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COVID-19 Pandemic and Continuous Closure  of Islamic Schools in Kano State, Nigeria.

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By Dr Nuraddeen Danjuma.

This article is based on documented as well as anecdotal data generated between the months of March and July 2020 (after partial easing of COVID-19 imposed lockdown) and September 2020 (after release of guidelines for opening schools by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Nigeria).

Indeed COVID-19 is a dreadful contagion. In an article contributed by Jessica Pickett, Ph.D. (a principal consultant with Tomorrow Global, LLC) on https://theconversation.com on June 4, 2020, to some extent COVID-19 could be deadlier influenza pandemic than the Spanish flu (A/H1N1); an extraordinarily deadly which claimed 50 million people globally, with 675,000 in the United States between 1918 and 1920 for various reason.

First, the statistics between December 2019 when it started and September 2000 suggests a worst scenario.

According to the World Health Organization on September, 11th 01:00 GMT+1 (the time I am writing this article), the number of reported cases for the world is 28, 040, 853 including 906,092 deaths in 216 countries, areas or territories. The situation in Africa suggests that the continent has 1,331,098 cases with five countries reporting most cases as follows:

South Africa (644 438), Egypt (100,557), Morocco (79,767), Ethiopia (62,578) and Nigeria (55,829). According to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (https://covid19.ncdc.gov.ng, on Saturday 7:01am, 12 Sep 2020), the official figure stood at 56, 017and 1076 fatalities.

Nigeria’s economy has plunged since beginning of the pandemic.

Earlier, the hemorrhaging effects of oil price shocks, mismanagement and weak policies caused Nigeria to devalue the official exchange rate of the naira by 15% against the US dollar on 20 March, 2020.

However, a further devaluation is highly likely in the latter half of 2020, breaching the 400 naira to dollar barrier because of pre-existing shortage of foreign exchange reserves and oil.

Indeed our dear Nigeria is in deep economic quagmire as well as became a social butterfly of the World Bank and IMF.

Nigeria currently ranks 14th in the list of fragile states with 97.3 behind Burundi, Haiti and Libya. These apply to its 36 states and Kano is my focus here.

Kano State, like Lagos in the South has been a pacemaker, a state which stimulates the north to move, and every northerner’s destination. Kano is an apple core!; famously referred to tumbin giwa, ko da me kazo an fika (Kano is prosperous than any city in the Hausa land).

However this position is fast fading away as depicted by the latest handling of COVID-19.

According to NCDC the State has a total of 1728 cases and 54 fatalities as of 11th September, 2020.

With a population of ca. 20 million people as well as weak, dilapidated health care institutions and unpreparedness, Kano State is the third most hit state by the pandemic in Nigeria.

Sequel to the emergence of the disease in the state in April, 2020, several measures were taken including lockdown of all activities.

The lockdown was lifted in June in phases and fortunately, markets were opened for both local and international trade, land and air transport were also restored, stores and shopping malls reopened, parks and recreation centres opened, cinema and viewing centres reopened, event centres also. The government continued with its crowd gathering activities, some riskier and deadlier than the COVID-19 itself whilst schools remained closed.

Against the wish of Presidential Task Force (PTF), Lagos State despite highest number of fatalities in Nigeria announced date of resumption of schools.

Albert Einstein said “if you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things”.

Contrarily, Kano remained a mediocre and adamantly refused to open schools and so its younger sisters in the north except Kogi.

The state ruefully arrested and fined Islamic Education teachers and their schools while all social activities are ongoing. Kano, like it had never upheld Islamic principles and never accommodated scholars such as Al-Maghili (during the reign of Muhammadu Rumfa, 1463-1499) and Shehu Danfodio’s disciples to mention but a few continued to lockdown schools.

According to Steve Jobs “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other peoples thinking”. The effects of the lockdown, tough not empirically assessed are obvious and numerous.

As an illustration:
Crime Index: 56.99 for Kano while Lagos is 64.58 (numbero.com)

Rape and sexual assault: During the lockdown, Kano State recorded high rise of sexual assault cases. According to Sexual Assault Referral Center data, 127 cases of Sexual and Gender-based Violence were recorded from April and June, 2020 in Kano (Vanguard 10/09/2020).

One prominent case being the rape of six month old baby in June.

According to BBC on June 10, 2020 a man was arrested after 40 rapes in Dangora, Kano State, victims of his assault included 80 year old and a child below 10 years.

On Tuesday, 15th September, 2020 operatives of NAPTIP arrested a 53 year old businessman over alleged sexual abuse of two under aged girls in Kano.

Drug abuse:

On 25/06/2020 the NDLEA addresses a news conference on the commemoration of 2020 International Day against Abuse and Illicit Trafficking and mentioned that within the lockdown period, the Kano command had intercepted over 7 tonnes of illicit substances. Statistics showed that these include 787,937 kilograms of hard drug, 699,123 kilograms of psychotrophic substances, 87 kilograms of cocaine, 8 kilograms of Heroin and 4.3 kilograms of Cannabis Sativa.

The state command has also arrested 565 suspected drug dealers out of which 16 were females (Vanguard, June 26, 2020)

Those apart from phone snatching, theft, gansterism as other petty but metamorphosing big crimes in Kano.

Just last week a gentleman physiotherapist was killed by hoodlums while attempting to forcefully snatched his phone. Rest in peace brother.

The State’s educational outlook is gloomy too. This little data tough not enough for justification may imply doom.

The educational statistics for 2018 and 2019 is not depicted here for correlation but rather implying some sense.

Literacy rate (6-14 AGES): Kano rate is 46.1% in 2018 below the national rate of 62% (Digest of Education Statistics, FME).

Out of school children: Kano ranks the highest in 2019 with a total of over 1.4 million (UNICEF).

Education disadvantage: Kano ranks 11 out of 23 Educationally Least Disadvantage States in Nigeria.

At this point my questions are:

What differentiate the markets, motor parks, shopping malls, recreational, viewing and event centres and Islamic schools in terms of adhering to COVID-19 protocols (such as social distancing and hand washing and use of face masks?.

What was the rationale of allowing such activities to continue while only schools remained locked?

Is the state government aware of the rising trends of societal and moral decay among youth resulting from COVID-19 related hardships including lockdown of schools?.

Lastly, it seems only Lagos is ready to move on and face the reality in Nigeria just as the Chinese and Americans at global level.

We in the north are still falling behind. According to Pierce Brown (Red Rising Saga, 2014) “men are not created equal; we all know this. There are averages. There are outliers. There are the ugly. There are the beautiful. This would not be if we were all equal. A Red can no more command a starship than a Green can serve as a Doctor!.” Therefore, Kano State has a reputation to maintain against all odds.

I appeal with Kano State Government to accept both compliments and criticism as it takes both sun and rain for a flower to grow and raise the expectation of the common man.

The Federal Government and/or PTF cannot decide for us. According to Stephen King “Get busy living or get busy dying”.

Nuraddeen Danjuma, PhD
Bayero University Kano
12th September, 2020

Opinion

From Cementing Poverty To Oiling Its Wheels ?

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President Bola Ahmad Tinubu

Hamisu Hadejia,PhD

Endowed with vast deposits of limestones, ‘why would Nigeria be spending millions of dollars importing cement from abroad?’. This was the question that agitated the mind of Nigeria’s former president Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ) in the early 2000s, leading to the former president summoning the major cement importer at the time, Mr Aliko Dangote, to brainstorm on sorting out the puzzle.

A policy seeking to incentivise cement importers to start local cement manufacture, known as the backward integration policy (BIP), was consequently introduced in 2002, following the private conversations between OBJ and Dangote.

As a sectoral industrial policy, the BIP made the grant of cement import licenses conditional on cement importers demonstrating concrete commitment to set up local cement producing factories. The strategy was to phase out, before completely banning, cement importation when local factories could produce enough to replace imports—a strategy known in economics as ‘import substitution policy’.

Among other incentives, the BIP ensured the sales of foreign exchange (dollars) to cement entrepreneurs especially Dangote at the official rate. For example, in a Reuters report, Dangote was said to have secured $161 million at the official exchange rate (of between 197 to 199 NGN per 1 USD) from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) between March and May 2016. If Dangote were to (and he could without any accountability) re-sell this $161 million foreign exchange award in the currency black market, he would have made a profit of $100 million (£68 million) without lifting a finger. Thus, effectively, what this means is that just in a couple of months, the Nigerian government had subsidized Dangote to the tune of $100 million US dollars with taxpayers’ money, under the guise of supporting ‘strategic’ businesses.

Not only that, VAT/custom duty waivers on imported cement making equipment, credit guarantees, and a cumulative tax holidays of seven years were granted to Dangote Cement Companies (DCC).

Government’s support to infant firms, industries or entrepreneurs is not a new phenomenon in nations’ industrialization processes. Economists such as Alexandre Hamilton (1757-1804), Friedrich List (1789-1846), and contemporary ones like Ha-Joon Chang and Eric Reinert, have documented evidence confirming that these kinds of supports or state-business relations were instrumental to the industrialization of almost all industrialized nations of Europe, North America, and East Asia. However, the state-business relations in Nigeria especially in the cement industry deserves some critical reflections and re-evaluations for social welfare considerations.

THE PROS OF THE BIP

Within a little over a decade, the BIP succeeded in replacing cement imports with local production in Nigeria leading to the complete ban on importation of cement in 2012. Hence, government officials and industry players have never failed to flaunt the BIP policy as a national feat all patriotic Nigerians should celebrate. The bases for this conclusion are three: One, the policy has made Nigeria self-sufficient in cement production; two, it has created jobs opportunities; three, it saves Nigeria foreign exchange which, at the peak of import in 2008, was $304 million. While these ‘successes’ have been belaboured time and again, Nigerians have been deliberately left in the dark as to the costs of these achievements, which include, but are not limited to, the disproportionately lavish state incentives to cement investors as adumbrated above.

THE CONS OF THE BIP

The ban on cement imports and the dominance of a single player in Dangote gave rise to a monopoly, now duopoly, in the cement industry. Latching on to the opportunity, Dangote has used every trick in the book to initially eliminate competition (e.g., the case of Clestus Ibeto), charge exorbitant prices, and pay the state less than its due in taxes. Any evidence for these claims? Yes, there are plenty! For a start, it is a fact that the Nigerian cement consumers now buy a 50kg bag of cement at almost $10 (official rate). This is outrageously higher than what obtains in other markets including in many African countries, to some of which Dangote merely exports the clinkers he processes in Nigeria using Nigeria’s limestones for final processing and sales in those countries at prices lower than he sells in Nigeria! In fact, compared to its price in Nigeria, a 50kg bag of cement costs lower in China ($2.96), Malaysia ($2.3), India ($3.84), Kenya ($5.56), Zambia ($6.45), Egypt ($2.88), South Africa ($5.88), and Ghana ($7.0).

Also, some evidence suggests that the Nigerian state does not get actual value for the lavish incentives it splashes on Dangote. In the DCC’s 2016 annual report (p.139) for example, the company’s own independent auditors have pointed out that the company’s directors had made an ‘assumption’ about the pioneer statuses of different lines of productions at Ibese and Obajana factories. Without this ‘assumption’, the auditors concluded that:
“..an additional tax charge of N64.4 billion (2015: N40.0 billion) would have been incurred by the company if this assumption was not made in determining the tax liability.”

So, while the Nigerian state has subsidised Dangote generously, such efforts do not appear to have yielded benefits for both the state (which is not paid what is due to her in taxes) and Nigerian cement consumers (who buy cement at over 300% price differentials compared to other consumers elsewhere).

Moreover, with the cement manufacturing process being highly mechanised, the much-vaunted jobs created by the transformation of the industry is, in the final analysis, not worth the costs incurred from subsidization and the expensive cement prices Nigerians pay. For instance, the entire cement industry currently employs only around 30,000 workers directly, and most of these workers are truck drivers. Hence, it does not make any economic sense for Nigeria to, in a bid to keep a few thousand Nigerians in employment, sacrifice national housing needs/infrastructural development by forcing millions of Nigerians to pay extortionary cement prices. Dangote and other players in the industry cannot of course claim credit for the indirect jobs in the downstream retail segment of the industry because such jobs have been there and would still remain regardless of whether cement in produced locally or imported.

But how has Dangote managed to ‘cement’ his cake and eat it? The answer to this crucial question lies in understanding the nature of two domains of relations, that is: The Dangote-government relations as well as his public or civil society management relations.

Dangote-state relations took off in earnest towards the end of the OBJ first term, that is around the time the BIP was introduced. In his book, ‘The Accidental Public Servant’, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, explained that Dangote came close to the OBJ government after the former president had fallen out with his powerful vice and major Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) financier at the time, Atiku Abubakar. Consequently, according to El-Rufai, “Obasanjo had to resort to raising money from other sources and that was how Aliko Dangote came into prominence in the government.”

A document from the US embassy in Nigeria leaked by Wikileaks would later reveal that “Dangote purportedly contributed 200 million naira (about $1.5 million at the time) to Obasanjo’s first term election campaign, and in 2003 at least another 1 billion naira (about USD 7.5millio) for the second term. Dangote is a known contributor to the PDP party.” The cable therefore concluded that, ‘it is no coincidence that many products on Nigeria’s import ban lists are items in which Dangote has major interests.’ Former President Yar’Adua of blessed memory saw through this kind of Dangote’s much-vaunted ‘entrepreneurial acumen’ and moved to free poor Nigerian cement consumers from the monopolistic exploitation before the cold hands of death cut him short. Ever since, the business continues with successive regimes securely holding the cement cash cow by the horns for Africa’s ‘entrepreneurial guru’ to milk in exchange for God knows what.

It is instructive to point out here that across the globe, investment in the cement industry takes between 20-30 years to deliver returns. However, in Dangote’s case, returns were delivered in less than a decade. To be clear, no one should begrudge Dangote his fundamental economic right to capital accumulation, however, such private economic right should also not be enjoyed at the social cost of denying Nigerians their fundamental right to housing through extortionary pricing of a product that their own state subsidizes, disproportionate to the social benefits for that matter.

Also, across the globe, profit margins in cement companies range between 30-40%, yet, in Nigeria it is up to 63%! This is because a couple of Nigerians gifted with ‘entrepreneurial acumen’ have the wherewithal to ‘lobby’ state officials to protect the market for them to charge whatever price they fancy. In a paper, Richard Itaman and Christina Wolf calculated that between 1999 and 2010, when cement import was severely restricted before its eventual ban, the Nigerian cement consumers, on average, lost N19.63 billion (that is, around $51.4 million in 2021 USD/Naira value) per year because of buying cement at exorbitant prices compared to the rest of the world. In fact, during the same period, Richard and Christina observed that cement prices had progressively increased by up to 300%.

In addition to ‘lobbying’ the political leadership, Dangote, as investigations by Michael Odijie and Anthony Onofua reveal, ensures the extraction of massive rents in the industry without any opposition from any quarters through his patron-clientelist relations with, and alleged infiltration of, trade/labour union and public/civil society organizations. The authors observed that Dangote generously ‘donate’ to the activities of these civil society groups with a view to ‘promoting the [BIP] policy as a major success.’. The authors stated that he installed his allies in the leadership of critical trade organizations such as the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN). Incessant ‘donations’ and yearly ‘gifts’ to such organizations as the National Association of Block Moulders of Nigeria and Trade Union Congress have also been attributed to silencing the voices of comrades who were hitherto vehement campaigners against extortionary cement pricing. Michael and Anthony have also observed trends in the co-optation of the media to popularise the narrative that local cement manufacturing is a collective national ‘success’.

THE WAY FORWARD

The new administration of President Bola Tinubu will do well by moving in the interest of impoverished Nigerians to address this cement issue decisively. Nigeria should not continue to protect a couple of producers at the expense of millions of Nigerian cement consumers. According to former minister of finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, ‘the Federal Government will require about $100 billion annually for the next 30 years to effectively tackle Nigeria’s infrastructure challenges.’ Also, the United Nations remarked that “Nigeria’s housing sector is in a complete crisis”. Undoubtedly, a critical part of addressing these challenges/crises is by making cement prices affordable to Nigerians. How can this be done? In my view, since the cement producers have been protected and subsidized for longer and larger than necessary, it is time for the cement market to be completely liberalized to allow for imports. This will facilitate competition which will beat prices down and ease the excruciating economic hardship of Nigerians. This is elementary economics. Even if local manufacturers who have been mollycoddled for over a decade fail to compete, so be it! The social benefits of suspending the long imports ban far outweigh the largely private benefits of sustaining it. The benefits of promoting indigenous private capital accumulation or keeping less than 30,000 largely truck-drivers’ jobs are not worth making millions of Nigerians homeless in their own fatherland. So, President Tinubu has a choice to make between appeasing a couple of capitalists/cronyists or salvaging millions of poor Nigerians who have no roof over their heads.
Dangote’s refinery: Like cement, like oil?
In celebrating the construction/commissioning of “world’s largest single-train petroleum refinery” without asking some critical questions, we, Nigerians, appear to have given in more to our sentiment than to our rationality. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, who according to Dangote “moved mountains to ensure the success of [his refinery] project”, the apex bank ensured the availability of foreign exchange to Dangote to pay for equipment imported for his $19.5 billion refinery. What amounts of this scarce foreign exchange was sold to Dangote? What other monetary and fiscal incentives have been provided to the entrepreneur for the refinery project, and under what terms and conditions? Will all imports of refined oil and assorted products henceforth be banned for Dangote to enjoy another monopoly status in the oil industry, like he does in cement with all its concomitant consequences? Is the 20% Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)’s stakes in Dangote’s refinery a bait, decoy, or marriage of convenience to attract state patronage for profiteering business as usual?
Hamisu Hadejia (PhD)

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Opinion

Kashim Shettima And His Eloquent Disposition

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Vice President Kashim Shettima

 

By: AbdurRaheem Sa’ad Dembo

The Vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Senator Kashim Shettima is one man with many explicit quotes. I sometimes referred to him as Barack Obama of Nigeria as I watched him on TV during campaigns and other engagements. He speaks with ease all the time.

The former Governor of Borno state is not an accidental leader as he has shown in all capacity that he is up to the task. As a Governor he did not make noise but silently achieving progress in Borno state. He was accused of sponsoring Boko Haram but that did not deter him, because he believed it was all politically motivated.

If His Excellency had not been picked as the Vice presidential candidate of All Progressive Congress by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu I might not have seen the monumental intelligence embedded in the Kanuri man. In fact, this realisation occurred not to only me but also majority of Nigerians who are members or supporters of All Progressive Congress, APC.

More importantly, the senator-elect for Kwara Central senatorial district and Turaki of Ilorin, Mallam Saliu Mustapha greeted Senator Kashim Shettima on the occasion of his birthday on 2nd September,2022 and described him as follows:”Senator Kashim Shettima requires no introduction nationally. Our quintessential incoming Vice President, regarded as the northern star-boy, has won admiration for his vibrant personality and force of credibility.
…He is a refined intellectual, a relentless achiever, and an eloquent speaker.

Given his understanding of economic and national issues, as well as his educational background as an agricultural economist, he is the ideal copilot for guiding, managing, and safeguarding our national heritage.”

Interestingly, long before his ascension to Vice Presidency I had been one of his consistent followers on Facebook, where he regularly shares supremacy jokes between Fulani and Kanuri. Such jokes have been in existence from the time immemorial but Kashim Shettima’s style made it to have more flavour and originality. In fact, I usually made comments on his post that the Fulanis are the masters of Kanuris.

In Ilorin such jokes exist too. Our Ilorin Kannikes are from Borno state and they are Ilorin Kanuris. We crack the jokes whenever we come across each other. Similarly, during my youth service at Yobe Broadcasting Corporation (YBC), Damaturu, Yobe State, the jokes always surfaced among the Kanuris and Fulanis who are staff of the corporation, most especially in the news room.

That is by the way. Having watched him closely on TV I realised that Kashim Shettima is one of the great men that usually show gratitude for whoever might have helped them in one way or the other in the past. Indeed, gratitude is one of the attributes of great men. In recent time he has always credibly referred to Jim Ovia as his mentor in banking industry. So to me, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has made a right choice for picking him as Vice President.

Our President can go to bed without any suspicion with the kind of Vice President he has chosen. One should not be surprised why President Tinubu picked him, because Asiwaju is a political tactician and strategist. In fact, former President Muhammadu Buhari at some point referred to Tinubu as a political strategist.

One does not need anyone to tutor him about Shettima’s eloquence, because he reads a lot, I surmise. In fact, recently, I saw a picture he took in his library, which is suggestive of the recipe for his intellectual acumen. When you read, you widen your horizon and hence will be equipped with the wherewithal to making inputs in every situation, be it verbal, technical, sociopolitical, cultural or economic.

According to a German Poet, Heinrich Heine “True eloquence consists in saying all that is necessary,and nothing but what is necessary” Kashim Shettima knows when, where and how to talk,in view of this, let me share some of his quotes
that captivated me like a new
beautiful bride: “Osinbajo is a good and nice man, but nice men don’t make good leaders. Nice men should be selling ice cream”.
Although this did not go unchallenged by the former Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in his light response that Shettima was a shareholder in Yemi Osinbajo’s ice cream company, Shettima’s words and the timing were suggestive of his intellectual versatility; politically in this wise.

In August 2022 when Shettima represented APC flag bearer Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu during the 62nd NBA conference at Eko hotel in Lagos, here is what he said to subdue the hostile crowd: “When I was told that it was a hostile crowd-I am a banker, trained by one of the best bankers in the world. I am Jim Ovia boy- I deliberately wore sneakers to snub at them”.
After this event some young Nigerians and public commentators from the opposition were mocking him, but like his usual way Shettima was unperturbed.

“Before 1999, Lagos State has only one Ambulance and Lagos was earning 700 million naira every month but Tinubu increased it to 5 billion naira”. Shettima was trying to describe Asiwaju there as a man of vision and with him as president, Nigeria will achieve steady progress.

“Dangote Refinery is a game-changer for the Nigerian economy and it will show that Africa is not only known for crisis”. He said this during the commissioning of Dangote refinery by former President Muhammadu Buhari in Lagos.

“Politics is about perception. As we begin the formation of a new administration, I deliberately picked an Igbo man, a Catholic, to be my Chief Security Officer,” he stated. “For the purpose of inclusivity and togetherness, again I deliberately picked a Northern Christian to be my ADC. So the so-called founder of Boko Haram is going to be protected by a Christian. He asserted this during a lecture in Abuja that will culminate the swearing-in of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.In the same event he referred to himself as a child of necessity.

Shettima’s voice in support of subsidy removal is another aspect of his coherent disposition. He urged the Governors to support the decision of Mr President on subsidy removal because the oil cabals are dangerous. In his words “The oil scam cabal is a very very powerful cabal that are dangerously loaded and they will go out of their way to undermine this great initiative by Mr President. I will urge our colleagues, our Governors to rally round the president and see to it that will call off the plugs of all the machinations that would be unleashed on the polity in the coming weeks. Some will certainly resist this decision but even now oil is going for 740 per litre in Togo, Cameroon has to closed down their refineries because of the cheap oil coming in from Nigeria.There is a need for us to rally round this beautiful decision by Mr President because it is for the growth of our economy. Our economy is in a very very bad shape, we either get rid of oil subsidy or oil subsidy gets rid of the Nigerian Nation.That is how bad things are…”

Earlier on 30th May, 2023 at his office, he said: “The president has already made a pronouncement yesterday on the issue of fuel subsidy.The truth of the matter is, we either get rid of fuel subsidy or fuel subsidy gets rid of the Nigerian Nation. In 2022 we spent 10 billion dollars subsidizing the ostentatious life styles of upper cross of the society, because you and I benefit 90 percent from fuel subsidy, the poor 40 percent benefit little from fuel subsidy”

Senator Kashim Shettima, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria also described the fuel subsidy and multiple exchange rate as two big elephants.

Finally, the Kanuri man has exhibited the necessary prerequisites for identifying a conscious leader through his consistent disposition during campaigns . Indeed, he would be a great asset to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration.

May Nigeria succeed under President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Kashim Shettima.

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Opinion

4 Big Mistakes of the Buhari Administration Tinubu Should Avoid-Getso 

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Umma Getso

 

By Umma Getso

Leadership carries with it the weight of responsibility, shaping the trajectory of a nation and its people. As political figures emerge on the horizon, it becomes imperative to reflect upon the successes and failures of past administrations, seeking to build upon the former while avoiding the latter. In Nigeria, the presidency of Muhammadu Buhari marked a significant chapter in the country’s history, characterized by moments of progress and setbacks.

As President Asiwaju Bola Tinubu (BAT) assumed the mantle of leadership, it is vital to examine and learn from the four major mistakes made by the Buhari administration. By recognizing these pitfalls and charting a different course, Tinubu can steer the nation towards a future that embraces sound governance, effective policies, and sustainable development.

Here are the 4 big mistakes of the Buhari Administration that Tinubu should avoid.

1) Late Inauguration of Cabinet Members
President Muhammadu Buhari was sworn in as the president of Nigeria on May 29, 2015. However, he did not appoint his cabinet members until November 16, 2015. This six-month gap was widely criticized as a sign of indecisiveness and a lack of planning. This essay will argue that Buhari’s late inauguration of cabinet was a major mistake that damaged his reputation and hindered his governance.

One possible reason for Buhari’s delay in appointing his cabinet was that he wanted to find the best people for the job. He claimed that he was looking for people with integrity and competence who could help him fight corruption and insecurity. However, this reason did not convince many Nigerians who expected him to act faster and more decisively. According to a survey by NOI Polls, 67% of Nigerians were dissatisfied with Buhari’s delay in appointing his cabinet.

Another possible reason for Buhari’s delay in appointing his cabinet was that he was trying to balance the interests of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). The APC was a coalition of different political parties and factions that came together to defeat the incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari had to deal with the demands and expectations of his party members who wanted to be rewarded with ministerial positions. However, this reason also did not justify the delay, as it showed that Buhari was more concerned with appeasing his party than serving the nation.

The late inauguration of Buhari’s cabinet had a negative impact on his reputation and governance. It created a perception that Buhari was not prepared to lead the country. It also made it harder for Buhari to implement his policies and programs. For example, Buhari’s flagship policy, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), was launched in April 2017, almost two years after he took office. The late inauguration of Buhari’s cabinet also affected his relations with foreign leaders and partners. For example, Buhari could not attend the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, because he did not have a foreign minister.

In conclusion, Buhari’s late inauguration of cabinet was a serious mistake that undermined his credibility and effectiveness. It showed that Buhari was not ready to lead the country. It also delayed the implementation of his policies and programs.
This is a big mistake President Bola Ahmed Tinubu must avoid.

2) Ineffective Monitoring of Presidential Directives
President Muhammadu Buhari has been widely criticized for his failure to monitor and enforce his directives on security matters. One of the most glaring examples of this failure was the case of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris, who disobeyed Buhari’s order to relocate to Benue state and remain there until the herdsmen-farmers crisis was resolved.

Buhari gave the order to the IGP on January 9, 2018, after he met with Benue leaders over the killing of over 70 people by suspected herdsmen on New Year’s Day. Buhari said he had instructed the IGP to “get into (Benue) and take care” of the situation. However, it was later revealed that the IGP only spent one day in Benue and then moved to Nasarawa state, where he reportedly attended a birthday party. The IGP also failed to visit the affected communities or meet with the governor and other stakeholders in Benue.

What were the implications of Buhari’s failure to monitor his directive to the IGP? There were several negative consequences of this failure. One was that it exposed Buhari’s weakness and incompetence as a leader and commander-in-chief. It showed that he was not in charge of his administration and that he could not enforce his authority or ensure compliance with his orders. It also showed that he was not in touch with the reality and needs of the people.

Another consequence was that it worsened the security situation and the humanitarian crisis in Benue. It emboldened the herdsmen to continue their attacks and killings, as they perceived that the government was not serious or sincere about protecting the lives and properties of the people. It also increased the distrust and resentment of the people towards the government and the police, as they felt abandoned and betrayed by their leaders.

In conclusion, Buhari’s failure to monitor his directive to the IGP was a serious blunder that had grave implications for his leadership and governance.

If President BAT must outdo PMB, he should establish robust monitoring frameworks to track progress, identify bottlenecks, and make necessary adjustments. This will enhance accountability, transparency, and overall governance effectiveness, ensuring that policies translate into tangible results for the Nigerian population.

3) Lopsided Appointment
One of the major criticisms that President Muhammadu Buhari faced during his first six years in office was his alleged lopsided appointment of key officials in his administration. Many Nigerians accused him of violating the federal character principle and favouring his northern region and his party members over other parts of the country and other qualified candidates.

According to a report by Premium Times, as of August 2015, Buhari had appointed 29 key officials, out of which 75 per cent were from the north and 43 per cent were from his North West geopolitical zone. The South East had no appointee at all. The report also showed that Buhari had not appointed any female official, unlike his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, who had women in all major segments of government.

Why did Buhari make such lopsided appointments? One possible reason is that Buhari was influenced by his personal preferences and biases. He may have chosen people he knew and trusted, or people who shared his ethnic, religious, or political affiliation. He may have also been loyal to those who supported him during his election campaigns or who contributed to his party’s success.

True or false, whatever the reason was; it is pertinent to remember that public appointments should not be rewards for personal favour.

In the case of PMB, the alleged lopsided appointments created a perception that he was biased and partial. It also increased the distrust and resentment of some regions and groups towards the government and the security agencies, as they felt marginalized and oppressed.

As Nigeria enters a new era under President Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, he should learn from Buhari’s mistake and avoid making lopsided appointments in his administration.

One of the blessings of a large population is the abundance of human resources. Every region and every state has competent people to fill in different areas. He should prioritize meritocracy, selecting individuals who are capable, experienced, and committed to serving the nation’s interests. He should appoint known and practising professionals to the appropriate ministries and not appoint an accountant to head the education ministry. By appointing qualified professionals, Tinubu can build a team capable of delivering tangible results and gaining the trust of the Nigerian people.

4) Poor Administration and Management of Changes in Policies
One of the most significant mistakes of the Buhari administration has been its poor administration and management of major changes in economic policies.

Although these policies may not be bad in themselves, the government’s failure to provide a cushion to interface between the existing and new policies presented a lot of challenges for the people.

The administration has been unable to effectively implement its policies, and it has often made changes without considering the impact on the people.

Border Closure

This has been evident in the administration’s handling of key economic policies, such as the closing of the border with the Benin Republic and the redesign of the naira notes.

The border closure, which was implemented in August 2019, was intended to curb smuggling and boost local production. However, it has had a devastating impact on the economy, particularly on the informal sector, which employs the majority of Nigerians. The closure has led to a shortage of goods, increased prices, and job losses. It has also disrupted cross-border trade, which is an important source of income for many Nigerians.

The government has defended the border closure, arguing that it is necessary to protect the country’s economy. However, critics argue that the policy has been poorly implemented and that it has caused more harm than good.

They point out that the government did not provide any support to businesses or workers who were affected by the closure. This forced many people to close their businesses or move to other parts of the country in search of work.

The border closure is just one example of the Buhari administration’s poor administration and management of changes in key policies.

Fuel Subsidy

In 2016, the government implemented a fuel subsidy removal, which led to a sharp increase in the price of petrol. This policy also had a devastating impact on the economy, particularly on the poor.

The Buhari administration’s failure to provide a cushion for Nigerians prior to the implementation of these policies has made it difficult for people to cope with the negative consequences of these policies. This has led to widespread discontent and has contributed to the rise of insecurity in the country.

Redesign of New Notes

The redesign of the naira notes is another example of the Buhari administration’s poor change management and administration. The new notes were introduced in 2020, and they were intended to make it more difficult to counterfeit the naira, encourage the digital economy, curb criminal activities and encourage ease of doing business.

However, the new notes policy presented serious difficulty for businesses and the people. This led to the eventual redirection of the policy.

To ensure a successful tenure, the Tinubu administration must recognize the importance of effective policy implementation alongside the formulation of new policies. It should prioritize both short-term and long-term impacts, understanding that intermittent progress is key to achieving lasting change.

The BAT administration should adopt a mindful approach to policy implementation, considering the potential hardships that may arise and strive to minimize them. By striking a balance between policy objectives and the well-being of the people, the administration can pave the way for productive and transformative governance.

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