By Stephen Ubanna
Ahead of the 2023, Presidential election in Nigeria, the battle for supremacy between the All Progressive Congress, APC, and People’s Democratic Party, PDP, two major gladiators, and Presidential hopefuls, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, popular, Jagaban, and former governor of Lagos state, who incidentally is the National Leader of the APC, and Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and the Opposition PDP, Presidential Candidate in 2019, Presidential election , have started.
The duo have been making appearances in different fora making thought provoking Statements. Take for instance , Tinubu, the former Lagos state governor, recent appearance at the 11th Arewa House Lecture in Kaduna in Kaduna state, north west Nigeria. The former Lagos state governor, may have used the opportunity of appearing before the northern Elites to drum their support for his 2023 Presidential ambition to respond to critics of President Muhammadu Buhari, a retired army General, over the high cost of govervance in the country.
Recall that Theophilous Danjuma, a retired army General and former minister of Defence during the Admnistration of Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who had repeatedly expressed concerns over the high cost of governance in the country. He had the Katsina state born Nigerian President ‘’ to begin ‘’the process of merging and reducing the Federal ministries and other government agencies to help cut down on government’s unnecessary spending’’.
Many believe that he had chosen such an auspicious moment to speak out to show his support for the Nigerian President and why the north must support him this time around to actualise his Presidential ambition. He has told the Participants at he Arewa House Lecture that there was nothing wrong in the Nigerian President high cost of governance , insisting there was no basis for people to call on him to reduce the high cost of governance in the country without looking at ‘’the benefits derived therefrom’’.
Speaking as a former governor who has an insider information on governance , though at a state level, he had said that ‘’the cost of governance is always a critical factor in the socio-economic development of any country’’. He may have shocked the participants at the Arewa House Lecture , when he said that ‘’one can pay a high cost on productive enterprise, justifying the Federal Executive Council, FEC,recent approval of $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the 150,00b/d, Port Harcourt refinery , which had been working in bits and piece over the years. He had said that Nigeria will reap a higher benefit on the high cost of governance, which would be considered a good investment in the future by the penchant critics.
There is no gainsaying the fact that under the Buhari Administration, there 28 ministries, 44 ministers and about 215 government department and agencies, with their attendant high salaries, allowances, estacodes and the like, which critics believe are major draw back the development of the country.
Simon Lalong, governor of Plateu state, the Chairman of Northern governors Forum, who could not hide his feelings over the Buhari’s high cost of governance in the country had attributed it to the large number of Cabinets maintained by the three tiers government , particular, the Federal government, to pacify political, religious and other interests.
This may have informed why Aiku, the Adamawa state born politician had called on’’ the stakeholders on the Nigerian project, elders statesmen to speak out now to save the country from disintegration. He had said that the retired army General ‘’lacks the capacity to address the country’s security and socio-economic Challenges’’, stressing that the Nigerian President must be helped not because of the government but for the sake of the people.
But Femi Adesina, senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity would not take it. Appearing on Channels Television’s Television Sunday politics, at the instance of the retired army General, an aggrieved Adesina, who believes that the Nigerian’s President’s name is being dragged to the mud for not delivering on the democratic dividends urged the people ‘’to stop dwelling on the negatives if the country is to forge ahead in the progressive path’’.
He noted that it is not enough to focus on the negatives . He had cited Atiku, a former Vice President, who had tagged Nigeria, as the nation with the highest unemployment rate in the world. He disclosed that ‘’there are positives in the Buhari Administration and that Nigerians must look out for the positives and encourage themselves’’, noting that the ITF had projected to take seven million Nigerians out of poverty by 2030.
The Buhari Media Aide was said to have also used the opportunity of his Appearance on the Channels Television’s Sunday politics to also dismiss the smear image Campaign against the Nigerian President that he had promised on assumption of duties in 2015 and his second term in office in 2019, ‘’ to make one naira become the equivalent of the North America country of the United States one dollar. ‘’ Buhari never made such a promise’’, he had said.Describing it as’ ‘’ fake and false, Adesina, the Presidential Media Aide said ‘’it is apocryphal, insisting that’’ it doesn’t exist’’.
Recall that Atiku, the former Nigerian Vice President had said that the country was stagnant because ‘’the Buhari Administration had abandoned the people- centered Leadership and free trade and deregulatory policies of the Obasanjo regime which saw the country maintain an almost single digit unemployment rate and’’ implementing credit demand and control policies that have led to massive capital flight from Nigeria’’.