The Financial Times of London says President Muhammadu Buhari has been running a government that lacks a clear direction in the last four years.
The respected newspaper therefore called on the President to see his re-election as an opportunity to do the right thing.
The Financial Times said this in its editorial which has been read and shared thousands of times around the world.
It said there was no clear economic policy like that of Rwanda and Ethiopia.
It read in part, “With his renewed mandate, it is now Mr Buhari’s task to rebuild faith by running a dynamic and successful administration and by building the institutions that can lay firmer foundations than in his previous term.
“The omens from his first four years in office are not good. During that time, the former military leader ran a lacklustre administration with no obvious sense of direction. There was no coherent economic strategy of the sort being attempted by the likes of Ethiopia, Rwanda or west African neighbours Ghana and Senegal to produce the rapid growth needed to haul tens of millions of people out of poverty. It is an indictment of its leadership — both military and democratic — that the continent’s biggest oil producer should have more people living in absolute poverty than any other country in the world.”
FT advised the President to appoint more technocrats in his second term who can help turn things around.
The newspaper said the anti-corruption war must be more holistic and less selective.
FT added, “Mr Buhari’s priority this time must be to set out a coherent agenda, implemented by technocrats rather than ideologues, to turn things around. Nigeria desperately needs to create a level playing field for business in which access to foreign currency, permits, and other requirements is both predictable and rational.
“His much-vaunted crackdown on corruption must go beyond taking action against a few minor officials. Some big scalps would help. More important still is to implement systematic changes — whether by reforming institutions, using technology or by removing arbitrage opportunities — to create a more transparent environment. People should prosper in Nigeria based on what they know and how much value and employment they can create, not by their connections.” (Punch)
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US president telling aides he never wanted to meet someone so lifeless again, according to three people familiar with the matter,” Financial Times claimed.
• We won’t respond to his comments – Presidency
Chinelo Obogo and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
The President of the United States, Donald Trump reportedly described President Muhammadu Buhari as ‘lifeless’, shortly after the two leaders met on April 30, according to the Financial Times.
Both leaders met for the first time in the US for bilateral talks on Trump’s invitation since he was sworn in January as the 45th President of the States.
But as Trump is set to welcome President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Financial Times, in an article titled, “Africa looks for something new out of Trump” reported that after the bilateral meeting between the presidents of the US and Nigeria, Trump allegedly warned his aides that he never wanted to meet anyone as “lifeless” as Buhari again.
“The first meeting with Nigeria’s ailing 75-year-old Muhammadu Buhari in April ended with the
US president telling aides he never wanted to meet someone so lifeless again, according to three people familiar with the matter,” Financial Times claimed.
The revelation differs from Trump’s statement during the press briefing where he praised Buhari’s anti-corruption fight and urged him to lift any trade barriers that could impede the importation of agricultural products from the US into Nigeria. He also pledged his administration’s continued support towards the fight against terrorism and also told Buhari that the US would not tolerate the killings of Christians by armed herdsmen.
Trump had come under fire a few months before the meeting after reports emerged that at a private meeting, he allegedly described African countries as ‘shithole’ countries. He denied the reports despite the affirmation of some US leaders who were at the said meeting. He was also widely criticised for stoking racial tensions after he tweeted that the US would investigate the alleged killing of whites in South Africa.
When contacted to react to the reports, Special Assistant on Media to President Buhari, Garba Shehu dismissed it as unworthy of a response.
“There is no one whom Trump has not insulted, therefore, the presidency would not respond to his alleged statement,” he said.
However, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday said Buhari was to blame for the “lifeless” statement by Trump.
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the comment credited to Trump was a backlash a country gets when “incompetent” leaders resort to globe-trotting in the desperate search for the endorsement from world leaders.
The opposition party noted that in the last three years, Buhari had been shopping for international recognition that was not based on any achievement since his assumption of office.
While expressing reservations on the comment credited to the US President, the PDP demanded a response from the Presidency and the White House.
Besides, it charged the president to take a cue from the comments purportedly made by Trump about him and sit down at home to discharge his responsibilities to Nigerians or accept his failings with humility.
“While the PDP has strong reservations on the reported comment by President Trump for which we demand a response from the Buhari Presidency and the US White House, the party further holds that had our dear president not cheapened the exalted office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria by his woeful outing during his visit to the United States, President Trump would not have
had the opportunity to assess his level of incompetence and make such an embarrassing statement. The PDP and indeed all well-meaning Nigerians are now sore worry over how other world leaders have been perceiving our president, who has not only failed in governance but has continued to de-market our nation in the international community,” the party stated.
Notwithstanding what it termed Trump’s hate speech, the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) insisted that Buhari was fit and capable to run for the 2019 elections and oversee the affairs of the country for four more years.
The group in the statement signed by Niyi Akinsiju and Cassidy Maduekwe noted that this was not the first time the US President was heard to make such derogatory remarks at World leaders, and thus President Buhari would not be distracted by such. (The Sun)
The leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has faulted a report of the Financial Times of London, on its leader, Nnamdi Kanu.
The group said the newspaper wentcontrary to the ethics of investigative professional journalism in the report on Kanu.
IPOB said the headline of the report, titled ‘Echoes of Biafra war as Nigeria looks to polls,’ is a case in hand.
In a statement signed by IPOB’s Media and Publicity Secretary, Emma Powerful, he said in the report, it was obvious that there were deliberate and noticeable misrepresentations evidenced in the over reliance on fake or unverified information of the newspaper from third parties and Nigerian government in particular.
“Given the sensitivities surrounding the clamour for Biafra independence led Kanu’s IPOB and the heavy-handedness of the Buhari regime widely documented by reputable global human rights organisations, it would have been prudent for an institution like the Financial Times to report the facts accurately.
“This unprofessional conduct calls for holistic review on the part of the proprietors of the Financial Times. It is our position that, had a reputable media organisation like Financial Times embarked on investigating their sources of information before hand, they would have been well-informed of the fact that IPOB is non-violent in their quest for restoration of Biafra…
“Does it mean that the editors of Financial Times did not see and in fact, know that Nnamdi Kanu is not in hiding, but, instead, was taken away when his home was invaded and 28 people killed?
“Did they not see the bullet riddled house and damage done to his family home?
“Are they not aware of the existence of a video taped interview clearly showing the Defence Minister,Mansur Dan Ali admitting that they sent soldiers to Kanu’s home?
“Where went the conscience of the highly revered editors of this reputable publishing giant before they authorised this misleading report?
“We remind them that all these information that we have pointed out to them are publicly available and as a consequence, demand that they rectify the monumental errors of omission and misrepresentations in their report.
“Otherwise, we can only firmly conclude that they have joined the league of ‘fake news’ club.”
IPOB faults Financial Times report
The leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has faulted the report of the Financial Times of London.
The group said the newspaper had gonecontrary to the ethics of investigative professional journalism expected of them by on the report on Nnamdi Kanu .
The current headline on IPOB titled: ‘Echoes of Biafra war as Nigeria looks to polls’, is a case in hand.
In a statement signed by Emma Powerful, media and publicity secretary of IPOB, he said in the report, it was obvious that there are deliberate and noticeable misrepresentations evidenced in the over reliance on fake or unverified information of the newspaper from third parties and Nigerian government in particular. Given the sensitivities surrounding the clamour for Biafra independence led Kanu’s IPOB and the heavy-handedness of the Buhari regime widely documented by reputable global human rights organisations, it would have been prudent for an institution like the Financial Times to report the facts accurately rather than regurgitating the script handed to them by theInformation Minister, Lai Mohammed.
This unprofessional conduct calls for holistic review on the part of the proprietors of the Financial Times. It is our position that, had a reputable media organisation like Financial Times embarked on investigating their sources of information before hand, they would have been well-informed of the fact that IPOB is non-violent in their quest for restoration of Biafra. ……Does it mean that the editors of Financial Times did not see and in fact know that Nnamdi Kanu is not in hiding, but instead was taken away by the army when they stormed his home and killed 28 people? Did they not see the bullet riddled house and damage done to his family home? Are they not aware of the existence of a video taped interview clearly showing the Defence Minister,Mansur Dan Ali admitting that they sent soldiers to Kanu’s home?
Where went the conscience of the highly revered editors of this reputable publishing giant before they authorised this misleading report? Although, we are aware that Financial Times is under intense and sustained pressure from powerful UK-based lobbyists, laundering Nigeria’s image to distort and twist every news on Biafra to their advantage, we call on the editors of Financial Tines to act responsibly now by retracting their wholly misleading and unprofessional report of the status of IPOB and her leader.
We remind them that all these information that we have pointed out to them are publicly available and as a consequence, demand that they rectify the monumental errors of omission and misrepresentations in their report. Otherwise, we can only firmly conclude that they have joined the league of ‘fake news’ club.
COMRADE EMMA POWERFUL MEDIA AND PUBLICITY SECRETARY FOR IPOB.a
Halfway through an interview in the Oval Office, President Donald Trump is asked if he regrets any of his abrasive tweets about allies, political opponents and the state of the world. Mr Trump pauses, momentarily: “I don’t regret anything, because there is nothing you can do about it. You know if you issue hundreds of tweets, and every once in a while you have a clinker, that’s not so bad.”
The Trump presidency is like no other in the 230-year history of the American Republic. He is the first commander-in-chief never to have held government office; a property tycoon and reality TV host who has changed party allegiance five times. Nominally a populist, he has hired the wealthiest cabinet in history. His top White House aides, including his son-in-law, have combined assets of more than $2bn.
Mr Trump confounded elite opinion in last year’s election (“You lost, I won,” he informs his guests at the outset). Today, the born-again Republican believes his mainstream critics are once again wrong. Business confidence is up and the Dow has surged. Mr Trump demands credit: like Franklin Roosevelt with radio and John F Kennedy and Ronald Reagan with TV, the president sees himself as master communicator to the masses.
And he has the proof. “Where is Dan? Where is Dan Scavino please?” he bellows across the Oval Office. Within seconds, Mr Scavino, a former golf caddie who ran Mr Trump’s social media during the 2016 campaign and now does the same in the White House, walks over with a laptop to report that the president’s combined following is 101m. “I have over 100m followers between Facebook, Twitter [and] Instagram,” Mr Trump says proudly. “Over 100m. I don’t have to go to the fake media.”
The Twitter exchange encapsulates Mr Trump: defiant, if a little defensive, and determined to show he is the man in charge. At times charming, at other times intimidating, his governing style delights in the unconventional. Yet it is profoundly destabilising, at home and abroad. Combined with incendiary accusations that the outgoing Obama administration ordered wiretaps in Trump Tower during the presidential election, as well as lingering questions about possible contacts between his campaign aides and Moscow, it has caused some to wonder if the Trump administration will survive a full term.
Yet as Mr Trump approaches his first 100 days in office, there are tentative signs that there is more method behind the madness than critics suspect.
Mr Trump and his team view the world in 2017 as marked by economic nationalism and strongmen from Vladimir Putin in Russia and Narendra Modi in India to China’s President Xi Jinping. They see it as a place where the US must vigorously assert its own interests.
“I do believe in alliances. I believe in relationships. And I believe in partnerships. But alliances have not always worked out very well for us,” he says.
To allies such as the UK, Germany and Japan, Mr Trump’s transactional approach is deeply unsettling because it ignores the role the US has played in keeping the peace, from western Europe to the Korean Peninsula and the western Pacific. Their fear is that the US, defender of the liberal rules-based order for the past seven decades, is making a historic shift from selfless to selfish superpower.
A more optimistic, if cynical interpretation is that Mr Trump is merely using his presidential bully pulpit as a softening-up exercise — an opening gambit in a negotiation that will see him pull back once he has achieved more limited, economic and financial objectives in trade policy and international security.
The president insists he is not bluffing. “This is a very, very serious problem that we have in the world today. And we have more than one, but this is no exercise . . . this is not talk. The United States has talked long enough and you see where it gets us, it gets us nowhere,” he says. “When you say is this a brilliant exercise, this isn’t a brilliant exercise . . . At the same time, I am not telling you what I am doing.”
One thing he has made very clear is his desire to level the international playing field. He believes it has tilted too far in favour of allies enjoying a free ride under the US military umbrella, or emerging economies, notably China, which he claims have exploited world trade rules. In his telling, America has been a soft touch.
“It hasn’t worked for our predecessors. Look where we are. We have an $800bn trade deficit,” says Mr Trump. (The Department of Commerce reports the US trade deficit in goods and services was just over $500bn in 2016.)
On Thursday and Friday, Mr Trump will host Mr Xi at Mar-a-Lago, his opulent Florida resort. The meeting poses perhaps the stiffest test so far of his “America first” approach. The US has a $347bn trade deficit with China; and one of Mr Trump’s campaign pledges was to brand Beijing a currency manipulator, a move which earlier US administrations considered, but discarded.
China, the rising power in the region, is a vital potential partner in helping to contain neighbouring North Korea. Yet before assuming office, Mr Trump ostentatiously spoke to the incoming Taiwanese president. The exchange cast doubt on America’s commitment to the “One China” policy under which Washington recognises Beijing as the sole legal government of China.
However, Mr Trump told Mr Xi last month that he would honour the policy and is studiously polite about his soon-to-be guest. “I have great respect for him. I have great respect for China. I would not be at all surprised if we did something that would be very dramatic and good for both countries.”
Many experts worried that President Trump would be dangerously volatile on foreign policy. But the combination of some strong figures in his national security team, particularly James Mattis, defence secretary, and the calming role of Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s influential son-in-law, appears to be steadying the ship. Mr Trump has stopped speaking about moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, while reviving talk about a possible two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians and softening criticism of Nato allies. One constant is that he resolutely refuses to say a bad word about Mr Putin.
While Mr Trump never apologises, he is capable of Protean shifts. In his interview with the Financial Times, he is keen to make clear he has no grudge against Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, having apparently declined to shake hands with her in front of the cameras in the Oval Office.
“I had a great meeting with Chancellor Merkel,” Mr Trump says. “I shook hands about five times and then we were sitting in two seats . . . and I guess a reporter said ‘shake her hand’. I didn’t hear it.”
On Brexit, he is similarly anxious to dispel suggestions that the US would happily countenance a break-up of the EU. Asked if he thought other nations were likely to follow the UK, Mr Trump says: “I would have thought when it happened that more would follow, but I really think the European Union is getting their act together.”
On trade policy, too, Mr Trump appears to be more practical than many observers first assumed. Having berated Mexico as the chief source of illegal immigration and unfair trading practices under the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), the administration is shifting gear. For example, Wilbur Ross, commerce secretary and long-time friend, is seeking to resolve a longstanding dispute over sugar, aware that failure would embolden Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a radical left-winger running for Mexican president in 2018.
Mr Ross, who joined the interview, cautions that people should not underestimate Mr Trump. “Tough rhetoric is certainly useful in the lead-up to negotiations, but the president isn’t bluffing,” he says.
If his foreign policy is less revolutionary than first feared, Mr Trump’s domestic agenda remains controversial. He was propelled to office on a populist wave as Republicans, and enough blue-collar Democrats, rallied to his cause, abandoning Hillary Clinton, the establishment favourite. In his “Carnage in America” inaugural speech, Mr Trump paid homage to his supporters declaring that “the forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer”.
The president has championed the cause of US manufacturing, cajoling foreign and US corporations to think again about locating jobs and factories in America. However, the self-styled dealmaker is finding governing harder than he imagined, even though the Republican party enjoys majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate.
Things began to unravel when he sought to use executive powers to control immigration — with both the first and second attempts blocked by the courts. More significant was the recent setback in efforts to replace the Obamacare healthcare law.
Republican leaders abandoned a vote after failing to win enough support to pass a hastily assembled bill. “I didn’t want to take a vote. I said why should I take a vote?” says Mr Trump, who pledged to repeal Obamacare as soon as he took office. Asked how he felt about the setback, he is still sore: “Yeah, I don’t lose. I don’t like to lose.”
He stresses that Republican lawmakers are still trying to reach a deal. But he says it “would be fine” if the Freedom Caucus, a group of hardline conservatives who are fierce opponents of Obamacare and also unhappy with the first bill, remain holdouts.
“If we don’t get what we want, we will make a deal with the Democrats and we will have in my opinion not as good a form of healthcare,” says the president. “But we are going to have a very good form of healthcare. It will be a bipartisan form of healthcare.”
The White House initially viewed Obamacare reform as “the key to unlocking the door”, and generating the funds necessary to make it easier to draft the first major US tax reform legislation since 1986 as well as a new $1tn infrastructure programme. Now, however, it is unclear how the administration can craft tax legislation that would satisfy fiscal conservatives by not raising the deficit.
Mr Trump is holding his cards close. “I don’t want to talk about timing. We will have a very massive and very strong tax reform,” he says. Left unsaid is that his team is desperately looking for new ways to finance tax cuts, which need to be revenue-neutral to pass in the Senate with a simple majority.
Unless Mr Trump can salvage healthcare reform, he will hit his first 100 days in office without any big-ticket successes. His choice of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court was applauded by Republicans, but Democrats are threatening to block a vote in the Senate.
His advisers are working on ways to bypass Congress — mainly through a series of executive orders and other actions. This is what Steve Bannon, the top White House strategist, ominously calls “the deconstruction of the administrative state”.
Mr Bannon has set up a “war room” in the West Wing where he has listed all of Mr Trump’s campaign pledges on a large whiteboard. The billion-dollar questions are whether Mr Trump can translate those pledges, especially the one to “Make America Great Again”, into practical policy, and whether he can keep his business interests separate from official business.
Mr Trump is keen to dispel any misleading parallels in world history. After posing in front of Andrew Jackson, the first populist US president, he escorts his guests to an adjoining room where a portrait of Theodore Roosevelt hangs, whom he praises as a game-changing president. While true, one visitor gently reminds Mr Trump that there is a crucial difference. TR boasted of carrying a big stick, but he also made a virtue of speaking softly.
For two weeks, Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria’s septuagenarian president, has been out of action, receiving medical treatment in London for an undisclosed illness. His absence has sent the rumour mill of Africa’s most populous nation spinning, with frequent erroneous reports that the president is dead.
The tragedy for Nigeria is that policymaking has been so ponderous during the 20 months since Mr Buhari took office that, dead or alive, it is not always easy to tell the difference.
Under Mr Buhari’s slow-blinking leadership, Africa’s largest economy has drifted into crisis. Brought low by the weak oil price, on which government revenues are woefully dependent, the system has been starved of dollars. That has driven businesses into the ground, people on to the margins and the economy into its worst recession in 25 years. What had been a growing middle class is being daily eviscerated. High inflation, especially for food, is damaging the poor in whose name Mr Buhari ran for office.
There are signs that Nigerians — among the most resilient and adaptive people on the continent — are losing patience. This week, there were small, but rowdy, protests in Lagos and Abuja, at which demonstrators complained about their “missing president”.
There is an irony that Mr Buhari, a retired major general, is missing in action. He ran the country as a military ruler in the mid-1980s after seizing power in a coup. In civilian guise, his leadership style has verged on the invisible. After winning power in 2015 on the fourth attempt at the ballot box, he set out at a pace that has marked his presidency: it took him six months to name a cabinet. Hopes that he had surrounded himself with a lean team of capable technocrats empowered to get policy cranking have come to nought. Policymaking — such that it is — has been crafted instead by a tiny cabal of loyal, less qualified, stalwarts. Mr Buhari has failed to articulate anything approaching a vision.
During his campaign, Nigeria’s soldier-turned-politician promised to train his sight on three main objectives: to improve security, crack down on corruption and diversify the oil-dependent economy. Progress on the first two has been patchy and on the third dismal.
On security, Mr Buhari has managed to galvanise a demoralised army and make gains against Boko Haram, a terrorist organisation that had been metastasizing beyond its northern base. Boko Haram has been pushed back into a north-eastern redoubt and across the border into Cameroon and Chad. But that displacement has been offset by security flare-ups elsewhere, most seriously in the Niger Delta where militants have been sabotaging oil production.
Mr Buhari’s anti-corruption drive can be boiled down to a few symbolic gestures and a few high-profile cases against members of the previous administration. Yet, systemically, little has changed. The confused exchange rate policy — in which the central bank doles out scarce dollars at an advantageous rate — is a recipe for opacity. The dollar shortage is killing off industry rather than nurturing it.
Seventy per cent of Nigeria’s 170m people were not born when Mr Buhari was last running the show so they might not notice that his policies are stuck in the same 1980s groove. Statist and redistributionist by inclination, he finds himself in charge of a dysfunctional state and an economy with few revenues to recirculate.
To be fair, Mr Buhari inherited a dire situation courtesy of his hapless predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan. He did the country a service simply by beating Mr Jonathan in an election and sparing the country of further wilful misrule. Yet Dele Olojede, a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist, says Mr Buhari’s government has been “spinning around in circles”.
As well as the president’s flawed policies, he blames a bloated political system in which most of the 36 states (far too many) spend their time grovelling for federal funds. The mosaic of Nigerian politics is complicated by the need to balance power between north and south and between the plethora of regions and linguistic groups represented in the cabinet. That makes for a parasitic state, not one that can solve problems. “This is a system designed to fail even if you have capable people in charge,” says Mr Olojede, who does not put Mr Buhari in that category.
Nigeria has drifted before, though rarely at a time of such pressing crisis. In 2010, President Umaru Yar’Adua died in office after months in which his illness had been covered up. The man supposedly in charge of the country had been literally sleeping on the job. Mr Buhari may not be as ill as the rumours suggest. Politically, though, rigour mortis set in quite some time ago.