When Clueless is True to Its Meaning

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It is now clear that the word ‘clueless’ frequently used to denigrate former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration by the All Progressives Congress cannot be more valid than now, writes Davidson Iriekpen

Part of the propaganda the All Progressives Congress (APC) used as an opposition party to unseat President Goodluck Jonathan from power in the run-up to the 2015 presidential election was to constantly describe him and his administration as “clueless” in the way governmental affairs were run. At every forum before the election, the party through its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed and its National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun fondly used the word ‘clueless’ to denigrate the Jonathan’s administration. And the media soon caught the bug.

But with over one and a half years in power, the APC now as a ruling party and the presidency have been able to prove to Nigerians that they are not any better. Gradually, it is beginning to dawn on Nigerians that part of the reasons Jonathan was labeled clueless was not because of his wrong economic policies or inability to tame the malaise in the polity but because he didn’t know that as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Force, he could oppress or suppress the opposition, clamp them into detention or chase them out of town.

Investigations have since revealed that Jonathan’s tolerance and his decision not unnecessarily heat up the polity by allowing the opposition to have their way was the main reason he was so described. For those who thought that President Muhammadu Buhari’s electoral victory would be an opportunity for a total transformation of Africa’s sleeping giant, events in the last 20 months have shown otherwise.

Since he (Buhari) assumed office, nothing seems to have changed. For most Nigerians, it has been the more you look, the less you see. This is why people, including organisations, have continued to see his administration as worse than that of his predecessor. They even see him as more clueless in all aspects of governance. It is common knowledge now that most Nigerians know that in the 21 months that Buhari has governed the country, nothing has changed.

There are more killings under the current government than any other; insecurity has increased progressively; impunity – either from those in power or security agencies – is on the increase exponentially; the country’s electoral system has not improved; power is more epileptic, roads are more than death traps than ever, and above all, Nigerians are hungrier, bitter and divided than ever.

Rather than put in place measures to tackle these multifaceted challenges that would put smiles on the faces of Nigerians, the government is on a daily basis blaming the previous government and with its eyes already fixed for 2019. This is why many analysts and observers feel that the word ‘clueless’ used to denigrate the Jonathan administration cannot be more aptly applicable than now based on happenings in the polity. They also believe that the president is not in control of his government and governing by proxy.

For instance, a study by Nigerian Governance Watch, a United Kingdom-based Nigerian professionals group, recently revealed that President Buhari is bereft of idea to manage, have no focus, unstable and extremely incompetent in every sphere to shape the affairs of any Nigeria.

The group comes short of blaming the president, but Nigerians, who knew the antecedent of Buhari while in office in 1984 to 1985 and blindly went for a man, who has not created anything, but only destroys the gains of his predecessors through his thoughtless policies and zero understanding of the workings in a public sector.

It was believed as a military leader, Buhari killed the naira, killed the economy, destroyed Nigeria’s relationship with the rest of the world, polarised the country on tribe and religion, impoverished Nigerians to the extent that Nigerians were queuing up for essential commodities like milk, rice and bread.

The Nigerian Governance Watch stated that they were not surprised, as President Buhari they described as a “very serious” leader, in a recession period did not deem it fit to appoint a single economist among the 36 names in his cabinet. They frowned at the president’s resort to intuition, thumb rules and application of Adam and Eve economics in this 21st century.

On the political front, they condemned president’s deliberate interventions in the electoral process and his use of security agencies to intimidate the opposition and people of diverse opinion.
Observing how the country is being governed, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), also recently said the absence of a well-structured, broad-based and synergised economic blueprint with clearly stated goals, plans, policies and strategies to drive the economy is largely responsible for the current challenges and policy ambiguity the nation is experiencing.

The LCCI, while reviewing Buhari’s regime, noted that the global economic reality, fall in global oil prices, policy shortcomings and insurgency all played a very critical role in the weak economic performance of the country. It, however, said in realisation of these challenges, government’s efforts at stabilising the economy were commendable. It stressed the need for the administration to review its processes and implement reforms and frameworks that would make corruption difficult to thrive.

It said while the policy goal of eliminating corruption was laudable, the need for concerted efforts on the side of the government with respect to policy, legal and regulatory environments to boost private sector participation was highly desirable. The group said it was imperative to make very strong moves to resolve the weakening oil revenue and find creative ways of incentivising foreign exchange inflow into Nigeria so as to boost liquidity and ease access to forex through alternative sources such as foreign direct investment in critical sectors of the economy and Diaspora remittances.

On its part, the National Conscience Party (NCP) has said President Buhari is more clueless than his predecessor, Jonathan. In a statement by its National General Secretary, Ayodele Akele, the party said: “Look at all the promises Buhari made to Nigerians during the election, which one has he fulfilled? There will get to a point when Buhari will say things and Nigerians will not believe him. When is he going to start paying N5,000 to unemployed youths and elderly ones? When is he going to stabilise the price of the dollar to naira? The value of the naira keeps dropping every day. The standard of living of Nigerians has worsened under Buhari than Jonathan.”

One of the most vocal critics of the President Buhari economic policies is the former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II. Penultimate week, he criticised the president for planning to borrow $29,960 billion for the country. He said it would be difficult for the loan to be granted because Nigeria has five exchange rates.

The criticism was the second time in three months that the monarch was criticising the president’s economic policy. In August, he had sternly criticised the president, saying his government may end up like that of the former President Jonathan.

“I can tell you for free, if the Senate today approves that we can borrow $30 billion, honestly, no one will lend us. It should be approved and I will like to see how you will go to the international market with an economy that has five exchange rates. There is one rate for petroleum marketers, there is interbank rate, there is another for money market operators such as western union, money gram, there is bureau de change rate and there is a special rate you get when you call the CBN for a transaction.

“So who will borrow you when they don’t know your exact reserve and exchange rate? I want to see who will borrow you money when the Niger Delta bombing of oil is there when the main source of the loan repayment is oil.”
Stating that Nigeria’s foreign exchange rates lacked credibility, Sanusi said the federal government should embrace private sector investments as a way out of its recession. The monarch said oil revenue cannot bring the country out of its present economic downturn or made it rich. He expressed disappointment that government could not increase capital expenditure even though the country’s population continued to grow to over 40 million people since 2015.
With the economy nose-diving in the first 15 months of the present administration, the PDP recently accused Buhari and his party, APC, of ineptitude, clueless and unable to initiate polices to deal with the economic recession. It said the APC had rather engaged in its usual blame game to deceive Nigerians.

While reacting to the claim made by Oyegun, who had alleged that the PDP could not account for N33trillion accruing to the country in the five years of the Jonathan administration, the PDP observed that the APC has portrayed itself as being dangerously obsessed with the frivolity of bamboozling Nigerians with high-sounding figures only for entertainment purposes.

In a statement issued by its spokesman, Dayo Adeyeye, a former minister, the party said: “It is obvious in the eyes of all discerning compatriots that this style of governance is not taking us anywhere. There is no doubt that it is this pattern of bare-faced lying, dishonesty and incompetence that has crippled our economy, utterly weakened our Naira and raised unemployment levels to unprecedented proportions in only 15 months.

“The APC Government has remained clueless and even confused as our economy plummeted to a level where the Nation’s infrastructure has completely collapsed and Nigerians are no longer able to feed their children or send them to school. The reality of dwindling oil revenues and an economy forced into a recession by an inept administration is a challenge that requires sincerity, competence and a large dose of honesty to get us out of the woods; not the constant lies and deception that have unfortunately, become the house-style in the 15-month old of APC’s Government.”

It described Odigie-Oyegun’s assertion as “avoidable mischief,” noting that issues bordering on the nation’s economy have continued to hunt the image of the country “at a time we are in desperate need of investment from the international community.”

The PDP maintained that without citing any credible sources, Oyegun whom it said has no proven economic background or the benefit of any known diligent research, had claimed that the nation earned N56 trillion in five years under Jonathan, even as he admitted that the total budget for those years amounted to only N23 trillion which was less than half of the vaunted figures

The opposition party recalled that an APC governor had once claimed that one of the ministers in Jonathan’s government stole $6 billion, quoting unnamed United States Government source, saying “It was only when the Americans repudiated that claim that the falsehood was laid to rest”.

The PDP therefore advised the APC Chairman to concentrate on helping President Buhari and his party with ideas and policies “that will revamp our ailing economy, restore our dignity abroad rather than the usual tantrum just to castigate previous PDP’s administration with a view to scoring cheap political point,” saying, “Time for honeymoon is over; it’s now time to deliver on your campaign promises.”

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Since he (Buhari) assumed office, nothing seems to have changed. For most Nigerians, it has been the more you look, the less you see. This is why people, including organisations, have continued to see his administration as worse than that of his predecessor. They even see him as more clueless in all aspects of governance