•Nigerians are suffering because Buhari has run country aground —Fayose
APPARENTLY worried by the upsurge in the criticism of the perceived inaction of President Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidency, on Sunday, maintained he was a victim of tyranny of high expectations.
In a statement made available to the media, the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, outlined the achievements of the president in office so far, assuring that he was working, adding that the promised change would take time to manifest.
“It bears repeating that president is a different kind of leader, who just happens to be a victim of the tyranny of high expectations. He brought positive intention, commitment, honesty and personal integrity into governance. This is why the country’s poor hold him so dear; this is why the world is in love with him,” he said.
Entitled ‘In defense of President Buhari’, the statement observed: “The last couple of weeks had witnessed the heaviest public criticism of the Buhari-led administration since he came to power after inflicting a heavy defeat on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its candidate, Dr Goodluck Jonathan. Much of it had been on account of unresolved social and economic problems facing the country.
“Unfair criticism of the Buhari-led administration, especially on account of escalating prices of foodstuff and the liberalisation of the currency exchange needs to be challenged before it overshadows the commendable job the president had done in fighting terrorism, as part of overall efforts to secure the country, reducing corruption and yes, arresting the economic slide before it sinks the the nation.”
The presidential spokesman regretted that criticisms had taken the shine off Buhari administration’s efforts, noting “Boko Haram terrorist leader, Shekau or the pipeline vandal from the Delta region is more likely to make newspapers’ frontpages today than the Minister of Labour, Governor Emeka Ngige or the Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun talking about jobs creation in the economy.
“I do not say that media criticism is not reflective of the feeling of the citizens.
“President Buhari has himself, on numerous occasions, admitted that the change mantra has brought with it pain and suffering, which he likened to the pains of labour. It is a passing phase.
“When they ask the question, is this the change we voted for? The critics had forgetten how far we have come from the scam-tainted years of the PDP rule.”
He revealed government’s suspicion on resistance posed to the war against corruption by corrupt elements, saying: “Everyone living in Nigeria knows that there is a major movement against corruption as part of the ongoing change. This war has forced the return to the treasury of billions of Naira and millions of Dollars stolen by past officials.
“On account of this war, government suspects that the biggest trigger of the opposition to the change agenda is the army of the corrupt. With the enormous resources at their disposal; money that is unearned, these forces are ready to throw in everything to gag the Buhari-led administration.
“When he assumed office, President Buhari said he understood the outcry of Nigerians and was determined to right those wrongs.”
He further said about Buhari: “His knack for prudent spending and effective management of resources is in the belief that this country can only prosper when there is transparency, reduced corruption and a drastic cut in bureaucratic red tape.
“His decision to have a small cabinet, reducing government ministries from 46 to 24 has the effect of relieving the treasury of the burden of salaries, allowances and miscellaneous expenses now being counted in billions of Naira.
“President Buhari should be credited for the the unblemished record of his ministers. This is a government that has stayed above scandal for a year.
“If all of these are not desirable changes to be appreciated and adored, it is hard to know or determine what some of our critics want.
“These reforms certainly represent major milestones in change which have led to a decline of corruption at the top.”
He observed that Buhari had not had much luck in governance unlike his predecessors, who presided over high crude oil earnings.
According to him, “in addition to hard work, all leaders need luck on their side to create what is sometimes seen as economic miracles. As leader, President Buhari never had the luxury of high oil prices as did his predecessors in office.
“When he first emerged the military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari saw oil price, the mainstay of the nation’s economy, sink to as low as eight Dollars a barrel.
“He rolled up his sleeves, worked on diversification strategy of the economy, only to be eased out of power, just as they began to take hold. Thereafter, his successors abandoned these efforts.
“On his second coming, this time, as a democratically-elected leader, the collapse of oil prices has challenged President Buhari to quicken efforts towards the diversification of the economy, with emphasis given to agriculture and solid minerals mining.
“Every crisis, it is said, is an opportunity. Not so in Nigeria. This is a country that inherited massive technological inventions from Biafra, yet failed to take it forward. We must not lose this opportunity to diversify the economy and our foreign earnings presented by the present oil crisis.
“As the country hopes for a bumper harvest this year, government is taking steps to ensure that no farmer will sell at a loss or fail to find markets for their harvests.
“Grain silos are being readied nationwide to receive excess produce for warehousing to ensure food security, avert market glut and price collapse. By this, government will ensure a minimum guaranteed price.
“In dealing with challenges of the economy, the administration is devoting attention to ridding the country of its notoriety as a difficult place of doing business.
“The government has been making quiet but significant progress in this area, thanks to the leadership given by the National Economic Council under the vice president and the combined efforts of the Ministries of Trade and Investment, Finance, Interior, Foreign Affairs, Budget and Planning and the Customs under new leadership.
“Everyone in this sector is doing everything in his or her power to boost Nigeria.”
Shehu assured that the currency liberalisation and the deregulation of the petroleum products made Buhari “one of the best presidents till date.”
He said the removal of subsidies on the petrol products had saved the government more than two trillion Naira annual expenditure in this regard.
On how government’s action will revive the economy, he noted: “As to the question of this leading to a resurgence of economy, it all means that in a democracy, everything takes times. The president needs our support, with understanding and patience.
“No matter how hasty a president wants to bring changes, there is no magic wand in that office to make everything change from bad to good or make all of us prosperous with a wave of the hand. This change is on course. It requires patience.
“The change is working for the nation and sooner than later, the testimony shall be given.”
Meanwhile, Ekiti State governor, Mr Ayodele Fayose, has said Nigerians are suffering under the All Progressives Congress (APC) government of President Muhammadu Buhari because “the country is in the hands of wrong managers, who do not know what to do.”
The governor said “presently, Nigerians are suffering, hungry and angry, because the APC government has run the country aground,” adding that “Nigeria has gone beyond recession, the economy has collapsed completely and painfully, those who should revive the economy do not have any clue as to what to do.”
In a release issued in Ado-Ekiti, the state capital, on Sunday, by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Mr Lere Olayinka, Governor Fayose said Nigeria was experiencing the worst form of nepotism in the history of government in the country, saying “nepotism is the reason our president discarded competent people in his party that should be running the government with him and opted for his relatives, friends, in-laws and very close associates.”
While lamenting the parlous state of the country’s economy, Governor Fayose said “most of those people that aided the emergence of President Buhari must be having a rethink now, but it is too late!
“Interestingly, political affiliation has nothing to do with hunger, poverty and lack.
“Exchange rate was less than N200 to $1 when President Buhari took over power, as at today, it has gone beyond N400 to $1 and Naira is still undergoing a free fall. One bag of rice was less than N8,000 as of May, it is now N20,000. Kerosene is now beyond the reach of the masses.
“Nigerians voted for change because the APC promised them solutions to the country’s problems, but all we hear every day from the APC government are complaints upon complaints, as if Nigerians elected a government of complaints.
“Obviously, the APC government has failed Nigerians and the president has resorted to putting his immediate family members and close associates in key government positions to protect himself from the fear of the unknown that has enveloped him.”