Two respected Northern elders, Prof. Ango Abdullahi and Alhaji Falalu Bello, at the weekend in Kaduna at a media forum, criticised President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic policies, saying partial devaluation of the naira “cannot pull Nigeria out of its economic recession.”
Abdullahi, a former vice-chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, and Bello, a former managing director of Unity Bank, are of the opinion that no developing country, “especially a consumer country like Nigeria, can pull out of recession by partially or fully devaluing its currency which will mean paying more for importation while earning less for exports.”
Bello, who is also the Sarkin Bai of Zazzau and former governorship aspirant in Kaduna state, described President Buhari’s Economic Team as “weak” and “as such, all measures so far that were put in place by them to pull the country out of recession are not only failing, but also leading to high inflation and massive fall in the value of the naira.”
He noted that past governments applied the same economic policy by allowing the naira to find its proper value among major currencies of the world, “but what did we get since we are only importing instead of exporting and the country’s economic fortune has continued to decline over the years, especially during the PDP administration when the price of oil moved above $100 per barrel; and instead of embarking of massive agricultural and industrial development we prefer to depend on foreign goods and, today, Nigerians are finding it hard to reach the month end with their monthly earnings.”
On his part, Prof. Abdullahi did not only condemn the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) policy of “allowing our exchange rate to be flexible, which in other words, means devaluation today, but there is also nothing concrete on ground to show that the government has the capacity to pull the country out of this economic recession.”
He said: “Today, there is no blueprint that one can lay his hands on as the agricultural development master plan, industrialisation policy, massive manufacturing policy or other measures put in place by the Buhari administration to revamp our industries, especially textile and manufacturing industries that collapsed over the years in most parts of the North.
“One would have expected that a country which is asking its citizens to go back to agriculture should not only have a master plan on agricultural development, but it should also have a deliberate policy that will enable farmers to have access to fertilisers at cheaper rates.”
He noted that unfortunately, this year, fertiliser was not only scarce but it was also completely nowhere to be found. As such, farmers had to depend on traditional method of farming using local manure to enrich the soil.
“This clearly shows that Nigeria will continue to import food for a long time to come,” he said.
Also, Abdullahi, a chieftain of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), warned the government not to succumb to pressure by some Nigerians to sell some of “our national assets, because they belong to all Nigerians and there is no opinion poll across the country to show that Nigerians want their assets to be sold on their behalf.
“We have seen the privatisation programme of the Chief Olusegun Obasanjo administration that only few Nigerians benefitted from and even the proceeds that we got from the privatisation exercise ended up in private pockets.
“I want Mr. President to sincerely take a second look at his cabinet and also re-assess his policies and programmes and sack some of his appointees that are not only weak, but have also proven to be corrupt. This government is already moving towards two years in office and it won election based on the merger by political parties. If what is happening in the ruling party today is anything to go by, then the merger of the political parties that produced the APC is on the verge of collapse.”
Also speaking, a close ally of President Buhari, Hajiya Najatu Bala Mohammed, suggested that for the APC administration to move forward smoothly, Nigerians should embark on “serious prayers for those who are misleading President Muhammadu Buhari to realise their actions and allow the president to execute his good programmes for the people, because people are beginning to be fed up with the government almost on a daily basis.”
Hajiya Najatu, who recently rejected an appointment from the Buhari administration, said: “It is unfortunate that even the wife of the president has gone to the media, out of frustration, to threaten that if her husband does not change some people in his government who are not even card-carrying members of the APC and people who never campaigned for him, then he should be prepared for massive revolt by Nigerians.”
Najatu, who said she had never spared any bad government policies in the past, advised those castigating the president’s wife to have a re-think “because for her to go to the media, she must have exhausted all avenues or possibly might have advised the President on what is happening in his government and the complaints she has been receiving from people to forward to her husband for prompt action which the President seems to have ignored.
“We should bear with her and, instead, pray for President Buhari to see reason with her and some of us who are saying certain cabals have hijacked his government to take full charge of his government so that things will normalise for the betterment of all of us.”