7th April, 2020
Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has dismissed President Buhari’s cabinet as incompetent, “lacking in qualified hands”.
In a language that betrays a deep contempt, Atiku dismissed the team for its inability to “think outside the box”.
Atiku passed the verdict in a long essay circulated today on how Nigeria and Africa can surmount the effects of the coronavirus.
He said the oil crisis being faced by the Buhari administration was also faced by the Obasanjo administration.
Atiku argued that the oil price crash should not be enough to trigger an economic crisis.
Nigeria’s 2020 budget was predicated on $57, but oil prices are now in the $30s range after falling into the 20s.
Atiku argued said the situation does not call for panic.
“After all, the current price of oil was lower than it is today when President Obasanjo and I assumed office on May 29, 1999. Yet we paid off Nigeria’s entire foreign debt.
“However, there are two remarkable differences. The first is that we had a stellar cabinet between 1999-2007.
“We had the right people manning our economy.
“We certainly would not have proposed to take out a $500 million loan to digitalise the Nigerian Television Authority, or devote ₦37 billion to renovating the National Assembly complex (which was built from the scratch at less than 20% of that amount)”, he said.
Atiku pummelled the Buhari government further:
“Today’s Nigerian government is severely lacking in qualified hands. And nothing proves this than the state of the Presidency itself.
“To think that after devoting ₦13 billion to the State House Clinic in the last five years, it is virtually useless as we face the most significant public health challenge of our national life. That is a pointer to the state of our federal government”.
Atiku wondered why the Buhari administration is always quick to seek foreign loans to solve domestic economic problems.
“Why is it that the Nigerian government is always quick to want to borrow at every instance?
“It shows a lazy mindset and an inability to take those sacrifices necessary to get the economy into shape.
” Worse still it proves that we do not, as of yet, have the ability to think outside the box for genuine solutions.
” We cannot be looking to borrow huge sums at the same time our officials are taking delivery of foreign made luxury cars.
“We cannot be considered a serious country when we refuse to cut down on profligacy and instead seek outside help to fund our inefficiencies.
“Even in our own individual houses, when things get tight, the first thing we should do is cut down on unnecessary expenditure and then you look for creative ways to generate funds and develop our household economy, before we even seek outside funding.
” A situation where the Nigerian government always seeks outside funding, which, by the way has to be repaid if ever granted, displays an inadequacy in the thinking process of our leaders at the moment.
He advised the Buhari government to wade into the Saudi-Russia price war that is one of the reasons for the crash in oil prices.
“Nigeria must bring her weight (like we had done in the past) to bear to force an early cessation of hostilities so that oil prices could start looking up.
“And secondly, we must insist that the Abacha loots held back by various Western governments must be immediately and unconditionally returned to Nigeria.
“We have a humanitarian crisis on our hands. I believe that President Trump is a reasonable man.
“He knows that if nothing is done to avoid the foreseeable dislocation of African economies, the next wave of mass migration to the United States would not be from Mexico.
“The worst thing we can do now is to wring our hands and look to outsiders. Not now.
“The leadership in Abuja and the rest of Africa cannot afford to be lethargic while the rest of the world is scrambling to save what they can of their economies.
“In Nigeria, it is already clear that we must abandon the 2020 budget and come up with a more realistic budget.
“Our oil benchmark is way off the mark. And we are certainly no longer in a position to budget ₦100 billion plus for our legislatures and almost ₦50 billion for the Presidency (in truth, we were never in a position to do that)”.
Read the full essay here: Atiku writes: What Nigeria, Africa must do to mitigate coronavirus effects