Why We're Suffering Too Much Under Buhari — Yakassai - Leystradamus.Com.Ng

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Monday, December 28, 2015

Why We're Suffering Too Much Under Buhari — Yakassai

Elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai served as Special Adviser to President Shehu Shagari on National Assembly Matters and before then was commissioner for Finance in the old Kano State. In this interview with Vanguard, he reviews steps of Muhammadu Buhari administration among other issues:

After 7 months in office do you believe President Buhari is finding it difficult to settle and why?
Buhari has not been in office for seven months but rather for 13 years. Irrespective of the fact that the election was held in March and he was sworn into the office in May, Buhari has desired the presidential office since 2003 and so he has been in office for 13 years.

This is because it is not when a person assumes the mantle of leadership that that person begins to prepare himself or herself to rule but rather the day he desired to attain that position.

One is supposed to have a fair idea of what one intends to do and the people that would assist him in attaining that goal. It is not after getting the job that a person begins to learn how to do the job. This act is called “learning on the job”, an act that is very difficult.

Buhari came to power with three major promises, that is tackle Boko Haram, down grade corruption in the country and lastly provide employment for jobless Nigerians especially graduates.

These are apart from other personal promises. So, for us to evaluate his performance, it should be related to the platform upon which he came to power. Buhari gave a deadline of December ending to get rid of Boko Haram, but just a few days back I heard that the Federal Government is warning the general public that Boko Haram are changing their tactics to attack soft spots such as schools, motor parks, markets and other areas where people gather.

Waiting and praying
This can only mean that Boko Haram would not be done with this year otherwise there would have been no need for the government to warn people.

Buhari should not have claimed the attention of the public by saying that he is going to do havoc here and there. I am waiting and praying that we would be able to deal with the Boko Haram before the end of 2015. But from my own observation, I have my share of doubt if we would be able to achieve this by the end of this month.

I say so because of the experience of the American President who took American soldiers to Iraq. President Bush gave a deadline for the withdrawal of American troops. Bush left the office without achieving this goal and Obama came to power on the promise of returning the troops.

It took Obama a second term to complete this task. So, the day Buhari gave a deadline what came to my mind immediately was the case of Iraq and Bush. If with all the power at Bush’s disposal as the President and their allies (Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Austria, Italy and the rest of them) could not complete an operation at the targeted date what would Nigeria have to say for herself? So immediately Buhari gave a deadline I knew it was not achievable and I doubt in few days from now we wouldn’t be able to finish with the Boko Haram. I hope and pray we would be able to achieve this but I doubt.

Can Buhari’s economic policy take us to the Promised Land?
Everybody in Nigeria now is crying that life is very difficult. By this time last year, life was not as it is today and from my prediction, we would continue to suffer through the coming year, 2016, 2017 and probably if we are lucky we would begin to see a change in 2018, if you are not prepared, you better start getting ready. This hardship would not go away not just immediately my prediction is that perhaps if we are lucky it would begin to go away by 2018.

I know that the government is assuring everybody that it would be a temporary situation but they know that the citizens are suffering and it wouldn’t be over because unless the government is ready to print paper money and distribute it, the economy will remain the same. If the government prints paper money, it would shoot the price of everything in this country.

You see the suffering that we are having today is as a result of the decision of the government to introduce a Treasury Single Account system for all the government departments and agencies without proper planning.

How?
The previous minister of planning said that they have been planning for it but they were thinking of the space of time that it would take them to introduce this system.

He said that it is not a bad thing in itself but it is not something that happens at the blink of an eye. It is something that has to be introduced stage by stage but unfortunately the present government just announced that schedule should no longer allow accounts to be operated, all the banks most return deposit from government to Central Bank.

The banks were lending money to businesses before out of the government deposits as well as making money from them. Now that the money is not available they are not lending to the businesses and the businesses would now begin to experience lack of activities and the result would be retrenchment.

Irrational approach
My experience with life is that need does not go away, when the need for you to spend comes, and you don’t have money the need would wait for you to have money. The first one would come and the second would come and meet the first one the third one, the fourth one and the fifth one.

The moment you get money your predicament is which out of the first to fifth would you give priority to.

You mean Buhari is to blame for sins of past government ?
The problem is we suffered from this same irrational approach to government policy when Buhari was a military head of state. He decided overnight to change the currency, giving a deadline without realising that most of the people in the rural areas did not know anything like the bank.

People who are engaged in the selling and buying of livestock, food stuff and so on. They do not take their money to the bank they know how to keep their money until the next market day. Buhari came with a deadline, and eventually they were pauperised and they suffered.

How would you evaluate the anti-corruption war of this administration?
There is only one case so far concerning a public officer who was arrested and taken before the court on account of corrupt practices that is the person of Sambo Dasuki. This is the only case of Buhari’s regime has originated so far. There is no other case.

All the other cases were originated by the previous administration. Sambo Dasuki’s case is the only case that has arisen during the life time of Buhari’s administration. If there is any other case please do well to mention it.

So to me, the fight against corruption cannot start and end with Dasuki it should be a holistic action. And from the look of things, most of the targeted people are people who are perceived to be either personal enemies or political opponents of the regime.

If one is going to fight corruption successfully, one should do it without discrimination, it should be holistic, whether the suspects are your children or mother or wife that is involved, it should be dealt with.

Is it justifiable the way and manner Dasuki expended the funds entrusted to him?
I promised that I wouldn’t comment on Dasuki’s matter until I hear his own side. As a Muslim, am directed by my religion to hear both side before I pass my judgement. Although he has been speaking, he has been speaking through his lawyer, he didn’t file his defence in the court and until he does this I can’t make an informed statement about him.

Did you benefit from the funds from Dasuki’s office?
Dasuki is my son, but we only met once in the mosque. I know that during the campaign, there were rumours that I received millions of dollars from Jonathan.

Fortunately I happen to be a member of the generation of Nigerians who believe in doing good on the bases of friendship. I have only met Johnathan once in my life which was two days before the election and it was on a matter that bordered on a very glaring issue that would affect national security and the wellbeing of every Nigerian. I tried many people to convey that information to Johnathan but it appeared that they didn’t do it.

Do you support the removal of fuel subsidy?
I started campaigning for the removal of subsidy from the time of Yar’Adua because I undertook a study not specifically for that, but as I travelled around the country I took the trouble to observe the cost at which people in rural areas buy fuel and I discovered that even where you get people buying fuel at the official price is in the cities mostly in the rural area people buy fuel at the black market price.

They have forgotten that there is anything like the official price for fuel in Nigeria. Go to Mobi, Gujungu or any rural market you find that they have never bought fuel at the official price so the bulk of the users in Nigeria are not buying at the official price.

I know that we are passing through a difficult month and Buhari many not have the courage to remove fuel subsidy at the moment and I think it is the only way out because as long as the price of fuel is cheaper in Nigeria than in our neighbouring countries, the smuggling of the product would continue unabatedly.

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