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January 21, 2015

Unfit to be President?

Healthy?

Gen Buhari is unfit to be President on the grounds of old age and possible frail-health that will generally increase from now onward. The General understood this as, supposedly, this was why he said the 2011 election would be his last attempt the the Presidency. Nigeria is a very intense country. The President needs to be one who is intensely involved as well, possibly a micro-manager of his immediate staff at least. Otherwise even his cook will make a living illegally right from under your nose. The President needs to be hands on and aware of the action and intents of the people closest to him and be prepared to sift through them for the best staff. Ill-health, not being in the country often (as happened in the case of President Yar’adua who was away mostly on medical trips abroad) will quickly lead to the President’s “kitchen cabinet” running the country. Forget the Vice President. In Nigeria, the Vice President is often the handbag of the President, to be used at will and discarded. Nigeria has had a lot of Presidents who are not corrupt but their administration was totally incompetent and corrupt. Example, President Shagari. It is well reported that Gen Buhari was not corrupt as the former PTF czar but it is also well known that, according to President Obasanjo “there was something fishy” there. Mostly it is known that not all the employees of PTF especially those closest to Gen Buhari can be acquitted of misconduct and corruption as was the General. President Obasanjo also told us the General Buhari felt that he was not able to “see everything” since billions of naira were involved in his administration at the PTF. If he could NOT see everything at the PTF and corruption went on, how could he see everything now at his old frail age?

Who would be in Gen Buhari’s Cabinet?

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Running a good administration is also a matter of having a great team. If APC wins the election the country will not be ruled only by Gen Buhari alone or by Gen Buhari and an independently chosen team. The presidents team will be formed and decided upon by the party and by many of the old chips of the PDP. Take a look at some of the people who would constitute Gen Buhari’s cabinet or at least those who will nominate individuals into that cabinet. Just hold your breath: Bola Tinubu (already credited for nominating the Vice Presidential Candidate, Prof Osinbajo), Alhaji Abubakar Atiku, Rabiu Kwanwaso, Malam El Rufai, Rotimi Amaechi etc. These are some of the individuals that will influence the choice of Gen Buhari’s cabinet. Some of them, notably, Bola Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku will most likely get portfolios in a Gen. Buhari government and will go on to become very influential in any case. The question is, are these the people who will fight corruption? Frankly, all of the leaders who moved from PDP to APC did not do so because of policy differences or because they think some things, other than the election or appointment which they lost in, should have been done differently. So the change we will get in APC is a change of name in reality. As a matter of fact, if APC wins the election the power struggle that will follow internally may lead to APC bleeding back to PDP and with substantially reduced numbers in NASS, the PDP will effectively give the Gen Buhari government a difficult time running the country.

The Role of Government

It is clear that President Jonathan is a firm believer in due process and in establishing institutional framework and allowing everyone to do their jobs. This can be clearly seen in the administrations relations with INEC, NASS, EFCC etc. Most of the institutions were allowed under this administration to run without undue interference from the Presidency. This is a major plus for the administration and this is a major reason that @southelevation endorses President Jonathan for another term of office. The EFCC boss, Mr Lamorde has not been fired because he was going to prosecute anyone. No one can point a finger and say that EFCC was about to prosecute anyone and the President stopped him. Same goes for Prof Jega at INEC. In fact the President is the only serving President to ever publicly take up the goal of urging INEC to run a free and fair election. No one will say that if INEC fails that it was because of President Jonathan. For the first time, during an election circle and in the last 4years the government cannot be accused of political witch hunt. To be fair to this administration. The President has not been meddling in or persisted in “illegal” prosecutions or persecutions. In the words of the President, there is no political prisoner in Nigeria today. The press has been free to criticise the President and even call him names without consequence whatsoever. This is a good thing. Contrast that with the kind of leadership experience that Gen Buhari has. In the Generals perspective, fellow Nigerians are undisciplined, corrupt, and possibly infidels who should be commandeered and whipped into line at every stop. Guess what?, you cannot do that anymore. Democracy is tough, expensive and unpredictable. You will have to make deals, compromise, allow one or two mosquitoes into your net; for sake of national security, give amnesty to murderers just to stop them from killing more people and pay subsidies to some rich importer so the citizens can have petrol to buy and so he can sell petrol at N87 per litre and guess what he still sells petrol at more than R97 per litre. As the President you have leverage and can use it to establish institutions that can be self sustaining and that can increasingly assist you to plug the holes in the national treasury; in petrol pricing at the open market, in commodities prices and in government procurement. All of these is what the present administration of the President Jonathan is busy with. Progress is slow but sure and sustainable. The alternative is to refuse to compromise, refuse to borrow, become meddlesome and stand the risk of jailing innocent people and inhibiting free enterprise and driving the country into deep austerity.

There is evidence to suggest that both Gen Buhari and his Vice, Prof Osinbajo, are believers in having government do every thing in the economy. In other words they believe in big government, as the Americans will call it. Prof. Osinbajo is on record to have said that Gen Buhari and his administration will buy the produce from farmers so that their is no more waste of farm produce. Reports show that about 80% of tomatoes produced in the country go to waste because their is no value chain to take over from the farmers. So the Prof is advocating that government should step in as a big brother and buy off the produce. That should be all alright except that in Nigeria the problem is always the Government. May be Gen Buhari should do the buying directly otherwise the system will very easily be abused. Government money is often seen as no ones money and is there for the taking whereas what President Jonathan’s administration has done was to establish lending capacities for private sector to move in and build capacity for the value chain. The lending is currently run independently by the oversight of the independent Central Bank.This is a fundamental difference between the two Presidential candidates. One, namely, Gen Buhari will take the country back 20years in agriculture whereas President Jonathan’s administration is forward looking to new approaches for solving the country’s agricultural problem. And records show that his methods are working. Why throw it away at this time?

Certificate saga

The Gen Buhari’s certificate saga is gradually becoming a major distraction for the APC. Especially as the Gen has failed to categorically dismiss the allegation. Of course the PDP will not challenge the issue at this time. The meaningful strategy would be to have this as a plan B. If-we-loose-the-election-we-will-go-to-court strategy. We will probably have a President with substantial credibility questions or one imposed by the courts.

And all the Pettiness

The level at which election 2015 is being argued and debated is a reflection of the illiteracy of the major voting blocks in the country. Sentiments are the vital attention getters and popularity boosters but the facts and figures and programs of action that should be the issues and the positions of the parties on key economic and social indicators that would positively influence the lives, wellbeing and economic prosperity of the nation and its citizens are being subtly relegated to second place. I would like to hear Gen. Buhari state what he will do to tackle corruption; give instances how that has worked and what effect his methods will have on the nation. How has President Jonathan’s administration tackled corruption presently, were has he succeeded, failed or is lacking, what changes is his administration going to make if elected. On job creation, what are the facts: unemployment rates before and after. Was it a success or failure, even if marginally? Can the President’s policies or lack of it be responsible for the perceived improvement or failure? Same questions can be asked in all facets of national life. In agriculture, industrial growth, infrastructure and revenue. But it is really a shame that many people are not asking policy questions. Hopefully the Presidential Debates will help throw up some of the real issues and help the voters differentiate between the candidates.

Progress is being made

I say that progress is being made whoever wins the elections. Because for once in our national history we have an opposition equal and opposite to the ruling party. Whoever wins we should now look towards deepening the policy and ideological divides between the two major parties so that each of them will keep the other on it’s toes and provide vital alternative positions and prepositions for national discussions and actions. Right now the defection of the party leaders is diluting that option but we suspect it would never remain that way for long. Soon “hard-setting” will start taking place and individuals will be hardened against certain positions as a party. Fellow Nigerians should choose more of the people whose “knees has not wobbled” as a means of pushing the politicians towards firm principles.

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