WHEN
President
Muhammadu Buhari
inaugurated his cabinet, six
months after assuming office,
many Nigerians did heave a
sign of relief, believing that a
government had eventually
been formed. With ministers
duly assigned portfolios
and sworn in, all was set for
government to roll and begin
to address the myriad of issues
plaguing the country, with the
view to catering to the needs of
the people. It was a legitimate
wish by a people who had
high expectations from a
government that promised
heaven and earth.
Sixteen months after the
government was formed, and
22 months after President
Buhari took over the reins
of governance, I have often
asked myself this question:
Is this really a government
or just an assemblage of
people, who are just doing
whatever please them, in the
name of working for the good
governance of Nigeria? I ask
this question because what
we have as a government
appears mainly like a mere
party, where those in office
operate like islands, doing
and saying what they like,
while humanity suffers. There
is no synergy whatsoever.
In the government, there are
discordant and cacophony of
voices.
This week, the Senior Special
Assistant to the President on
Foreign Affairs and Diaspora,
Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa,
issued a travel advisory on the
United States (US). No doubt,
feeling that as a presidential
aide on foreign affairs, she
could talk about foreign policy
and issues related to her office,
this former federal lawmaker
advised Nigerians not to travel
to the US for now, if they do not
have any compelling business
in the North American country.
She said her advice became
necessary, since Nigerians,
who have valid US visas, had
been denied entry into the US.
In her wisdom, Dabiri-Erewa
wanted Nigerians to freeze
their trips to the US until the
immigration policy of the
Donald Trump administration
was clear.
Our dear Dabiri-Erewa
would have been pleased with
herself, believing that she had
done her duty as a government
officials and also doing
Nigerians a huge favour, by
saving them embarrassment at
the US entry ports. However,
the next day, the former
lawmaker learnt a bitter lesson,
to the effect that she may be a
presidential adviser, but she
has no locus standi, right or
power whatsoever to issue a
travel advisory. This lesson
was not even nicely given. It
came in an impolite manner.
Yes, Minister of Foreign
Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama,
had disowned Dabiri-Erewa at
a world press conference the
next day. He told Nigerians to
discountenance the presidential
aide’s “travel advisory” and
to travel to the USwhenever
they wish, as Dabiri-Erewa
is not in any position to issue
such an “advisory.” This is not
withstanding the fact that the
same Dabiri-Erewa, a few weeks
before that, did issue a travel
advisory on Libya and nobody
said otherwise.
Here, we are talking about two
officials in the same government
saying different things. I do not
care, whose duty it is to issue
a travel advisory. Whether it
should come from the Minister of
Foreign Affairs or a presidential
adviser does not matter to me.
If the Presidency ought to issue
it, this is immaterial. What is
important is that a statement from
a government should be one.
And those in that government
should, at every time, know
who should issue whatever
statement and who should talk
on whatever issue, in the name
of government. Now, inasmuch
as Minister Onyeama had the
final word on the travel advisory,
who should Nigerians believe?
Is it Dabiri-Erewa, who said
there were evidences that some
Nigerians actually had nasty
experiences at the US airports in
recent times or Onyeama, who
said all was well? If we take it
that Dabiri-Erewa misfired, this
pertinent question suffices: Is
the way the presidential aide was
disgraced really the best way to
handle the matter? No matter
what anybody says, what the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs did
was to expose the dis organization
in the Buhari government. The
ministry washed government’s dirty linen in public

Well, the “travel advisory”
brouhaha is not the first time the
obvious lack of concord in the
President Buhari government has
been manifest. Last September,
Minister of Finance, Kemi
Adeosun, and leadership of the
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
indirectly told the world that
they were not on the same page
on how to achieve economic
growth and takeNigeria out of
recession. In their many voices,
Mrs. Adeosun had suggested
that the CBN cut the 14 per cent
interest rate by banks, as a way of
supporting government’s plan to
ensure borrowing of cheap funds
locally, while the CBN Monetary
Policy Committee (MPC)
announced the retention of the
rates, which did set the lending
rate at 14 per cent. Defending the
CBN’s position at that time, CBN
Governor, Godwin Emefiele,
said it was in order to maintain
its primary objective of price
stability.
Pray, why would two
institutions of government
express opposing views in
public when they ought to be
speaking with one voice and for
government? I suspect that this
is so because those in the current
government do not draw a line
between when they are speaking
for themselves and when talk for
government. What happens is
that these people express their
personal views as if these are the
position of government. In doing
so, there are conflicting views,
depending on how many people
that contribute.
We witnessed the flexing of
muscle, as it were, between the
Nigerian Customs Services and
the CBN once, when the apex
bank said it would no longer
allocate foreign exchange to
people importing rice, with
the view to discouraging rice
importation and conserving
foreign exchange, but
Comptroller General of Customs,
Hammed Ali, declared that the
borders should be opened for
rice to come in, as, according
to him, the Customs was losing
revenue from duties at that time.
Today, the same Ali has ordered
the Customs to impound rice
coming through land borders
and those at shops. Indeed, we
have witnessed the Customs
saying it would commence
vehicle inspection policy, aimed
at ensuring that old vehicles
whose duties were short-paid
pay the balance, while the Senate
said the implementation should
wait until Ali appears before it,
with the Customs countering
and insisting that there was no
going back.
To be sure, nobody missed
the drama that played out
when President Buhari, while
commenting on the expression
of frustration by his wife, Aisha,
who had complained about
happenings in government and
subtly insinuated that there was
a cabal in government, stated
that his wife belonged to the
kitchen and “the other room.”
Senior Special Adviser on Media
and Publicity to the President,
Mallam Garba Shehu, had said
President Buhari was making
a joke. President Buhari had
countered his aide immediately
by saying he meant what he said
and, therefore, Aisha’s place
belonged to the kitchen and “the
other room.”
There appears to be a
competition, on talking,
among officials of the Buhari
government. Those in
government want to talk on any
issue, even when not competent
to so do, perhaps, in the belief

government or the more they
remain in the consciousness of
the ruled. And in talking, most
times, they play to the gallery.
They do not even talk about
their spheres of assignment,
but generally playing politics.
For instance, instead of
Minister of Transportation,
Chibuike Amaechi, talking
about the road and rail
transport, he tells Nigerians
that the All Progressives
Congress (APC) did not
promise to fix Nigeria in one
year and that former President
Goodluck Jonathan should be
held responsible for the mess
in the country. Instead of Lai
Mohammed talking about
efforts government is making
in fixing the economy, he will
tell you that corruption in the
past government brought the
country to the present situation.
Instead of Hammed Ali,
talking about how the Customs
will tighten the borders to
ensure that smugglers do
not have a field day, he tells
you that the government will
boast its revenue by ensuring
excise duties of yesterday are
recovered today.
What we have of the Buhari
regime is one government,
many voices. In the
government, everybody is in
charge and can say anything.
In the government, everybody
is king in his own kingdom and
fiefdom. In the government,
everybody is Lord of the
manor. In the government,
everybody talks at the same
time and nobody listens. In
the government, there is no
synchrony whatsoever. What
we have are discordant tunes,
just like in the Tower of Babel.
What a government

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