Perhaps, the only thing the flailing government of Muhammadu Buhari has done so well since coming to power in 2015 is blaming the previous administration for all the ills of the country including ones that happened long after 2015. We recall how the president missed the opportunity to capitalise on the positivity of the market that welcomed his coming to power, prevaricated and delayed unnecessarily in forming a cabinet or an economic team that will provide direction for the economy and negotiate with eager investors. This, coupled with the attempt at capital market controls led to the flight of foreign capital which, in turn, led to severe forex scarcity, inflation, depreciation of the naira and the first economic recession in Nigeria in more than 20 years. It was mortifying seeing the administration turn round to blame the previous government for the direct results of its actions and inactions.
Recently, in a move akin to pure comedy, the current government is seeking to blame the shameful and corrupt handling of the reinstatement, promotion and posting of the former Abdulrasheed Maina, former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform and a fugitive, to the Ministry of Interior on the past administration. Instead of the government explaining how a wanted man on INTERPOL red alert, came in and out of the country severally, given protection by the Department of State Security, cleared by the Attorney General of the Federation and his entry into the civil service facilitated by the Minister of Interior and Head of the Civil Service (all Buhari’s appointees), the government is trying to shift attention and blame as usual.
According to Garba Shehu, the President’s spokesman, “some influential officials loyal to the previous government may have been the invisible hand in the latest scandal that saw the return of Maina to the public service, despite being on the EFCC’s wanted list.”
Last week, it was announced President Muhammadu Buhari wrote the Senate asking for permission to secure the $5.5 billion external loan. When Nigerians raised alarm over the rate of uncontrolled borrowings by the government, it again tried to blame to the previous administration. Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun was the comedian this time. According to her, more than half of the recent loan request by the federal government was to refinance loans taken by the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
However, data from the Debt Management Office showed that between December 2016 and the half year of 2017, Nigeria’s total external debt stock rose 32 percent from $11.41 billion to $15 billion. The country’s domestic borrowing also grew at a similar pace. Net domestic debt of N15 trillion as at June 2017 is 43 percent or N4.5 trillion higher than the total domestic debt of N10.5 trillion in December 2015.
Equally, the government has turned the CBN into its cash machine, borrowing unrelentingly and crowding out the private sector in the process. According to Adedoyin Salami, a former member of the Monetary Policy Committee, the CBN’s claims on the government rose twenty-fold to N814 billion ($2.26 billion) from the end of 2016 while its purchases of government’s Treasury bills increased 30 percent to N454 billion. “It is clear that the CBN has provided piggy-bank services to the federal government.”
All these show that the government has only survived through unrelenting borrowings both legally and illegally from the CBN.
Sadly, governance in Nigeria has been turned into comedy where the person who is supposed to be responsible never knows anything happening and everyone else is blamed for his failings. But we need to remind the government of the immutable words of John Burroughs: “A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.”