SATURDAY THE FRONTLINES
By Joseph Ushigiale
e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com; mobile phone: 08023422660 (sms only)
In the last few months since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) lifted the ban on political activities, those following the trend of events would confirm that all is not well in our country. The reason for this pessimism is quite simple: President Muhammadu Buhari has lost control and Nigeria has been seized, held hostage and is being manipulated by some pseudo-power mongers who are bent on running the country aground for their selfish interests.
For those who still doubt Buhari’s incapacity to lead the most populous black nation on earth, they should follow the President on his campaign trail. It is now an average of a gaffe per campaign stop.
Just this week while in Ondo State to flag off his party’s campaign, he introduced the party’s senatorial candidate with the following words “Well I have to raise the hand of the senatorial candidate. Senatorial Candidate. Please APC up & down. Edo Central.” What does this mean? First, the President did not know he was in Ondo State which is why he mentioned Edo Central. Even then, the party’s national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole had to take the candidate by hand to teleguide the entire process.
In the same vein, earlier in Delta state, the President began to show early signs of incoherence when at the point of handing over the APC flag to the governorship candidate in Delta State, Great Ogboru, Buhari referred to the flagbearer first as “presidential candidate”, then as“senatorial candidate” before settling for “governatorial candidate” instead of gubernatorial candidate.
The worst was to come later in Calabar during the campaign flag off at the U J Esuene stadium. Oshiomhole again was prancing up and down the state box trying to patch things up to avoid yet another blunder when suddenly Buhari seized the hand of Sen Ndoma Egba, the NDDC chairman, whose attempt to point out the flag bearer, Senator John Owan Enoh was misinterpreted by Buhari. Before anyone could say Jack, Buhari lifted Ndoma-Egba’s hand introducing him as the governorship candidate instead. It was a protesting Ndoma-Egba who pointed to a thoroughly flabbergasted Owan-Enoh drawing the President’s attention that he was rather the gubernatorial candidate not him.
I will not fail to mention a recent town hall meeting with Nigerians in The Diaspora reported by Dele Momodu where the President allegedly forgot what he jotted down. Let us imagine a scenario mirroring our President on the global stage with world leaders like Angela Merkel, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron of Germany, USA, Russian and France. Is it Abba Kyari, Adams Oshiomhole or Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that would accompany him there to teleguide him on what to say as he is being guided at home?
And this week, Buhari said he assumed office in 2005 instead of 2015, the list is endless. But it is important to situate the import of all these happenings and the wider implications for our country going forward.
Nigeria is highly respected in the comity of nations and therefore deserves a leader that is physically fit, intellectually equipped and has the confidence and courage to project the country to the global audience. On all these parameters the current occupant has scored zero. Even his much vaunted integrity mantra, going by his romance with corrupt people and covering up for corrupt misdeeds is dubious. On fitness, Buhari is unfit and almost fell in Kogi while departing the stadium; we all are witnesses to the President’s less than average performance at The Candidates debate even though the format was tweaked to elicit a good result for him. He does not even have a certificate going by his own admissions. So where does this leave us?
Recall that at the beginning of the campaign, the party had issued a statement informing Nigerians that the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu would take charge of the campaign on behalf of Buhari. But this was roundly condemned by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and CUPP forcing the APC to rescind its decision. Had that decision subsisted, Buhari’s true state of health and capacity to govern would not have unraveled the way it has now. It is all too clear now that those pushing a Buhari second term have a hidden agenda. These people knew all along that Buhari is incapacitated but are still foisting him on Nigerians as if there is no alternative to Buhari. The greatest culprit in this charade is the APC. This party believes that it needs Buhari, even as a walking corpse to reenact its 2015 victory. With its messianic posturing of Buhari, APC and the cabal are afraid that any other candidate short of Buhari will not sway Nigerian voters especially in the north. So whatever happens after the party sweeps to victory will now be directed by the cabal which would begin to direct the affairs of the country by proxy. There are ominous signs ahead of this arrangement because even if Buhari win this election, it is very clear he would not be the person in charge and the Vice President would not be allowed to act, therefore the country would be heading for implosion.
Ayade and the N1trn Joke
I was at the verge of turning in this report for the week when a whatsapp message grabbed my attention. A friend who resides in Calabar and runs an online news medium posted a message with the following content: one Andre Ekeng Inyang demonstrates a clear lack of intellect by writing this lame lines in support of Ben Ayade’s comical 2019 budget for CRS. “It budget of Quabalistic, ‘Calablistic’ Densification”.
Well, I have just recovered from a long bout of laughter because this is quite comical.
Since Senator Ben Ayade assumed office, I have restrained myself from commenting on his governance style for two reasons: we are both from the Northern senatorial zone and need to support him where my support is needed and the second reason is that I have access to him to deliver such advise, support or whatever.
However, I have decided to make this brief comment because an handshake has now exceeded an elbow as they say. This is the second budget in a row presented by Ayade that has topped a trillion naira. I can not comprehend it.
Last year, he presented budget estimates of N1.3trn which he christened as “Budget of Kinetic Crystallisation’’ meant to crystallise what the state had achieved in the past two years of his administration.
This year, he reduced the budget by N400b to N1.043trn which he described as a Budget of Quabalistic Densification,’ adding that it will migrate the state from third world to a first world by transforming the infrastructure and economy to meet the expectations of the people.
Even Lagos state with an estimated Internally generated monthly revenue receipt of N34b is not as ambitious as Ayade’s. Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s 2018 budget was N1.043trn and this year, his budget is less than N900b.
The questions that is begging for answers are: how did the budget of kinetic crystallization with 70% set aside for capital projects performed when people are suffering, potholes dot the entire landscape of Calabar, no water etc? How much is the state internally generated revenue? If you are ranked 35th on the FAAC ranking, it also means you collect about the least federal allocation and given the huge amount spent on debt settlement, the state would have very little accruing to its account. So where is the money coming from?
Last year, Ayade budgeted 30% for recurrent expenditure, this year, he was silent. There is nothing wrong in being ambitious and setting your sights very high on big pictures but these ideas must be based on realistic parameters.
It would appear that Ayade still views governance not as a serious business but as a huge joke. If not how can one explain his handling of such an important policy document as a budget with such crass ignorance and impudence? While still searching for the meaning of Quabalistic Densification to see how it relates to the budget, let me note that these voodoo budget estimates that the governor has resorted to presenting these past two years have made Cross River State a laughing stock at home and abroad. Cross Riverians deserve something better.