Two critical points Buhari failed to address during his media chat that should bother Nigerians
- Unity: The President never promised to unite the people or diffuse the ongoing ethnic tension in the country. When asked about the pro-Biafra agitator Nnamdi Kanu, the President shoved off the question and refused to address the real issue about bringing the people together in the spirit of oneness. The President had the chance to address the increasing ethnic tension that was elevated during the presidential campaign of 2015. He missed the chance to address the nation on unity and in so doing he failed to be the unifying force that the nation desperately needs. In the response to the question on the administration’s disobedience of court order to release Nnamdi Kanu, the President said, “and the one you are calling Kanu, do you know he had two passports – one Nigerian, one British – and he came into the country without any?” The President justified violating the court order without recognizing that it confirms the fear that he will remain an unrepentant dictator incapable of embracing democratic principles. Many have railed the President for trying to be the prosecutor, the judge, and the jury.
The President also doubled down on what has been described as an undemocratic persona when asked about the marginalization of the Igbos. Again, Buhari failed to use this as an opportunity to inspire unification of the ethnically divided nation. His pejorative choice of words “what do the Igbos want?” is indicative of his unwillingness to be a peace hero. Buhari suggested that the agitation in the Southeast is not a top priority for his administration. He said:
“Why does it have to worry me, when I have militants, Boko Haram and others? They said they are being marginalized but they haven’t defined the extent of their marginalization. Who marginalized them? How? Where? Do you know,” he questioned. Who is the minister of state for petroleum, is he not Igbo? Who is the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria? Is he not Igbo? Who is the minister of labor, science, and technology? What do the Igbos want?”
His launch of unnecessary ethnic rants when asked about the marginalization of the Igbos reveals his inability to be the hero in the elusive desire for One Nigeria.
- Monetary Policy: The President seemed unprepared to address the foreign exchange crisis that has tormented the average Nigerians for some months now. Customers with domiciliary accounts are not able to access their accounts on a daily basis. Instead of addressing the issue, the Buhari administration has instead engaged in pass-on blame game. The CBN recently pointed fingers at the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) for the restrictions on foreign exchange. The Director of Monetary Policy Department of the CBN, Moses Tule, said in a recent interview that “the restriction on the use of debit and credit cards outside the country was not imposed by the CBN. The deposit money banks (DMBs) placed it because they have to settle whatever transactions you make with your cards with their corresponding banks in foreign currencies, and if the banks do not have the foreign currency to do that, then you create a liability which will crystallize on their balance sheets.”
During his media chat, the President didn’t make any effort to deescalate the tension when asked repeatedly about the foreign exchange crisis. Instead he focused on justifying the policies using the import control argument and his administration’s mantra of stamping out corruption in the country.
As a nation, we cannot afford to toy with our nascent democracy and make our country a subject of international ridicule. If the CBN has not briefed the President on the unintended consequences of these assumed “good deed” monetary policies, then our way forward to economic liberation is very haze. To create a policy to punish a few and end up punishing the masses is not the way forward. We must take our country back by making progressive policies that work for the economy and the people. The administration should focus on creating the enabling environment for the creation of jobs in order to reduce the sky-rocketing unemployment rates in the country. There is also a lot of work to be done in the area of inspiring national pride and patriotism. The leaders must be the unwavering flag bearers in this journey.