Buhari and Nasir El-Rufai’s Dirge, By Ken Tadaferua

​“We have always known that there is massive corruption in Nigeria but the revelations of the past one year have shocked even the most pessimistic of critics. Nearly 70 percent of Nigeria’s oil revenues disappeared without a trace.

“Of course, there must be consequences for that. When we sit down with President Buhari these days, I pity him. I pity him because he has always become president anytime Nigeria is in trouble.” – Governor Nasir el-Rufai at The Latter Rain Assembly, Lagos, recently.

The key lieutenants of the Buhari administration are like homing pigeons. Once they set their radar, only thunder bolts can veer them off their narrow minded flight, no matter the disastrous consequences.

From Yemi Osinbajo to Lai Mohammed to Femi Adesina to Tunde Fashola and to Nasir El-Rufai. The message has been unwaveringly the same in the one year plus of APC coming to power. Their radar is locked into three message delivery points:

One: The last administration is the worst ever in corruption.

Two: Jonathan’s corruption is reason for massive sufferings today.

Three: Buhari is trying but the load is so heavy, you have to pity himAfter this three bleak and black messages of despair arising from a conveniently “satanic” past government, nothing follows. No messages of clear performance targets, of hope, of vision from Buhari to get Nigeria out of the gloomy tunnel into light.

Nigerians are getting increasingly exasperated with these messages of gloom, more so as they are, in the main, dubious. If 70 percent of oil revenues disappeared, how come the economy was not worse off than what it is today? Corruption has always been endemic in Nigeria. When General Buhari grabbed power in 1983, he howled that the previous government of President Shagari was the most corrupt ever. He homed his energy on “fighting” corruption, throwing scores into detention to the delight of the Nigerian mobs. But on economic matters, he was utterly visionless. The nation suffered.

Then Babangida took over an economy brought down to its knees by Buhari’s lack of vision. He opened the economy, introduced privatisation, commercialisation, liberalisation etc. The economy expanded until Babangida’s peculiar peccadilloes undid his broad brush of vision.

When Obasanjo took office as president in 1999, he inherited an economy in doldrums from the regime of General Sani Abacha, whose proven record of treasury looting continues to beggar belief. But Obasanjo got cracking. He created the EFCC and empowered Nuhu Ribadu to fight corruption, while he squared up to his job as president: the economy and citizens’ welfare. He scored big time on external debt relief, opened up the economy and got serious foreign investors such as in the telecoms sectors to change the economic landscape.

Buhari is back as president. But as he was in 1984 so he is today. He has again staked his presidency on fighting corruption, while his poor policies, lack of action and vision has thrown the economy into a tailspin so that citizens are dizzy with hard times. Whereas his predecessors embarked on bold economic reforms and visionary efforts, Buhari and his lieutenants are focussed on the “Jonathan is the reason for the recession” message and trying to emotionally blackmail Nigerians with their plaintive sob: “I pity him”. Indeed, the moaning is beginning to sound, frighteningly, like a dirge.

Nasir El-Rufai was part of the Obasanjo government. He was empowered to run the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. He ran on measurable performance targets and he delivered because he worked under a man, driven. El-Rufai also became the most vociferous, vicious and brutally abusive critic of the Jonathan government, organising traditional media, new media and political platforms attack, guerrilla style with vile propaganda against the former governmentToday, he is pussyfooting. His roars have become pitiable mewing. He has lost his mojo. His chutzpah is gone. He now seeks pity for his principal. He weepingly moans: “When we sit down with President Buhari these days, I pity him. I pity him because he has always become president anytime Nigeria is in trouble.” How very touching.

El-Rufai should cut his sob story and ask his principal to roll up his sleeves and get to work. His contrived moaning will not get the economy running. His constant slaying of Jonathan will not put vision into Buhari’s medulla oblongata. His wheeling his trusted aides into “juicy” federal agencies will not create jobs.

This is the time to think. The time to dream dreams. The time to drive visions into reality. The time to give hope. The time for audacity. We are tired of bellyaching. We are tired of the gloom. We are tired of all performance indices crashing south. We are tired of men who try to defend crass incompetence with a contrived past.

El-Rufai should keep his pity to himself. If he does not have treacherous political designs, he should boldly square up to President Buhari and tell him the hard bitter truth: This government is malfunctioning. Tell him: It is time to wake up and smell the coffee. Tell him: Nigerians are sick and tired of the crash of the naira, the horrendous jump in fuel prices, lack of electricity and water, roaring inflation, laying off of millions of citizens from jobs and the fear of worse to come.

Nasir El-Rufai, please find your mojo again and tell Mr President: Sob stories no longer jell. He is not the first president to inherit a troubled economy and will not be the last. Obasanjo did. Obama did. But they made a difference by working. So tell President Buhari that he would not be measured by how much he is pitied or by how much he enjoyed the appurtenances of power but by how many citizens he pulls out of poverty, how many new jobs he creates, how well industrial capacity and productivity grow, how much he improves naira value, how well farmers and farms do etc.

There is so much to do. We do not have the luxury of sob stories. El-Rufai ask President Buhari to please wake up from his slumber.

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