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 a sound state. Mrs Ahmed reportedly claimed that President Buhari has done a better job of managing the economy than previous administrations. While New Telegraph acknowledges the right of the minister to free speech, as provided for in the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), we, however, find it curious for Mrs Ahmed, any minister, or any political office-holder to deploy his/her energy to the recurring dogged defence of President Buhari with regard to the management of the nation’s economy in the face of obvious hardship the citizens are facing due to the perilous state of the economy.
Mrs Ahmed has been appointed to the office of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to carry out the functions relating to the position which include the initiation and implementation of policies and programmes aimed at steering Nigeria’s economy away from turbulence, though subject to the approval of her principal, President Buhari.
The Minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning, might have taken to recurring dogged defence of the administration in a bid to show that she is truly working but verbal outbursts are incapable of masking what has already become a confirmed reality. The economy, which Mrs Ahmed, reportedly claimed that her principal has managed well, is completely in tatters contrary to her claims.
We are aware that virtually all the prices of all the goods and services have been marked up with further price adjustments being anticipated. The high prices are accompanied by crippling tax burden and the uncontrollable spending disposition of the Federal Government, as illustrated by the depletion of the nation’s Excess Crude Account (ECA) from $35 million to roughly just $400,000! Virtually every sector of the economy has been subjected to one form of industrial crisis on a frequent basis 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),Non-Academic Staff Union (NASU) and the National Association of Academic Technologists (NAAT), have equally gone on strike on different occasions over poor conditions of service with the FG being insensitive to the multiple strikes in the public university system.
No matter the best efforts by Mrs Ahmed or any other minister or government official to paint a rosy picture, the dire straight of Nigeria’s economy is there for all too see. News Telegraph enjoins the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to appreciate that she is appointed to her present office simply because her principal’s trust in her perceived competence to initiate solutions to the nation’s economic problems. Governance is not run on or with excuses as such do not enhance the quality of governance. She should desist from defending FG’S lapses to helping the administration to overcome its blunders especially in economic re-engineering. We also wish to state that it’s pointless for a serving public official to engage in unnecessary self-evaluation as Mrs Ahmed has erroneously taken to, as a person could be a judge in his/her matter.
It is the prerogative of the citizens to evaluate the performance of each administration and determine whether it has fared well or not and whether it has out-performed any of its predecessors. Now that the administration is in its twilight, we urge the minister to move away from the path of making comparisons between the current administration and her predecessors as they constitute distractions. Government instituted to solve problems are not to shy away from them through disguised unproductivity garbed in excuses. Government is also a continuum. Presupposing that an administration which inherits assets from its predecessor should also not melt at the sight of liabilities.
Let Mrs Ahmed’s ingenuity as economic management result in finding a solution to the continued depletion of the foreign reserve, industrial crisis in the public universities, high cost of goods and services, crippling tax burden and the alleged controversial deductions of workers’ salaries via the Integrated Personnel Payment Information System (IPPIS). The minister’s ability to pull through the referred areas would endear to the populace instead of her recurring dogged defence of the administration’s poor economic management which is inexcusable.