Buhari’s ‘zero’ inheritance

P RESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari recently took a swipe at the erstwhile ruling party in Nigeria, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and national administrations from the outset of the current democratic experiment. Nigeria has, since 1999, been administered by ex-Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan. The president spoke in his home town of Daura in Katsina State, shortly after attending the Eid prayers, against the backdrop of the nose-diving economy which has effectively birthed a recession. While reiterating his government’s resolve to tackle the cankerworm of corruption that has bedevilled the country for decades, he claimed that previous administrations before him left no foundation for him in his vision of constructing a Nigerian edifice that is the pride of all.

President Buhari made this confounding allegation ostensibly out of frustration with the level of rot he met in the system, especially against the background of the alleged massive heists across board that were uncovered and linked to the immediate past government of President Jonathan. The rot has rankled Nigerians since it became public knowledge and it is apparent that the president’s riposte in Daura was uttered against the backdrop this disgust. However, the president took his thesis too far, almost to the level of farce. He also took for granted the patriotism of the many cells of leadership in the Nigerian governments since 1999. His blanket condemnation looks like that from an athlete in a race who gives himself a thumbs up at the beginning of a tourney and pillories previous runners. The self glorification is too early in the race and the condemnation of past runners in the race is unwarranted.

The Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Sokoto, Reverend Mathew Hassan Kukah, apparently had an answer to this nag. Even though Nigerians least expect their president to be a miracle worker, they did not anticipate that complaints and condemnation of past trekkers on this road of leadership would be the broth that he would feed them with, Kukah seemed to have told the president. The summation of Kukah’s homily to the president is to concentrate on reducing the searing pains of hunger in the land, rather than engaging in buck-passing.

The world over, governance is perceived to be a continuum. Thus, the assets and liabilities of governance and government are inherited by successors to the heritage. An exercise of pervasive buck-passing would then appear to be a denigration of this globally accepted twine that connects governments and administrations.

Besides, even the claim of zero inheritance is anything but true. Perhaps the most instructive rebuttal of this claim is the GSM revolution that seems to be the hub of transformation and revolution in communication in Nigeria. It is the handiwork of one of the administrations which President Buhari claimed bequeathed zero inheritance to him. Also, prior to 1999, the aviation sector was a jungle with the Nigerian Airways and one or two others in tow. Since 1999, a revolution has occurred in the sector which has massively jump-started commerce and development in the country. There are a thousand and one of such which are worthy bequeathals that any serious administration can build upon to drive home the engine of developmental revolution.

The  Obasanjo government cleared the debt it inherited from the dregs and dross of military administrations of previous decades and negotiated Nigeria out of the murky waters of economic albatross it found itself in. Very seldom did the government celebrate this yeoman’s effort. It is also public knowledge that, aside the smear of corruption on the previous government, it initiated very solid and sound economic policies which this government is currently benefiting from. A good number of the Buhari government’s economic policies are a direct clone of or a total patenting of the laudable policies of the Jonathan administration. As widely vilified as the government was, its debt portfolio was said less than four percent  of the country’s GDP and, as yet, Nigeria is considered to have under-borrowed.

We affirm that the current government inherited so many worthy legacies from previous governments which it should build upon in the quest to make Nigeria enviable in the comity of nations. President Buhari has received kudos from within and outside the country on his efforts to tackle corruption. He should however not allow himself to be railroaded into narcissism, which is the bane of Messiahnist governments obsessed with the rightness of their own cause and the wrongness of any others.