By Ike A. Offor
It is very fascinating to watch Buhari’s adminsitration, APC leadership, and their supporters heap all manners of blames on the immediate past government of Goodluck Jonathan. Sometimes, it is like his is still the incumbent president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and not a man who has left office almost one year ago. Also far more pathetic because the same man left Naira stronger, and the economy better, and as one of the strongest growing economy in the world, just behind China and India.
Then, it occurred to me to think through some of the blames, and couldn’t help but put my words down in this aritcle. People are absolutely permitted to air their views and blame whoever they want to, it is their right, irrespective of how absurb they are. But isn’t it sometimes nonsensical to conjure up all manners of blames on a person who is no more incharge of affairs that should have been ratified through prudent policies, but harmed through imprudent decisions?
Then it occurered to me to say that if President Goodluck Jonathan has this tremendous influence over our economy, the strength or value of our national currency, and myriads of other issues they blame him for, isn’t it better to bring him back as a sitting president?
I said these because of few reasons, 1) he must be such a powerful person that our economy still depends on him even if he is not the incumbent president of the country,
2) he must have such great influence on issues that he has no direct say or decisions on though they are still affected by his person in his abscence,
3) if our currecny was stronger under him, and the economy did very well under his watch, and in his abscence they are all collapsing, it is very wise to bring him back to exert his great influence on these.
Former president is blamed for the weak national currency, the Naira. He is blamed for state of our economy right now, though President Buhari two weeks ago bragged about Nigeria’s economy being the first in Africa. Then, he didn’t give credit to Goodluck Jonathan. It is very interesting to listen to Buhari make those remaraks about our economy being the first in African continent. But I recalled that he and his party leadership laughed at President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration when they rebased our eocnomy that catapulted us to the number one economy in Africa. Why didn’t he give credit to GEJ for that, but he bragged about it as if it was his present government that made our economy the number one in Africa?
At some point the National Chariman of APC, Chief Oyegun blamed the state of our economy and other things on God. He said “it is an act of God”. In other times, it is simply GEJ, it is as simple as that. Even some of the ardent supporters of Buhari have recently gotten very furious of his consistent blame on Goodluck Jonathan.
Now, let us follow few of the things that this present administration blame GEJ for, and look at them one by one.
THE NATIONAL CURRENCY (Our darling Naira)
It is an indisputable fact that the Naira was stronger under GEJ, and the eocnomy was also better, and for the first time in our history as a country Nigeria’s economy overtook that of South Africa to become number one. This is no more issue to argue about because even President Buhari after being bombered by news of the ailing state of the economy bragged that our eocnomy is the number one in Africa.
So, that is widely accepted by both Buhari, APC and their supporters. It is no more GEJ affairs like APC, as an opposition, portrayed it then when Nigeria’s economy was rebased. It could be remembered then the heated debate it generated, and how APC played down on it and told the entire country that it was a magic economy through doctored figures. But Buhari just boasted about the effect of that purported doctored figures they discredited then.
Naira was very stable under Goodluck Joanthan’s administration, and the inflation was brought further down from double digit to single digit, and further more. Naira echancged for between 150 to 160 to $1, but when the oil price began to fall, the naira fell up to 180 and was there until GEJ left office. Thereafter, the Naira has fallen to a historical low of 400 and 350 to $1.
Some people have blamed the fall in the value of Naira on speculators, and some sort of cartel. Let’s assume that it is true, as it is always with specualotrs all over the world. Specualting on currency is a a very engaging business which are practicised everywhere around the world, even in USA. Currency traders do these things. Speculating on currency did not begin with Buhari’s administraion, but has been there even under GEJ tenure. So, the nagging question is , why and how did GEJ handle the effects from their speculation that Buhari could not? You could agree that there is something that GEJ did very right irrespective of actions of speculators that Buhari is very much unable to do now.
It is almost unanimoulsy agreed, even Buhari, through his own words agreed that our economy is the best in Africa. It is interesting to remind him that it was under Goodluck Jonathan that Nigeria attained such enviable stage in African economy.
Nigeria’s economy grew the fastest in the history of Nigeria under the former President Goodluck Jonathan. Normally, African economy grows within 2-3% on average , something that does not have noticeable effect due to abject poverty and fast growing population. But under GEJ the economy grew at the fastest rate of 6.7%, which placed Nigeria third below China, and India. President Barrack Obama was so excited about it , that he talked about Nigeria and the rest of Africa to be the next big growth in the world. World leaders do not say these things unless they have the facts and figure before them, and have taken time to digest them thoroughly.
World experts and media houses talked about it on daily basis, CNN Money included Naira in the currencies they discuss everyday, Bloomberg, Forbes business and many others spoke about it. Investors trouped into Nigeria in record numbers, and foreign investment soared to a record level. All these were every day on the international media, and the facts and figures were everywhere for everyone to digest.
So, when Buhari has failed now to put foward prudent economic policies that could grow the economy, he and APC and their members turned around and blamed GEJ for that. That is very pathetic indeed. The Nobel Laurate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, like other educated folks and some economic experts, have called on the president to summon an economic conference to bring heads together to solve the eocnomic mess ravaging the country at the moment. I wonder how many national economic conferences GEJ held during his tenure? NONE!
Though it is doubtful what the conference would bring, if the ideas given to the president will never see the light of the day under his stubborn attitude towards advices form others. Some other experts have advised him to devalue the national currency, an advice which has fallen on deaf ears. So, who are the people he would listen to when they attend his national economic conference, if he is not listening to them now?
If the former president Goodluck Jonathan has such great influence on number of issues even when he is not in power or the person making deicisions in Aso Rock, isn’t it best to bring him back to help bring things back to normalcy. If the man who is the current president has no influence whatsoever over the eocnomic decisions he made and things are not right under him, though he is in charge, and hands out policies, then his prescence as the president is irrelevant. Perhaps, it is good to ask for the man who has more influence on issues relevant to our economy to perhaps come back and make things better. It is funny but judging from the blame culture in the present leadership and the ruling party, this is an option worth pondering over.