At a lecture he gave at the 15th meeting of the Joint Planning Board and National Council on Development Planning, titled “Nigeria In Search Of New Growth Model”, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Islamic scholar turned-banker-turned-traditional ruler, fell a little short of lampooning President Muhammadu Buhari for the unfortunate economic situation Nigeria has slid into within just 15 months of him being in the saddle.
With failure staring him in the face having worked assiduously for APC even as a PDP-appointed Central Bank Governor, he urged Buhari not to make the same mistakes former president Goodluck Jonathan made in order for him not to end up like the former president. This, in the estimation of Sanusi and his co-travellers, was because Jonathan ended badly.
But far from it, rather than end badly, Jonathan actually ended up a hero; a hero, not only of Nigeria, but also of Africa. He is Nigeria’s priceless gift to Africa, a shiny example to the world. Little wonder he is still being courted by countries and institutions in Africa, Europe and America 15 months after his famous exit from power. They all want to listen to and learn from a man who took Nigeria to her height of glory and exited the stage when the ovation was loudest. A feat strange in this part of our world!
Buhari can never attain such feats as Jonathan, no matter how much the president is managed and branded. This is because Buhari and Jonathan are obviously not at per with each other. While Jonathan is a confirmed PhD holder, Nigerians cannot say the same of our current president whose claimed basic qualification of WASC is still shrouded in avoidable controversy.
Buhari can never end up like Jonathan because Jonathan’s standards are too high for him. While Jonathan took Nigeria’s economy from nowhere and made it Africa’s strongest and largest, beating South Africa to it to the awe of renowned international finance and economics experts and organizations including the international media, Buhari has destroyed that legacy in just 15 months. Today, South Africa has since regained that position of pride while Egypt has also just overtaken SA in the rating as Nigeria keeps licking her wounds way down the ladder.
Sanusi was only playing to the gallery when he warned Buhari to ensure he does not end up like Jonathan. The Emir of Kano should have known that there is no basis for comparison between the two. One conscientiously worked towards the total eradication of polio in Buhari and Sanusi’s immediate corridors to the commendation of the UN and other international agencies to the extent that our country became a positive reference point for countries still battling that dreaded disease (and the disease was kept at bay for two solid years despite the insurgency in the north-east that was noised to be worst under Jonathan) while with Buhari as president, polio has found its way back in Nigeria and has dragged us years backward health-wise.
Jonathan’s standards are so high for Buhari to meet that it would be suicidal for him to attempt to go near them. No man can give what he does not have. Those pushing Buhari to go beyond his well known limited capacity in order to meet and surpass Jonathan’s standards are not doing him any favours. While Jonathan improved our electoral system to an enviable level, giving INEC the necessary support and enabling environment to conduct free, fair, credible and acceptable elections, INEC’s reputation has taken a tumble for the worse as it hardly concludes any election it conducts since Buhari assumed power to the extent that Nigerians have nicknamed the once exemplary institution “Inconclusive National Electoral Commission” (INEC).
While Jonathan would congratulate non-PDP members even if they were APC members who won elections when he was president, Buhari has not congratulated PDP members who won one election or the other under the current dispensation. In fact, attempts have even been made by the authorities to deliberately subvert the people’s will just to ensure APC candidates win at all cost in places like Rivers, Bayelsa and other States. It is not surprising. While one is known to have a large heart, the other is known to have a hard heart!
It is an exhibition of low reasoning for anyone to think Buhari can end up like Jonathan. How? What was the strength of our currency the naira in relation to the dollar and other foreign currencies? With the situation of things today, and the naira hitting an all-time high of N409/$, we can all hear the naira, crying, lamenting and calling for the return of Jonathan. Unfortunately for it, Jonathan has since moved on while Buhari and his men keep having nightmares of him to the extent it is absolutely impossible to forget him or not mention his name for one day.
While Jonathan sat and led from the high pedestal of rule of law, constitutionalism and democratic tenets, promptly obeying court orders, not interfering with judicial processes and legislative functions, Buhari is harassing citizens with security agents, holding people incommunicado for nearly a year, all against court orders and flagrantly abridging the rights of citizens. It is so bad that government is seeking secret trials for those whom they have accused openly and tried in the media. Such people deserve an open trial, fair and free from executive manipulations.
Sanusi himself alluded to the fact that Buhari’s team of advisers is made up of “voodoo economists” who know next to nothing about economics. How can one compare Buhari’s team of advisers with that of Jonathan who paraded superstars and well-sought after team members? Who in Buhari’s government can anyone compare to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Arunma Otteh, Omobola Johnson, Mike Onolememen, Stella Oduah, Akinwunmi Adeshina, Barth Nnaji, Olugbenga Ashiru, Onyebuchi Chukwu, Samsudeen Usman, Olusegun Aganga etc, some of whom have been snapped up by foremost international organizations due to their sterling performances?
While Jonathan gave all parts of the country a sense of belonging by spreading his appointments to the best and brightest irrespective of ethnic background or religious affiliation, Buhari has limited his appointments to cronies and family members most of whom have experiences only in cattle herding before now. Is there any need for one to be surprised at the different performances of the two administrations?
It was people like Sanusi who felt happy and gratified that almost all appointments went to only the Hausa/Fulani north. Today, see where the northernisation of government has landed Nigeria, yet, he expects Buhari to out-perform Jonathan!
We can also not forget in a hurry how the Jonathan administration effectively tackled the dreaded Ebola disease to the extent that the world started requesting for our health workers to assist them in ending the scourge in their own countries, too. Even when the international community denied us the Zmap drug needed to tackle Ebola at the time, Nigeria still overcame the disease in record time. But the same cannot be said of the Lassa Fever that ravaged Nigeria earlier this year. As at early April, the fever had killed 164 people in the whole of West Africa while Nigeria alone accounted for 85% (138) of the total deaths.
With this staggering figure, one can only thank God that Buahri was not the president in the Ebola Fever era, the casualty figure would have been catastrophic.
The inflation rate is so high, in fact, the highest in the modern history of Nigeria. People are hungry, the masses are dying, jobs are being lost in droves, foreign investors are pulling out of our country and some are relocating to neighbouring countries, the same investors that Jonathan attracted when he made Nigeria the number one foreign investment destination in Africa. Today, those same investors are leaving in their numbers; a whopping 272 (not counting thousands of other informal ones) have closed shop while we lost 180,000 jobs in the process, yet, someone has the effrontery to advise Buhari to ensure he does not end up like Jonathan as if Buhari can ever get to Jonathan’s height!
Jude Ndukwe is a political analyst who lives and works in Abuja, Nigeria. He is a member of The Trent’s Elite Columnists. His column is published every Friday. He tweets from @stjudendukwe.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.