Dr Felix Nwosu, a public policy analyst, is of the view that with the state of the nation’s economy, the Presidency and the National Assembly should endeavour to resolve all issues concerning the budget without delay to save the nation from being grounded. In this interview with correspondent, he also spoke on the trial of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and why he should resign from his position.
How do you see the current state of the economy? Would President Muhammadu Buhari administration be blamed for the situation?
On the state of the economy, I will say that it is not easy to unseat a ruling party like the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which had ruled for 16 solid years non-stop. Even during the PDP regime, the economy was not stable. They were just covering up things until this government came in. Now, we know the real truth o the state of the economy. If this government covered the state of the economy like the last regime did, it would have bounced back on it. I know the government is trying to put things in order. But, my worry is on the budget. The budget was first declared missing, later when it was found, it was said to have been padded. After it was supposedly passed by the National Assembly, there are still controversies following it to that the president has so far refused to sign it. We are now by the end of April and the budget has not been signed. The economy is grounded and everybody is panicking. People are afraid to invest in the country. Things have become unpredictable and this situation is affecting everybody and every sector. So, one can say that the government is not stable.
My take on this is that the Presidency and the National Assembly should meet, dialogue and resolve all the issues concerning the budget. Let the budget be signed without further delay for the well being of the nation. If the economy is stable, people will do business and pay their taxes. The present situation is hurting the masses so much. Both the Executive and the legislature should act like honourable people and stop politicising the budget. It is not health for the nation as everything is grounded while people are suffering.
What do you think should be the solution to the nation’s perennial fuel crisis?
The current fuel crisis is a national embarrassment. I suggest that the government should privatise the oil sector as was the case with the communication sector. Government monopoly of the oil sector is not helping the nation. Even the so-called subsidy was a scam. The marketers are using it to dupe the nation. If the sector is privatized, more investors will come into oil business. But, the government will be involved in making policies about the sector and issuing licences to people who want to be in involved in oil business to ensure that the sector is not porous.
If the current situation continues, Independent Marketers will continue to sabotage and frustrate the government efforts. Let the government hands off the business aspect of the sector. If the private sector is fully involved there will be more investors, more refineries and fuel will be everywhere. Then the free market factors of demand and supply will come to play in determining the cost of petroleum products. But, government will regulate their profit margin and set a standard for the private sector. Government should consider this urgently to save Nigerians from this perennial fuel crisis.
The western media have accused President Buhari of diverting funds meant for the war against Boko Haram to fight his political opponents. How do you see this allegation?
If at all the west gave us money, where is it? Did they really give us money? This government is just 11 months in power. I don’t know the motive behind this allegation at this time and people are latching onto it. The president is making efforts to seek funds to help Nigeria and people are trying to smear him to dampen the spirit of the western countries. Right now, the Boko Haram is no longer as effective since December deadline which the president gave to the military to check the insurgents. They are no longer attacking people as they used to do. Even at that the nation’s budget on defence is not small. If money was really made available to fight Boko Haram, it was looted by the former administration. That is why General Sambo Dasuki, the former National Security Adviser (NSA) is now in trouble.
I think the opposition is getting more jittery because their hands are not clean. They are afraid that the long arm of the law will get at them. That is why they are trying to frustrate President Buhari’s efforts. The western world should not listen to these allegations. The western world should do their own assessment of the president. We know him as a man of integrity. He wants to ensure that corruption is reduced tremendously. He should not allow these callous politicians to weigh him down with their propaganda and sabotage.
Since the Senate President Bukola Saraki has been facing trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), there have been calls for his resignation? What is your take on the call for his resignation?
Honourable men should act honourably. In the western world, honourable men behave honourably. Here they want to cling to power. Saraki and his group have done all they could to stop his CCT trial. But, they have not succeeded. The courts have said that there are evidence for is trial. Every day our Senate President who is our Number Three is the dock facing corruption charges. This is not doing any good to our image as a nation, it is not even good to the image of the National Assembly. If am in his position, I would have resigned as a responsible man. His friends and family should by now have advised him to resign honourably. Our leaders should show maturity. His continued stay at the National Assembly is a national embarrassment. Also, any other lawmaker who has been indicted or found wanting one way or the other should quit honourably.
President Muhammadu Buhari has been facing attacks because of his frequent foreign trips. Do you think such attacks are well founded?
Definitely, our president will always be invited by other countries and organisations Nigeria is committed to. He is also has to seek for funds to help the nation’s development. He is doing his work. All these are not wasteful trips. He is not even travelling for medical check-ups which he is entitled to. But, let his efforts reflect on the real development in the country and let these also reflect on the life of Nigerians. Nigeria lost a lot during the PDP regime and many of our friends abandoned us. Many foreign businesses pulled out of the country. PDP’s bad governance created room for huge corruption and tia affected our image as a nation. Now, there is a new government, we have to go to them to help Nigerian bounce back as a great nation.
As things are in the country now, what advice would you offer to Nigerians?
My advice to Nigerians is that we should be patient with President Muhammadu Buhari administration. This first year will be filled with confusion and readjustments until things begin to pick up. So, Nigerians and friends of Nigeria should be a little patient. I believe that after the first year and the implementation of the 2016 budget, things will improve. There were so many errors in the past. There were also many bad structures. President Buhari has to pull some of them down and correct all these and put on a new structure. So, we have to be patient. We have to suffer for a while before things improve. After the second year, things will sure improve. If after Buhari’s tenure, things do not change, we will unite and write them off. But, they should not run this government with propaganda like the former administrations.