RingTrue with Yemi Adebowale, Email: [email protected]; Tel: 07013940521 (text only)
I have spent quality time reading President Muhammadu Buhari’s “Next level” document launched to herald his 2019 presidential election campaign. The paper explains where he intends to take Nigerians to if he gets a second term. I am not sorry to say that those who prepared this document for Buhari are simply out to bamboozle Nigerians. Considering the abysmal performance of this government in the last three and half years, Buhari’s “Next level” ideas and priorities are clearly unattainable. It is just cheap talk.
The document talks about creating five million jobs through N-Power and agriculture. This government failed woefully in this area in its first term and will fail again in job creation if it gets a second term. The trend in developed climes is for government to create an enabling environment for the private sector to generate jobs. Buhari and his men still don’t understand this. The operating environment is stifling for businesses. This is what should be addressed instead of talking about using public funds to create phony jobs. A man gets N30,000 government money for a maximum of two years, working where he is not really needed and you call that job creation?
Existing industrial estates across the country are in tatters and under-utilised due to infrastructural challenges and inclement operating environment. Buhari should visit the likes of Kakuri, Sherada, Bompai, Ogba and Ikeja industrial estates to understand what I am talking about. Manufacturers are gasping for survival, while providing their own electricity, water, road, security, in addition to stifling multiple taxations by all levels of governments. These are the challenges a forward-looking government should address, instead of talking about creating six regional industrial parks and special economic zones. The “next level” also talks about building “109 Special Production and Processing Centres (SPPCs) to spur production and value additive processing, and the provision of tractors and processors plants in each senatorial district to create extra jobs.” This is preposterous. In modern economies, these are private-sector driven activities.
There is also the plan to create 300, 000 extra jobs for vendors and farmers by “increasing the school feeding from 9.3 million pupils to next level of 15 million pupils.” Honestly, I don’t know where the 9.3 million pupils they claim to have been feeding for almost four years are. Now, they are talking about increasing this to 15 million pupils in the next four years and creating 300, 000 extra jobs. The truth about this voodoo school feeding programme will emerge very soon.
In the area of infrastructure, Buhari’s “Next Level” promises to deliver so many railway projects. A government that failed to deliver just one railway project in four years is promising “to complete the Ibadan-Kano phase of the Lagos-Ibadan-Kano rail, complete Eastern rail (Port Harcourt-Maiduguri) taking the network through Abia, all South-east states capitals, Makurdi, Jos, Bauchi and Gombe; complete the coastal rail project (Lagos-Calabar) and complete the link on Itakpe-Warri rail to Abuja through Lokoja and make it operational.”
In the area of roads, it promised to “complete the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria to Kano; complete works on federal roads using Sukuk Bonds in each states of the federation; complete the Second Niger Bridge connecting Anambra and Delta States and to complete the East-West road connecting Warri, Delta to Oron, Akwa-Ibom, through Kaiama and Port Harcourt in Bayelsa and Rivers States.”
Haba! These listed projects run into several billions of USD. They did not even do due financial diligence before rolling out these projects for completion in another four years. Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line alone will cost $9.2 billion. This is according to the Transport Minister, Amaechi. They are still negotiating for the loan with the Chinese government. Even if Buhari remains in power for 20 years, he won’t be able to complete all the roads and railway projects listed. Those who compiled Buhari’s “Next Level” deserve to be caned.
In the area of power, Buhari’s “Next Level” drafters forgot that they promised to increase generation to 10,000MW within their first term, which they have obviously failed to actualize. Nigeria remains in perpetual darkness. Now, they are promising to “add a minimum of 1,000 MW new generation incremental power capacity per annum on the grid, to bring it to a total of a minimum of 11, 000MW and distribution is to get to 7,000MW under distribution expansion programme.” There is so much confusion here. These people are clearly jesters.
Malami, Magu Dancing Naked in Public
The Attorney General of the Federation/Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and the EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu will not stop dancing naked in public, a clear sign of an uncoordinated government. The EFCC was at a Special Offences Court in Lagos State about three weeks ago, where it resisted attempt by Malami to take over the trial of businessman, Dr. John Abebe. The anti-graft agency had in July arraigned Abebe, before Justice Mojisola Dada on a four-count charge of forgery, fabricating evidence and attempting to pervert the course of justice. Shortly after the prosecution and the defence counsels had announced their appearance, Malami, through a counsel from his office, Pius Akuta, rose and prayed the court for a short adjournment.
Akuta informed the court that he had the instruction of his boss (AGF) to seek a short adjournment “in order to review the case file in view of the some latest developments in the case.” He added that a lot of petitions had come up which necessitated a review of the case.
Dangling a letter before the court, the counsel noted that Malami gave him instruction that the file be transmitted to him to enable him look into all pending petitions on the matter before him.
Counsel to EFCC, Rotimi Oyedepo resisted the takeover of the case, saying he had not been informed by Magu. He told the court that even if the AGF wanted to take over the case, there were some basic administrative procedures to be followed.
He urged the court not to be persuaded by the antics of the AGF as he was a meddlesome interloper.
Oyedepo contended that since the proper administrative procedures were not followed, Akute could be on a personal mission. He said the court should not succumb to the antics of Akuta as the AGF knows what to do administratively if he has interest in the matter. Justice Dada eventually ruled that the case should proceed.
I took the pain to narrate the shenanigans that went on in the court over the Abebe case so that Nigerians can understand the extent of unhealthy rivalry between Malami and Magu. These two state agents have persistently exposed the high level of indiscipline and lack of coordination of the Buhari government. Moving forward, one of these men must make way for the other. Buhari must sack one of them.
The Prickly Approval for New Higher Institutions
The news in town is that the Senate has directed the federal government to establish 10 new higher institutions across the country. The resolution was made last week after the lawmakers adopted the report of its Committee on Tertiary Institutions and TETFund. The 10 new higher institutions approved by the Senate included one polytechnic to be located in the hometown of President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina State.
The federal lawmakers claimed that the establishment of the institutions would open up the education space in the country. They expressed the belief that the step would assist the country in the fight against illiteracy. The Senate also said that the approval for the establishment of the institutions was in line with the policy to create polytechnics across the states.
These lawmakers have obviously lost touch with modern trends in the development of education. How can they be talking about establishment of new federal higher institutions when existing ones are wallowing in abject poverty due to poor funding? Are they even aware that university teachers have been on strike for weeks, largely because of poor funding of federal and state-owned institutions? Are these lawmakers saying that they are unaware that university and polytechnic teachers are persistently on strike over the poor state of these institutions? Existing institutions are poorly equipped and underfunded. Instead of addressing these problems, our lawmakers want 10 new higher institutions established. Where will the funds come from? They obviously want the federal government to establish more glorified secondary schools to be called polytechnics.
Well, our lawmakers need some education here. The standard in decent climes is for government to provide an enabling environment for individuals and private organisations to invest in higher education. In this modern era, you won’t hear of the British or United States government establishing higher institutions. It only happens in countries like ours that have refused to develop. Governments in sound societies create enabling environment for the private sector to do this.
Unending Attacks on Military Bases
Attacks on military bases by Boko Haram are unending. So far, 22 military bases have been attacked. They are Gajiram, Mainok, Rann, Geidam, Sasawa, Magumeri, Malam Fatori, Gashigha, Kanama, Gamboru-Ngala, Mafa, Damasak, Gudumbali, Garunda, Kunduga, Kareto, Jilli, Arge, Zari, Arege, Metele and Buni Gari. It is so painful. This country has been losing soldiers in their hundreds to the terrorists, without a proactive response.
While still lamenting how Boko Haram easily overwhelmed Metele and Arege military bases in Borno State, another base in Buni Gari, 60 kilometres from Damaturu (Yobe State) was attacked by the Islamic State West Africa Province faction of the terror group last Saturday. The terrorists destroyed an armoured vehicle and stole a truck during the attack. According to security sources, eight soldiers were killed in the Buni Gari attack. “The death toll is now eight. Six more bodies of soldiers were later recovered and moved to Damaturu. All the eight dead soldiers are now in the morgue at the Specialist Hospital in Damaturu.”
The terrorists are obviously dominating while the federal government is still sleeping. After almost four years, it only realised just this week that the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai and the Chief of Air Staff, Sadique Abubakar ought to be operating from Maiduguri and ordered them to the war zone. What a government! Things have just got to change. The Buhari government must show seriousness in this war against Boko Haram by overhauling the leadership of the military and seeking help from developed countries.
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