On January 22, 2016, I tweeted a joke which went viral. I had said that at meetings of the Federal Executive Council, the minister of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, would address members and say 'turn to your neighbour and say, neighbour have you blamed Jonathan today'!
Yes, it was a joke, but like most good jokes, it had and still has a basis in reality!
The President and his ministers appear ill prepared for office and
the evidence of this is their inability to take responsibility for the
situation of things in Nigeria.
Was it not John Burroughs who said "a man can fail many times, but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else"?
Those words should be embossed on a plaque and placed in a very
prominent location at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa.
Seeing this admonition weekly may help members of the Federal Executive Council take responsibility and stop acting the victim.
For example, Nigerians were shocked when the minister of
Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said in December of 2015 that the
Jonathan administration, which had left office six months ago, was
responsible for the biting fuel scarcity the nation was and still is
That statement by Mr. Lai Mohammed is a classic case of
psychological projection (a psychological disorder characterized by a
patient defending himself against his own unpleasant realities by
denying the existence of the reality while at the same time blaming
another for it).
And it gets worse. It is bad enough that this administration
refuses to take responsibility for its own failures, it also wants to
take credit for the success of others.
In a treatise bothering on megalomania, the publicity and
communications team of President Buhari's office claimed the
implementation of the Treasury Single Account (AKA TSA) as the major
achievement of the first 365 days of the Buhari administration.
But for a government that prides itself on anti-corruption, that
statement, fraudulent as it is, is dishonest and 'fantastically
First of all, the Treasury Single Account WAS NOT an idea of the
Buhari administration and secondly the present government DID NOT
initiate its implementation.
The TSA was conceived by the Jonathan administration and there was
to be a staggered implementation because from an expert point of view,
it was thought that if all Federal Government funds were suddenly pulled
out of the commercial banking sector in one fell swoop, the shock on
that sector would be so immense that it would trigger job losses and
perhaps bank failures. It was thought that a gradual implementation
would allow banks recover such that the baby would not be thrown out
with the bath water.
Enter the Buhari administration which, in a hurry to claim credit,
did not tread with caution, but in one fell swoop forcefully withdrew
all Federal Government funds with the threat of sanctions to non
Rather than claim this as an achievement, this administration
should chalk this one up as a big failure because in their rush to
implement something that should have been gradual they have unleashed an
unintended consequence on the banking sector such that Nigerian banks
over the last year have shed something like 50,000 jobs.
As a matter of fact, the pro-Buhari Leadership Newspaper had as a major headline on September 12, 2015, 'Banks Begin Massive Sack Over Treasury Single Account'!
Yet, even as the reality of their rushed action stares them in the
face, a Presidential spokesman has the nerve to accuse former President
Jonathan of lacking the will to implement the TSA!
And the excuses continue! In order to explain away its lackluster
performance, various ministers and mouthpieces of the current
administration have been touring media houses blaming the precarious
state of the economy on the refusal of the Jonathan administration to
save for the rainy day when crude oil prices were high.
In fact, President Buhari himself said "In the First
Republic, more enduring infrastructure was built with meager resources.
But in the past 16 years, we made a lot of money without planning for
the rainy day.”
But even as this administration is set on revising history, it
should not be forgotten so soon that the Jonathan administration met
about $6.5 billion in the Excess Crude Account, ECA, and increased it to
almost $9 billion by 2012. However, the Nigerian Governors Forum, using
their influence at the House of Representatives, had gotten that August
body to declare the Excess Crude Account illegal in 2012.
So excruciating was the pressure from the NGF and most notably
from then then Rivers state Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, for the Jonathan
administration to end the Excess Crude Account and the Sovereign Wealth
Fund and instead share the funds in those accounts amongst the three
tiers of government that they approached the Supreme Court, to challenge
the legality of the Excess Crude Account and Jonathan's decision to
transfer $1 billion from that account to the Sovereign Wealth Fund.
Working in tandem with Amaechi and his supporters in the NGF, the
then minority APC members of the House of Representatives approached a
Federal High Court on the 7th of February, 2014, for a perpetual
injunction restraining the Jonathan administration from operating the
ECA and to pay all the proceeds of that account into the Federation
Account for sharing amongst the three tiers of government.
So it is quite clear that President Buhari made the accusation he
made on April 4th, 2016 without cross checking the facts or consulting
history. If the President is not happy that more funds were not saved in
the Excess Crude Account, he should call a Federal Executive Council
meeting and ask members to get up and point accusing fingers at his
ministers of transport and Power, Works and Housing.
In the last 365 days, the most consistent thing that has emanated
from the Federal Executive Council is blames, excuses, finger pointing
and a refusal to accept responsibility.
As at last count, the President and his ministers have excused
their inability to stem the economic tide, fully defeat Boko Haram,
provide jobs for Nigerians, maintain the availability of petrol, fix
roads and improve power on the previous administration.
The funniest thing is that just as the media team of the Buhari
led Presidency was reeling out its achievement in office on its first
anniversary, two state governors were also doing the same thing.
The shocking thing however is that if you get the list of
achievements released by Rivers state Governor, Nyesom Wike and Lagos
state Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, and compare them with what has been
released by the Presidency, the shocking verdict is that in terms of
tangible achievements, like roads built and houses constructed and
public infrastructure, both of these states have individually
outperformed the Federal Government!
Do not take my word for it. Google their released anniversary
documents and compare and contrast them by yourself. Ignore such silly
and intangible achievements included in the Presidential list like
'motivated the military' and 'no more road blocks and curfews' (believe
me, the President's team listed these as his achievements!) and focus on
tangibles like roads constructed or hospitals built etc and it becomes
clear to even the most brainwashed Buhari supporter that both Lagos and
Rivers individually beat the Federal Government hands down.
Both Wike and Ambode took over from predecessors that did not
really support them and who left huge debts and a high monthly wage
bill, yet despite these seeming obstacles, both of them have proven the
adage true that you will either find a way or you will find an excuse.
And for those who are saying that it is not realistic to expect a
new government to achieve much, let me remind them that in his first
year in office, former President Jonathan did not deliver excuses or
In fact in his first year, former President Jonathan revived the
Nigerian Railway Corporation and for the first time in decades the Lagos
to Kano rail services commenced in 2012 at a cost of ₦1500. He also
built nine new universities including the only federal university in
Katsina state where President Buhari hails from. Inflation reduced from
10.2% to 9.4% in his first year and remained at single digits throughout
his tenure. Average Life Expectancy increased from 47 years to 52 years
(according to the UN). In the same period he also launched the
NigeriaSat-2 and NigeriaSat-X satellites to expand Internet Bandwidth
and provide early warning to prevent natural disasters as well
established the Automotive Development Fund amongst others.
Many Nigerians must be wondering that if the Jonathan
administration was as bad as the Buhari government says it is, then how
come he had to leave office before they started experiencing double
digit inflation, negative economic growth rate and 'budget padding'?
In conclusion, the word 'execute' means to carry out or put into
effect something. When you have a body of men and women who are not
carrying out anything, it is hard to see how you can honestly call them a
Federal Executive Council. What are they executing? Put it this way,
are you an executive if all you do is execute excuses?