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Why Buhari is Slow – Odilim Enwegbara.

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For me, the so-called delay is inevitable because first, President Buhari should take full stock of the state of the rot in the economy. Then, come up with fully transparent operational system for the economy along with some modern institutional checks and balances needed. Even the supposed panicky foreign investors should wait since we need to have in place a regulatory framework on foreign investment. This is to ensure that we no longer attract economic hit men and saboteurs to our economy.

Let us not forget that we’re talking about getting Nigeria’s  best of the best – men and women with uncommon solutions to our uncommon national, economic, social, and security problems.

That’s why we should  agree with Theodore Roosevelt, America’s foremost radical president that “The best leader and the most successful president a nation can have is the one who has sense enough to pick good men [and women] to do what he wants done…”

Agreeing with his uncle, President Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 went ahead to appoint Mr. Mariner Eccles, a secondary school certificate holder as US Federal Reserve Chairman (Governor of US Central Bank); and Henry Morgenthau, a second year architecture university drop out as US Treasury Secretary (Finance Minister).

These highly non-certificated, commonsense, and honest patriots eventually proved that Franklin Roosevelt made the right choice. Not only because they used their patriotism, honesty and ingenious commonsense to stop the great depression ravaging America’s economy at the time. Surprisingly, they went as far as transforming the US economy into what it has since become, as the world’s best industrial economy. As if not enough, they went as far as re-inventing capitalism by giving capitalism a human face, when they engineered social safety net for America’s poor and elderly citizens.

Agreeing that greatness of a leader starts with surrounding himself with his country’s most patriotic and honest men and women whose rare gift of commonsense makes them second to none, in 1979 Deng Xiaoping, as China’s ever radical social capitalist crusader, who single-handedly turned his country’s economic misfortunes into ever great fortunes, simply put it this way, “It doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice it is a good cat.”

Deng like Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 and like Emperor Meiji of Japan in 1868, went ahead to surround himself with the best commonsense Chinese men and women who had the audacity, patriotism, honesty to champion a new social capitalist economic path for China away from economic socialism.

If in order to get it right and in an effort to hire the best and the brightest Americans, Franklyn Roosevelt spent months hid in one of America’s coastal Islands, carefully reflecting over America’s difficult problems and sorting out who should work with him in solving these intractable problems, only one month into presidency is still too early into President Buhari’s presidency for Nigerian to argue that he should quickly appoint members of his cabinet.

The so-called delays shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. First, the last administration didn’t collaborate with Buhari’s transition team. For this reason, his transition team was unable to do its work and submit its findings and recommendations before Buhari’s inauguration on May 29, 2015. We should recognize that it’s the report that s forming the road map for president’s key decisions, including appointments, merging and scrapping of some MDAs. Second, because President Buhari wants to appoint best Nigerians — highly patriotic and highly honest men and women — whose ingenious commonsense solutions are what we need to be able to resolve our complex problems, then, obviously thorough due diligence and background checks on these Nigerians needs time.

Given the enormity of the country’s problem and the level of greed and corruption in our country, which has made trustworthy people increasingly lacking out there, it would be suicidal for someone with President Buhari’s kind of agenda for Nigeria not to take all his time in carefully looking for and finding those rare Nigerians whose loyalty, honesty, patriotism, selflessness, courage, creativity, talent, and energy should not only never be in doubt but, in fact, second to none.

Finding these rare Nigerians, we should all agree, is not going to easy. That is why our thorough-minded, corruption-free president should be allowed to take all his time — including months if that’s what it should require — because if he should get it right from the onset, it is going to make the rest of his presidency easier, if not a job half done. Therefore, rather than persecute President Buhari, we should sympathise with his difficulty to find such well-rounded and fully loaded Nigerians.

Just imagine how most of our so-called experienced and certificated men and women – past shameless governors, ministers, senators, DGs, ambassadors, judges, etc. not only have been soiled their hands in monstrous corruption, but also lacking self-discipline, are ready for hand their office to the highest bidders. For this very reason alone, the delays are inevitable or else, Nigerians will embarrass our honest president by digging out their hidden past corrupt practices. And who else is waiting to embarrass the president than PDP, ready to expose the economic atrocities committed by most of president’s cabinet nominee members?

With these in mind, we should be patient with the president who wants to get it right from day one; otherwise, bad choices would come to hunt him throughout his administration. Or, do we want him to appoint today and sack tomorrow?

Because the economic mess is really mind-boggling and far bigger than we can imagine, fixing the problem means that everything involving the solution should not be rushed. With such a major economic crisis in our hands, it makes no sense to go ahead with capital project implementation because doing so is to continue to complicate the problem as well as throwing money down the drain as we have done since May 29, 1999 till date. We cannot go ahead to do things the same wrong way and expect better results. Right now, Permanent Secretaries are in charge and are paying salaries which are like a matter of life and death.

Talking about the urgency to release capital votes, let’s not forget that most of the so-called capital projects never underwent public procurement due process and execution planning, evaluation and monitoring. So, releasing the money will be money gone down the drain. Take for instance the over padded constituency projects. Should the government go ahead to release such money which could go to ex-senators and ex-reps, that would amount to handing them free money they should hardly account for other than to pay off the cost of their last elections.

Like in most advanced modern democracies, political office holders are men and women who feel it is time to work for their nation, to give back to their nation. Some even go to the extent of doing so pro bono or just asking for as little as possible remuneration in meeting up their day to day expenses involving such political office. That’s why I’m suggesting that all political office holders should not earn salaries but have their expenses in office covered because Nigeria is too poor to be paying salaries not to mention the current overwhelming huge salaries paid to its political office holders. For this reason, and to fully enshrine transparency into how public money is spent particularly on public salaries, I suggest the urgency to create Workers Bank of Nigeria (WBN). Here, all tiers of government, their ministries, departments and agencies should have all their employees and pensioners open an account with WBN, including all public officeholders — president, vice president, governors, and lawmakers. All wages, salaries, pensions, etc. should be paid on or before the last day of the month.

My advice to the president should be, to remain focused with all his decisions made in the overall national interest without allowing himself to be distracted by the current myriad of criticisms, for those in this business of endless criticisms are the same members of the elite class who have since our return of democracy stolen our commonwealth. The mistake they are pushing him to make is to hurriedly appoint their friends into his cabinet, who they then eventually work together with to continue stealing from our commonwealth.

So, he should take all his time to ensure that the people he eventually hires are those who are ready to honestly and patriotically work with him to deliver his campaign promises.

Another advice to the president is to go ahead the thieves without looking at whose toes he is stepping on. Remember as Marcus Cicero once said, ‘‘The greatest incitement to crime is the hope to escape punishment.’’ Please agree with Ronald Reagan that ‘‘they [thieves] can run from prosecution but cannot hide from prosecution.’’ So, no matter how highly placed and when they defrauded our commonwealth, all the powers of the state should be mobilized to find them and punish them accordingly.

Other pieces of advice will include sending a bill to make it a serious crime for anyone to spend public money without appropriation. Should anyone commit such a crime, not only should the person refund the money with appropriate interest, but should also be liable to minimum of ten years in prison without option of fine.

As part of government’s Fiscal Sunshine Bill to be sent to National Assembly, all public revenues and expenditures should be made as publicly transparent as the sunshine. That means full disclosure — including online posting — of all revenues and expenditures of the three tiers of government; their sources and where they are spent and why should be fully disclosed online for citizens of all walks of life and around the world to see and examine.

Finally, I should advice the president to quickly send a bill to National Assembly for setting up e-contracting as the means of awarding contracts by the three tiers of government. The bill should also include a National Contract Awarding Council for all contracts awarded to be paid for with public money. The Council should comprise of eminent Nigerians including some past heads of state, respected religious and cultural leaders, members of civil society, who will be ready to do so pro bono. Also, the bill’s insistence on construction of local content should require federal and state governments to establish their own construction companies so that no longer should contracts paid for with public money be awarded to foreign construction companies.