Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, ruffled a few feathers a few days ago when he said what immediate past president, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, left behind in the nation’s coffers in May, 2015, was not enough to sustain the country for three weeks.
Amaechi, who stated this while speaking in a programme on national television, said he was told by security chiefs in a meeting some years ago in a meeting presided over by Jonathan, when he was the chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, that “at any point in time, the government must leave money behind in case Nigeria goes to war that would last for six months”.
The former governor of Rivers State also said oil was sold at between $110 and $115 per barrel but when the present administration came on board oil fell to $28 per barrel and since then it has not gone above $80 dollars per barrel.
It is not immediately clear what led the transportation Minister to make the statement or the relevance of such a statement at this point in time, especially as there was no outbreak of war in the country immediately after Jonathan handed over, to have made the amount of money left behind, an issue.
Perhaps to let Amaechi know he is not the only one who has monopoly to talk, or access to the media, loyalists to Jonathan have come out lambasting the transport ministry and describing his claim of the amount left by the former president, as untrue.
First to respond was former media aide to Jonathan, Reno Omokri, who described Amaechi as a “liar”. Noting that Amaechi had been showing desperation to be the next All Progressives Congress (APC) vice-presidential candidate, a situation which Omokri said has led Amaechi to be pouring lies against the Goodluck Jonathan administration.
Omokri gave the details of the monies left in the treasury by Jonathan, as foreign reserve of $28.6 billion, the Excess Crude Account had $2.2 billion, Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited dividends $5.6 billion and over $1 billion investments via the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority.
According to Omokri, “Rotimi Amaechi is just a useless liar, who thinks he can get APC’s vice presidential slot by attacking former president, Jonathan. 2023 is near. The whole Nigeria will soon see what Buhari will leave behind, apart from N40 trillion debt”.
Also reacting to Amaechi’s claim, Minister of Aviation under Goodluck Jonathan, Osita Chidoka, said Amaechi’s comment is rather unfortunate and not supported by facts readily available in the public domain.
Chidoka, who reeled out the same verified figures as Omokri did but in more details, said “a 2015 budget of over four trillion Naira was handed over to the incoming administration by the out-going Jonathan government.
To buttress his position, Chidoka drew Amaechi’s attention of the economic indices of the country between May 6, 2010, when Jonathan took over from Umaru Yar’ Adua and May 29, 2015 when he handed over, totalling 1,849 days, stating that Buhari inherited an economy that was the number one destination for direct foreign investment in Africa. In the five years Jonathan held sway, Direct Foreign Investment stood at about $35.25 billion but between 2016 and 2020, it is $11.55 billion.
Continuing, Chidoka said Jonathan handed over a $550 billion economy, the largest in Africa and 26th globally then, a stable currency where the Naira exchanged for N199 to $1, a single digit inflation and unemployment rate of 7.5% as against an inflation rate of over 15% today and unemployment rate of 33%. Poverty rate was 32% as against 71% today while the country’s external debt ballooned from $7.3 billion in 2015 to $37.9 billion as at September 2021.
Amaechi’s outburst, lambasting Jonathan on how much he left in the treasury when he handed over power on May 29, 2015, is not at all surprising as it is just one among many other instances when, officials of the present administration, rather than accepting responsibility for the shortcomings in the system and concentrate on proffering solutions to these problems, have resorted to looking for excuses or blaming the previous administration for its inadequacies.
For instance, on February 17, 2021, almost six years after taking over power, President Buhari blamed the escalating insecurity on some wealthy and influential elites of the country. At another time, he blamed the same insecurity on the late Ghadafi in far away Libya. He said the bandits, who escaped from Libya after death of Ghadafi in 2011, took to terrorism. And again, when it was convenient to do so, Buhari blamed the level of insecurity on the growth and development of the internet. Not done, the presidency also blamed years of mismanagement of the economy by previous administrations, for the insecurity.
When tongues started wagging in 2015, that after four months the president had not been able to appoint his ministers, Buhari blamed it on the Jonathan administration for submitting “vague” handover notes. This is rather laughable because presentation of handover to an incoming government is an optional exercise.
Inexplicably, the Buhari administration blamed his predecessor when he (Buhari) erroneously re-engaged Abdulrasheed Maina, a civil servant and chairman of the Presidential Tax Reform team, that Jonathan had dismissed from service in 2013 for alleged corruption.
The blame game was even extended to rats! After returning from one of his medical trips to the UK, the president was not not seen in the office for several days. With no explanation from any quarters, insinuation started making the rounds that maybe the president was not strong enough to carry on his official duties, the presidency claimed that the president had to operate from home because rats had invaded his office.
Buhari, in his October 1, 2020 Independence Day speech, blamed the civil war that ended in 1970 as well as the many years of military rules, that he was also part of, for the ailing economy. In that same budget speech, he lumped all the civilian governments before him, as the cause of the poor economy. He blamed them all for mismanagement.
Anybody who has access to Amaechi should kindly tell him and the present administration to concern themselves with profering solutions to the myriad of problems besetting the country, all of which have worsened between 2015 and date, rather than blaming others for the problems.
Anybody aspiring to leadership position should expect to be confronted by problems. The hallmark of leadership is the ability to identify those problems and find solutions for them and not to spend the entire lifespan of the administration blaming others.