watch, avowed Kukah at a forum in Ekiti State.

“It’s an open secret that under Buhari’s watch, many heads of ministries, departments and agencies deviously pilfered Nigerian commonwealth unrestrained by Buhari. A huge number of top civil servants lined their pockets unhindered”, Dr. Olufemi Omoyele of the department of Entrepreneurship, Osun State University, told this medium.

“Let me be frank with you, under Buhari, a few influential public and private individuals made huge, money from fuel subsidy and on NNPC. Rent seekers continued to collect a large part of crude oil sales. Refineries did not work, yet, his administration spent billions of Naira on turnaround, among other economic crimes”, Otunba Adejumo Adeyemi, President of the Yoruba Youths Agenda said last week in an interview with this medium.

Continuing he said, “look at the scandals around Social Investment programme, if not because of the new administration we wouldn’t have heard of how top shots, including the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs allegedly stole billions. That case is still there, and I urge President Tinubu to look into it, given the fresh angle of the suspended Minister Beta Edu. The former Minister Sadiya should also be grilled by EFCC. It should not be swept under the carpet. Look at Anchor Borrowers scheme, the vast corruption underlying it.”

One of the Buhari loyalists the then Minister of Justice/Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami became obscenely wealthy to the extent that before the primaries of the 2023 elections, Malami who initially wanted to be governor of Kebbi State gave out cars worth N1 billion to his supporters in Kebbi State. No fewer than 14 Mercedes Benz, eight Toyota Prado, four Toyota Hilux and four Lexus LX, were allegedly given out. Malami .

At a point, a report by global auditing firm, PwC, revealed persistent corruption and several anti-business dispositions in some of Nigeria’s regulatory agencies. Osinbajo was worried by the report and demanded sanction. Nothing happened thereafter.

In the view of Professor Adeagbo Moritiwon, a political scientist, “In a saner society Buhari ought to be in jail , one for economic genocide and another for crime against humanity for giving herdsmen and terrorists free rein. Certainly, more revelation about corruption under his watch might come to light if Tinubu was ready to dig deep.

 

 

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