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[rejoinder] KOWA party responds to Garba Shehu’s article on the economy

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[rejoinder] KOWA party responds to Garba Shehu’s article on the economy

In response to Mr Garba Shehu’s op-ed on what President Buhari is doing with the economy, we have considered it important to respond not just for the purpose of a rejoinder, but to put the apologetic narrative that currently beclouds the thoughts of the occupants in the Aso Villa in proper perspective.

This is also necessary seeing that Mr Garba Shehu who speaks for Mr President and has his ears now share the same sentiments as those whose jobs are to defend the President and present to him what he wants to hear irrespective of what currently obtains on the streets.

READ: Garba Shehu: Nigeria is starting over: What Pres. Buhari is doing with the economy

To reiterate the growing feelings on the streets, Nigerians are tired of hearing what happened in the past 16 years of this administration. For the purpose of emphasis, the only reason the APC is currently the party in government is because Nigerians were tired of the past administration at a time when the country was not even in recession. It is therefore a counter-productive measure for representatives and spokespersons of the President to continue to feed Nigerians with tales of how bad things were.

While it is necessary that we do not completely discard the stories of the past so we do not repeat the same mistakes, there is a need and in deed as things stand currently, an URGENT need to focus on what can be done to salvage the doom we are headed. That the APC as a party has not reached this point is one of the reasons we find ourselves in this recession and could not quickly put in policies that could help keep us on the edge.

READ: 16 months later: APC blames PDP for Nigeria’s hardship

From all indications, it does not appear that the party has reached that point. It is difficult to find an average Nigerian even amongst PDP members that disagree that the institutional corruption that brought this nation to the point where this administration met it was built over time. However, we do not need history lessons to know that the only way to deal with the issues that such level of corruption has brought is to create new systems. Coming up with new Economic Policy or legislation that propels the success of SME’s does not come with a pre-requisite of knowing exactly how much money every past corrupt government official diverted for his or her personal use.

A forward-thinking approach is necessary, anything short of that is laced with a penchant for vengeance and a near total disregard for the plight of the Nigerian people.

If APC says Sambo Dasuki stole money that was meant for the fight against Boko Haram, and because of that they will not address the fact that the ease of entering into and staying in business in Nigeria is still woefully below par, then one must question their priorities, their vision and their ability to save this nation from the previous rot and from even the calamity they have brought in their wake.

The crazy thing about how this administration engages with the Nigerian people is the precision with which it is selective with its transparency. Criticisms are seen as attacks, no matter how useful and constructive, but blind praises are paraded all around social media by the President’s army of wilful Twitter and Facebook followers.

The president is notoriously averse to facing the people he begged for votes back in 2015. We do not see the President giving press conferences or personal Social Media Engagements, instead we are constantly punished with the monotony of Garba Shehu’s empty reassurances and Femi Adesina’s smug attitude and insulting comments against the very Nigerians the President was elected to serve.

We are in a RECESSION and we need to spend our way out of it. Kemi Adeosun has said this, quite rightly, but that is where it stops. Where are the details? Where is the money to be spent coming from? What projects are being spent on? Is it an emergency? Will the 2016 budget be facing further review so that many more of those shameful excesses can be cut out? With our poor credit rating, who is willing to lend money to us? What kind of deal are we getting?
We cannot be forced to fill ourselves on the crumbs of information that is being thrown at us like it were a favour. The people of Nigeria deserve to know.

If Garba Shehu says the previous administration does not have a single major infrastructural project to show, for all of their time in office, what does this administration have to show? What do they plan to show? Abuja – Kaduna rail project completion became a case of tug-of-war of victory between two administrations, neither of which seems to have what it takes to keep promises to the Nigerian people or give them what they deserve. Mind you, in this economic climate, the rate at which businesses are being demolished is rather alarming. What is so bad with the government opening the floor for better dialogue with business owners? Demolishing these businesses still does not address the root cause, which are the flawed government systems that allow government workers issue permits that otherwise ought not to be issued.

The single most common request from this administration is “have patience…”, so much so that they sound like nothing more than a broken record. Why would you expect Nigerians to have patience in plans, policies and preparations that they have not seen. You ask them to be patient, yet you give them nothing concrete as to what to expect. The frustration is bound to build up. The President is said to have an economic team without an inch of presence of the organised private sector (OPS), yet Nigeria ignored all of the warning signs and danced its way to the best seat in the pit of recession, and you ask Nigerians to be patient?

This government talks about eliminating ghost workers, yet its penchant for nepotism continues to be the death of the meritocracy that positions in CBN, FIRS etc. require. They talk of a focus on non-oil sectors like Agrictulture, Solid Minerals and Manufacturing, yet we have questionable proposals like the Grazing Reserve Bill, the opacity of the Solid Minerals Industry and the multiplicity of fees, levies and distortive financial burdens the government (at Federal, State and Local and even community level) places on manufacturers and small business owners.

We accuse the past administrations of being wasteful in their expenditure, but here is a President who still maintains all the planes on the Presidential fleet that Mr Garba mentioned in his article and had a very healthy sum of money allocated to the State House Medical Centre, when our healthcare system is a decaying carcass of what it ought to be. The National Assembly salaries which were recently exposed have Senators earning N12million annually in the midst of this economic collapsse just to turn up and sit silently, unbothered and uninvolved through the very process that they ought to use to bring change to the Nigerian people and doing nothing about the many laws that continue to hinder businesses and choke SMEs.

Youth involvement in shaping the country through the public sector is not one of the things this government can boast of. Increased number of young people registering, entering and successfully staying in business is also another. Can we visit the unemployment rate…? The National Bureau of Statistics claims that 4.5 million people have lost their jobs in the past year alone. Some cities in this very country do not have a population of 4.5million. So, imagine going a big city and finding that not a single person is employed.

Garba Shehu says, “The future must of necessity be built on the foundations of the past.” And we are forced to ask, what future are we building from the pit of this recession which this administration’s fixation on the past has caused, and with what credit rating?
There is any need at all to focus on the past, it is the prerogative of this APC-Led administration to start a comparative analysis of their actions so far with the actions of the past governments they so love to blame and see that they are not just repeating the mistakes and the habits, they are doing much more badly as far as the average Nigerian citizen who has to put food on his/her table is concerned.

May God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Guide Our Leaders Right!

Jude ‘Feranmi
National Youth Leader, KOWA PARTY

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