“Blame or Claim” Governance: Buhari’s Only Hope

There is an insightful article for those interested in governance by Taiwo Makinde titled Problems of Policy Implementation in Developing Nations: The Nigerian Experience. In the paper, the Makinde explains quite persuasively why policy implementation in Nigeria routinely fails with successive governments. He implicates, among other factors, a lack of continuity of policy implementation from a preceding government to a succeeding e.g. from Presidents Babangida to Abacha [or Jonathan to Buhari]. Ego [of the leader] is the reason he provides for this. The logic is simple, it is better for the current president to sabotage the good works of a predecessor and initiate his own that will place his mention high on the lips of posterity. This holds true for all forms of organisation in Nigeria. The great exception is President Muhammad Buhari and for unusual reasons; blamocracy [and claimocracy].

Buhari’s governance has been marked by a series of blame offerings to the public against the three presidents of Nigeria, Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan (most of all), who preceded him since the return to democracy, by way of People’s Democratic Party. The Buhari administration constantly and invariably blames his PDP predecessors and their subordinates for predecessors’ corruption, falling oil prices, strict foreign governments / safe havens, supposed lazy youths, luxurious consumer taste, defiant labour unions etc. for the catastrophic failure of his government to deliver on virtually anything.

Conversely, any good policy or project implemented by his PDP predecessors or their subordinates (many now in the president’s own All Progressives Congress) are convenient claimed by the Buhari. Buhari’s spin doctors will say something as obtuse as Goodluck Jonathan with the assistance of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala introduced the Treasury Single Account (TSA) but Buhari and Kemi Adeosun implemented it. Once a policy is sworn in law and has regulatory sanction it is implemented. The TSA is a tool developed to reduce national borrowing but it suddenly was converted into a “miracle solution” to corruption under Buhari. The Bank Verification Number (BVN) is the latest in a string of developments for the protection of local and foreign banking customers since the inception of the Central Bank in 1958 but was speciously converted into an a grand anti-corruption tool under Buhari. When Raymond Omatseye former head of Nigerian Maritime Administarion Saftety Agency was successfully prosecuted for corruption of under Jonathan, Buhari gallantly claimed it as his achievement.  Buhari will claim anything, even a borehole development, the list is long..

Buhari has even tried to blame problems he created in office on others and refused to claim his failures. This is a president who went to the World Bank to tell it to focus on the North not the South, that is treasonable. Who does he blame for such a divisive fiasco? You cannot blame Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan for taking Nigeria into a state of immediate pre-Civil War tensions in Nigeria; they actually did much to prevent such. Buhari destabilised the country through wholesale “Let Them Go Die” insensitivity. You cannot blame Obasanjo or Yar’Adua for the current debt profile Nigeria has. That is solely Buhari’s medal. Obasanjo did have some success in attracting foreign investment and created foreign confidence in the economy. Jonathan has many tangible works to his name in many sectors, more than Obasanjo. And please, do not mistake loans with investment. Obasanjo paid off the Nigeria’s loans thanks to the momentum of the Jubilee 2000 Movement headed by Ann Pettifor and the dexterity of Okonjo-Iweala.

Buhari and his supporters were severely critical of Yar’Adua while the latter was alive but ill. Today he shamelessly goes to the United Kingdom for medical treatment even at a time when Nigerian doctors are on national strike due to pay. Who can he blame for that? Visa applications for Nigerians to relocate overseas have reached the highest recorded numbers under Buhari and those who a relocating within Africa or going to Europe by foot are not documented. Under Obasanjo, especially, Nigerians were happy to return home from diaspora post-military rule. Under Buhari that incentive to return to Nigeria from overseas has vaporised. Does he even care?

Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan did fail Nigeria, often woefully, but they have works and achievements that can be purely attributed to them independently, and they were never blamocrats or claimocrats though. All Buhari has to his name is the proclivity claim or blame, the conversion of the achievements of others and an unsure ego. Tragically, Buhari has actually set a precedence of “blame or claim governance” for future leaders of Nigeria. What a national disaster! Claim or blame governance does not achieve successful anti-corruption, improve an economy, create jobs that pay workers a living wage, build good roads, provide necessary security, alleviate poverty / hunger, attract foreign investors or anything politics is supposed to produce. The good thing is voters know this, they are experiencing it now first hand.

Grimot Nane

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