Offshore Presidency, Parked Aircraft And Other Matters -By Jeff Okoroafor

Filed under: Political Issues |

Jeff Okoroafor

 

Recent events in the country today may justify the rhetorics that makes Nigerians unique in their dramatic turn of phrases – “suffering and smiling”, ” life goes on”, “we keep surviving”…it never end, really. In 2016 the economy shrank by 1.6%. Inflation doubled to 18.72% in less than 2 years. Unemployment rate has worsened, risen to 14.2%. Minimum wage remains the same, N18,000. Companies, foreign and local continue to downsize or in some cases completely shutdown, sending more and more people to the ports of unemployment and helping to increase its rate. Many investors rather than wait interminably to repatriate profits, have left the country due to the draconian foreign exchange policies and the perplexity of doing business in Nigeria. Insecurity, violence and pockets of agitations from all parts of the country continue to surge. Meanwhile, the president, Muhammadu Buhari, has been out of the country since May 7th, receiving treatment for an undisclosed illness.

The IMF not long ago this year, predicted that Nigeria’s economy will expand by 0.8%. Even if that were to be correct, it would still lag far behind population growth of around 2.6%. The real danger here is that the government has already taken that response from the IMF as a validation that their policies are working and you and I know where those funny policies of the federal government are headed. We have continued to take out very expensive domestic and foreign loans even though debt remains relatively low as a proportion of GDP, at around 15%, servicing it is eating up a third of government revenues. Just after the $1bn Eurobond which by the way was about eight times oversubscribed, the government plan on issuing another $500m one before the end of the year.

The dangers of having our presidency ran from a foreign land are enormous, and ethically wrong for a sovereign, fully administrative country such as ours. Nigeria is at the peak of its moments, think of any none mitigable sphere imaginable. And so, not wholesomely focusing on Nigeria, her issues, the protection of citizens lives and properties, provision of basic amenities, creating jobs for the country’s teeming young population and governing with a deep sense of equity, justice and fairness, has its consequences. For a fact, one of the major reasons we are yet to recover from the recession or depression that this government threw us into is because of the power vacuum created by Muhammadu Buhari’s illness and his unwillingness to vacate the seat of power to a more healthy, mentally sound and emotionally stable, competent person. This gap has made it difficult for a restructured government that’s focused on delivering good governance.

On June 27th or thereabout, we were told of how much the idle Presidential Aircraft NAF 001 in London consumes, a whooping £4000, on a daily basis for parking lot and its idleness. According to the report, the total sum accumulated on day 50 of its idleness was N80,000,000 (this is assuming that the exchange rate is N400/1 pound). Of course this figure isn’t static, today is day 63 and it has practically shut up to N100,800,000.

According to the Presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, the standard practice all over the world was that Presidential Aircraft ought to be parked in close proximity to wherever the President might be. This isn’t entirely true. A Presidential Aircraft has to be parked closely to wherever the President might be, but not indefinitely. Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th President suffered from an incredibly rare genetic disorder; Margaret Thatcher, England’s Iron Lady unfortunately suffered from several strokes while in power; Franklin Delano Roosevelt who kept a visibly shinning public image suffered from polio; President John F. Kennedy suffered from Osteoporosis, a condition that causes weakness in the bones; Bill Clinton; Theresa May; Gordon Brown….these world leaders and many unmentioned others, are guilty of one thing, hiding their ailment from the general public, but never for once did the US Air force 1 had to park idle and wait indefinitely, incurring unbelievable cost for the country and wasting taxpayers money. Never! For the record, I’d like to also point out that Garba Shehu’s statement is not an outright denial that there’s a parked Aircraft and that a whooping sum is on daily basis being wasted. He also said that Presidential Aircrafts all over the world enjoys waivers and even if they have to pay, it will not be more than £1,000. If this is the case then fine, let Nigerians know exactly how much is been waived off. Let’s know how much the Federal Republic of Nigeria is paying daily or tell us specifically and with evidence, that we are not paying a dime for it. Is it not within our right to know?

There’s an Acting President, in the person of Yemi Osinbajo, constitutionally required. Shouldn’t he be the one using Air force 1? Air force 1 is designated to the occupant of the office of the president, and there’s an Acting President at the moment who occupies that office, who carries out those functions, should that person not be the one using Air force 1?

Also, are you aware that it’s not just the jet that’s parked there? There’s a crew that has been at the London Hilton Paddington Hotel for the past 63 days on standby. There are people in that entourage if the numbers that has been called are to be believed, 89 people, on standby at the London Hilton Paddington Hotel, that we are paying for their hotel accommodation, their feeding, out of station allowances and other cost everyday which now runs up to 63 today. This is not a government, it’s a waste. This is a waste that this country may find very difficult to recuperate from.

On Friday, 22nd of January 2010, Olusegun Obasanjo said this of Late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, “If you take up a job, elected… and then your health starts to fail you and you will not be able to deliver, to satisfy yourself and satisfy the people you are supposed to serve, then there is a path of honour and path of morality”. I call on Muhammadu Buhari to heed this advice, toe the path of honour and morality, resign and let Nigeria move on. In a case where he fails to do so, the National Assembly must then toe the path of honour and morality and impeach him.

God help Nigeria.

Comments

comments

  • Kabiru Mohammed

    Wahali you have hit the nail on the head. I love President Buhari but this country is suffering, many people are taking advantage of his illness and making a mess of the country, he should just resign, stop wasting money and take care of himself.

  • Kennedy Udoka

    What a fantastic piece. I honestly agree with all that the writer has penned down here. Muhammadu Buhari is wasting so much money and this is not a good time to waste this country’s money.

    May God help Nigerian Senate to do what’s right should Buhari refuse to honourably resign.