R ecently, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, was quoted as describing the economy under President Muhammadu Buhari as being in good shape. Ms. Ahmed reportedly claimed that President Buhari had managed the economy better than previous administrations. Whilst New Telegraph recognizes the Minister’s right to freedom of speech as provided for in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), we do however find it curious that Mrs Ahmed, any Minister or political office – incumbent to deploy his energy to the recurrent stubborn defense of President Buhari regarding the management of the national economy in the face of the obvious difficulties that the citizens are facing due to the perilous state of the economy.
Ms. Ahmed has been appointed to the Cabinet of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to perform the duties associated with the post, which include initiating and implementing policies and programs aimed at steering the Nigerian economy away from turbulence, although subject to the approval of its director, President Buhari.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning may have taken a fierce and recurrent defense of the administration to show that she is really working, but verbal outbursts are unable to hide what has already become a proven reality. The economy, which Ms Ahmed is said to have claimed her manager managed well, is completely in tatters contrary to her claims.
We are aware that virtually all prices for all goods and services have been increased and further price adjustments are expected. High prices come with a crippling tax burden and the uncontrollable disposition of federal government spending, as exemplified by the depletion of the nation’s Excess Crude Account (ECA) from $35 million to around 400,000. $ only! Virtually every sector of the economy has been frequently subjected to some form of industrial crisis since 2015. Since February 14 this year, the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has been on strike.
The other three unions in the public university system, namely the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), the Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), also went on strike at different occasions during poor conditions of service, with the FG unresponsive to multiple strikes in the public university system.
No matter how best Mrs Ahmed or any other minister or government official tries to paint a rosy picture, the disaster in the Nigerian economy is there for all to see. News Telegraph urges the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to appreciate that she is appointed to her current post simply because her director has confidence in her perceived competence to initiate solutions to the nation’s economic problems. Governance is not managed on or with excuses as such does not improve the quality of governance. It should refrain from defending FG’s failings to help the administration overcome its blunders, especially in economic reengineering. We also wish to state that it is pointless for a practicing public official to engage in unnecessary self-assessment as Ms. Ahmed erroneously did, as a person could be a judge in his or her case.
It is the prerogative of citizens to assess the performance of each administration and determine whether or not it has performed well and whether it has surpassed any of its predecessors. Now that the administration is in its twilight, we urge the Minister to move away from the path of comparisons between the current administration and its predecessors as they are distractions. Governments set up to solve problems must not shirk them with disguised unproductiveness disguised as excuses. Government is also a continuum. Assuming that an administration which inherits the assets of its predecessor does not have to melt at the sight of the liabilities either.
May Mrs. Ahmed’s ingenuity as an economic manager result in finding a solution to the continued depletion of foreign exchange reserves, the industrial crisis in public universities, the high cost of goods and services, the crippling tax burden and the controversial alleged deductions from workers’ wages through the integrated Personnel Payments Information System (IPPIS). The ability of the Minister to cross the targeted areas would be appreciated by the population instead of her recurring dogged defense of the administration’s economic mismanagement, which is inexcusable.