Buhari’s media chat in retrospect

I HAVE read a number of reactions to the December 30, 2015 ‘‘Presidential media chat.’’ President Buhari’s (PMB) haters led by the disreputable PDP, were unimpressed by his performance. Sadly, none of them offered better answers in their rejection of PMB narratives. The words that dripped out of the PDP and its social media feral rats were nothing but nullifications and insults.
Somebody needs to tell PDP that the main role of opposition parties is to provide more plausible counter-narratives to the governing party’s policy decisions and actions. For instance, PMB having made a case for his rejection of the devaluation of the Naira, PDP should make more compelling economic reasons why Naira should be devalued, if it feels it is right to do so.
Any serious opposition party to all intents and purposes considers itself as government in waiting and it’s seen as such. Politics requires some intellectual. Nigeria needs an opposition party that is ready to work. Politics may be a game for all but not by everybody. A goat can kick a ball, but that doesn’t make it a Lionel Messi.
I was surprised at the president’s mastery of the subjects he was asked about. I am always willing, particularly on matters concerning Nigeria to be persuaded by reason and the facts of evidence, not by ethnicity or religious sentiments.
On the question about restrictions on foreign exchange, the president was commended for stating that the nation cannot waste its scarce resources on the importation of all consumable goods including toothpicks. I, too, agree on that. In December 2010, incandescent with rage on the lifting of the ban on toothpicks importation by the Jonathan’s administration, on Sahara Reporters, I had argued that a nation that cannot produce toothpicks must have low self regard.
Ask any economist and you will be told that any nation dependent on primary raw material, with a conspicuous consumption taste for all other manufactured goods is doomed. PMB’s decision to support the importation of machinery and other items to add value to Nigeria’s natural products for both the domestic and foreign markets is admirable
On his budget proposals, PMB provided the philosophical thrust of his economic policy direction. The conviction is profound. Nigeria, he indicates, is going to witness a huge scaling up of investment on capital development. Thus, suggesting that the country should be ready and not be squeamish about borrowing for investment in key areas of the economy. Even if you are not a Keynesian economist, this makes common sense (apologies to Senator Ben Murray Bruce, Mr. Common sense). A nation cannot develop by spending 90% of its income on consumption and a measly 10% on capital expenditure.
This is why the most populated, largest oil producer and the largest economy in Africa is in dire infrastructural need, and Nigeria has no equivalent in the world. Hardly is there a nation that started on the same base as Nigeria that is not above it on the human development index. This African tragedy occurred because of the long absence of deep thinkers in governance.
PMB in the interview reaffirmed his determination under the rule of law to hunt the plunderers of the state till they return their stolen money. There is no equivocation here. PMB made that the central plank of his campaign. It is, however, surprising that there are many poor Nigerians who have been duped into thinking that the fight against corruption is selective. The concern should be, are the accused guilty or not? Assuming the fight is selective, wetin bi yaw own? How much of the stolen billions of dollars ended in your pocket? I have argued, mostly in private, that unless poor Nigerians get angry, very angry about the theft they suffer in the hands of political office holders, the road to progress will be very long indeed.
My concern is that under the rule of law, corruption cannot be fought with a rotten judiciary. Please, don’t ask for proofs, unless you have not been paying attention to the repugnant judgements and the perpetual injunctions granted to political thieves. The reform of the judiciary and the police force are imperatives for the war against corruption. Back on PMB’s interview, his ability to link security to economic development and general well-being of citizens was impressive. As Chinua Achebe once said, unless a tourist with a kinky sense of excitement, no sedate mind visits an insecure place much more invest in it. PMB’s knowledge of this, and his promise to ensure that arm robbery, terrorism, kidnapping and violent ethnic clashes are drastically reduced; the country made safe for both Nigerians and foreigners to invest in, are signs of a serious mind.
Having previously watched Jonathan’s tedious appropriately named ‘‘media chat’’, PMB’s performance has brutally demonstrated to Nigerians that some qualifications are not worth their paper value. Jonathan gave the most boring of media interviews to listen. Worst, he lacked the incisiveness required from somebody pretending to confront Nigeria’s myriad of economic and social problems. Listening to PMB, though you may need to be very attentive at times because of his accent, there is no doubt about his focus and determination laced with a matured sense of humour.
Now, I invite all interested in the progress of Nigeria to join me in saying: never again shall the occupation of the highest office in our land be up to the dictate of one or very few individuals.
• Kingsley Ogbonda wrote from London.

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