- He is yet to face reality – NLC
- President’s 1st month, monumental disaster – Ozekhome
- MAN, ABUCCIMA peeved by poor power situation
Ruling All Progressives Congress, APC Tuesday’s positive rating of President Muhammadu Buhari has been punctured by Nigeria’s organised labour, lawyers, economists and key drivers of the private sector.
In their assessment of Buhari’s first 30 days in office, they highlighted areas where the President has failed to make any significant impression both in words and actions.
Among those who spoke with Nigerian Pilot on Buhari’s first 30 days in office, are the President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry, ABUCCI and a constitutional lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN.
The APC had declared that Buhari had done well in eight sectors during the period under review and pleaded with Nigerians for patience.
But the NLC president, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, who admitted that the time was too short to properly assess the new administration, declared that Buhari was yet to face the realities on ground.
Wabba said that the slow pace of the administration, one month after formally taking over power, and two months after being declared the winner of the presidential election on March 28, was a pointer that the President is yet to acquaint himself with the situation on ground.
He said: “I believe his (inaction) is to ensure that he surrounds himself with people that share his views and aspirations for Nigerians.
“We cannot assess the President’s performance so far because it is still early to do that. We believe that he is still putting up things on the ground. For instance, the outcome of the National Economic Council, NEC, in which the President had directed state governors to pay workers’ salaries, is a right move, and our relevant committees will ensure strict compliance with the directive.”
He described the ongoing leadership crisis in the National Assembly and the APC, as a major distraction to the President, which obviously has continued to distract his planned constituting of his team of ministers and advisers.
“By now, he ought to have appointed key officials like Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, his Chief of Staff, and other appointments, including ministers. It may not be obvious, but the absence of those key officers is affecting him in one way or the other in running his administration so far,” Wabba said.
The NLC President insisted that the congress would not support any move by the government to remove subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, also known as petrol.
He sympathised with some oil cabals who have invested heavily on the refineries, hoping to buy them.
“They had hoped that former President Goodluck Jonathan would be re-elected so that he can facilitate the sale of the refineries to them.
“Imagine that our four refineries which the previous government had told us that they would never work again, had been suddenly revived; hopefully to commence operations before the end of this month. Their revival will indeed help in solving periodic fuel crisis issues” he said.
In his reaction, Ozekhome said that Buhari’s first month in office was a monumental disaster and a great disappointment to most Nigerians who had hoped for miracles and groundbreaking deeds.
Ozekhome claimed Buhari had hit the ground sitting, rather than running, adding that, “he (President) appears very confused, not having a strong grip on power. He appears to still live in the 80s.”
According to Ozekhome, “insurgency has intensified geometrically, with power supply getting worse. Internally, he appears to have no control over his party, which he ought to be the leader, perhaps because they regard Bola Tinubu as the national leader. The party is gradually imploding.
“Your (Buhari’s) missions to the G-7 in Germany and the African Union, AU in South Africa cannot help us. No slave masters like those western imperialists and neo-colonial slave drivers will want freedom for a slave or servant. They won’t help you sir, beyond mere tokenism, crumbs from the master’s table. Don’t tell Nigerians you are not a miracle worker or magician. They want you to approximate the two rolled into one. Nigerians support you. But, so far, your performance has been below average. Certainly not what Nigerians are yearning for? Time is not on your side, in age and in performance. The clock is ticking inexorably!” Ozekhome said.
However, the immediate past Commissioner for Justice and Attorney-General of Benue State, Chief Alex Adum, rated Buhari’s 30 days in office as great.
He said that great progress had been made in the economy which is heading towards positive change.
A human right lawyer, Mr. Ocha Olegede, said that it was too early to rate Buhari because of the rot he met on ground.
According to Olegede, Nigerians’ expectations are too high because of the campaign promises Buhari made but so far he has taken good steps to curb the insurgency by travelling to the neighbouring countries for talks.
He also said that in the area of corruption, he has started well in trying to sanitise the oil sector where massive corruption had been on over the years.
Similarly, an Abuja-based lawyer, Mr. Kenneth Achabo, told Nigerian Pilot that the expectations of Nigerians are very high and urged Buhari to as a matter of urgency, form his cabinet and hit the ground running.
Achabo said the President’s team will determine how his government will look like.
To the industrialists, President Buhari has shown that he is in no hurry to bring the change he promised.
The manufacturers said Nigeria could become one of the 10 great nations if Buhari followed the National Industrial Revolution Plan, NIRP and the National Enterprise Development Programme, NEDEP to the letter.
They added that the roadmaps launched by his predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan in February 2014, were meant to set the stage for a new era of industrial, micro, small and medium enterprises, MSMEs development in the country.
Appraising Buhari’s one month in office, MAN said that for the country to unlock its potential, there is need for sound and stable macroeconomic and regulatory environment, blended with adequate human capital, innovation and technological transfer, good basic infrastructure, adequate power supply and consistency in government policy.
MAN President, Dr. Frank S. Udemba Jacobs, said the association, in its economic and industrial memorandum sent to Buhari as a guide for his administration, lamented the low performance of the manufacturing sector, which had hitherto failed to meet its target of 23.36 percent contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP, especially in the last 10 years.
Jacobs stressed the need for government to provide adequate power, improve the poor road network in the country, make available rail services and improve port services in order to reduce cost.
He also urged President Buhari to reduce interest rates on borrowed funds, provide long-term loans, solve the problem of multiplicity of taxes, reduce cost of local inputs and reduce cost of self-generated energy by ensuring 24-hour power supply in the country.
Also, ABUCCI charged the President to give priority to critical areas like the private sector and the national economy with a view to meeting Nigeria’s expectations.
The chamber wants Buhari to tackle the acute shortage of power supply in the country.
ABUCCI Vice President, Media, Mr. Jude Igwe, noted that “power in Nigeria is the number one area that affects and puts unbearable pressure on all other aspects of the economy, including the demands on the petroleum sector.”
“The issue of provision of adequate power for the nation must be urgently addressed so as to bring back to life a lot of industrial and manufacturing concerns which have gone comatose as a result of unsustainable costs of running their operations on generators,” Igwe said.
An economist at Capital Economics, London, Mr. John Ashbourne, said: “Every week that Nigeria goes without a cabinet, increases the chance that it will face a dangerous shock – whether a revenue collapse or a currency crisis.
“Ashbourne said on Tuesday that “Leaving the federation without a finance minister would be a questionable choice at the best of times; doing so during a period of economic instability is difficult to explain.”