E O EkeMonday, August 22, 2016




ust when you think it would not get worse, the worst happens. As a friend would say, what is bad, will get worse. I heard that President Buhari is planning to seek emergency powers through a bill, titled: Emergency Economic Stabilisation Bill 2016. The bill is said to be in three parts: Objectives and application; Timeliness, thresholds and other limitations; and miscellaneous.

In the bill, that the president seeks to acquire absolute power decide whatever happens in Nigeria and to carry out what he calls radical reforms.

The executive orders will involve issuance of visas, registration of businesses, granting of waivers, process of tendering and sales of non-core assets.

The emergency powers that have the legislative components include the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) Act, procurement process and virement of budget allocations.

The implications of the above powers in a person like Buhari is better imagined. The executive part of the bill will give Buhari power to decide who pays custom duties, who gets contract and who buys whatever he decided the government wants to sale.

President Buhari is asking for power to enable him transfer items on financial account to the place he wants. In other words, to disregard the budget and use the budget in any way he wants. For a president who is sectarian in attitude, who have dismissed many people from the army and police because they are from the south and are not Sunni Muslims and disproportionately appointed northerners to top positions, this will spell doom for people he hates. No president, should have such powers in a democracy.

Why would any democratic leader need authoritarian powers under the circumstance, if his intentions are honest? There is not a single thing listed in the proposed bill, which the president does not have more than enough power to do in accountable way and manner.

All the president has to do is send a bill to the National Assembly for actions that requires a bill and allow the National Assembly to scrutinise the bill. President Buhari, really thinks that Nigerians are fools.

Where are the Nigerian opposition parties, when they are needed? Where is the PDP? What do Nigerian politicians think opposition means.

President Buhari does not need emergency powers to reflate the economy. He does not need more powers to create jobs, boost foreign reserves, ensure inflow of foreign exchange, strengthens the naira, resuscitate the manufacturing sector and get contractors back to site.

Solutions to Nigerian economic and political problem exist, but like an ignorant and adamant patient, Nigeria complains that she does not like the treatment and says that the medication is bitter and refuses to take it.

A country like Nigeria with her currency under pressure in the face of falling oil price, should do everything to reduce waste, encourage investment, sanitise its Monetary policy and make the country attractive for business.

Such a country will consider reducing interest rate to single digit and ending the foreign exchange parallel market to ensure that all foreign exchange transactions are handled by the bank, without hassles. With most money channelled through the banks, the negative effect of black market would be reduced. These will go a long way in putting the country on the road to recovery.

In addition to the above, the banks will be encouraged to loan to business men and women to grow the economy and fund investments and, government investment Banks recapitalise to lend to some targeted investors to diversify and increase capacity.

All these will stimulate the economy, create jobs and result in increased tax revenue. Of course, with corruption under control, by extricating the judiciary from the pocket of corrupt politicians, and reduced cost of government, investors will return to Nigeria. It is not rocket science.

In any case, no country has ever advance democracy and rule of law, strengthened her economy or increases the value of her currency, by the president becoming more autocratic with unparalleled powers of patronage.

It is clear that Buhari is a dictator and finds democratic process and inconvenience. Buhari is daily demonstrating that he is a man who is so convinced of his solution to the problem that he is only prepared to accept what he wants to hear. It would seem that once a dictator always a dictator.

President Buhari does not seem to know how to exercise accountable power. He thinks that he has to dictate to govern and intimidate to have his way. What Buhari is seeking is absolute power, and we know that it corrupts absolutely to paraphrase Lord Acton.

Nigeria is in more trouble than critics envisaged. This bill is evidence of even more sinister intentions by president Buhari than many imagined. This request for emergency power is a rouse.

It would seem to be an attempt to deal with those president Buhari does not like because of who they are, under the cloak of rule of law.

President Buhari is seeking absolute power to enable him push Islamic values in Nigerian schools and punish those who oppose him.

I have no doubt that his reasons include to impose Islamic values and sharia all over Nigeria and secure grazing grounds for his brothers in the middle belt and south by subterfuge and fiat.

President Buhari does not need such powers to do the things he claims is the reason why he is seeking the powers. He does not need emergency power to carry out the responsibility of a president and implement the manifesto of his party.

In fact, the president of Nigeria has too much power, which stifles evolution of independent and strong institutions and emergency of free society under the rule of law.

Many experts, who wish Nigeria well have argued for more accountable democracy and what Buhari has in mind is direct opposite. This is tantamount to putting Nigeria in reverse gear.

Buhari has contempt for democracy and is seeking ways to supplant it. It is obvious that Buhari has an agenda, which is different from what is in the best in interest of all regions of Nigeria.

Since the election of Buhari, most foreign investment coming to Nigeria has been to the north. A very small fraction is to the west and none to the East. This obviously is in keeping with the president Buhari's 95% : 5% policy.

The world bank is rebuilding the water supply in Kaduna State. In May 2016, they paid for most of the state's plans in Agriculture. In July 2016, the world bank donated $20m to the Kaduna Ministry of Education. Last week world bank management was in Kaduna to sign an agreement to support the Kaduna Social Development plan.

I am not against the development of the north, but when the wealth that sustains the country comes from the south, and the south is neglected, a normal person will ask questions.

The Polices and attitude President is implementing and displaying will only hasten the demise of Nigeria.

President Buhari should be reminded that Nigeria is a democracy and there cannot be a place for autocracy in a democracy.