Monday, November 14, 2016

Buhari's Tale Of Empty Treasury And $30 Billion Loan

By Onyiorah Paschal Chidulemije
Ever since he was sworn in as a democratically elect­ed President of Nigeria on May 29, 2015, one frivolous trend that has conspicuously character­ized President Muhammadu Bu­hari’s administration is the inces­sant and boring tale of how he inherited empty treasury from the past government of Presi­dent Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. Like a nagging spouse, the Pres­ident would always explore and exploit every small or big oppor­tunity, either within or outside the country, to blabber on about how he came in to behold an empty treasury.
*Jonathan and Buhari 
Just recently, while addressing members of the National Insti­tute for Policy and Strategic Stud­ies who visited him in the State House, the President was report­edly quoted as saying that he al­most ran away from office after taking over from President Good­luck Ebele Jonathan.

Please hear him: “Actually, I felt like absconding…I asked if there was any savings and I was told there was no savings”.

Strangely enough, like a rea­sonable person will ask, is this why a man who had repeatedly contested for the Presidency of Nigeria and, thus, implicitly          pre­pared himself – psychological­ly and otherwise - to change the course of the country, should have taken to his heels? Oh my God! 

Now, let us return to the is­sue of President Buhari’s unending tale of empty treasury. Obvi­ously, it is no longer news that for umpteenth times, many a Nigerian had urged Mr. President to make public the hand-over notes bequeathed to him by the immediate past government of President Goodluck Jonathan so that the citizenry too could empirical­ly share a good deal with him on this lingering tale of having inher­ited an empty treasury from his predecessor. But all to no avail. Yet, this is an “honest” man and President who wants all and sun­dry to believe that he is not to a very large extent or, worse still, solely responsible for the current economic recession bedeviling the country (?).
And this devel­opment is more so worrisomely curious when juxtaposed with the fact that even Honourable mem­bers of the National Assembly had sometime urged President Buhari by a resolution to make public the hand-over notes passed on to him by the government of President Goodluck Jonathan. As usual, he still turned a deaf ear to all that. Little wonder, therefore, that people are wont to submit that the President is a man high­ly impervious to public opinions.

But granted that this submis­sion is anchor on a bogus prem­ise, one still wonders why the President is seriously loath to make public the total or actual amount of money that has so far accrued from the Single Treas­ury Account (TSA). In the same vein, it is no less surprising that despite all entreaties by Nigerians to his government to disclose the sum of money thus far recovered from looters of our treasury, Pres­ident Buhari has rather remained indifferent to this legitimate de­mand of Nigerians he is purport­edly fighting for their interest and well-being.

Meanwhile, this is the same President who perhaps still wal­lows in the ignorance that one of the ways of addressing the cur­rent economic downturn in the country is by selling off our hard-earned national assets and using the proceeds therefrom to rescue the bad economic situation.

Arguably, though, appar­ently discouraged later by the public outcry that followed the announcement of this policy pro­posal, President Muhammadu Buhari has once again veered to the idea of external borrowing of the whopping sum of $29.96 billion from multilateral bod­ies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its ilk, ostensi­bly to be used for infrastructur­al development in the country. Though needless to say it, this is yet another goose chasing exer­cise on the part of the Presiden­cy. This, at the very best, is analo­gous to the case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Of course, great kudos to the Distinguished Senators of the hallowed chamber for timely throwing away this Buhari’s $30 billion loan request. As it were, truth be told, Nigeria can rea­sonably afford to address her in­frastructural deficit without nec­essarily borrowing a dime. 
*Onyiorah, a journalist writes from Abuja

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