#100DayOfChange: A Magnificent Go Slow! By Ogundana Michael Rotimi
Barely one month after Muhammadu Buhari was inaugurated as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he was tagged “Baba Go Slow”. Ask me why? Because he decided to address the cumbersome nature of Nigeria`s challenges in a different way. He promised change and has changed his tactics from the usual way that has brought us down and failed us. Since what has been tagged the “norm” has failed us in the last 16 years of democracy, it was important for him to do things differently. He has delayed in appointing members of his cabinet as contrary to the way it`s being done before now that has ended up in failure. He`s taking his time to dissect each Ministry, Department and Agency in the view on taking the right decision on them.
Meanwhile, ask those that tagged him “Baba Go Slow” secretly if they have not started experiencing the change he promised? They might tell you No still, not because the change is not there but because they chose not to see it.
One thing is sure, systematically the change is moving from one ministry to another from one department to another and from one agency to another. From The massive shake up in the military that removed the National Security Adviser (NSA) and other security chiefs, to the tsunami in the NNPC that disposed the cankerworms in the sector, to the increase in the foreign reverse even as oil price keeps going down and to the increase in the monthly allocation to the 3 ties of government. Who will argue that the introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) is not an appreciable development? I must say, this “go slow” has been so magnificent!
Let me break down some of this “Magnificent Go Slow” as already being felt in various sectors in our society:
Magnificent Go Slow on Power Supply
I sincerely put it to you that I cannot remember the last time I powered my generator set, it has become dusty. I fear it may not work again when I want to use it for an outdoor purpose. President Buhari commitment to change and the sanity of the system within 100 days reflected on power supply that was not achieved in 5 years by the previous administration.
Magnificent Go Slow on Refineries
I grew up to know that our refineries are bad; government comes and goes, with empty promises to fix the refineries and build new ones. But within 100 days, two of the refineries got back to work. The rationale behind achieving this might be strange, because the last time I checked he hasn`t approved a kobo on power and refineries and I know he isn`t a magician. However, I know that with much commitment, integrity and hard work, much can be achieved.
I am aware of the arguments of those that accredited achievements on power and refineries to the last administration led by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. Yes, the past administration may have started the process. But the administration surrounded itself with the cabals. These men prefer to put the nation in darkness and pains to satisfy their shared greed. They capitalised on the cluelessness and corruption accommodating attitude of one man and ran the administration with nothing to show for it.
Truth is, if Goodluck Jonathan was still in power, the story may still remain the same. None of the refineries would have started working. Power generation and supply would have remained the same. Because, those controlling the system for selfish reasons will still hinder the effectiveness of the system.
Goodluck Jonathan may have spent the money and may have been the one that initiated the process. However, he had enough time to complete the process and get it to work with a whole five years. But because he was not in charge of the system, those in charge hijacked it from him and at the end sabotage his efforts. That wasn`t the fault of anyone but his! He was supposed to be the Commander in Chief.
Five years were enough to revive the refineries. Five years were enough to restore power. The fact that they were not achieved within those years confirms that even if given more time, such may not have been achieved still.
Hence, one cannot categorically accredit these achievements to the last administration.
Magnificent Go Slow On Foreign Reserves
According to the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefeli during a press brief at the end of the Monetary Policy Committee, meeting, in Abuja in July 2015, he said and I quote: “President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-graft war has started yielding dividends. Following blockage of leakages, Nigeria’s foreign reserves have increased from $28.57 billion at the end of May to $31.53 billion as of July 22, 2015.”
President Buhari has shown within his 100 days in office that it was not the dwindling price of sweet crude that was depleting our foreign reserve but corruption itself. Or how does one explain the increase in foreign reserve even in the face of continued fall in Brent crude price? Isn`t such a “Magnificent Go Slow”?
Magnificent Go Slow on TSA
Government banking arrangements are an important factor for efficient management and control of government’s cash resources. Such banking arrangements should be designed to minimize the cost of government borrowing and maximize the opportunity cost of cash resources. This requires ensuring that all cash received is available for carrying out government’s expenditure programs and making payments in a timely fashion. When government lacks a unified view and centralized control over its cash resources, cash lies idle for extended periods in numerous bank accounts held by spending agencies while the government continues to borrow to execute its budget.
A government lacking effective control over its cash resources will pay for its institutional deficiencies in multiple ways. First, idle cash balances in bank accounts often fail to earn market-related remuneration. Second, the government, being unaware of these resources, incurs unnecessary borrowing costs on raising funds to cover a perceived cash shortage. Third, idle government cash balances in the commercial banking sector are not idle for the banks themselves, and can be used to extend credit. Draining this extra liquidity through open market operations also imposes costs on the central bank. Establishing a unified structure of government bank accounts via a Treasury Single Account (TSA) solves these problems, improving cash management and control. Isn`t this a “Magnificent Go Slow”?
Magnificent Go Slow on FAAC
The monthly Federal Allocation as disbursed by the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) to the three tiers of government substantially increased in the month of July, 2015, largely due to the plugging of leakages by the President. This increase was in spite of the dwindling price of crude oil.
The reduction in monthly allocation especially to the state governments before now placed most of the states in bankruptcy thereby making them unable to pay their workers` salaries for months.
Today, the story has changed. State governments are getting what is due to them from the federal government and are now being able to pay their workers` salaries. You may choose to call this a form of “Go Slow” but it is Magnificent!
Magnificent Go Slow on Corruption
Never in the history of this country have we had a president that is so resolute to address the scourge of corruption even in the face of counter pressure. And in doing this, he set up an advisory committee on war against corruption to design an effective template for fighting corruption.
Aside from the goodwill to do this, the commitment is obvious and backed up with actions. The result of this is already being felt on our increase in revenues and foreign reserves.
Today, you can beat your chest and say corruption is no longer celebrated in our society. Even though it still exists, but no longer with impunity.
Magnificent Go Slow on Appointments
On delay of appointments; President Buhari decision to dissect each ministry, department and agency, in a view of understanding his status before appointing a boss to control it gave birth to the phrase “Baba Go Slow”. But I wonder why we want repetition in the face of change?
On Federal Character and Marginalization; over the years we have adopted a dogmatic style of running the politics of our country. And all along this style has failed us. Now comes a president with a progressive style, embedded in the anchor of change. But it scares me that after so many years of failure fuelled by tribalism, ethnicity and mediocrity, some still chose the past way above competence which the Buhari administration has adopted.
It is obvious that we can no longer depend on sweet crude but to alternatively increase our revenue service through taxes. Who will argue that the newly appointed boss of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Babatunde Fowler isn’t competent?
We all agree that the massive corruption in NNPC is a bane to our collective commonwealth. Who will contend that Dr. Emmanuel Ibe kachikwu isn’t resolute to sanitize the system?
The fact is; if President Buhari gets his appointments right, it will not be too long that we will start experiencing the real change and dividends of democracy.
I can continue on and on to mention how this Go Slow has been so Magnificent. However, next time before you tag an administration has been slow; do ask yourself this simple question: of what is good is “speed” without results?
God Bless Nigeria.
Ogundana Michael Rotimi is a Nigerian Biochemist, Socio-economic & Political Commentator, and Public Speaker. He tweets @MickeySunny.