Nigerians should prepare for harder times in 2017 — Onovo

Nigerians should prepare for harder times in 2017 — Onovo


As this year runs out, what is your overview of President Mohammadu Buhari’s administration in 2016?

Well, we have been very clear about this. When the 2016 budget proposal was published, we insisted it was a budget of ruination, and that was in January. And after nine months, the whole country realised the import of what we were shouting about.

I will justify this, because for a system to really work well, it has to have integrity. And if a system has integrity, it will start with objectives which must be very clear, based on what they want to achieve. But as long as primary motive of government is political and we are sacrificing economic and development objectives, nothing will work. Until economic development becomes the principal of government motive, things will not be fine.

The 2016 budget is a budget of ruination, because it was calculated to put the country in serious debt, waste funds that could have been used for development, and keep us further in the debt trap and close in a debt crisis. So, we didn’t expect anything better from it. From January, we posited that it was a budget of ruination, and by June, the country had gone into recession. What is a recession? It is declining productivity. Forget big grammar, it means the system is in serious problem.

But now that the 2017 budget is bigger than that of 2016 with about 20 per cent, do you see the country getting out of recession early in 2017?

You will come out of recession not because you have done the right thing because the technicality about recession is that when your productivity drops too low to the base line of the economic trend of the country, it can’t dropped further.

Then it will improve marginally; then you will say we are out of recession but comparatively, your productivity will still be very low. So, it’s not the question of coming out of recession. It’s a question of giving a mental imperative, which this current administration Nigerians should prepare for harder times in 2017 — Onovo has strictly undermined. Let us look at the 2017 budget you talk about.

What is total projected revenue? N4.94 trillion, how much is recurrent expenditure? N2.98 trillion, almost N3trillion. How much are we spending on debit deficit? N1.66 trillion, and then you are going to borrow another N2.4 trillion. What type of senseless, unpatriotic and destructive budget is that? This government, looking at the 2016 budget, has been putting the future of the country in jeopardy. And the way this government is going, if the National Assembly, that has been intimidated, fails to stop the budget, it will put the country in debt crisis very soon. The budget of 2016 was a budget of ruination, and this one is a continuation of 2016 budget.

On the National Assembly you just mentioned now, do you think they have the powers to save the nation from the crisis you mentioned, especially when we flash back to the budget padding allegation leveled against them recently?

That is what I am saying. The National Assembly itself has been intimidated. So, the National Assembly you have today is effectively a rubber stamp, because it has been intimidated. But when you talk about budget padding, the NASS reviews the budget. The budget that was presented to the National Assembly was already padded; so, you can’t blame the National Assembly for that. Rather, blame the executive for padding the budget given to the National Assembly.

In fact, the National Assembly was even preventing the padding. So, the question is, did they pad their own side of the budget? Yes, but they were following the executive, and we know historically that the National Assembly has always been padding their own side of the budget. But we are talking about the budget that is overall padded; it is not the National Assembly that did that. It was done by the executive because the National Assembly did not author it. It was approved by the executive.

So, the arm that has the sole responsibility on the budget is the executive, and who padded the 2016 budget? It was the executive. And the director in the Presidency has been responsible for it. So, it is wrong and political for us to blame the NASS for the padding because it is the ill of the executive. Now, the National Assembly padded their own side and people are talking.

Meanwhile, they had been doing it before. In 2014, they had a budget of N150 billion, in 2016 it was reduced to N110 billion. With all this, the people I have to blame are the media. This is because now that Hon Abdulmumuni Jibrin, as an insider, has exposed the fact, the media have not hyped it to the level that Nigerians can demand for a form of accountability from the National Assembly, because Jibrin has confessed that he received N250 million and some other officers received over one billion naira. If the media informed the people properly, the people would demand some form of accountability.

The Presidency and the Senate are currently at loggerheads over the rejection of Ibrahim Magu as EFCC chairman. What is your take on this?

Well what I want to say is that no one is a saint. If you are looking for imperfection, you will find it with every human being. What has happened to Ibrahim Magu, as far as I am concerned, is strictly political. I am not a saint, but human weakness and human wickedness are different, and that is my point.

If anybody is expecting a saint out of Magu, that is a joke. But if he has not been previously indicted, I think that is okay. But, come to think of it, why should the DSS issue a security report against Magu to the Senate? That is improper and irregular. That was a slap on the President, because it is an indication that the Commander-in-Chief himself is incompetent. In fact, it’s not just an indication, it is a confirmation that he is incompetent, because before the President recommended Magu, he should have notified the security department of the state to scrutinise him.

So, for DSS to report to the National Assembly, it means that the President did not get security clearance on Magu before his name was passed to the Senate and that is an indication of incompetence. You know that we have had several allegations against the President on incompetence and this Magu’s case confirmed it.

Are you saying this All Progressives Congress administration is not up to the task of running Nigeria?

Well, it is obvious that the APC as a political party is very weak for this country. In fact, I can guarantee you that the National Chairman of the party, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, cannot simply explain the politics of the government that is under him. I can tell you that, because I have heard him recently in certain forum, he is not able to say anything. Every development index has deteriorated under this government.

Employment has deteriorated, the value of naira also; security and standard of living have deteriorated; inflation is now worse. National debt has increased outrageously. So, tell me one thing that has not deteriorated under this government. Imagine, Boko Harram has woken up again, the militants are back, no employment, ordinary re-run election in Rivers State was so violent. This government, according to Dr. Femi Aribisala, is the worst government since independence, and I agree with him on that. And I believe that any objective person, who looks at the development indices, will agree with me.

But this administration has always blamed the past administrations for the current problems confronting the country.

(Cuts in) It is always fond of unserious people to blame others for their failure. This government is not left out of this. I am saying this because if you use the indices from the date of handover, and compare it with the indices today, then you will see that even if the previous administration destroyed the country, this administration headed by Buhari has only destroyed it further.

Look at unemployment rate from May 29, 2015 and compare it to today; look at inflation. Unemployment has gone from 6 to 13 per cent; inflation has moved from 9.3 to 18.3 per cent; value of naira has gone from N197 to N460 to a dollar. So, every index of development has deteriorated. The poverty index has increased. Look at the national debt, it has increased outrageously. Everything is not working for this government, and that is why you will see that no intellectually sound person can support this government and its policies.

With your assessment above, how will you rate the President’s cabinet members?

In all you do, the most important aspect is your people. If you get your people wrong in your organisation, then e v e r y t h i n g goes wrong. The Federal Executive Council has demonstrated that it is the weakest we have ever had in this country. They are not clear about the objectives, they are not clear about their plans, they are not clear about their policy.

Every development index has deteriorated under this government. Employment has deteriorated, the value of Naira also; security and standard of living have deteriorated; inflation is now worse. National debt has increased outrageously. So, tell me one thing that has not deteriorated

They are just clueless. Meanwhile, the President spent months in appointing them. Every Nigerian believed he was coming up with the best hands that would help the situation of the country. But unfortunately, here we are with people who have no idea of what to do to move this country forward.

I can remember that then, when we talk about this, people said we were too hard on them, but look at the situation now. Look at United States’ President-elect Donald Trump, he has been making his appointments before he’s sworn in. Look at Theresa May of the United Kingdom, she made key appointments in less than 72 hours that she was sworn into office. But our own President spent six months before he could constitute his cabinet and now look at the result, a total failure.

With the look of things in the country, what is your projection for next year?

I don’t see anything getting better in this country, especially with the manner this administration is ruling. That is not even the issue. I can tell you that within the next three years, this country will enter debt crisis, if this reckless and unpatriotic borrowing is not curtailed. Already we in a debt trap. Quote me.

Nigeria is in debt trap and we have been in it for two years now. The next thing now is debt crisis. I am warning this country and the leaders because we are heading for doom. The only way to change the outcome is to sit back and do the needful, because as long as all these nonsense continue, the country will end in crisis.

I can’t imagine you are borrowing N2.4trillion in a year. How are you going to pay it back? Honestly, I don’t see any light at the end of the tunnel, if we continue like this. Nigerians should just prepare for the worst, if the leaders cannot avert the artificial crisis coming. They can easily curtail this with the right thinking.