Who Should Be Blamed? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Who Should Be Blamed?

Olympic games;Adewumi Oni; Public Affairs Analyst; 1st October
Posted: Sep 15, 2016 at 5:44 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)


Sixteen months into the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, many of the staunch supporters of the retired General have started criticising him and his team for failure to deliver the promised ‘Change’. With inflation rate at 17.1%, high rate of unemployment and general lull in the economy, Nigerians are beginning to feel they made a wrong decision at the poll in 2015. The opposition party has also been asking for his resignation.

The question is, should Buhari be held responsible for the present state of the economy?  Or like the President is wont to say, we cannot absolve previous administrations from the blame of the present predicaments of the nation and so they should also be held responsible. Some schools of thought even believe all Nigerians should be blamed for the present malaise. Perhaps, this was what informed the new ‘Change Begins with You’ initiative of President Buhari.

To what extent should we blame the immediate past administration, Nigerians and PMB? Finding answers to this question is the thrust of this write-up.

Truly, with per barrel price of oil down to about 50% of what it used to be, coupled with the incessant attacks of oil pipeline installations by aggrieved Niger Delta groups, growing the economy is an uphill task. The credit balance left in our external reserves upon assuming office, was outmatched by debts to oil marketers and other government obligations.

This was caused by the failure of the immediate past administration of Goodluck Jonathan to take advantage of the high oil price by building up our external reserves against times like these. Former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala confirmed this when she said the administration of Goodluck Jonathan lacked the political will to save when it was possible to save. Not only did we not save, there was such a reckless and unbridled looting of the treasury at a tempo never witnessed before in the history of the country! Just recently, a Skye Bank account traced to Mrs Patience Jonathan was reported to have a credit balance of $15m and the wife of the former President is alleged to own a $10bn hotel too! To that extent we can blame his administration for managing our resources poorly, but he is no longer in charge.

However, it is pertinent to state that the former administration also achieved some laudable feats. For once, Nigeria became the hub of economic activities in the African region. He started the Rail rehabilitation process that the present administration has started commissioning. Agriculture was in the best hands ever under his administration, which led to the minister in charge attracting international attention and was elected as the President of African Development Bank. We cannot totally write off his administration.

For the citizenry, where did we contribute to the problems? We were on spending and shopping spree. Everybody was not satisfied with anything made locally; it has to be imported, even if it is from China. Students were rushing to outdo themselves in the use of the latest phones, regardless of the prices. We were throwing parties for every conceivable reasons (justifiable or not). Our kids must be schooled abroad, even if it is in Cotonou or Ghana. We were accumulating cars as if they are wardrobe accessories. Our taste for foreign things added more pressure to the Naira and here we are today. Maybe we truly need to change as PMB said, but whether it begins with us or not is another matter entirely!

For President Buhari, I will start with the quote of Michael Korda, which says “Success on any major scale requires you to accept responsibility…. In the final analysis, the one quality that all successful people have is the ability to take on responsibility.” A major weakness of this present administration is her failure to accept responsibility and lead the desired Changed. It needs be said that one of the major reasons  Nigerians voted for PMB was because we were aware that the economy was bleeding (albeit we never fully comprehended the magnitude), and we felt that President Buhari will provide the financial discipline, moral rectitude and focused leadership to save the nation. However, the blame-game that this administration has been playing is not only unacceptable but irksome. The buck stops at the President’s table and not Goodluck’s table. We, therefore, expect him to accept and take full responsibility for both the past and present, and focus on providing the right leadership to get us out of the woods. His apparent bias in appointments and pursuit of corrupt officers has also shown that he belongs to ‘somebody’ and not to ‘everybody’ or ‘nobody’ as he said in his inaugural speech.

To the extent that he is still the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he will be held responsible for whatever happens to this country until he leaves office. If his new pet project of ‘Change Begins with You’ must record any success, the Change has to begin with him and his team. PMB has to lead the Change!

By Adewumi Oni

Oni, a Chartered Accountant, writes from Mowe, Ogun State