It is a fact that the greatest undoing of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is his praise singers. Since he assumed office on May 29, 2015, they have been moving from one television and ra¬dio station to another speaking vehemently in support of whatever decisions he has taken so far. His supporters who have the flair to write are also keeping newspapers awash with opinions defend¬ing his actions too.
When Buhari wasted six months searching for his proverbial saintly and incor-ruptible ministers, the praise singers eulogised him to high heavens, insisting it was the best decision ever taken by any Nigerian president. But when the names of the ‘angelic ministers’ were re¬leased, the same people were perturbed and disappointed. Within six months of searching for sanctimoni¬ous ministers, Buhari ran the country as a sole administra¬tor and the poor management of the economy are the pains Nigerians are reaping at the moment.
By November 2015, when he clocked 181 days, the presi¬dent had travelled to 12 countries under the de¬lusion of seeking foreign in¬vestors. By May 2016, he had made 26 foreign trips. With the scenarios painted above, one can imagine the num¬ber of foreign trips he would make at the end of his four-year tenure in 2019. Reports had it that he spent about N64 billion on foreign trips alone in just one year in of¬fice.
Since May 29, 1999, he re¬mained the greatest critic of successive administrations. He criticised former Presi¬dent Olusegun Obasanjo for his excessive foreign trav¬els. He took the same hard¬line position against the late former President Umaru Yar’Adua, but his criticism became more acidic and ven¬omous against former Pres¬ident Goodluck Jonathan’s foreign journeys. As the pres¬idential candidate in the 2011 general elections under the defunct Congress for Pro¬gressive Change, CPC, one of the political parties that merged to form the All Pro¬gressives Congress, APC, he chided Jonathan over his for-eign trips. CPC spokesman, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, stat¬ed: “It is conventional wis¬dom that charity begins at home. Unfortunately, Pres¬ident Jonathan has not im¬bibed this. Where did the in¬cessant shuttles of Obasanjo’s eight years lead us to in terms of foreign investment? Did it positively affect our balance of trade?”
Former National Chair¬man of the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, now part of APC, Chief Bisi Akande, chastised Jonathan for his foreign trips too. Akande spoke through Mr. Lani Baderinwa and said: “We are not saying he should not travel abroad, but the mood of the country should dictate his sojourn abroad. The Bra¬zil summit is likely to benefit Nigeria, but of what use is the summit when Nigerians are being killed on a daily basis?”
It is therefore baffling that the same people who con¬demned Jonathan for his for¬eign travels are extolling Bu¬hari over his excessive travels even in the midst of inces¬sant massacre of Nigerians by Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen.
No doubt, the purported N64 billion that President Buhari has spent so far on foreign trips is a misadven¬ture which ought not to, giv¬en the antecedents.
This shouldn’t be allowed to continue with our leaders. How many foreign investors were attracted into the economy as a result of the foreign trips of former Presidents Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan?
Again, Buhari and his praise singers also vilipended Jonathan for not visiting every scene of bomb blast detonated by Boko Haram insurgents, but today, he has not sent messages of condolence to the families whose members were mowed down by the mindless insurgents and lately by Fulani herdsmen not to talk of visiting them as they demanded of Jonathan. Not even the unprovoked killing of the Obi of Ubulu Uku Kingdom, Obi Akaeze Ofulue 111, could elicit a message of condolence from Buahri to the people of Delta State or the immediate family of the murdered king. Since assumption of office, how many places where bomb blast occurred or innocent Nigerians were killed has Buhari visited?
Buhari and his diehard supporters condemned Jonathan over the budget of N1 billion to feed the presidency in 2015, but the same Buhari had budgeted N1.7 billion for the same purpose but his hailers don’t see anything wrong with it.
Buhari reprimanded Jonathan for having many aircrafts in the presidential fleet and promised to convert them into a national carrier, but he has spent one year in office without converting or selling them. Former President Joyce Banda of Malawi on assumption of office in 2012 sold the only presidential jet that the country had because she felt it was too expensive for the country to maintain. This is what Nigerians expect Buhari to do-either sell some of the aircrafts or convert them to national carrier as he promised, but the reverse is the case here.
Since assumption in office, President Buhari and his cabinets have resorted to excuses for their failure. They blame the immediate past administration for all the woes that have befallen the country since independence. Since the ministers took their oath of office, none of them has made policies as to the direction of their ministries. This government has no economic team and direction, hence it is in recession. The Nigerian stock market has lost N1.732 trillion within one year and many companies have shut down. The few companies that are still operating on a skeletal basis are downsizing due to poor management of the economy. Prices of goods and commodities have skyrocketed. The economy was not in depression under Jonathan but Buhari and his hailers still blame the poor economy on him.
Buhari and his hailers said this administration cannot correct the misrule of many years in one year, but couldn’t they have laid a foundation for any new project within one year in office? Nobody said this administration should have built new refineries, skyscrapers, multiple roads and railways, houses etc or solve all the problems confronting the country within one year. But couldn’t it have laid the foundation for a new refinery, hospital, housing estate, railway, road or university? Which project has this government laid its foundation in the past one year? Is it not all about blaming the past government?
In summary, all the things former Presidents Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan did which Buhari and his praise singers condemned are the same things he is doing: unnecessary foreign trips, not visiting places of attacks, large fleet of aircrafts and cars, large entourages, DSS invading state assemblies, incessant fuel scarcity, lopsided anti-corruption war, huge recurrent expenditure, building helipad and wastefulness. When Buhari is on the wrong track his hailers keep applauding him. Nothing destroys a government more quickly than praise singers and hailers. This is why Buhari must be wary of his hailers; they are not his friends.
*Anya, a public affairs analyst, wrote in from Lagos